Sarah Palin Said WHAT About Meat?

January 9, 2014

Sarah Palin's #1 new year's resolution is "to eat more meat."

After she pledged to increase her chances of heart disease and become a burden on our health care system, she asks us all, "as individuals, to live with industriousness, self-discipline, and selflessness so our nation can be restored to her exceptionalism."

Well, who cares about America? Our amber waves of grain, our purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain? Who cares about our individual effects on our exceptional public realm?

Arguably the most patriotic group of all: vegans—who organize our lives around the very-American virtues Palin lists—not only with our own nation in mind, but the whole world.

What's important to pick on here is not Palin's resolve to eat more meat (I truly doubt it's on her to-do list), but to notice how she—and any entity that sells animal products—uses meat as a tool to attract and solicit backing, without conjuring any image of animals or cruelty.

Palin's resolution, for example, is a cheap means to establish that there are "sides" in politics—and remind us which one she's on. She's uses meat as a device to elicit "hell-yeahs" from supportive fans (I would hardly call them constituents) and then demean progressivism and environmentalism into meaninglessness. She didn't promise to "eat more animals," which would have made anyone wrinkle a brow, but to "eat more meat." There is no cruelty nor animals in the equation, they disappear into the thin air left behind by a swift offer of down-home comraderie. The transparency of the device alone is an offense to good bad politicians who at least think better of the public, enough to hide their manipulations more suavely. 

Well, divide-and-conquer is the oldest political trick in American history. Now meat (not animals) is a vehicle used by politicians, restaurants, grocery chains, sports teams, etc. to pinpoint audiences and gain relatability points. As long as people stay busy identifying themselves with prefixed offerings, the menu itself is never in question. Going vegan certainly allowed me to see the game more deeply and clearly than ever before— we can all raise our little ones to see it, too.

While meat-eating and veganism are inherently political, they belong to no political party. Health, wellbeing, and the destruction of life and land are bipartisan issues for their widespread affects on the public realm. Eating meat does not make one more gritty or more American. Rather, environmentalism, self-help, and the abolition of systematic breeding and slaughter—all tenets of veganism—are far more aligned with the revolutionary ideals our country was founded for.

Now I want to hear from you. Where do you witness meat being used as a tool to sway an audience? Leave your answer in the comments below.

White People Wednesday: A Vegan Expat Shares Her Feelings

March 6, 2013
Picture 5Do you own Vegan Cooking for Dummies? No refunds!

The confession letter I would have preferred from vegan expat author Alexandra Jamieson:

•I'm no longer vegan.

•I believe in the good of veganism but I've decided to oblige my cravings for meat.

•The values I have preached can not be reconciled with the violence required to take the life of an animal on my behalf.

•I accept the contradiction.

•I will be donating the royalties from Vegan...for Dummies to Farm Sanctuary in perpetuity.

Instead, her letter hit me with—this is the only description I have—a tsunami of whiteness. A boatload of faux-spiritual, pop psychobabble about her "truth" and happiness, along with an "it's-not-me, it's-my-body" argument to displace any agency in the matter. It's Manifest Destiny, it's eugenics, it's fundamentalist religion—everyone's got God on their side. Except those being preyed upon.

I accept that some people desert. I don't accept the justification. Even if you want to, you can't die on a diet of nutrient-dense natural foods. It can't be the protein or the texture of meat that Jamieson missed—because by all measures those can be replicated and placeboed—I suspect it was the idea, "normal" food culture, and the "forbidden" that was nagging at her.

If, in the wake of her cravings, she had written a public letter in which she confessed her cravings for meat, asked for ideas, or promoted ways to deal, she would have been overwhelmed by the support and compassion she implies her now-critics lack. That level of candidness would have been a better qualifier of the "honesty" Jamieson is being lauded for now. But she didn't decide to keep it real during her cravings for a reason—she really didn't want any advice or encouragement to stay vegan. She wanted to do what she wanted without interference. Same story from dominant classes throughout history—and no amount of soft-spoken, aha-moment, self-congratulatory rhetoric hides it. "Lose the Cravings" by giving in to them?

Politics and Scrambled Abortions: A Vegan Call to Pro-Lifers

October 12, 2012


After watching the Vice-Presidental debates last night, I insist that the pro-life demographic—those who would vote to impose their beliefs on the entire nation—go vegan on principle so that their eating habits fully align with their morals and values.

Otherwise, for example, when Paul Ryan states that "life begins at conception" in order to justify his Right to Life stance, it triggers my imagining of him consuming a daily breakfast of remnant bodies—scrambled fetuses and strips of pigs' loins, if you will—who not only had no right to life, but who were systematically brought onto Earth for the sole purpose of their end (that's 10 billion "aborted" lives—conscious ones, no less, per year in the U.S. alone).

Now, as the majority of the vegan population is made up of liberals, and as the majority of liberals are pro-choice, we vegans are often called hypocrites for this contradiction in our own politics and eating habits. We are often accused of "loving animals and hating humans."

Here's what I say, speaking for myself, of course: I am both pro-life and pro-choice. Due to both diligence and neuroses, I've never had to consider abortion, thank God/Jesus/Buddha/Moses/luck, etc. I personally find abortion gruesome, but feel that a woman's choice is inarguably a right that requires protection. When pro-lifers protested at my uber-liberal UC Santa Cruz campus—dead fetus photos and all, I was secretly glad. I think all young men and women should know the reality of the procedure as much they should know what happens at factory farms. Sex-ed classes should emphasize that abortion is not to be used as regular birth control. And, I feel, most every day, that meat should be banned for the very real and mass destruction it causes. But hypothetically, I would not vote to shove this belief down someone else's throat. My work is rather to educate people so that they themselves might stop shoving things down their own throats.

People should inform public policy, not the other way around. That is democracy, that is politics, and that is why I am vegan—for the lifestyle's power on the public realm, with or without legislation. And that's the great thing about how Roe v. Wade stands now: all sides may continue to exercise their beliefs. As for the question of abortion in last night's debate, and Paul Ryan's response—“I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith"— I must say that I think his answer disqualifies him as a VP and potential Presidential candidate. We citizens should exercise our political passions publicly, but a politician, ideally, is hired to stand in an entirely different position. I'll refer to the words of David Mamet, who wrote the following in an old essay titled "A Speech for Michael Dukakis" (it is the imaginary speech he wished Presidential candidate Dukakis would have given during his first TV debate with George Bush in 1988):

A lot of mystery and ceremony has become associated with the job of President...But the job was designed, and the job should be, to preside, to preside over legitimately opposed factions in such a way as to represent the interests of the people as a whole...I believe that the job of Chief Executive should be performed, and is performed best, by a man who is not a zealot; who refers his decisions to the rule of Law, always in the knowledge that he was elected not to enact his own whims, his own "passions," but to represent his constituents; and to put the rule of law, and the will of the People as expressed in Law, above his own will.

Whatever your political leanings, I hope you will go to the ballots next month and voice your position. No matter what anyone says, your vote still counts—at least as long as the other side is still voting, too.