Dear Anna Lappé,

June 17th, 2010 7:38 pm by Kelly Garbato

Diet for a Hot Planet (pp 206-207)

Pages 206 and 207 of Anna Lappé’s latest book, Diet for a Hot Planet (Bloomsbury, March 2010). Principle #2 in her “Seven Principles of a Climate-Friendly Diet” is “Put Plants on Your Plate.” So far, so good, yes? Not so fast! Under “Resources for Principle 2,” Lappé lists the following bullet points: “Viva veggies”; “Support real meat and dairy farmers”; and “Go for grass fed [beef].” Epic Animal, Vegetable, Mineral FAIL.
(Click through to enbiggen the image, the most offensive parts of which I have helpfully marked up with my trusty red Photoshop pen.)
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Nonhuman animals (“meat” and “beef”) and their secretions (“milk”) are not plants, mkay? Unlike, say, pinto beans or watermelon, “beef” has a family and friends; can think, feel and suffer; and screams bloody fucking murder when you cut into its her live flesh. While it’s true that I’ve become all too accustomed to raw, shameless speciesism from environmentalists –

– for example, I just finished reading Eaarth, which was penned by the same stubborn “green” omnivore who penned the intro to your own latest stubbornly non-vegan “green” tome, in which he mentioned vegetarianism but twice (and veganism, not at all), despite a discussion of animal agriculture’s sizable contribution to climate change, i.e., the very focus of his book

– your recommendation to adopt a plant-heavy diet by consuming animals and animal by-products is beyond mind-boggling; it’s at once factually incorrect and completely lacking in compassion. (Cows as cantaloupes? Hello, objectification!)

I mean, really – how do you expect me to take the rest of your Diet for a Hot Planet seriously after such a fundamental gaffe?

Signed,

x A vegan-feminist environmentalist

P.S. There is no such thing as “humane meat.” An unnecessary and involuntary death is, by definition, inhumane.

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7 Responses to “Dear Anna Lappé,”

  1. Patrick Says:

    I don’t think, by definition, that eating animal products is inhumane – there are in fact animals that are treated very well (on the level of family pets) up until the “moment”, and that the actual slaughter can be conducted in a way which causes little or no pain/anguish.

    Also, there is a way to run dairy farms without taking calves away from the parents – of course, it’s inefficient for the first little while (a cow will continue to produce milk for as long as it’s being milked, so you don’t actually get product until after the calf has been weaned).

    I understand the concept and the idea of veganism, but the passages you point out are not about being vegan, they’re about being more green – while the goal might be to at least move people into a vegetarian lifestyle, and then ultimately vegan, baby steps… if they’re going to eat meat, they should eat meat that has a good life prior to the demise, and if they’re going to use animal products, they should ensure those animals are treated properly.

    By thinking locally, it’s much easier to do that – and to remove business from the giant factory farms that have no regard at all for the animals, beyond their economic value. The world is a very, very long way from even beginning to approach a vegan way of thinking, so the fact that steps in the right direction are being pointed out? It’s a very positive thing.

  2. Kelly Garbato Says:

    but the passages you point out are not about being vegan, they’re about being more green

    Lappé literally lumps animals and animal byproducts in with “plants” in this passage, which is both factually incorrect and deeply offensive to those who think of animals as someones rather than somethings.

    Remember, there are seven principles in this particular chapter; while I’m not surprised to see Lappé promote “grass-fed beef” and “real dairy” in the book as a whole, in the context of this chapter, these suggestions would have been better grouped under another principle, such as “don’t panic, go organic” (#3) or “lean toward local” (#4). (Indeed, under “grass fed beef,” she notes, “Check out the next section for more on grass-fed meat and dairy.” Why even mention it under “put plants on your plate” if you’re going to discuss the topic further several paragraphs down?) There was simply zero reason to list meat and milk in a section meant to encourage readers to eat more plants.

    You might not consider this a big deal, but words matter – and language such as this suggests that nonhuman animals are more similar to apples than people. Like I said, objectification.

  3. Shannon (Vegan Burnout) Says:

    You’re right. It’s ridiculous and disappointing. She’s lost a lot of credibility with me. *sigh*

  4. Mylene Says:

    Ugh. Good catch, Kelly.

  5. Meet Jasper, Sasha, Filipe, Teddy, Amigo and Pancho…and the Farm Animal Adoption Network! » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] type: the kindly Old MacDonald figure/archetype/myth who treats “his” animals “just like pets” …right up until the day he ships them off to a needless death? But I […]

  6. A belated vegan review of eaarth (Bill McKibben, 2010) and Diet for a Hot Planet (Anna Lappé, 2010). » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] vegetarian since her teen years – so you’d think she’d know better than to, say, categorize nonhuman animals as “plants.” Then again, perhaps the “and off” part explains […]

  7. Setman Says:

    Kelly I totally agree with your points!
    Environmental concerns should be accompanied with compassion for the animals.

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