Saturday, 2 June 2012

Shooting and sh*tting

Ok, I'm already starting to dread the google hits from this post's title. Nevermind. There's been a meme doing the rounds lately featuring a cow in a patch of grass. I gather the starting-point for this was a meat-eater using the caption 'my food shits on your food.' So far, so childish. I can brush it off. I am less impressed still by the response by a vegetarian or vegan (I don't know who made it to start with) featuring the same picture and the caption 'your food shits on its food.' Now, I can understand the desire to retaliate, but I don't like this. Firstly, why are we still defining a cow as someone's food? I thought the point of being vegan was to move on from that view of animals. Secondly, what Roger calls the 'it parade' is coming into play here. What possible benefit is there in unnecessarily defining a living creature as an it? Anyway, just had to get that out there. The other bovine-related news this week involves a TV documentary in which baby calves were seen being shot. Roger, who I linked above, brought this bit of coverage to my attention. (Sorry for the Daily Heil article, I'm tempted to install the firefox app that diverts to pictures of kittens) I agree with a lot of what the author has to say here. If people are going to eat animal products they should be prepared to get up close and personal with where these things come from, and for that matter to eat the 'yucky' bits. Suffice it to say, however, there's a 'but' involved. The author describes how 'the animal rights brigade' put an end to the export of live calves for confinement in veal crates. To be fair, he isn't entirely critical and accepts valid welfare-based arguments for why this is a good thing. Then he continues: 'Where the campaigners were wrong was in failing to establish an alternative destination for the British calves.' Right. Now I thought there was a fair bit of effort on that front. I admit that veganism hasn't been at the forefront of live exports campaigns. FYI I think it probably should be. Why shouldn't people who object to cute calves or fluffy sheep being trucked through their main street be exposed to arguments explaining that other animals deserve the same consideration and that farming and slaughter in the UK aren't a barrel of laughs? But that's a bit of a side issue here. The point is, veganism got a whole lot more coverage out of the debate around calf exports than from any other welfare campaign of that era. Because it was calves, and the dairy industry was directly involved, it provided a lot more impetus for people to go vegan rather than just vegetarian. I was incidentally one of the vegetarians inspired to go further at that point. As far as I'm concerned, removing the demand for meat and dairy (and subsequently for the breeding of calves) is a pretty good alternative to breeding animals for the sake of killing them...

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