Recently, I have become very disappointed in progressive media. It would seem that when it comes to animal rights, things are not all that progressive.
Huffington Post Misses the Irony in Recent Post by Jamie Lee Curtis
Huffington Post recently published an article by Jamie Lee Curtis, lamenting the Conklin Dairy Abuse revealed by undercover videos. We now know there will be no cruelty charges for the owner of the dairy (see linked article by Angel Flinn), no matter how distressing the videos. Where there is demand, the brutality continues. How does Ms. Curtis think that the very product she touts, yogurt, is created? By raping the cows with artificial insemination, stealing the baby calf from his or her mother, and then stealing the mother’s secretions from her, secretions made for the survival of her baby, not for adult humans. I always find those yogurt commercials to be interesting. They suggest their brand of yogurt will help people with digestive problems, the very problems that come from eating a highly processed, animal-based diet. The solution? Another highly processed, animal-based product of course! Perhaps Ms. Curtis has never considered the cost for other beings of the products she sells. But when she wrote that article, obviously distressed at seeing animals treated as objects, devoid of any consideration for their personhood, she missed an important connection between what she does for a living and the act of living for other beings. And Huff Post missed a chance to post an article based on the stark and horrendous reality of the more than sixty billion land animals that perish for the pleasure of human appetite each year.
Mother Jones Appears to Have Lost the “Fearless” in Their Journalism
Even more egregious, Mother Jones (July/August 2010) published an article by Kiera Butler, a “lifelong vegetarian,” who broke her no-meat stance to dine on “grass-fed beef” (an interesting term denoting how devoid of acknowledgement of animal personhood our thinking is — cows eat, not beef; beef is a dead animal.) She shared that it was delicious and she felt satisfied. In the article, Get Behind Me, Seitan, Ms. Butler reports that the “vegetarian-equals-green argument” is not so cut and dried. She then proceeds to offer a comparison between highly processed fake meat and grass fed animal flesh. She notes that her Berkeley, California crowd is really moving towards eating more meat, not less, and she seems to move along with them. One wonders why she ever became vegetarian; she did not mention any moral concerns, health concerns, certainly no consideration for the impact on the animals themselves, no discussion of violence or cruelty. This was all about the trend and “local buzz.” It seems preying on baby animals is all the rage these days.
Touting the “great caloric bargains” of things like fish, there is no mention of the toxins that accumulate the higher you go up the food chain. There is no mention of the dying oceans, respect for nature, or a moral baseline; there is plenty of talk about crab feeds and pig roasts. There is discussion of hexane, used to remove soybean oil and keep soyburgers low in fat, a registered air pollutant and suspected neurotoxin. Ms. Kiera reports that with a processed soyburger, there are numerous ingredients but with grass-fed beef there is only one, making it somehow purer. This defies everything we know about the accumulation of pesticides and other toxins as one moves up the foodchain, making it more and more dangerous to eat other beings. There is no discussion of the impossibility of providing enough grazing land for the way the world now consumes animals. And worst of all, there is no discussion of the animals themselves, discussed solely as a commodity for humans throughout the entire article.
The progressive media needs to become truly progressive in the arena of animal rights and veganism. A start would be to post the work of one of the really good vegan advocates who are talented writers — Gary Francione, Roger Yates, Dan Cudahy, Angel Flinn, Tim Gier, Nathan Schneider, Jeff Perz, Mylène Oullet, and many, many others. They could select someone to write who actually has a philosophical stance that does not move with the crowd, and leaves the “fearless” in their ability to stand alone when necessary, to actually take a position based on something beside their own health, coolness or gustatory delight. It is much easier to be oh-so-flexible when dining out, selling out the suffering of animals at every turn, and keeping in lockstep with mainstream thinking. This is progressive? NOT!
The article in Mother Jones did:
- present some of the problems with highly processed foods
- discussed some of the problems with unnatural methods of feeding animals that result in disease
- highlighted that Great Plains pastureland stores 54% more CO2 per acre than cropland
The article failed to:
- mention the many ways to eat a vegan diet that provides plenty of protein and keeps you fully satisfied
- investigate the consequences should the nation move towards grass fed animals
- mention the high levels of toxins in flesh products
- look at the fact that a vegetarian diet may not offer any moral, environmental, or welfare benefits over an omnivorous diet
- mention anything about the lives of animals as living, feeling beings
- mention the correlation between animal slaughter and violence in society
- even consider a whole foods vegan diet
- address the false dichotomy presented: there are infinite choices besides eat animals and eating fake meat.
In the end, Ms. Kiera decides to eat mostly plants, but with an occasional “indulgence.” Most vegetarians and vegans would not consider eating meat an indulgence; they would find it disgusting and nauseating. The callous disregard for the various ways these decisions impacts other living beings, the environment, or public health seems out of sync with the purpose of magazines like Mother Jones. The complete lack of any consideration for social justice towards animals, human or non-human, is a glaring omission.
Other articles online at Mother Jones include one about a “kinder, gentler, more convenient abattoir,” a man who kills animals six days a week. This sounds like ancient history, not “fearless journalism.” Buying into the humane slaughter myth, the happy meat myth, and misrepresenting the positive aspects of healthy vegan cuisine seems more like something one would hear on Rush Limbaugh. Et tu, Mother Jones?