speciesism

Animal rights vs. Animal welfare

animal rights vs animal welfare
Evolve Campaigns made this great viral graphic comparing animal rights and animal welfare. I’ve seen it around for a while, and have always thought it did a good job of making the distinction clear. So when I saw it on Pinterest I gave it a heart!

Then I read the comments. I don’t usually engage like this, anymore! But I couldn’t help it, I had to dive in.

It’s interesting to me that folks see veganism and animal rights as some kind of choice of animals over humans, when humans are animals, and so many vegans are also human rights advocates for this reason (and also because they’re, you know, generally decent people who are working on becoming less oppressive). I don’t think that was ever an issue for me. My issue was that animals were tasty. But in any case, I don’t think any of these issues are good reasons for eating someone.

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See Speciesism: The Movie on Thursday in Ithaca

speciesism the movie

Speciesism: The Movie takes viewers on a sometimes funny, sometimes frightening adventure across the country, to expose the biggest secrets about modern factory farms, and to ask the biggest questions about the belief that our species is more important than the rest. You’ll never look at animals the same way again. Especially humans.

See it at 7pm on Thursday in Ithaca!

Human News

Animals are all made of meat: Now what?

Animals are all made of meat: Now what?

I read Lindy West’s F*ck Yes, I’ll Eat Some Horse Meat. Give It to Me. I Love It. on Jezebel with amusement and… shock? I’m not used to seeing things like this in mainstream media. It’s just so conscious, calling humans on our speciesism so clearly and bluntly and irreverently: Humans know that all animals are made of meat, she writes. (She doesn’t touch on the fact that humans are also animals, and also made of meat, but okay.) So if we eat cows, what business do we have being all upset when we accidentally eat a horse? Good point.

Back when I was 17 I went to Japan on a scholarship and resolved I would try to be really open, and would try any food that came my way. I was an enthusiastic omnivore then, comfortable with myself as an animal that had evolved to eat other animals (I, um, hadn’t read enough yet), and I was ready for anything. I ate a lot of flesh from members of species I never eaten before: octopi, eels, lots of unfamiliar fishes. No turtles. I had a ban on turtles and rabbits because I had had them as pets.

I had met a horse many times, a horse who was deeply loved by someone in my family, but I hadn’t ever gotten really close with horses. So on this trip, I ate horse. Raw, actually — there was a big plate of horse sushi at the reception the Japanese government folks held for us exchange students. I didn’t want to be rude, and I kind of wanted to show off how brave and culturally open I was, to defy some stereotypes about Americans. So I ate some. It tasted a lot like all the other sushi: Soft and chewy and kind of slimy. It was fine, but I didn’t enjoy it. And now, years later, when I’ve come to the realization that horses and cows and humans are all the same, I regret that I made the choice I did then. I have to live with that regret for the rest of my life. I wish that I had seen it then: If animals are all made of meat, what do we do? Eat all of them indiscriminately? (Why not humans then?) Or stop eating all of them, because we’ve realized that all the other meat is just as autonomous as we are?

For more on humanity’s apparently willful ignorance about our food choices, watch this clip from Real Time With Bill Maher, Episode 273 (wherein he says a number of insensitive things as he is wont to do, sorry):

It’s perhaps worth noting that despite his apparent grasp of the consent issues relating to animal exploitation, Bill Maher isn’t vegan.

I’m curious if human beings will always try to hold onto the idea that we’re somehow so special we should be allowed to treat every member of every other species on this planet like they’re property.

Richard Turere saves lions and cows

Richard Turere saves lions and cows

richard-turere-tedRichard Turere, a 13-year-old Maasai from Kenya, invented a solar-powered solution to lions killing cows, and humans killing lions: A device that mimics the look of a person walking with a flashlight, to scare lions away from cow sheds, preventing humans from lethal retaliation against the endangered predators.

Vegans may be interested in educating themselves about the Maasai, who present some very interesting questions regarding animal exploitation. They are able to live in desert and scrublands that are otherwise uninhabitable, and are extremely self-sufficient. And yet their way of life could not continue without the exploitation of cows. A debate between a fundamentalist abolitionist vegan and a Maasai person would be very interesting!

Via NPR; photo by James Duncan Davidson

Masculinity in the kitchen

In Do We Have The Courage To Raise Our Sons More Like Our Daughters?, Lynn Beisner tells a story about how changing gender norms have allowed her to continue a treasured family tradition of passing on a beloved (presumably non-vegan, but that’s not the point here!) toffee recipe — because her son was ready to take up the torch when her daughter wasn’t. She writes,

I love how my son is challenging all of the gender assumptions I didn’t even know I still had. I love that somehow, against all odds, I managed to raise a guy who cannot have his masculinity threatened because it does not reside in what other people think of him.

As I read this lovely post, I thought of all of the amazing vegan men I know, who are willing to stop eating animals, though so many human cultures seem to equate meat eating and dominance over nature with masculinity. I love that so many men are becoming so willing to help build a more equitable, peaceful, cooperative culture, in these different ways. Maybe the kitchen is a good place to start, since it’s a place where women and animals have been oppressed for a long time.

Maybe one day women won’t fear men, and animals won’t fear humans. Can we make that happen, together?