Saturday, January 16, 2010

Don't Swallow It!

Leave it to people to come up with new ways of denial and self-delusion. The so-called "Happy Meat Movement" is a perfect example of the lengths that people will go to fool themselves. These days, you hear a lot about "humane" methods of slaughter and "conscientious carnivorism." "Eating animals is apparently hip again," noted the New York-based Gothamist Blog, under the headline "Is Vegetarianism Dead?" The Blog entry noted that some vegan restaurants have even started putting meat back on the menu, in response to declining customer demand. The owners hope the new meat dishes will bring the old clientele back and maybe even win over new customers.

The drift toward "conscientious" meat eating, such as the consumption of free-range animals, is a response to the exposure of horrific factory farm slaughtering methods in such documentaries as Death on a Factory Farm and Food, Inc.

As someone who has been a meat-eating omnivore most of my life, I can tell you that the words "humane" and "slaughter" do not belong in the same sentence together, any more than "peaceful" and "war" do. It's nothing more than an effort to soothe the guilty conscience. "Humane" is a misnomer in this case. If there was really truth in advertising, it would be sold under the label "Slightly Less Barbaric." Slightly.

This is more denial designed to assuage those who are uneasy about the mass extermination taking place in the factory farm system, yet not ready to make the leap into vegetarianism or veganism. If you don't want to become a vegetarian or vegan, that's fine. But please, spare us the adjectives like "humane," "painless," "conscientious," "local," and "alternative." Those words might help you to avoid staring into the abyss, but if you insist on using them in this case, they will lose all meaning. It's sort of like all of those loud-mouthed lefties in the 1960s overusing the word "fascist" Now "fascist" is essentially meaningless. Or these right-wingers who insist on calling Barack Obama a "socialist." Talk about another word that has lost all meaning.

Time to let Australian animal rights activist Katrina Fox have the last word, from her wonderful column in the Sydney Morning Herald:

As we enter not only a new year, but a new decade, it's time to refocus our attention on challenging our use, not just our treatment of animals. No animal goes willingly to the slaughterhouse, happy for their corpse to be served on a plate. There is nothing humane about slitting a sentient being's throat - regardless of whether it's been raised in a factory farm or pasture.

The real revolution isn't happy meat, it will be the establishment of veganism as a cultural and social norm. This is no easy task. The perception of veganism is that it's extreme or radical.... But it's important to remember many of the great liberation movements were first thought of as extreme and radical. Now is not the time for compromise. Anti-slavery advocates didn't call for better conditions for slaves, they called for the abolition of slavery. It's time to abolish the modern-day equivalent: animal exploitation, and the easiest way to start is by choosing not to eat them.

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