Miscellaneous News (all depressing)
a) If, as an activist, you want to experience the sting of insignificance consult China. Raising animals for billions of people to eat with increasingly regularity, and doing so without regulation, leads to both public health nightmares and abysmal treatment of animals. Recent evidence of this combined threat was confirmed in a BBC report documenting the discovery of thousands of dead pigs in the Shanghai River. As the body count reached 5,000, public officials declared the water to be safe. The pigs may have been disposed of after freezing to death in a factory farm. The response seems to have been a collective yawn.
b) Several posts on Eating Plants have expressed grudging support for governmental regulation of harmful eating habits. Most notably, I’ve argued that if the government can get away with regulating sugary soft drinks—which have zero redeeming value—then this regulation might set a precedent for the future regulation of hamburgers or bacon when we become aware of the equally detrimental health consequences of these items. Well, it turns out (for now) that you cannot regulate soft drinks in New York. Bloomberg’s ban was recently overturned. Making matters more depressing, the largest opposition to the ban came from groups who suffer the highest rates of diabetes and other ill effects of huge sodas. Why? Turns out these groups were carefully targeted and financially supported by the soft drink industry. I’m sure Big Beef is watching very carefully. Story is here.
c) Finally, there is a national mystery meat in South Africa called “Biltong.” Very often biltong is labeled as being made of gazelle. What has consumers in South Africa in an uproar, however, is not that biltong is made of gazelle. Rather, it’s the recent revelation that biltong labeled as gazelle is actually made of horse meat. And that biltong labeled as antelope is actually giraffe. And that biltong labeled as ostrich is kangaroo. Seems that consumers are impassioned about what kind of sentient animal they are eating but stubbornly indifferent to the fact that their discrimination means nothing to the animals that end up in these little meat sticks.
On a personal note, as I travel from Los Angeles back to Austin, I find myself feeling as down as I ever have about the prospects of creating a friendlier world for animals, and as convinced as ever that, while the work we do is essential, there will be no celebrations in the course of our lifetimes.