Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why Vegan Blogs Matter (My Note to A Journalist Covering Slaughterhouse Practices)

I pause today to bring an issue to my blog that I rarely "go there" with: eating meat in our society. It goes without saying really, I suppose. I am about vegan food and eating "cruelty free" after all. I have in my "blogs I follow" section a link to Chews Wise. An intelligent, well-researched blog if ever there was one. I respect the approach he takes in covering organic food issues. After all, I worked nearly a year for an agriculture organization that is a giant in the realm of lobby powers in bringing a certain grain to your table in more and more ways than you could imagine--organic or not. I don't divulge much on my experience with the ag industry only to say that I have had a front row seat to what many others only read about in short columns in local papers or hear about when an urgent ag matter needs addressing. I still keep up on ag news and follow the "farmer" plight. If you are a vegan and you've not read "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer--you may want to do so. Not only are the statistics for how our country's meat industry is slowly eroding our ethical boundaries in what is and is not acceptable practices in animal husbandry, it is staggering to read the means by which we are falling further and further behind in our methods of bringing food to the table--we are, in essence, being more barbaric.


I won't digress further on this matter but only point to the article published in the Washington Post this week in the food section by the Chews Wise blogger. I read this and asked myself: Are we that immune? I can barely stand to see a full page ad for a grocery store's "meat sale" in my own paper's food section, much less open it to an article on slaughterhouses. The print media has suffered its own recession of sorts long before the economic recession began thanks to the internet. Perhaps a story such as this brings more emotion than say, a story on the humane eating manner vegans practice, i.e., the sensational story brings more readership. Please know, I think newspapers are still very important to our society.

I also think everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the matter of food and what one eats--thus, the creation of my own blog. I also think that living like an ostrich with your head in the sand is no way for a food movement to progress. I have a few other "blogs I follow" on my site who do not adhere to the strict vegan way, but who I feel are worth reading for their intelligent and insightful approach to the world of eating and cooking. It's important to stay informed, to share your opinions and to have a rational discussion on the matter of food. It is my opinion that our healthcare crisis and insurance industry financial crisis can all somehow be linked to our "eating habits". Eat healthy. Eat plants. Be Active. Certainly not the final answer on the matter of "health" in our country, but a good first step.

A link to the article is below--my response to the author I posted to his blog is below this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2010/03/16/ST2010031603046.html

I opened your post with great hesitation and, later, regret. You have struck a nerve with your article and post--most likely your goal as a journalist/writer. I wished for you to have written that watching the slaughter take place had bothered you--but apparently it did not. I imagine as a writer you also feel a great sense of accomplishment in this story--giving the "ethical" meat movement (an oxymoron if there ever was one) a "nice guy" story, helping folks combat their meat concerns--and how these workers go about their work "quietly". The gasp I let out when I read the "bolt to the head" shook me to my core. Whether it is less than two percent of meat processing practices or an eighty percent meat processing practice--the means by which these animals meet their end is cruel. Period. There is no justification for this other than we as a society have always turned a blind eye to what we've deemed "food": steak, chops, quarters, breasts. And, thanks to our slaughter practices, we now have third world countries seeking out ways to more quickly bring "meat" to their own tables--inevitably to face the obesity and green house gas nightmare we are facing in their own backyards. It is a sad and vicious cycle.

I read "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer--he came away from his investigative writing a changed person--at least his eating habits had changed. I had hoped the same for you before reading the entire article. Perhaps exposure to a less-than-friendly and "quiet" slaughterhouse may have changed your mind about food practices and your own personal eating choices. At least one would hope given your influence on the internet and in print media.

8 comments:

  1. You are so right. Thanks for posting this.

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  2. It is infuriating for me to know there are so many people indifferent to the animal suffering, the environment suffering, and their own health suffering. I have read Jonathan's book and I recommend it often, along with the John Robbin's Food Revolution and The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. As always your post is eloquent and interesting.

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  3. Hi Andrea--thank you for your note. It is hard to really wrap my head around this--and I struggle with doubt whenever I even think about raising my own concerns on the matter via blogging, but this article just touched a nerve. Thank you again.

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  4. Hi veganhomemaker--thank you for your note. As I stated, I am at odds with even bringing these emotional issues to the "food" blog, but was really struck by this article. I truly had an emotional response to reading it. I don't know how a person could not.

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  5. Thank you for bringing up this issue, Kelly. I am not a strict vegetarian or vegan, but I have drastically reduced the amount of animal products that I eat over the last year. I never buy supermarket "meat", and the animal products that I do eat tend to be local and organic. But you remind me that there is always room for improvement! I try to live by Michael Pollan's "eat food, not too much, mostly plants" philosophy, and it seems like I move more and more toward vegetarianism as time passes. This is an important issue that definitely struck a chord with me as well.

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  6. Hi Jeanne--thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I realize the world is not going to go "all one way" ever, but I have friends and relatives I love dearly who are not vegan and try to keep my mind open to their points of view as well--while also professing the many virtues of vegan eating. I also thank you for being kind in your comment.
    I am so lucky to have such wonderful readers!

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  7. You are right - while I don't think it's realistic to expect that everyone would be vegan, eating thoughtfully and respectfully shouldn't be too much too ask.

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  8. Hi Trixie--As always, your comment is so appreciated! We miss you, come back home soon!

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