"I’ll make them love it."

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

I WANT What You’ve GOT by Shell123ey on YouTube
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Trigger warning: while the picture primarily rests on the narrator’s face, there are a few brief flashes of disturbing images, including a “downed” cow and a “dairy” cow suffering from mastitis. You can listen to the audio alone if this is likely to upset you.

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This video made the rounds on Facebook a few weeks back, and – while I meant to post it right away – I wanted to transcribe the audio first, so that those who can’t view the vid can at least get its gist. So if I seem late out of the gate, that’s why.

This is a short but powerful piece; whereas one vegan described it as

Angry and strident, but well-done and packs a wallop.

and, in the same breath,

Likely counterproductive for viewers over, say, age 20, but perfect for pissed off teens.

(let head-scratching commence), this 32-year-old begs to differ. Angry and strident, yes; but also a heart-wrenching appeal to our shared kinship with nonhuman animals – who, like us, love and care for their families; experience a wellspring of emotions, including pain, fear, joy and empathy; and are traumatized by the unceasing bodily violations to which they are subjected in the name of convenience and privilege. A mother is a mother is a mother. Sisters, us all.

In my estimation, this is a message that only becomes more powerful and potent with age.

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You’ve got something that I want. And do you know what I’m going to do to get it?

I’m going to confine you in a rape rack and I’m going to forcibly impregnate you. I’ll likely confine you afterwards.

Then, when your baby’s born, I’m gonna kill it. Then I’m gonna take what I wanted from you.

I’m going to hook you up to a machine that’s going to suck your secretions from you until you bleed. You’ll likely get infections. Your body will swell with puss from where the machines have been sucking you. And after a while, you’ll be so sore that you won’t be able to walk.

Then I’m going to market your secretions as a “product.”

I’m going to tell everyone that if they want to be healthy and strong, they must drink your secretions.

I’m going to put posters up in schools.

I’m going to tell parents that if they want their children to grow up big and strong, then they must feed your secretions to them.

I’m going to make your secretions part of the standard food pyramid, so that everyone will accept that drinking your bloody, puss-filled secretions is healthy for them.

I’ll add addictive flavors and sugars to make people drink more and more of your secretions.

I’ll make them love it.

I’m going to make it so ingrained into their culture that anyone who argues that drinking your secretions isn’t healthy is deemed as “crazy.”

You know that this is blatant violation of your rights to your own body – but I’m going to call it “farming.” “Dairy farming.”

And you know why I’ll get away with it?

Because you look different from me.

And you can only moo.

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On Carnism: Why Do We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows ?

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Carnism by Melanie Joy (2009)

Carnism: The Psychology of “Meat”-Eating 101

four out of five stars

Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism (2010) though the website Basil & Spice. As a former psychology major and vegan of five years (and vegetarian for eight years on top of that), Carnism is right up my alley. Dr. Joy, a social psychologist and animal advocate, deconstructs our “meat culture,” identifying a number of key defense mechanisms that shield Westerners from an uncomfortable reality: how can we claim to “love” and “care for” nonhuman animals, yet enslave, torture, slaughter, dismember, process and consume them to the tune of tens of billions* per year? The answer lies in our carnistic system.

Carnism 101

Carnism, Joy posits, is the invisible belief system (or ideology) that underlies our unthinking consumption of “meat.” We have so internalized this behavior – “meat”-eating – that we do not even recognize it as a choice, but rather blindly accept it as a normal and necessary way of life; “meat” consumption is “just the way it is.” Carnism is the logical counterpart to vegetarianism: just as one can decide not to eat meat, so too is meat-eating a choice. And yet, while the terms “vegetarianism” and “veganism” are part of common parlance, we have no such word for “carnism.” Because the ideology that supports “meat” consumption remains unnamed, it’s seen as something natural, inevitable, existing outside of a belief system. Or it’s not seen at all – it’s invisible. We can avoid thinking about it because we lack the tools (words) with which to talk about it. In naming, there is power. Words matter.

This is, I think, is Carnism‘s greatest strength. With the introduction of one simple, short word, Joy gives us a tool with which to single out our “meat” culture for criticism and critique. “Carnism” unveils the choices behind the curtain – choices which are so incongruous with our innate sense of compassion, Joy argues, that we must go to great lengths to defend these choices from scrutiny. At a macro level, this is called psychic numbing: “we disconnect, mentally and emotionally, from our experience; we ‘numb’ ourselves. […] Psychic numbing is adaptive, or beneficial, when it helps us to cope with violence. But it becomes maladaptive, or destructive, when it is used to enable violence.”

On both an individual and institutional level, we engage in a number of defense mechanisms that help us to achieve psychic numbing:

(More below the fold…)

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, "Wake up, bacon breath!"

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

(I’m paraphrasing, of course!)

It’s been a few months since last I wrote about Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s series of short videos addressing the issues of veganism and intersectionality. (Dear Mozilla: It’s 2010, and yet you still do not recognize the word “veganism.” For reals!? Get with it, mkay?!) In the interim, she’s released three additional segments.

Thus far, she has covered a number of topics, including:
gender-based exploitation;
the universality of the maternal instinct;
violence in the animal agriculture industry;
raising compassionate children;
the agricultural revolution and animal ownership;
forming connections with nonhumans; and
the impact of slaughterhouse work on the human spirit. (Wheh!)

(As an aside, does the cute green top she sports throughout the series make you terribly nostalgic for summer or what?)

In “Growing Food for People,” Patrick-Goudreau touches upon the intersection of “meat” consumption, hunger and poverty, noting that we have the resources (land, water, technology) to feed the world’s population – if only we stop using so much of our existing food supply to fatten up the “farmed” animals birthed, raised and destined for slaughter. “Meat,” dairy and egg production are terribly inefficient – and increasingly inadequate, given our burgeoning population.

In “Becoming Empowered and Making a Difference,” she notes that each of our actions represents a choice made, whether consciously or not. Continuing on one’s present path of “meat” consumption is as much of a decision as is the adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet. Because our society is centered around animal exploitation, however, only the latter is recognized as a belief system, while the former remains unnamed and invisible – a given. (For more on this, see Carnism: Meat, Deconstructed.)

(More below the fold…)

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau on human/animal exploitation.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

In this video series, author, activist and vegan cooking instructor Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (of Compassionate Cooks) discusses the impact of animal exploitation in the “meat” and “dairy” industries on animals, human and nonhuman alike. In particular, intersectionality is a thread that binds each brief video in the series to the others.

Take, for example, the segment titled “Female Exploitation,” in which Patrick-Goudreau explains the gendered nature of animal exploitation on farms – including smaller, “traditional,” “family” farms as well as large-scale, industrialized factory farms. While all farmed animals suffer under this system, the females of the exploited species – pigs, cows, chickens, etc. – experience especially torturous and prolonged abuse. To their owners, sows, heifers, laying hens and the like are nothing but walking wombs, baby machines, good only for perpetuating the farmers’ product line. Their reproductive systems are hijacked and turned against them; what should be a natural, joyful process for these mothers is instead perverted into a never-ending cycle of rape, forced pregnancy, birth, and kidnapping – until the mothers, spent, suffer the same fate as their offspring: slaughter, dismemberment, consumption. Precious few females find sanctuary, mother their children, grow old and predecease the generations that follow them; the generations they gave life to.

This is the female’s fate.

In “Maternal Instincts,” Patrick-Goudreau identifies the maternal instinct as a primal urge, one shared by all living beings; an instinct that cannot be stifled or bred away. She also touches upon the similar ways in which human and nonhuman animals have been – continue to be – devalued, possessed, mechanized. Treated as property. Units of production.

First comes dehumanization, then objectification. Only by doing away with each – by taking a hammer to every last rung on the hierarchy – can we foster respect and compassion for all beings. No one is free while others are oppressed.

(More below the fold…)

A taste for flesh, in the flesh

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

An interesting study, conducted by Cancer Research UK, suggests that children “inherit” (at least in part) a taste for meat and fish from their parents. In contrast, a preference for fruit and veggies wasn’t linked to nature, but to nurture: the more a child’s parents encouraged herbivorous eating, the more kids expressed enthusiasm for nature’s candies.

From the BBC:

Children largely inherit their taste for high-protein food like meat and fish, research suggests.

However, Cancer Research UK found a liking for vegetables and puddings was less likely to be fixed, and more the result of the menu provided by parents. […]

Lead researcher Professor Jane Wardle, of Cancer Research UK’s health behaviour unit, said it was not clear why environmental factors were more influential in determining preferences for fruit, vegetables and puddings.

She said it might be down to the greater variety of choice available in these categories – unlike in meat or fish.

“It might be that children who witness their parents show enthusiasm or distaste for certain types of vegetables or puddings are likely to follow suit.

“Or it might be that if a particular food is always available children learn to like it.

“For instance if a fruit bowl is always full of bananas children might think of them as being a favourite food.”

Professor Wardle said the findings suggested that parents could have a profound impact on their children’s dietary preferences – and steering them towards healthy options could set a blueprint for life.

“Finding out more about why children like and dislike foods is important in helping us understand the problems of obesity.”

Additionally, the researchers examined gender differences in food preferences:

The Journal of Physiology and Behaviour study also found girls were more likely to enjoy vegetables than boys.

Might this have a little sumthin-sumthin to do with the stereotype that “real men” eat meat, while the womenfolk are expected to suffice on tiny sparrow’s portions of lettuce and broccoli?

(Crossposted at Hell Food.)