Archive for the ‘A Thousand Words’ Category
I did the following interview with my daughter, Cecile.
JM: Why did you become a vegetarian?
CM: Because I love animals and I don’t like how they kill them for food.
JM: What do your friends think about you being vegetarian?
CM: Sometimes they ask why I became a vegetarian, but one of my friends is a vegan so . . . she gets it. But some of my other friends don’t really get it.
JM: When they don’t get it what do you say to them?
CM: I say that they hurt animals for food and they kill them and, like you, I don’t think they should kill animals if they don’t have to.
JM: What are the biggest challenges you face as a vegetarian? Or, are there big challenges you face?
CM: Not really.
JM: What’s a typical lunch look like for you?
CM: A chocolate almond butter sandwich, orange slices, blackberries, and mango; sometimes Tofurky slices.
JM: If you were stranded on an island and could have only one thing to eat . . .
Fruit. Because that’s what they would have on an island.
A wave of accessible vegan literature is currently crashing upon us. This is good. Over the last few months I’ve had the pleasure of reading advance copies of three impending (and maybe just recently published) volumes and one book that’s been out for about a year. Not only do these projects complement each other brilliantly, but they each stand on their own as a remarkable analysis in a league of its own. The cause of veganism, because of these projects, is being deeply enriched. It’s hard to me to think of another time when, in such a concentrated moment, so many important volumes on animal rights came down the literary pike.
I will, over the course of the year, dedicate space to full length reviews of each volume (if anyone want to take a shot, I’m always eager to assign reviews). For now, just a mention and a quick sketch. Will Anderson’s This is Hope (which I’m still reading) is the most sophisticated and beautifully written blend of ecology and vegan ethics that I’ve ever read. Will’s vision is broad, and it puts prevalent models of environmentalism to shame. Hope Bohanec’s The Ultimate Betrayal is a piercing look into the moral schizophrenia that underscores the practice of so called “humane farming.” She does an especially fine job of highlighting the depravity involved in cultivating the friendship of an animal you eventually plan to exploit. Sherry Colb’s Mind if I Order the Cheeseburger? offers an extended and fiercely intelligent answer to virtually every objection to veganism that a vegan has had to face. You will be amazed not only by Colb’s ability to anticipate your questions, but to cover them with great insight and wit. Mark Hawthorne’s Bleating Hearts is the most comprehensive single compendium of animal exploitation that exists. Here at EP we tend to approach ethics through considering what’s on the end of our forks. Hawthorne forces us to expand that vision in ways even experienced ethical vegans will find informative and alarming.
We need these books to not only do well on their own (read: buy them) but we also need others to know about them. One of my projects this summer is to find a mainstream media outlet to let me do a multi-book review in an effort to recalibrate where veganism is in 2013. If these books are any indication, it’s a star that is rising.
The letter that follows came to Eating Plants the other day. It arrived in response to my April 10th coverage of Wagner Farm: http://james-mcwilliams.com/?p=3615. I initially chose not to post the comment—in part to save the writer, who was clear about her identity, from herself and, in part, because it is not intended to promote productive dialogue. I am, however, posting now without attribution (which, I know, goes against my normal push for complete identification). I am doing so for a specific reason: I would like to send this person a set of measured responses from my readers. Be forewarned: the letter is rude and, at times, out of line. However, the writer makes several assumptions that reflect common beliefs among many consumers who think they are morally justified to eat animals. There is, I realize, likely no way that what we say here will sway this person from her immediate and passionately held set of beliefs. However, we all know how time has a way of sending us back to earlier experiences and reinterpreting them, providing an opportunity for latter-day enlightenment. So, thanks, and, again, be as measured as you can. -jm
This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. PLEASE PLEASE go find a real cause to write about. Your obvious lack of any knowledge on this topic is embarrassing. You don’t even have the pig’s names right. If you’re so concerned about their welfare, don’t you think you should at least get the names right? And do you have any evidence, any at all, that those two pigs are being served at Baconfest? I didn’t think so. This goes to you too, Debby [Rubinstein, head of a local organization that wants to rescue the pigs]. You really should give it a rest. The more you say the more ridiculous you sound.
[The following quotes are all from Debby Rubinstein, followed by the reader's responses.]
“I don’t believe in slaughtering animals for food but I accept that others do. Acceptance of others beliefs and mutual respect is critical if we’re going to have a dialogue about issues that we all feel strongly about. My hope is that Wagner farm will show some good will towards the vegan members of their community by selling animals to the rescue.”
If you are so “accepting,” why is it that you are trying to control animals that are PRIVATELY OWNED? Each owner of those animals can do what they want with the animal. Just because these PRIVATE CITIZENS aren’t doing what you want, you have to throw a fit and make false accusations about Wagner Farm. You can do what you want with your animals, and the private citizens who house their animals at Wagner Farm can do what they want with theirs. If they want their pigs to grow so old and so large that they can no longer walk, they can. If they want to sell them for slaughter, they have that right as well.
“While slaughter is a global issue, we and many others find it inappropriate that a tax payer purchased and supported facility devises and implements policies and programming that essentially promote cruelty toward others, and makes money in doing so as well.”
Cruelty towards others? These are ANIMALS. Humans eat animals. Other animals eat animals. It’s the circle of life. If animals didn’t eat animals, the overpopulation would be devastating. If you don’t want to eat meat, fine. Don’t. But don’t push your ideas on others. It’s unbecoming.
I have visited Wagner Farm. I’ve seen the way the animals are treated. They are hand fed and cared for everyday. It’s a FARM. They are trying to open the eyes of people who think meat comes from plastic-wrapped containers in the grocery store. Maybe you should try to find a farm that is ACTUALLY mistreating animals.
As an American, it is your right to voice your opinion and that is one of the many great things about this country. But please, please note, you sound ridiculous. No one takes you seriously, Debby. Maybe if you found a worthwhile cause, you would have more support than just two people. The people of this town make it very clear that they don’t agree with you. Don’t you think if the majority of the tax payers in Glenview agreed with you that your protests would have actually had, you know, protestors instead of just you? This country is ruled democratically, and you have been outvoted. There is a reason you’re not getting anywhere, even after all these years. No one agrees with you. And if there are a few, the VAST majority of the tax paying residents don’t. So you will never win. That is another one of the beautiful things about this country. The majority has spoken.
One thing that keeps my nose in the essays of David Foster Wallace (I was at them again yesterday after a 2-minute conversation with the guy at my local bookshop) is that his greatest articulations were intimate concatenations (a word DFW liked) of immediate individual experience and transcendent national mood swings.
Wallace matured as a writer in the late 1980s, a time when the rails of his personal life intersected with the greedy ethos of a dark era—an era during which, as he wrote in Both Flesh and Not, “an unprecedented number of young Americans have big disposable incomes, fine tastes, nice things, competent accountants, access to exotic intoxicants, attractive sex partners, and are still deeply unhappy.”
More often than not, Wallace’s private mood—he was impossibly, instructively reflective—almost too accurately mirrored the glittering gloominess of his age. I say too often because this mimetic impulse almost surely inspired his suicide in 2008, an event that manages to interrupt the flow of my own brooding consciousness more often than I care to mention. Rarely does a day pass without me wondering about the verbal webs DFW would have spun around, say, The Wire.
In any case, re-reading his essay “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young” got me thinking about how I would characterize the age in which we now live, the one DFW checked out of, and the one my children will inherit. I can’t say I’m thrilled with it. Fact is: I think it’s pretty much an entertaining shit show. And while I’ll never match the verbal fecundity of DFW I nonetheless feel compelled to sketch out our current cultural landscape because, in a very real way, the change that I seek—a universal ethic of genuine, rather than rhetorical, respect for animals—hinges on the potential for human change within it.
What gets me the most about today’s dominant culture is our unthinking willingness (eagerness, really) to elevate once unimaginable forms of mindless distraction (anything with an on/off switch for starters) to normalized behavior and, in the process, degrade any meaningful quest to understand big questions about what it means to live a mindful life. “Here we are now, entertain us”—Kurt Cobain’s prescient imperative—comes to mind as an appropriate anthem of our age.
Of course, the two—entertainment and mindfulness—are connected. Investigations of existence, after all, inevitably highlight the unpleasant reality of death and the unpleasant reality of death is all-too-easily forgotten when we disappear into the blips and bings of a video game (which, if my airplane experiences are any indication, are more popular with grown men than young kids). We amuse ourselves to death not because it’s inherently satisfying to do so but because it allows us to dull lingering awareness of our quieter insecurities and ultimate transience. The forgotten upshot here is that if you cannot come to terms with (or even revel in) failure and death, well then, best of luck with life.
The implication of our systematically self-inflicted distraction on the cause of animals is in fact rather profound. There seems to me very little chance of any sort of mass awareness about the integrity of animal life when a singular aspect of amusing ourselves—a project that demands the constant pursuit of superficial and often mindless pleasure—centers not only on seeking entertaining distraction, but on eating animals. Vegan activists ask people to avoid eating animals as if we were asking them to wear khakis instead of jeans. But what we’re really asking them to do is to start figuring out who they are and, in so doing, cancel the passcode for the current source of their idea of “happiness.”
The trouble here (aside from the fact that I sound like a pompous jerk) is that the reflection required to distance ourselves from the modern savage within us comes through nothing less than the often terrifying personal experience of attempting to figure out, without the endless interference of cultural noise, such questions as a) who am I?; b) what do I most deeply believe?; c) how do I relate with other beings on the basis of those beliefs?; and d) what is my place and role in this world? People claim to seek answers to these questions through religion. I’m personally dubious, preferring instead to favor the harder, less historically occluded wisdom of serious philosophers, novelists, and essayists of a secular bent—in essence, the last people to whom we now listen.
Either way, the cause of animals, as DFW reminds me every time I read him, is intertwined with the volcanic cause of humans seeking to understand ourselves in these more substantial terms. I can only speak for myself on a point of such magnitude. But as I make a daily case for the cause of animals, I’m increasingly aware that the cart of our message is way ahead of the horse of culture. How they’ll be reversed remains anyone’s guess.
(Sorry if this sounded like an obnoxious anti-sermon. But it is, after all, Sunday.)
Yesterday was my semesterly Chapel Hill visit to Professor Jim Ferguson’s legendary EATS class, now in its 29th semester. The format of the course is elegant and simple. Students read some of my work (in this case two Atlantic articles on animal rights and a chapter from Just Food), they write a response, I read what they have to say, and then we meet in person to discuss. If you are ever in the position of designing a course, and have the luxury of inviting guest speakers, this is the way to do it.
In the past, the majority of students—some of the brightest at UNC (it’s an honors class)—predictably come at me from a sustainable foodie, local foodshed, point of view. They’re mildly sympathetic to the idea of animal rights, but any deeper interest in exploring such a perspective, much less trying to work it into their preconception of “sustainability,” is countered by a near religious commitment to eating animals raised under comparatively humane and local and organic conditions. Blah blah blah.
Interestingly, refreshingly, this semester was different. Two observations stand out. Before I elaborate on them, I should say that the class discussion was of the highest quality, perhaps the best I’ve had on my many visits to the seminar. The students were impassioned and more than eager to delve into the most intellectually challenging topics. With two hours up, I very much wanted to keep going (which is rarely the case for me), and, given the complexity that students were game to take on, there were a lot of places to go.
The first change I noticed was in the way students positioned themselves in their response papers. There was little hesitation or doubt about their stance on eating animals. There was, in other words, an honesty that I greatly appreciated, whether it was an honesty that condemned the unnecessary suffering of animals as categorically immoral, one that admitted that it was wrong to eat animals but that the person would continue to do so because animals “tasted good,” or if it was a firm belief that humans were at the top of the food chain and had evolved to eat every other species that moved so, you know, get the hell out of my way. These opinions, laid bare on the page, gave us much to talk about. And we did. And it was productive, at times, I hope, correctively so.
The second change I noticed was, perhaps, the presence of too much honesty. What I’m about to say here is not a complaint so much as a neutral observation, one I’ll elaborate on momentarily with an attempt at a useful takeaway. Those readers put on the defensive by my ethical arguments were remarkably aggressive with their rhetorical weaponry. I say this not to whine because, frankly, I don’t really care about my ideas being dismissed as “silly,” “ridiculous,” marked by “a gaping hole in logic,” and coming from “a righteous vegan trying to proselytize.” But, nonetheless, these phrases—and others like them— were all written, for me to see before I visited, by students who have yet to graduate from college. That’s something new for me.
My elaboration/analysis of this phenomenon—one that, I’ll admit, had me choking on my airplane coffee as I read them on the flight to Raleigh-Durham—begins with this observation: the students who wrote these words were, in person, engaging, friendly, and smart. Their tone in no way reflected their character. Instead—and this is my sort of terrifying hypothesis—their tone, which sounded quite familiar to me, reflected the bitter writing culture that has evolved out of online commentary, a dungeon of expression in which you hide away and throw verbal and sub-verbal bombs because, well, you can.
I think these students were just as freaked out to see the physical me—a real live individual with passions and personality and a beard—as I was to see them. My message was, on this particular score, simple: when you want to throw an insult, hold back and use your turbo-booster brain to make an eloquent and well-reasoned argument. Because, if my hypothesis is correct, it would genuinely pain me to see so many intelligent students fall victim to the ubiquitous boorishness of online ranting, a form of communication that leads nowhere.
Either way, it reminds me of the power of personal contact to shape the tone and demeanor of personal interaction, whether it be between humans and humans or humans and animals. Just as it’s much harder to sit next to a person and call his ideas “silly” or “ridiculous” or “illogical” or whatever, it’s also harder to spend time with an animal, see that he has a personality, and then kill and eat the poor creature.
Not a bad thought to have the morning after a first-rate seminar.
Over the last two days, more than fifty people have sent me a link to the Times Magazine piece about eating the whole hog (and teaching kids to do the same!). Thank you for sending it. Now, send it to everyone else you know. Indeed, spread the word about this article far and wide because, in all seriousness, this is exactly kind of coverage we need. For those lucky enough to have missed it: brace yourself. (Many thanks to Ian Elwood for the designing the image above.)
I’m not going to analyze the piece because, unless you are a psychopath, it’s sufficiently self explanatory. In its gonzo glorification and stylization of violence it will inevitably offend most omnivorous gazes with its inherent creepiness. Recently here at Eating Plants there was talk about how vegans who insist on bringing their own food to non-vegan restaurants make vegans look bad. This piece, and the movement it covers, makes meat-eaters look even worse.
The woman holding the pig’s head looks like evil incarnate. The kids, and their teacher, are smiling at death and dismemberment. The “look” on the pig’s face is Orwellian. Vegans should praise this sensational brand of journalism because, although the topic itself is morally offensive, the portrayal, although intending to be an example of responsible writing, reflects an almost comical attempt to promote the dubious virtue of no-waste carnivorism. My sense is that most meat-eating readers—certainly those who realize that a clean murder is just as wrong as a messy one— will not be motivated to go out and eat pig stomach. More to the point, they will find the suggestion so absurd they might look at its paler reflection through a new lens.
In any case, easily overlooked in the all the uproar about this piece is the fact that in the same issue the Times did an A1 story on the various attempts by the meat industry to squelch the release of undercover videos documenting animal abuse (ag-gag). The only complaint I have with it is that it fails to note that most “humanely-raised” animals wind up in the same slaughterhouses as the factory-farmed animals shown being abused in the story. Otherwise, it was a terrific example of a cause that both animal rights activists and sustainable foodies agree should get prime journalistic real estate getting prime journalistic real estate. Story is here.
I read the “how to eat a pig piece” on Saturday at 3 am (one of my dogs woke me up to go outside and I had trouble getting back to sleep, so I read). The article nagged me and kept me from ever fully falling back to sleep. Why do we glorify suffering?, I kept asking myself. It’s not the first time this question has cheated me of sleep.
Hope comes in small ways, though. That afternoon, I took my daughter to the Texas Veg Fest here in Austin. (Colleen Patrick-Goudreau was there, spoke to a standing room only crowd, and sold a gagillion books). As I watched my daughter enjoy a “chick’n” taco I realized that, while the cause of animals will always keep us up at night, the two of us (well, three, as Colleen joined us) were sitting in a park where over 5000 people were milling around the theme of not eating them.
It was then that I realized the Times article may have been a blessing in disguise for the cause of an ethic that, at times, seems to orbit in another universe but is, in reality, very close to home.
Last Friday I spoke (for the fourth year in a row) at the annual meeting of MIT’s “Food Boot Camp,” an intense, weeklong uber-seminar for food and agriculture writers from all over the world. I designed my talk to draw on the book I’m writing (The Modern Savage) to highlight some of the less obvious problems with the production of animal products. From the outset I made it clear that my work was driven by the imperatives of advocacy, particularly the belief that, no matter how humane the systems we promote may appear, we treat animals very, very badly.
I opted for a topical approach, capturing the gist of my problems with horse meat, grass-fed beef, backyard slaughter, welfare labels, and mobile slaughterhouse units—topics that, of course, have been explored in some depth at Eating Plants. Interweaving the public health, environmental, and animal welfare implications of these issues, I chose to allow the fundamental ethical dilemma of animal exploitation to sit in the room quietly, like the proverbial elephant.
Much to my surprise, the journalists wanted to talk about the elephant. Repeatedly, questions turned to explicitly ethical considerations. What about “tribes in the Amazon”? What about “meatless Mondays”? Aren’t small-farms at least better for animals? What about hunting? And, my favorite: “if you had to die in order to be eaten, how would you prefer to go?” (Answer: “I would prefer not be eaten at all–and that is a viable option.)*
Professional journalists tend to be fact-driven, hard-edged, thinkers focused on fitting well-researched narratives into pre-existing media categories. They generally are not the type to waste deadline time luxuriating in the grey areas that characterize philosophical questions of animal rights. I therefore took it as an encouraging sign that the material I presented—and, perhaps, the way I presented it–welcomed the journalists into what I see as the heart of the matter: how do we ever justify the unnecessary slaughter of sentient animals for food we do not need?
The overall experience led to me think more about the media. The media, generally understood, is so critical to the purposes of animal advocacy but, at the same time, so structured against it. My gut sense is that the ethical issues that I raised are of tremendous interest to food and agriculture writers working at mainstream publications. The problem, however, is that there is precious little mainline journalistic space to explore those concerns and, when that space does appear, it never seems to last.
To wit, for years I ranted on about animal ethics on the Atlantic.com‘s “food channel.” I was—and remain—indebted for the rare opportunity that the editors there provided me. Now, however, the “food channel” has been replaced by the “health channel” and, in turn, my bullhorn has been put on the shelf (unless I want to write about generic health issues).
The upside of this structural problem is that advocates are working as hard as they ever have to get their messages into the public sphere through unconventional media venues. To me, the chance to break into a decentralized media landscape with professional quality writing has never been greater. To an extent, Eating Plants is proof of this claim, and it is for this reason, that I pour my efforts into this site and, as always, seek and value your feedback, criticisms, and support.
[Speaking of which, this week I'm writing a piece for a national publication refuting the claims that Allan Savory made in his TED talk. Any info you think I should see, place send via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Meantime: fists in the air.
*Although if I HAD to die it would be at the hands of a hunter who was a sure shot.
In preparation for a talk I’m giving to a roomful of food and agriculture writers tomorrow, I revisited some of the research I did last year on welfare labeling. In general terms, my opinion on these value-added markers of humane treatment hasn’t much changed: they’re basically a sham.
Still, many consumers look for them. Whole Foods has capitalized on the emerging desire to purchase “humanely raised” animal products by seeking certification from an organization known as Global Animal Partnership. GAP offers a tiered rating system, with 1 being the least rigorous and 5+ the most. John Mackey, a vegan and WF’s founder, played a direct role in helping to design these standards.
The differences between 1 and 5+ are significant. Consider chickens. A level 1 rating (to cite only a few examples) makes no stipulations regarding stocking density, permits single-legged catching, and requires zero outdoor access. A level 5 rating also has no stocking density requirements but requires constant pasturage and bans single legged catching, stipulating that “chickens must be caught by the body with both hands.”
From a genuine welfare perspective, differences such as these are existentially irrelevant. It’s never in the interest of a chicken’s welfare to be scooped up and trucked to the slaughterhouse. From a lesser-of-evils perspective, though, the ratings matter and, as such, it’s therefore important to note that there are no incentives for producers to graduate from 1 to 5+. A producer need only meet the minimum threshold of 1 to make it into Whole Foods.
But here’s the thing: a comparison to the pre-existing “organic” label for animal products reveals that the lowness of the GAP threshold renders its level 1 rating almost redundant because, with very few exceptions, the level 1 requirements are no different than the “organic” requirements. In some cases they’re notably worse.
Both standards agree on the following (again, this is not a comprehensive list): they allow disbudding and castration without anesthesia; make no stipulations regarding ammonia levels, periods of darkness, or stocking density in chicken sheds; they do not have specified space allowances for housed pigs; they permit septum rings and ear notching; they make no limits on how chickens are picked up; neither has a litter management program for turkeys; and they do not address slaughter standards.
As noted, there are differences between the labels. Organic certification requires that pigs have outdoor access while GAP level 1 does not; organic allows tail docking while GAP level 1 does not; organic requires windbreaks for pastured cattle while GAP level 1 does not; organic has no limit on how long cattle can travel to slaughter wile GAP level 1 limits that time to 25 hours. These differences notwithstanding, a comparison between the organic and GAP level 1 labels are, for all intents and purposes, a wash.
Which raises an interesting question: why, if welfare is the concern, seek a new label in addition to “organic”? If GAP 1 is effectively the same as certified organic, and if there is no incentive for producers to climb the ladder of welfare improvements, then why bother with the promotion of a separate “welfare” label?
The only answer that I can think of is that doing so allows producers and retailers to charge more for the animal products that, by labeling them both “organic” and “GAP certified,” will make consumers feel that much better about eating the flesh of an animal who, in the end, could give a cluck what label you stuck to his dead body.
This article of mine ran yesterday in Slate. Feel free to leave your comments there rather than here.
For decades upon decades Masanobu Fukuoka lived on a remote hillside of a Japanese island and ate what he produced. Without tillage or chemicals (even organic), he grew rice, barley, a range of indigenous vegetables, orchard fruit, the occasional egg, and the even less occasional piece of fish. His methods were so hands-off he called it “do nothing agriculture.”
His approach to farming was inseparable from his approach to life, one that he had a penchant for encapsulating in zen-like aphorisms. As he explained in his charming manifesto, The One Straw Revolution (1978; reprint 2009), “The purpose of a natural diet is not to create knowledgeable people who can give sound explanations and skillfully select among the various foods, but to create unknowing people who take food without consciously making decisions.”
Whoa. This remark gave me pause. As someone who spends a considerable amount of time thinking obsessively about food—not to mention advising people how to choose— it was a little unnerving to have this man of obvious wisdom and intelligence suggest that the path to culinary enlightenment came through “unknowing” our food.
The idea here is that if we would just chill out and stop trying to become all knowing we would actually know a lot more than we think we do (readers of Michael Polanyi take note). Rather than (agri)culture becoming something to which we contribute and consume it would be something we become. As Fukuoka writes, “Culture is usually though of as something created, maintained, and developed by humanity’s efforts alone. But culture always originates in the partnership between man and nature.”
It’s easy to dismiss Fukuoka as a sort of wayward village eccentric. To be sure, the man is eccentric, indulging as he does in vatic utterances such as “If we eradicate the false conception of nature, I believe the root of the world’s disorder will disappear” (clearly this man has never seen my office). But he’s also making a trenchant critique of contemporary culture and the frenzied behavior it generates. In so doing, he’s also offering the activist the chance to consider a new perspective.
A recurring theme in The One Straw Revolution is the importance of doing nothing. Yes, labor is, I suppose, the ultimate basis of culture. But that doesn’t mean it has to dominate it, nor does it mean that we cannot—as the only species capable of doing so—make a conscious choice to spend our afternoons staring at a sycamore tree, writing ideas into a blog post, or reading novels rather than working to produce goods and services that, for the most part, have little meaningful bearing on our lives. We are, to put it differently, the only species that has made work a counterproductive endeavor. We can change that.
One of the many paradoxes in Fukuoka’s book is the fact that he demonstrates absolutely zero interest is stressing a plant-based diet while, at the same time, essentially living his life around one. For Fukuoka, eating really is an unthinking decision that, as a direct consequence of the circumstances that structure his life, is deeply rooted in compassion not just for animals but for the earth as a whole. This fortuitous convergence is made possible because he works hard not to work. He’s happy to sit on his hillside and admire the natural world he feels increasingly at one with. Systematically slaughtering animals, much like trashing the soil with chemicals, simply doesn’t fit into this simple but powerful framework.
Regrettably, the culture in which we now live punishes the desire to do “nothing.” Our commercial driven, materialistic mentality means that to be unthinking about anything, but especially food, leads to the opposite of what Fukuoka intended: suffering, violence, and exploitation. Worse, it leads to the rationalization of these habits. The thinking vegan looks into this abyss of power, hierarchy, and abuse and holds his placard of resistance high. “Don’t eat animals,” we insist. I wonder, after contemplating a one straw revolution, if we should think seriously about appending to that message another request: “and then do nothing.” Fukuoka wrote, “In farming there is little that cannot be eliminated.” What if this were true for life in general?