Posts Tagged ‘Ellen Kennelly’
Next week Slow Food USA will host an event called Slow Meat 2014. Allan Savory, the current guru of rotational grazing, will deliver the keynote address. Obscuring the ethics of slaughter behind culinary rhetoric, the event—among other stunts—will “honor” the American bison (the meeting is in Colorado) with an “artistic, narrated breakdown.” Which basically means Slow Foodies will slaughter the bison, butcher him, and discuss their actions with high-minded intentionality. They will not rush.
Ellen Kennelly (a frequent participant at the Pitchfork) and I recently discussed the importance of getting ahead of the media on these issues by attempting to preempt predictably uncritical coverage. Any reporter covering this event, for example, should understand that Allan Savory’s colleagues have seriously questioned his research. They should also know that there are ethical implications to killing a sentient animal for the purposes of entertainment and culinary indulgence. Fast food or slow, these issues should be addressed, or at least fall on the media radar. In an important respect, there’s a reason that thousands of people will gather to witness the slaughter of a bison and not question the act: a lack of knowledge.
To that end, Ellen—who is one of those people who is constantly engaging the public on animal issues in the most tactful and effective manner—wrote the following letter to her acquaintances in the Slow Food club. It’s an invitation to discuss the issues that concern animal advocates. Not fight over. Discuss. She also outlined for me the kind of information we should seek to present to those who attend and write about this event. I think it’s all very smart.
The meeting will happen. Slow Food will go on. The bison will die and be eaten. But that doesn’t mean our outrage can’t exist more publicly, in the mainstream media, rather than merely seething in the confines of our little blogs.
I trust you will share this information far and wide.
Exactly a month ago I ran the Boston Marathon. Well, sort of. I ran the course. I did so because exactly a month before that, the actual event was brought to an abrupt end by two bombs that killed and maimed. The tragedy sunk into me—a long time long-distance runner— like a demon that needed to be exorcized. My decision to run the course was spontaneous. I was in Boston for business and took some time to visit the memorial that had been set up in Copley Square. I was moved by it. So much so that, the next day, I took a cab to Hopkinton (sort of like my entrance fee), snapped a picture, and started running. I love the starting picture because, with the sun at my back, it looks as if I’m scratching my head in utter confusion.
And I ran. Not too fast but not too slowly either. Miles of soft rolling hills yielded to the temporary visual purgatory of Framingham and then gorgeous Wellesley, where I stopped at the Whole Foods, downed a mediocre sports bar, re-filled my camelback with water, and drank a blueberry smoothie. The day could not have been more perfect weather-wise. Fifties with a light tailwind. I hit Newton and the hills, then Brookline and Boston. When I turned the corner onto Boylston life hummed along as usual, but I could still see the finish line emblazoned across the street. I stopped my watch at 4:09, the exact clock time when the first bomb went off a month earlier. I continued past the finish line to the memorial, whereupon I added my shoes (which I had borrowed from my dad) in an act of personal closure. I had written on them an imperative I live by: “run with joy.” In any case, demon: gone.
The day before I had spoken with Ellen Kennelly, and she generously agreed to meet me at Copley–with food. Ellen is a loyal follower of Eating Plants, a seasoned athlete, and one of the most reasoned and reasonable commenters on the site (we also have a mutual friend in Corby Kummer, my editor at the Atlantic). She is also an amazing vegan cook. Ellen had what I needed most at that moment: food and friendship. As we sat in the grass and talked I ate an avocado and greens sandwich in homemade pita bread with homemade hummus and a couple of amazing homemade black bean and chocolate sports bars. Incredible! And in case it ever matters to you, one can walk through the streets of Boston in socks and nobody will take a second look.
Ellen is not only an amazing vegan cook but, as I suggested, a powerful activist (whose husband, Charlie, is a world-class rowing champion who actively promotes veganism as well). In talking, I learned that she recently wrote a long letter to her alumni magazine (St. Paul’s School) protesting a (ridiculous) piece it ran on “happy meat.” The letter, which Ellen agreed to share with me, is here to download: Kennelly Letter. It strikes me as a model of activism worthy of imitation. Ellen’s vegan conversion narrative will follow soon (and, I hope, Charlie’s as well).