Plant a seed in the common ground between vegan and nonvegan:
common sense in common ground.
There’s a great interview in the Pheonix New Times with a woman named Natalie Morris. She really “gets it.” What I mean by “gets it” is that she understands the place where vegans and nonvegans share common ground. Take a look:
CB: So do you “flex” and eat meat when it’s organic or humanely raised?
NM: You could say that. I hate the label “flexitarian” or even “vegetarian” to be honest. I’m not either and don’t claim to be. I just don’t eat meat, or seafood for that matter. Most call me vegetarian because its easier for them but I have to specify; I WOULD eat meat if given the ideal opportunity. I’m not against it. For me, the ideal opportunity is having meat that I believe has been humanely raised, has not had any environmental impacts and hasn’t harmed any foodworkers in the process. But in today’s meat industry, that’s asking a lot, even of the smallest and most well-intentioned ranchers and fishermen who are tied down to the laws set forth by the USDA and other government organizations. Bottom line- I will eat meat but I want to see firsthand what’s happened on the farm, that’s just not going to happen most of the time and I’m not willing to take everyone at their word. Meat has too much of an impact on our eco-system to take these things lightly.
Personally, I would not eat animal flesh no matter how compassionately the animal was raised and slaughtered. But the fact is that many people would. And the fact is, many peole only eat animal products now because they believe that animal products are produced in ways that are not unreasonably cruel. They’re wrong about that; most animal products are the result of intense, horrific cruelty. People who eat animals need to be educated about where their meat, dairy, and eggs come from:
You can’t trust the labels because they often don’t actually address cruelty. Most food labels only indicate the conditions under which the animals are raised. They do NOT change how animals are transported or slaughtered. Moreover, these labels are often “volunteary” and are not enforced. The “organic” label is an exception and is regulated by the USDA, but that mostly refers to the animals’ feed and not actual humane treatment. Learn more at humanefacts.org/labels.htm.
The other day I was handing out Compassionate Choices leaflets on a college campus and someone asked me about “humane meat.” I told him it was admirable that he wanted to make kind choices, but I told him it’s very hard to ensure that there wasn’t animal cruelty or environmental damage that occured before he bought the meat at the grocery store or restaurant. I said to the man:
“I challenge you to find animal products that meet your standards of humane and eco-friendly. Please do the research yourself and visit the farms. Remember, if they won’t show you where your meat comes from, you can’t trust them if they say it’s humane, healthy, or eco-friendly.”
Then I reminded him that if he can’t or won’t visit the farms, the easiest way to avoid participating in farmed animal cruelty and CAFO environmental destruction is to choose to eat vegan foods instead of animal products.
It’s just common sense. If you care about animals and the environment, eat like you care.
Editor’s note: This above article was originally published in April of 2011. It has been republished with minor edits in order to expose the concept to a new audience.