Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Odds & Ends: A Thought-Provoking Column, a Bumbling Agency

Poorva Joshipura (right), director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Europe, wrote an interesting response in The Guardian to George Monbiot, the author/activist and ex-vegan who very recently declared his support for eating meat in the same newspaper. I mentioned Monbiot in my Blog Entry the other day. In her column, Joshipura argues in support of what she sees as the most important reasons for going vegan. Most of her arguments have to do with the environment and refuting Monbiot's assertion that if everybody went vegan, it would take a huge toll on the earth. She also insists that going vegan is healthier than eating meat. At one point, Joshipura writes:

Monbiot also fails to consider the disastrous effects that animal-centred diets have on human health. Animal products, high in saturated fat and cholesterol, are linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and many types of cancer. Plant-based foods, on the other hand, are cholesterol-free and high in fibre and can provide us with all essential nutrients.

There isn't much in her column on the animals themselves, although she does mention "the intense and prolonged suffering endured by animals who are raised and killed for food." She goes on to write that "PETA has long and publicly advocated that as long as animals continue to be raised and killed for food, they must be treated as humanely as possible." Fair enough. The factory farm system is a harsh reality out there. We can talk all we want about the inviolable rights of animals, but that doesn't get rid of factory farms or even reduce their production one iota. And if animals are going to be slaughtered, it is better that they not be kicked and punched and abused like they were at the Conklin Farms in Ohio earlier this year.

But this column would have been an ideal moment for Joshipura to say, "The bottom line is: We do not have the right to consume animals. They are sentient beings with rights and murdering them on a mass scale is not only immoral, it ought to be illegal." She missed that opportunity, even though I applaud her for calling on others to go vegan. And while her arguments are more persuasive than Monbiot's defense of meat eating, in the end it was Monbiot - and the defenders of the factory farm system - who set the boundaries of the debate. It is time that defenders of animals insist that more important the environment, more important than health issues, is the fact that we do not have the right to be doing what we are doing to animals. That is the single most compelling reason to go vegan, in my view.

On a related note: A report released yesterday by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice showed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted intense surveillance of Greenpeace, PETA and various antiwar groups. These investigations absorbed a lot of time, labor and money, and lasted between 2001 and 2006. Inspector General Glenn Fine concluded that the extensive surveillance was "unreasonable and inconsistent with FBI policy." (Source.) If you're wondering why the United States is losing the War on Terror, look no further than this absurd surveillance campaign. But this should come as no surprise. The FBI has been engaged in this sort of nonsense since World War I. And you can bet that even though the Inspector General insists the surveillance ended in 2006, the feds are still watching activists and keeping files on them. One wonders if they really - in their hearts of hearts - want to capture Osama Bin Laden. They seem much more intent on doing what they've done best for decades: Spying on legitimate, nonviolent dissenters, and treating them as enemies of the state.

1 comment:

  1. If Osama were captured, then what poster boy could be used to continue scaring the American public? Those legitimate, nonviolent dissenters are enemies of the state.....since the state has become synonymous with the interests of corporations.

    I suspicion that animal rights dissenters frighten the corporation/state precisely because their cause is quite likely to catch the attention of and agreement with by the public, hence the need to use the power of the state to stifle animal rights activists relentlessly.