I reblogged the button that said “Animals for the Ethical Treatment of Women” because I agree with it, and I’m tired of the pornographic portrayals of women by the animal rights movement.
I do want to clarify, however, that I do have concern for the abuse of animals and the degradation of the environment by the factory farm industry. My diet has been vegetarian for almost 30 years and vegan for over 20. I am one of the oldest vegans on the planet. I do not promote veganism, however, because I realize only too well how hard it is to maintain this commitment in such a non-vegan world. I only ask people to learn to cook/eat/like some non-meat dishes and to refrain from eating meat as much as they comfortably can.
There has been a lot of misinformation about vegetarianism out there—on both sides, but in recent years particularly from those who wish to promote meat eating. Most people who promote diets of any kind have a personal agenda, so you have to be perspicacious and read a lot. There is good information out there. Some of the recent pseudo-science about veganism and ecology is addressed in this blog. The people at Vegan Outreach have been committed to pragmatic approaches to ending animal suffering as well addressing the health aspects of vegetarianism.
That said, I am equally concerned about the humiliation of women that goes into publicity campaigns for the animal rights movements. The most recent horror was the woman who volunteered to undergo animal testing in front of an audience in a skin-suit. I get it that it’s women who consume these cosmetics, but women use the cosmetics to make themselves acceptable to men. Why are only women in these ads and publicity campaigns? I do not believe it is discouraging animal abuse by drawing parallels with the abuse of women. I believe these sorts of campaigns are selling abuse of women in the guise of animal rights, whatever the intent. People come away with the idea that abuse of women is okay if it helps animals. How sick is that?
About the health aspects of vegetarianism or “paleo” diets or anything else: I think women have been groomed to be way more conscious of diet than is necessary or even healthy. The idea that nightshades/grains/gluten/soy/canola and other items you can buy in any health food store are poison contributes to anorexia as much as the pressure to be thin (and the two work together). Aside from eating disorders, which at root are not really about a particular diet, I do not believe that diet is a leading cause of women’s health problems. The most pressing health problems for women as I see it (in no particular order) are:
- lack of sleep
- lack of exercise
- alcohol/drug/tobacco use
- eating disorders
- lack of access to health care
Poverty is well correlated with each of these issues, although women from all income brackets usually have a few of these things going on.
I would like to see people eating fewer animals, but I would also like to see more discussion about these other issues. And I’m very tired of seeing degrading pictures of women in animal rights campaigns.