When I heard that Moby was softening his message, I grew concerned. I am aware that most celebrities do not understand how their support of institutions like the Humane Society (HSUS) amd PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are counter-productive to ending animal exploitation. Moby does a lot for the vegan community; he donates music to upcoming filmmakers and makes pro-vegan videos for YouTube. He advocates for veganism. He is talented, creative and likable. By his own admission, he has decided that he was too “militant,” too strident in promoting veganism, and it was turning his friends off. In his new book, Gristle, written along with Miyun Park, he presents a series of essays and lets the audience decide for themselves. No more preaching for Moby, just the facts.
The first essay was by Branden Brazier, author of Thrive Fitness, Thrive Nutrition, triathlete, and vegan advocate. So far, so good – I was glad to see Brazier included. He advocates not only for veganism but for high-density nutrition and brings some often overlooked foods to the fore. He puts an emphasis on the recovery phase of training and has achieved great personal and financial success in so doing. He promotes fitness from a vegan perspective – and lives what he preaches. There is Christine Chavez and Julie Chavez Rodriguez, who make a case for the workers in the factory farm industries, most of whom have coughs, chronic bronchitis and/or respiratory problems due to the toxic air quality in which they work. The workers die in horrific ways,as do the animals they kill: sliced by the hog-splitter saw, death by falls into manure pits, crushed by the grinder. Amputations. Crushed bones. Mental stress. A disassembly line that brutalizes animals in mechanized horror while spewing blood, disease and depression on the workers and their families. Important things to know about an industry, indeed.
But other authors are not quite as hopeful. John Mackay, founder and CEO of Whole Foods Markets, Incorporated – a man who himself makes money from the sale of animal flesh; Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS, an organization that owns stock in some of the worst animal exploitation industries and benefits financially from animal exploitation; Paul and Phyllis Willis, owner of the Willis Free-Range Pig Farms, also financially benefitting from the exploitation and commodification of animals. If this is the new Moby, I would prefer the old — the one that believed in veganism and would not hesitate to speak out for it.
Despite the fact that this book does not promote veganism, the book has lots of statistics and information easily assembled for the use of the reader. The cover has an outline of a steer carved into those dotted lines which so often delineate cuts of “beef,” only this time they say things like: health, animals, workers, environment, global hunger, zoonotic diseases, climate change, communities, taxpayer cost. It is a book that may attract someone to pick it up and that might become more informed about what is going on with animal agriculture. I found the book helpful, if disappointing.
When one’s friends call on us to sacrifice our core beliefs, maybe it is time to get some new friends.