pigs

One of those very rare moments when I regret not living in NYC anymore

Design and Violence Debate: Debate III (MoMA):

Design and Violence is an ongoing online curatorial experiment that explores the manifestations of violence in contemporary society by pairing critical thinkers with examples of challenging design work. Contributors’ weekly essays have been published since November 2013, creating a body of opinion and a set of case studies that spark discussion and bring the ambiguous relationship between design and violence to center stage for designers and the people they serve—all of us.

Design and Violence is organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA; Jamer Hunt, Director, graduate program in Transdisciplinary Design, Parsons The New School for Design; and Michelle Millar Fisher, Exhibition Coordinator, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA.

The third debate will center upon Temple Grandin’s “serpentine ramp,” a slaughterhouse design modification that attempts stress reduction and a more humane death for animals. Professor Gary L. Francione (Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers, and author, Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals) and Nicola Twilley (editor/author of Edible Geography.com, co-founder of the Foodprint Project, and director of Studio-X NYC) will deliver debate motions, moderated by Design and Violence co-curator Paola Antonelli.

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“the fate of most livestock is that they are murdered by their benefactors”

Charlottes-Web-Terrific-Garth-Williams1Read E.B. White’s poignant explanation for writing Charlotte’s Web (io9):

A farm is a peculiar problem for a man who likes animals, because the fate of most livestock is that they are murdered by their benefactors. The creatures may live serenely but they end violently, and the odor of doom hangs about them always. I have kept several pigs, starting them in spring as weanlings and carrying trays to them all through summer and fall. The relationship bothered me. Day by day I became better acquainted with my pig, and he with me, and the fact that the whole adventure pointed toward an eventual piece of double-dealing on my part lent an eerie quality to the thing. I do not like to betray a person or a creature, and I tend to agree with Mr. E.M. Forster that in these times the duty of a man, above all else, is to be reliable. It used to be clear to me, slopping a pig, that as far as the pig was concerned I could not be counted on, and this, as I say, troubled me. Anyway, the theme of “Charlotte’s Web” is that a pig shall be saved, and I have an idea that somewhere deep inside me there was a wish to that effect.

Solution: Go vegan.

Veganism: Freedom from ethical contradictions

Well, not entirely! Read my bio for contradictions aplenty. But veganism does allow you to avoid a lot of, shall we say, moral discomfort. I remember worrying a lot more about the impacts of my actions before I went vegan – it was a source of stress for me to think I might be causing suffering (as indeed I was). Once I took the plunge and went vegan, I felt very free. That’s why I think of veganism as a liberatory process.

For instance, I used to say “I love pigs.” And yet if Facebook had existed when I was a carnist, I may have posted photos of a cute piglet on a farm without thinking very much about how he was about to be separated from his mother and would one day face a trip to the slaughterhouse, or about how this farm I’m seeing in this image isn’t at all like the horrific, factory-like farms on which the vast majority of piglets are raised. I may have posted recipes that included “free-range” pork sausage. Back then, I would not have seen the contradiction, but I know I often felt oddly “not right” about my decisions. And I felt really bad when I heard people mention the slaughterhouse, because no matter how much the small farmers we were supporting said what they were doing was humane, I had a hard time imagining what that might look like.

Today, I have a different perspective. I say, “I love pigs,” but I think it’s more important that now I know I should say, even more importantly, “I respect pigs,” because they are not objects for me to desire or want or eat or use or confine or buy or sell. They are individual persons, just like me, who desire autonomy and freedom.

So today on Facebook, the new me posted a recipe for vegan traditional pork pies, and a photo of a rescued pig at a Spanish sanctuary. No guilt.

I know that’s good for me personally. But even better, I think it’s really good for the animals I used to exploit, before I realized there was a way to opt out of the violence I was causing.