Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bacon-loving hipsters can kiss my vegan ass!


First, a quiz.

1. Do you have a strip of bacon, another pork product, or organ meat rendered on your body in tattoo ink?

2. Do you find yourself debating which adorably anthropomorphized bacon crochet figure to buy at the local DIY craft fair? Or should you buy the bacon toddler shirt for your niece? Or, oh my god, did you see those bacon wristbands!?


3. Do you spend at least twenty percent of your time bonding and debating with your fellow bacon lovers on “foodie” message boards regarding the most obscure cuts of animal parts (extra points if they’re considered an ethnic delicacy in a faraway culture and hard-core in our own) and finding off-the-beaten-path and hard-to-pronounce restaurants in which to indulge in your consumption of the cured and salted meats?


4. Is the Small Pig Farmer a mystical being to you, in possession of an enigmatic grace, preternatural patience and a transcendental inner-peace? Does he seem to walk and talk slowly but purposefully, surrounded by an ever-present halo?


5. Finally, have you ever had a foggy but still erotic dream featuring Anthony Bourdain and Michael Pollan even if you don’t favor men in this way? Similarly, do you feel something similar to an erotic charge when you hear of a new heritage breed of pig, chicken, turkey or cow you can consume even if you don’t favor food animals in this way?


Now, give yourself one point for each time you answered in the affirmative.

One point: You are on your way but clearly must bump the effort up a notch. Have you been to a charcuterie lately? Maybe you should get a pig cut chart poster for your kitchen.

Two points: Get that shoulder tattooed with a slab of bacon already, my friend! You are rapidly ascending the ladder to becoming a meat fetishist.

Three points: No average, run-of-the-mill hipster affectations for you, dear one. When you embrace an alternative fad, you squeeze the ever-loving life out of it and pee on it to make it your own. Go, Bacon-Loving Hipster, go!

Four points: Anthony Bourdain on Tivo? Check. Fresh organ meat moldering in your fridge? Check. Recently dashed off a blistering or fawning review of the local “underground” (meaning, actually, trendy, exclusive and overpriced) meat emporium on Yelp? Check. You, daring hipster, are nearly there. You are essentially one sardonically purchased bacon-themed craft away.

Five points: Your body is a shrine to bacon, inside and out. All other Bacon-Loving Hipsters tremble in your presence. You are cured, salted and fried. My friend, you have become the living embodiment of bacon (without the suffering),

In truth, though, if you answered in the affirmative to more than one of these questions, then you may very well already be a Bacon-Loving Hipster. And if so, you can kiss my vegan ass.

Bacon-Loving Hipsters will whiningly insist that they tried to be vegetarian - oh, how they tried! - and even may have had a vegan significant other in the past but a life without strips of salted pig flesh simply wasn’t worth living. They may have even gone on what might be thought of as a considerable sabbatical from bacon (six months? A year?) but when they finally gave in and welcomed it back into their lives it was a revelation! The floodgates opened and previously scorned meat products – Veal! Sweetbreads! Beef tongue! – flooded in like so much backwash. The Bacon-Loving Hipster understands the arguments against eating animals but rejects them because, well, because bacon tastes good. No matter how many times they repeat this, it never stops being funny. To them.

Bacon-Loving Hipsters are in the greatest representation demographically as urban, heterosexual and Caucasian males and females from 25 – 37 years of age or so. Bacon-Loving Hipsters with artistic natures frequently try to finesse their pro-bacon stance as being ironic in spirit but, when pressed, they cannot articulate how this is an ironic statement. A smirking “Because bacon tastes good!” becomes their default response to everything in life, whether it’s related to bacon or not.

Bacon-Loving Hipsters never met a progressive petition they wouldn’t sign unless it could result in them having access to less bacon. By and large, they are anti-war, opposed to homophobic views, profess to be of the feminist persuasion, against racism, global warming and so on. When it comes to supporting needless cruelties against animals, however, the line is drawn in the sand, and that line is made out of bacon. Bacon-Loving Hipsters will support most progressive causes, except for those that actually require them to challenge some of their most cherished and self-absorbed habits.

What Bacon-Loving Hipsters are not: They are not actually from rural areas, and though they romanticize the country life, they cannot actually thrive without the comforts of city living (good coffee, grungy-ironic redneck bars where they can drink PBR and won’t get their asses kicked by actual rednecks, used bookstores with a snotty, perpetual grad school staff) in close proximity. Bacon-Loving Hipsters may actually go to the farm where their shrouded-in-the-gauze-of-idealization farmer keeps his pigs, may actually see or participate in the slaughtering process, may wax rhapsodic on how deeply fulfilling this was and how incredibly satisfying it was to eat this clearly superior soft tissue with a religious fervor once associated with, well, religion. They will not, however, give up their urban lives so they remain here to torment us with their meat-fetishizing ways and hipster habits.

What Bacon-Loving Hipsters are: They are often the same kids who were popular in high school, suddenly punk in college and embracing appropriate “below the radar” hipster culture ever-after. They think stripping is liberating (as long as it’s women – preferably those with plentiful body-mods - shedding clothes, otherwise it’s Chippendales-y, which is tacky and gross), opposed to gentrification even though they will only live in neighborhoods where it is afoot and think that chocolate-covered bacon is God in edible form. Well, they would think this if they weren’t atheists.

Rise against! Bacon-Loving Hipsters are in opposition to everything that is good and truly rejecting the status quo. What should we do? It’s actually easier than it might seem. Here’s the strategy I recommend: Bacon-Loving Hipsters love to feel that they are part of a marginalized, truly transgressive subculture. What is the worst insult to a Bacon-Loving Hipster? To imply that his tastes are acceptable to a mainstream, white-bread populace. Puncture the hipster where it hurts thusly: when you see a Bacon-Loving Hipster – and they will all furiously deny being hipsters so don’t ever take their word for it – tell them in your best suburban-y, cheerleader voice how awesome you think bacon is, and how you can’t wait to get a pig’s anatomical chart just like they have tattooed on your ass, just after you get back from seeing that new Sandra Bullock movie but before you go to Ikea. This will undoubtedly cause the Bacon-Loving Hipster a serious bout of agonizing self-consciousness and perhaps even cause said hipster to abandon his or her bacon preoccupation and adopt something else as a new talisman of rebellion, ideally something not made of a sentient being.

This is how we do it, people. The Bacon-Loving Hipster must be stopped before yet another bacon-themed t-shirt is purchased. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, my darlings. Let’s get busy!

59 comments:

Vegan Burnout said...

I like sarcastic, hipster-deriding Marla! She should come out to play more often!

Seriously though, you almost made me puke when you used "erotic" and "Anthony Bourdain" in the same sentence. I need to find a pig to snuggle with now.

The Blasphemous Fiendess said...

I'm definitely acquainted with bacon loving people, even related to some, but I don't know any bacon hipsters. Guess my town is too small and uncool. No grad students living here. Go get 'em Marla.

Erica said...

Boy am I familiar with this one. Welcome to my life as kid in art school! I am surrounded by vegetarians who eat prawns for lunch and engage in bacon-loving discussion with other apathetic hipsters. You can't forget the vegetarians to practically orgasm over leather cowboy boots and vintage purses. Oh god, it feels so gooD! it smells so good! IS IT VINTAGE?! One girl even talks about loving bacon every single fuckiing time we have class together. What is it about bacon. There are bacon bumper stickers, bacon t-shirts...blah blah blah. oh, and what about all the vegans who wear leather everything! from belts to bracelets to shoes to wallets to purses. Look, I'm a vegan who wears all leather. I have yet to find anyone dedicated or consistent who goes to my school that claims they are veg or vegan.

two vegan boys said...

I live in Austin, Texas. The home of bacon loving hipsters. This is there Holy Land. Ugh.

stantoro said...

Word. I don't many of these folk, but I do know one. I posted on the Facebook group about his woven-bacon masterpiece - check it. I found your group and blog from Post Punk Kitchen friends. Keep it goin'!!!

lupea said...

Ugh, another self-riteous vegan bitch. Qhat are the odds?

Erica said...

lupea, you are not accomplishing anything by posting here.

Nice emphasis on the word BITCH. My how you've hurt our feelings...

Marla said...

Hey, VB! Thank you! I know, I'm totally sorry about the Anthony Bourdain + erotic proximity. I would despise him even if I weren't vegan: he's that same smug, egotistical asshole regardless. Here's to finding a pig to snuggle, sweetie...! :)

Alexandra Jones said...

Terms such as "bitch" are only insulting if one buys into a speciesist way of thinking that holds non-human animals to be lesser than human ones. So calling a vegan a "bitch" really begs the question, lupea: what's your point?

Marla said...

BF - you're right. The town is probably not big/trendy enough.

Erica, oh, my...I'm sorry you're going through this. I was an art major in college - painting - and those pretensions mixed with a general lack of critical thinking were rampant. Sad to see that it hasn't changed. I do wish they would just not profess their veganism or vegetarianism while contradicting themselves because it a) makes us all look like we're all liars, b) it's impossible or at least very difficult to maintain and c) dilutes the meaning of it, making others thing its just sort of reliant on the individual. Sucks, Erica, and my sympathies.

Marla said...

Oh, TVB, I can only imagine. Thankfully, I only *have* to imagine. Keep up the fight, you awesome mama you!

I said...

you should join up with joshua katcher: http://www.thediscerningbrute.com/2009/11/16/bacon-bumption-the-pork-industry-shocker/

Marla said...

Thanks, Stantoro! Was this on their message board or something? I am glad you don't know many, but that bacon-weave was truly repulsive. I was thinking of a hair weave made out of bacon when you first mentioned it, which made me sort of have to laugh in utter disgust.

Marla said...

Yippee! My first hater comment! Qhat are the odds that it would take so long? Self-righteous bitchery is my thing, Lupea. Go comfort yourself by scetching out your next bacon tattoo!

Marla said...

Thank you, Erica, I was just about to place myself on suicide watch. Wah!!

Marla said...

Oh, Alexandra, brilliantly stated and great point. Thank you!

Marla said...

Thank you, I. I'll post a link on his piece. I appreciate it! Vegan Burnout up above mentioned this some weeks and I still haven't checked it out. I will in the morning...

matt said...

lupeas comment was interesting, only for the fact that it was so uninteresting....if MURDER of innocent animals is NOT something to be self-righteous about...pray tell, what is an actual issue to be passionate about? people like lupeas are funny to me, because life or death issues of people and animal dont bother them at all, but ad a 10 cent cigarette tax to their pack of smokes or something and theyre screaming "fascism! racism! wah! wah!" hey "lupeas"??? if killing innocent animals isnt something to be "righteous" about...what is? i mean, if lif and death isnt, like, you know, like...i abig, like...deal, and stuff to you you and your hipsterati....what is? LOL in advance to your ridiculously self absorbed answer.

The Voracious Vegan said...

Oh this is awesome. As soon as I started reading this my friend T popped into my head. Since we were close many years ago during our freshman year at university, she has de-evolved into a hipster of the worst order. Her status updates on facebook always make me cringe: "Does anyone know where I can find a stuffed Marlin to hang over my couch?" Along those lines, and much worse.

She was horrified when I announced I was going vegan 3 years ago. "But you love bacon more than anyone!" she said. I said "Yes, I loved the taste of bacon, but not the death and torture that goes along with it so I'm never going to eat it again." And I haven't. But after 3 years it hasn't stopped bothering her. She still makes snide comments about it, jokes that are really thinly disguised insults. It is obnoxious.

I have no idea why it is considered 'cool' or 'glamorous' to glorify the murder of animals.

Marla said...

Matt: I heart you! You seem to realize that hipsters with their ironic detachment feel very little except for, like, the 10 cent cigarette tax you mentioned. Calling someone self-righteous in this case is a useful smokescreen and attempt to dismiss a legitimate issue. I'll keep on with my "self-righteousness" if it means exposing the vapidity and nihilism of hipsters and their empty culture.

Marla said...

VV, you are so awesome. I am so glad that I seem to excised any last traces of hipsterz from my life! And, of course we know that what they glorify is really just the status quo: it is the same old stupid, unnecessary, cruel BS repackaged as some form of hipster rebellion.

Laura Jill said...

OK, so I've been vaguely following your blog through Networked Blogs on Facebook, but this post...I'm adding you to my Google Reader right this very minute! You rock!

Marla said...

Aw, thank you, Laura Jill. :)

Chandelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystal said...

brilliant!

whatikilledtoday said...

I love this so much. I've been trying to explain the phenomenon for a couple years now and not been able to do it justice. You have. Thank you!

Suburban Sweetheart said...

Bacon lovers are all formerly popular atheist anti-feminists? Um, somebody get this woman off her deluded soapbox. How are you making these connections? How do any of these things relate? I like meat, so I must also think stripping is liberating? I think bacon tastes good, so I must also be a gentrified asshole?

My tiny Jewish grandmother and my burly rural hunter of an uncle both like meat just as much as I do, if not more. But I - of the tattoos & plastic hipster glasses living in a trendy DC neighborhood - must be the one to blame for the world's problems, right?

You're a good writer. I would have loved this piece if it weren't so hateful and self-righteous. Be right back, my bacon's almost done frying.

Erica said...

um, I don't think that anyone is drawing these exact conclusions, really? However, eating the corpses of females and supporting stealing their breast milk, or confining them so that they can not move about or properly care for their young, then I think that is certainly anti-feminist! I am not for human females but against all other females. I don't think the writer of this post is being hateful, but I do think it is hateful to be so apathetic towards non-humans. No one here hates any one personally because they eat meat. We just hate animal suffering.

As for gentrification....well, I wouldn't make that asumption about everyone, but it's not too far off. Poor families are mostly abused by the meat industry. They employ imigrant workers for low pay and then prosecute them. The poorest families, if not on a plant based diet, have to eat the shittest kinds of meat (trans fats and the whole bit) and are therefore subject to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart problems etc.

It's really all pretty related.

Anyways, the spiteful, I think I hear my strips of dead bodies sizzling isn't going to get you far. Tisk tisk. No jew points for you.

Marla said...

Hi, Suburban Sweetheart,

Nope, not all are as described: I was satirizing a type, one, sadly, that I see so much of in this "foodie" town. I am not an absolutist and this was written as a piece of satire. I am making the connections from my observations and experiences, same as anyone else. These things relate because there is indeed a hipster demographic that reinforces the asinine, vapid attitudes I described. You need not take offense if the Bacon-Loving Hipster is not you.

Yes, eating bacon is a big problem in the world. Eating animals is a big problem that meat-eaters need to reconcile in meaningful and serious ways. And self-righteous to one person is passionate to another: I want be a force of positive change in the world, and if I get labeled "self-righteous" in the process, so be it. I'd rather be self-righteous than self-absorbed any day.

matt said...

people who eat animals need to stop calling vegans "self-righteous"....killing is wrong...it is not our opinion....it is an indefensible, unjustified truth that you will NEVER be able to give an explanation as to how you can end a life just to feed your belly...try all day to answer what gives you the right, and you never will come up with the asnwer...none of us have the right to kill....killing is wrong...so quit with the "self righteous"...we're just plain right.

Marla said...

Hi, Erica,

Thank you for your very insightful words. You are right: this is a feminist issue. I never felt deeper convictions about the evils of the dairy industry until I had and nursed my own baby. The thought that if I had been born a cow, I would have been forcibly impregnated only to have my baby taken from me and his milk stolen, broke my heart.

As you pointed out in your second paragraph, our brutal animal agriculture system has a ripple effect on so many other social justice causes. People who are knowledgeable and honest will at least admit to the intersectionalities. Being dismissive doesn't make it disappear.

Thanks again for your wisdom.

Greg said...

Oh man, one tired stereotype self-righteously trashing another. This.never.gets.old.
Bravo!

Marla said...

Same back at you, Greg. :)

Greg said...

I'm a little unsure about what that implies, but thank you for your response! =D

Marla said...

You know what? I'm not sure either. Just, perhaps, that it's easy to peer over one's glasses (or cup of coffee or newspaper or whatever) and accuse one another of self-righteousness and stereotypical behavior. It's another thing to truly challenge privileges and live as fully realized people. We are all works in progress, I hope, myself certainly included.

Greg said...

*nods* True story.

Unnaturally Disasterous said...

I'd hardly jump to call myself - or anyone who eats meat - self-absorbed. Perhaps you guys haven't noticed, but there are lots of other issues to be passionate about, too - and I am. And hey, guess what? I don't have to insult others or put them down or put them off or be nasty & rude to get my point or my passion across. The "self-righteous" accusation only comes into play when folks turn their passion into hatefulness, accusing others or this crime or that in order to try to shame them into changing their ways. Why not educate people, encourage people, inspire people? Yelling at them about being murderers doesn't do much to make people want to learn or, ultimately, to change. I'm tired of people with a cause - any cause, vegetarianism or otherwise, though I find vegetarians pick this up most often - trying to shame & scream others into submission. Doesn't it ever occur to you to reconsider your ways and your message?

And Erica, I didn't ask for your "Jew points." Go bestow your blessings upon someone else. At least Marla gave a respectful response.

Suburban Sweetheart said...

Ah, yes... that was me. Whoops.

Erica said...

Unnaturally disasterous,

I agree that certain tactics as you described can be overbearing sometimes for meat-eaters, but I think most of the time this is because people that eat meat mistake sticking up for animals as a personal attack rather than an attack on how we eat. Sure it causes tensions and maybe even resentment, but that is mostly because people don't want to admit that what they eat hurts non-humans.

I generally take the more level headed approach (in my opinion) of talking things out and calming and rationally explaining my position on eating animals rather than merely screaming in peoples faces but that's just me.

As far as meat-eaters being self absorbed...I think that if someone knows about and understands the position on not eating animals, but then eats their bodies anyways because they think it tastes good or their family has always eaten it, then yeah, how is that not self absorbed? That is putting the wants of ones own self before the needs of others.

To address another point you made...that some people choose to fight for other causes that they are passionate about. This is fine of course, but it still does not justify the exploitation of non-human animals. Anyone can be vegan and fight for other causes simultaneously esp. after we recognize that other social justice issues are deeply entwined.

Marla said...

Hi, Suburban Sweetheart/Unnaturally Disastrous -

The point I was trying to make about self-righteousness vs. passion is that it's all in the eyes of the beholder. If you don't want to hear the message (the general you, not you specifically) it is easy to dismiss someone as being self-righteous. As Erica pointed out, people are defensive about their food choices and it becomes highly personal. I knew that I would push some buttons with this post and that was my intention, not to placate and hold one's hands while the statistics and gruesome reality is repeated ad nauseum. Most often, the tone of my blog is not as confrontational but you know what? I think that the onus is on meat-eaters to find a reasonable justification for contributing to needless suffering and environmental destruction. Yeah, I get that it sounds self-righteous but it is very hard to be measured when you see what we know and feel what we feel. Most of the time, I get along just fine in this world and try to be friendly to everyone. I do need to speak my truth, though, just like you, and I happen to know that bacon is necessarily the product of needless death (and 99% of the time, horrible abuse). I make different choices for my tone all the time but I never alter it to make others comfortable with eating animals.

There are lots of issues to be passionate about, you're right, and vegans have time and time again noticed the intersectionality of issues and thus been wonderfully well-rounded activists. In terms of other issues not related to compassion to non-humans - well, industrial agriculture is horrible abusive to workers, is devastating to the environment and is often very bad for human health. I think veganism is a great vehicle for taking a stand against all these issues and more. If that's self-righteous, then, again, so be it.

By the way, as I said earlier, the point of my piece was not to scream or shame but to satirize. I never scream or shame, though I did spend years trying to get through to people and if I felt it was effective, I would still be doing it. Whether you like it or not, agree with the message or not, satire is a legitimate tool of social justice movements.

Marla said...

Erica,

You said it all again. :)

Marla

Suburban Sweetheart said...

Marla & Erica:

I appreciate your well-thought-out answers, even on points where I don't necessarily buy your logic. I've toyed with the idea of becoming a vegetarian, or at least a veg-aware-ian, if you will, as I very much dislike the idea of my personal eating pleasure coming from the pain and exploitation of others, human or animal. It's difficult to break habits - and, self-absorbed though you may find it - it's tough to give up the foods that taste the best, especially when you HAVE been eating them your whole life, but I think that incremental is OK as long as you increase your awareness and understanding and continue to grow. I don't eat much meat because the idea of it has always made me a little queasy, but I've also not yet been able to get rid of it entirely.

I have a question for you guys, though. The times I eat meat and feel the least guilty - in fact, feel very little guilt at all - are when I'm with my family at their hunting cabin in Pennsylvania. They only hunt animals that are overpopulating the region (deer) or are a danger (bears), and I even have an uncle who will sometimes cook up a quail if he accidentally hits on with his car so as not to waste it. He sees it as respecting nature. I'm sure this sounds a little absurd to you guys, but bear with me.

I feel almost no guilt eating what they hunt because I find hunting to be much, much more natural and human than, say, an Oscar Mayer pig farm that mistreats its animals, raises them solely to become food, feeds them hormones, etc. When I eat food that has quite literally just come from nature, I feel like part of the food chain, not like part of race that dominates & "domesticates" (reads: abuses) animals for their own pleasure. I sometimes think that even if I were to become a vegetarian (veg-aware-ian, etc...) I might not stop eating, say, the venison chili my uncle makes when we're at his cabin.

I wonder what your feelings are on this. is it the killing of animals, no exceptions, that bothers you? Or is it the mistreatment of animals who are raised solely to be killed, etc.? Is a meat-eater who is aware of the origins of his or her food more respectable than one who isn't, or are they (we) all the same?

Thanks for your input.

Marla said...

SS,

I'll keep it short but, speaking for myself, I am opposed to the idea that another's life is mine for the taking simply because I want it. If everyone had to hunt for his or her own food, there would a LOT fewer animals eaten, and this would be a good thing but in terms of personal ethics, I simply reject the idea that killing for a want ("I really like bacon!") rather than a need, such as protecting oneself or one's family, is justifiable. So it can be dressed up in all sort of different packaging but to me, it is still the same answer; suffering is only one part of it (though an important part): I reject the whole premise that non-humans are ours to do with what we will.

Vanilla Rose said...

Like it.

Once read an article by a former vegetarian who went back to eating meat because the battle had been, you know, like, won.

She said she didn't particularly mind if the meat she ate was from a free-range animal or not, so the battle she had in mind wasn't for animals to have a nice, if truncated, life until being sent for slaughter. The battle was apparently to get the issue noticed.

Riiiiiiiiight. That battle.

Kristen's Raw said...

Awesome post. :) Gotta go tweet this ;)

Whitney said...

This is a shame. Your blog post that is. I think reduced consumption of meat would indeed be a great thing, but vegangilizing is no way to get there. In one corner there are millions of people who eat bacon and in the other are the...10 (okay okay maybe it's 15!) of you proud-to-be-self-righteous-but-ironically-enough-we-are-going-to-generalize-the-rest-of-you-lowly-human-beings vegans who hate bacon eaters. And you few expect to convert the millions by spewing THIS message? Hmmm I think you need to rethink your overwhelmingly positive approach there, Marla! After all ,as my mom always says...you can't make honey with vinegar!

Marla said...

Whitney,

Whether you think this post is shameful or not, bacon consumption (and meat-eating in general) is something that should be mocked, derided and turned on its head at every turn. Frankly, what the majority chooses to do have zero effect on my ethics and it shouldn't yours either. Most of my posts have a different tone, one that is friendlier, but you know what? We're allowed to be angry about this because whether Bacon-Loving Hipsters want to acknowledge it or not, meat consumption is a huge environmental problem. Can not be overstated enough: it simply is. I'm not even talking about compassion to animals here. Fetishizing meat consumption and meat products is just plain stupid and irresponsible. Sorry that I can't put a more positive spin on that for you, Whitney. I agree that there are different approaches and different tones - I use them all the time in my bag of tricks to get people to reconsider their eating habits - but satire, yes, even angry satire, has its place. I am not going to apologize for being disgusted by the fetishizing of the end product of a tortured animal. Fine. Call me self-righteous then. I am proud to be self-righteous if that's what one who stands up to the horror inflicted on animals and our planet is called. Better that than idly standing by because I'm outnumbered any day.

Whitney said...

Marla-

I appreciate the response. I understand that eating meat is an issue that makes many vegans (if not all) extremely upset. And I respect that. My argument though is that satire or an angry, blame-filled message such as this one that is directed toward the meat-eating population isn't going to result in tons of vegan converts. Like many omnivorous Americans, I am really beginning to see the light on how ruthless the meat industry CAN be. And it's crazy that consuming meat has become such a significant factor in our food culture. But there are steps people are beginning to take in the right direction: like buying organic, grass-fed cows from local farms. Or buying local farm-fresh eggs. And you want to know why people are moving towards this? It's not because a bunch of vegans are having little hissy fits. It's because people are being EDUCATED. WITH FACTS. Like how the New York Times has had THREE articles in the last week alone in regards to the downfalls of industrial farming, one of which shed light on some really unflattering aspects of the meatpacking industry. Things are moving in the right direction, Marla, but the millions aren't going to become vegan tomorrow. I think you need to celebrate the small accomplishments like the rise of organics and the fact that articles like these are making the front page, or you are going to be one angry woman for a very long time.

Marla said...

Thanks, Whitney.

You don't know me at all, but, honestly, I am a cheerful, smiley person in general and I love to laugh. I make it a habit to be a peacemaker and I'm friendly to pretty much everyone. I can see why you'd get the impression that I'm an angry person. Frankly, I *am* angry about our consumerist culture. I *am* angry about misogyny. I *am* angry about cruelty to animals. I *am* angry about violence in general. Does that mean that I stalk around spewing anger everywhere I go? No. Because I have a creative outlet and because I think spewing anger is, well, counter-productive. It is sometimes anger, though, that forces us to look within and change. Believe me, I have done years of advocacy work, and I am top-notch at being nice while listening and getting my point across. My writing in general has my point-of-view, but it's friendlier. If everyone communicated like that all the time, though, wouldn't that get a tad boring? Sometimes you need to shake things up and, frankly, I am fine with pissing off the occasional meat-eater if it forces her to think just a little about meat-eating.

I do believe that there is a continuum and some animal production is less patently evil than others. I still do not support it because at it is at its root exploitation and reinforces the idea that because we CAN do something, that gives us the RIGHT to do something. And, frankly, I find that a lot of these boutique or family farms are, while idyllic to many, pedaling an elitist product available to the relatively affluent and totally unrealistic about solutions. These farms simply can not and could never meet supply demands unless there was a DRASTIC reduction in animal foods consumption. That is up to you and your fellow omnis to commit to if you're serious about protecting our planet, Whitney.

I agree with you, facts are important and they are out there; the omnivores need to read them. This was never intended to be a fact-based, dry piece of investigative journalism. It was and is satire. Whether it appeals to you or not, that fact remains. It's like saying that fiction shouldn't exit because non-fiction is more realistic. It was meant to be cartoonish, inflammatory and funny to my fellow vegans. It was not written to convert meat-eaters. If that's what you are looking for, you should be able to find plenty online, like the UN report that animal ag is the biggest contributor to global warming.

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and I will go on having my happy day.

Red Hengry said...

Marla you write beautifully. Jonathan Swift would be proud. I agree that bacon-lovng hipsters should be mocked whenever possible, especially when they eat bacon while wearing those ridiculously skinny jeans and sporting ungodly handlebar mustaches.

We can agree that the adoption of a vegan diet may help lessen the suffering of some animals. But let's talk about your subtext. As I understand it, you also believe that the adoption of a worldwide vegan diet would eventually free the oppressed peoples of the third world and transform the earth into an Eden-like utopia.

I don't think this is possible with our worldwide urban population. People need to eat. Tofu dogs and tempeh have to be mass-produced so that people can afford them. Who picks and sorts the soybeans? Who works in the factories where bean curds are fermented and packaged? Who can afford the organic, GM-free grain products you advocate?

Sure, vegans can get all the protein and B vitamins humans need--but could all the vegans in the world get them if all the people in the world were vegans? I seriously doubt this. It takes work to get B vitamins out of non-animal sources. It takes energy. It burns fuel and increases CO2 output. You need factories to make wonderful wheat gluten and soy "cruelty-free" products for the world (remember, we're talking the entire world, not just a high-income urban North American/Western European sub-culture).

Do you want to go back to scratching out your blog on parchment with a quill pen? Who makes the components of your shiny new Macbook? Think those factory workers in China have the time or space to grow organic, non-GM foods in their spare time?

A worldwide vegan diet is possible. But the sufferings of the animals would simply be transferred to the peoples of the third world. Someone has to do the work. Animals have been doing it (and suffering)--processing grasses and grains into foods that give humans the proteins that they must have in order to survive. It is possible for humans to thrive without animals having to do all this work. But it takes just as much work to avoid animal suffering as it does to exploit it. Someone will still have to do the work, and given Malthusean population growth and the scarcity of resources, well....some people (you) will be the haves, and other people (the same people who currently work in the slaughterhouses and fish-canneries) will be the have-nots.

I don't think we can go back to a worldwide agrarian society (which would probably require a return to medieval serfdom, warlords, castles and moats). Instead, why not take advantage of human science and encourage more genetic engineering of plants? I think it's the only way we could sustain the worldwide vegan diet. We have to have plants that can be grown on a large scale. We have to use some pesticides. Some plants must die so others can thrive. Is it fair to expect migrant farm workers to have to bend over and weed the soybean patches for $2.00 a day because we believe GM is evil? Why not use our brains to modify plants to that they can be profitable to grow AND give us more nutrients. GM can be used for evil (the current corn industry, for example), but it could also be used for the greater good. GM could help produce plant products that could be used to produce (at a cost that is sustainable) wonderfully delicious products that would obviate the need for high-fat comfort foods like bacon.

boxoatoc said...

"Bacon is a fruit"? Wait, it really does make me want to eat bacon. Until I realize that pork flesh does not fall from trees and rather is wrenched from the bones of living beings. Then it's quite ew.

Psycho-therapist said...

I'm feeling both energized and helpless after reading all the posts, coming from both sides of the coin. Marla, I applaud your passion and satire (I'm a sarcastic being myself) and for me what you exposed was the hypocrisy of people. I was a meat eater all my life until 2005. I grew up in Russian Jewish family and we ate every part imaginable of animal. I savored each tasty morsel of meat/fish, what have you. Until one day I realized I was a fraud b/c in calling myself feminist I was perpetuating oppression on a grand scale. How can I be a feminist and eat animal flesh, so often analogous to the oppression of women? (when you think about what females are referred to, animals come to mind). So I decided I wanted to be more consistent in my beliefs. Then after much time, education, and inspiration from kind and passionate people, I am slowly transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. It is difficult because you have to consider so many factors and not just what you put into your mouth. I appreciate your post because as painful as it can be, to sit and and question and really think about what one is doing that affects the world is imperative to making any kind of change.

I have many questions still even though I agree with everything you say. As someone who has traveled outside of the U.S. and know the struggles that others go through in staying alive, it is not so simple to advocate for a vegan lifestyle. I think what is missing in this treatise is cultural context. I would love for people to be sustainable in the world and adhere to a vegan lifestyle, but that is not possible at this time in this spiritual point in the existence of humanity. If you know anything about women's movements in other countries, then you'll appreciate that fair trade and such requires skills and trade. Women make clothes out of animals and that makes the difference for them between being abused and having some income. I've learned that for some groups of women around the world, owning a goat and using it to sell milk is the difference that makes financial independence and survival possible. and these are not values placed upon these groups by white men, they are choices and solutions identified within these communities.

as much as i hope for the end to violence of human and non-human beings, i struggle with the reality of survival for beings around the world. i post this to open up discussion.

Marla said...

Hi, Red Hengry,

Thanks so much for your kind words and your feedback. The challenging thing about maintaining a blog, sometimes, is that I don't know when people have commented on something from quite a while ago so it sits unanswered. I'm sure I could switch my settings so I get a notice each time someone posts a comment, but, god, i get so many notices in the form of emails every day. Do I need yet another thing demanding my attention? Anyway, thank you for your patience.

In terms of the subtext you interpreted, I would say that adopting a vegan diet *would* help to diminish the suffering of *many* animals. For the second part of that subtext, I don't believe that, no. I am an optimist and definitely an idealist, but I don't see a) the adoption of a vegan diet worldwide happening overnight and b) being a cure-all for every ill on the planet. Clearly, there are a LOT of very devastating problems in the world. Why, for example, with how supposedly advanced and evolved we are, is war still something we turn to when in conflict? Thousands of years of this and we still don't know any better. There have been people along the way, trying to teach and promote non-violence - Jesus, Gandhi, King, all murdered for their message - and yet we still turn to violence. Maybe it's just something imbedded in our DNA. So, no, I don't believe that the adoption of a vegan diet would create an immediate - or eventual - utopia. I do think, though, that how we treat non-human animals is very much rooted in unnecessary violence. As long as we are eating them and enslaving them, what hope do we have for peace? These are sentient beings with their own best interests, and the degree to which they suffer and the scale at which it happens is staggering.

In terms of your other questions, well, you threw out a lot at me so I'm going to try to sort through it as best as I can. :) Soy products: first of all, this is the first thing omnivores say to vegans, "What about soy?" I am someone who does not consume much soy at all, maybe have tofu or tempeh twice a month at most. The same is true of my family. If you are an omnivore, you are likely consuming far, far more soy than me second-hand. If soy is a concern of yours, ironically, I recommend reducing your animal products consumption. As far as who can afford the GM-free products I advocate (which I don't think I did in the piece, but I may be wrong as I haven't reread it), well, in my house, we seriously cut down on most other things and spend more on food. I can't remember the last movie I saw in a theater, we rarely go out, I cut my own hair, we buy resale clothing, we don't even have a car. I read somewhere that the costs of a car per year (insurance, gas, maintenance, stickers, etc.) is approximately $8,000.00. We do spend a little more proportionally on food than, say, entertainment, but healthy food is somewhat of wellness insurance for us. By no means if every bit of food we purchase organic, though.

Con't below...

Marla said...

...In your next paragraph, you start to get into something that I see often as a vegan advocate, which is the line of thinking that if things cannot be one hundred percent perfect (burning energy, in your example), it's disregarded. I agree with you! We need to find alternative fuel sources that are affordable to the masses. But throwing the baby out with the bath water never makes sense to me. Do I think that my decisions are without repercussions and that I (and my fellow vegans) are flawless? Hell, no! Too often, though, we go down this road and we come to the conclusion that because everything is imperfect and everything has some sort of impact, that means we should do nothing. I disagree. We should work towards solutions mindfully, reducing our footprint wherever possible, and be guided by our values. This is not about perfection. Perfection is for the ego. This is about doing the most good that one can given the flawed world that we live in. We are all taking advantage of one another in some way, even the poor Chinese you reference. That is part of our globalized world. This is why *reduction* and self-reliance is so essential to me.

I don't understand the implication of your next paragraph: I should eat meat because there are poor people in the world? Listen, I am the first to admit that I am ridiculously privileged. Yes, I just described to you earlier how far we are from the "American Dream" (no car, buying things used, etc. born out of choice and preference) but I still no that compared to virtually anyone else in the world, I am incredibly privileged. Part of this privilege is the freedom to speak out on things that I disagree with, such as the enslavement and abuse of animals. I don't understand how I could lessen human suffering in the world by become yet one more meat-eater. Given the idea of environmental justice, I would think that becoming yet another meat-eater would be cruel to my fellow humans as well, especially the poor. They are the ones who bear the weight of our environmental destruction most. To me, being vegan lightens the load a little. Granted, it is a very little given how much the CO2 emissions are and how relatively few vegans there are, but on a larger scale, it could certainly have an effect and should be the direction those who are serious about environmental protection are moving toward. The U.N. reported that animal-based agriculture is the biggest contributer to global warming. This is not just me spinning my Ivory Tower ideology: it is *real*.

Genetically-engineered seeds are very scary to me, We do not know the long-term effect of them on human health or ecological health. I do agree that using the best of ETHICAL science and nature together will bring us solutions to feeding the world. In the Chicago area, where I live, there are farmers working on extending the season as long as possible with greenhouses and other indoor growing solutions for the winter. I have never pretended to be a rural, farmer type of person: I have always been "out" about being an urban vegan. We have our backyard garden and that works for us. Every year we learn a little more. Our society needs to be encouraging more of figuring out how to grow more nutritious foods safely and ethically. I agree. There are some brilliant minds out there. I pray that they don't all get gobbled up by big industry and we might have a chance at survival.

Anyway, Red Hengry, that's what I've got. :) Thanks for your feedback.

Marla said...

Hi, Psycho-Therapist!

Thanks so much for your feedback. I am also of Russian-Jewish descent so I appreciate sarcasm AND the fact that you grew up eating all sorts of meat. I also am very much a feminist. Before I even had a word for it, I was one. I never believed that anything was off-limits to me because I was a female, from my earliest memories. When I went to college at eighteen and discovered my feminist peers and mentors, it was not an awakening for me: it was finally like coming home. I was already a vegetarian (at fifteen) and that was because it was consistent with my ideals: I wanted to help create a more compassionate, just planet with how I lived my life. My feminism and veganism grow from the same root.

You are right that there can be confusing, contradictory issues around advocating veganism, especially for someone who has a real desire for social justice and financial independence of people worldwide. So much of the world is still very dependent on animal products as a means for survival at this point, and, you're right, much of the fair trade industry still revolves around these products. Here's what I have to say: it's an imperfect, flawed world. Those of us committed to living mindfully try to reduce harm whenever possible. So I do support fair trade. I never buy chocolate, not even when dining out, that's not fair trade because of my contempt for the cocoa industry. Same thing with bananas, sugar and teas. At the lovely Greenheart shop in Chicago (where we met), my husband bought me a scarf made with recycled cotton saris for Valentine's Day. So what I do is support the fair trade products that are not made with exploited animals. I understand your point about using the goat and the goat's milk as a means for independence, and it's pretty arrogant for me, as a privileged white woman, to be issuing pronouncements on how other's with fewer options should live. I do understand that. Who knows what decisions I would make if it were born out of such necessity? My main issues with the example you gave is this: 1). At my core, I simply don't believe that a goat's milk is ours to take (and, extrapolating this single goat to becoming what is more likely for financial security, many more goats) and that it is a natural food for humans and 2) I don't think I should support something I disagree with simply because we live in an imperfect world./ It is easy to travel down the road of, "Well, everything is compromised and flawed so I may as well do nothing. At least I won't be a hypocrite." I have seen this many times. What works for me is to support the fair trade products (and financially support as few human and non-human exploitative products) as possible. I don't buy new clothing; we buy few "new" things in general. We spend less on impulse purchases and unnecessities (yes, I made up a word) and reapply that to healthy food and fairly traded items. We still do not spend much: voluntary simplicity is part of the picture as well. (I can't stand when people "shop" themselves into making a progressive statement.) So, I guess that's my answer: it's a flawed world and we try to do our best given those compromising. As I said in my earlier comment to Red Hengry, it's not about perfection. It never has been. It's doing the best that we can given our values and our tools.

Thanks so much for your feedback, PT. It's a lot of food for thought and I do appreciate your perspective. I think this should become a separate entry at this point. Thanks for the idea! I will work on it when I get the chance. Many thanks for all you do!

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