Wednesday, February 21, 2018

(E&A) Meat and the Excusarian Brain

Though a study linking higher IQ with the (youthful) inclination to go vegetarian may or may not prove true or of much consequence -- one doesn't have to be particularly clever to reject conventions that unnecessarily harm oneself or others -- it is clearly a mark of individual and collective rationality to reject prevailing methods of food production.

But human traditions (especially those that touch our daily lives) can be stubbornly resistant to reason or change, leading one recent columnist to say this about the proliferation of meat-eating "excusarians":

I’ve heard every excuse in the book for eating animals, but I’ve yet to hear a convincing reason. It’s a pretty simple equation: since humans don’t need to consume animals to survive, killing them simply to satisfy our taste buds amounts to senseless slaughter. But our eating habits and appetites have very deep roots, and we prefer convenience over conscience. With a determination that belies an irrational attachment to animal flesh and secretions, otherwise sensible and sensitive people spend vast amounts of time and energy concocting outrageous excuses to justify this unnecessary habit. Using lyrical and exalted language, they extol the virtues of tradition, glorify the need to conserve “heritage breeds,” and wax poetic about our “evolutionary heritage."

Affixed with meaningless labels that make it seem as if the animals sacrificed themselves for the pleasure of humans, the Holy Triumvirate of meat, dairy, and eggs remains the sacred foundation of the human diet, regarded as more of a right than a privilege. The marketing that surrounds these “products” suggests that not eating meat is downright un-American, and this is echoed by the mainstream public as well as “progressives." Culture and tradition are not excuses for cruelty.

There is perhaps no other lifestyle habit we spend so much time defending. Every excuse we make is an attempt to absolve ourselves from our participation in the gratuitous exploitation, mutilation, and death of non-human animals. If we have to disguise, rationalize, romanticize, and ritualize eating animals to such a degree that we’re no longer living in truth or reality, then perhaps we’re not comfortable with it at all.

(E&A) Veganism and Global Climate Change

Curiously absent from mainstream discussions of global warming is any mention of our self-destructive addiction to animal flesh and secretions. 

Intensive methods of animal agriculture now produce more than 20% (some say it could be as high as 50%) of all greenhouse gases attributable to human activity (in the form of both CO2 and non-CO2 emissions, with the latter having an even more severe impact on the world's climate). Sociologist Dan Brook sums up the situation this way:

Vegetarianism is literally about life and death -- for each of us individually and for all of us together. Eating animals simultaneously contributes to a multitude of tragedies: the animals' suffering and death; the ill-health and early death of people; the unsustainable overuse of oil, water, land, topsoil, grain, labor and other vital resources; environmental destruction, including deforestation, species extinction, mono-cropping and global warming; the legitimacy of force and violence; the mis-allocation of capital, skills, land and other assets; vast inefficiencies in the economy; tremendous waste; massive inequalities in the world; the continuation of world hunger and mass starvation; the transmission and spread of dangerous diseases; and moral failure in so-called civilized societies. Vegetarianism is an antidote to all of these unnecessary tragedies.

The editors of World Watch concluded in the July/August 2004 edition that "the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future -- deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease." Lee Hall, the legal director for Friends of Animals, is more succinct: "Behind virtually every great environmental complaint there's milk and meat."

Global warming may be the most serious global social problem threatening life on Earth. We need to fight global warming on the governmental and corporate levels, and we also need to fight global warming on the everyday and personal levels. Now we need to fight global warming -- with our forks.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Thesis XII, Volume 24.1

Thesis XII, Volume 24.1 has now gone live.  Congratulations and thanks go out to the many contributors to this substantive, wide-ranging issue.  Hard copies to follow.  I look forward to continuing the conversations.