Earlier this week, I read this article about a Minnesota farmer, Catherine Friend, who recently wrote a book called The Compassionate Carnivore. I haven’t read the book and don’t plan to, so my critique of it is based on her website and other book reviews I found, but I feel I have a decent idea of what she’s trying to argue (or rather, justify, as the case may be). One book reviewer said this:
Central to her argument is that vegetarians do nothing to help animals because by ‘leaving the table’ they do nothing to ensure that the inhumane, non-sustainable factory farming of the big meat producers can be ameliorated by small farmers like herself.
This infuriates me. Vegetarians don’t “leave the table”; we stay at the table and make a statement by not eating what everyone else is eating. We encourage others to think about their food choices. And more than anything else, I have to say that all the veg*ns I know are activists who work every day in some form or another to reduce the suffering of innocent animals. Furthermore, most veg*ns don’t just want factory farming abolished, they want the slaughter of all animals – factory farmed or “sustainably” farmed – to end. So no, I guess most of us aren’t acting as cheerleaders for small farmers–we’re acting as cheerleaders for the billions of cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and other animals that are slaughtered each year in this country alone. I don’t think you can say that’s “doing nothing to help animals”.
Another reviewer wrote this:
The author writes a very touching chapter called “Letter To My Lambs,” in which she talks about their lives, her love for them, and her gratitude for their sacrifice. “I wish you a safe journey, and I honor your role in my life.”
“Their sacrifice”? That makes it sound like these lambs have a choice in the matter. I am assuming her farm is not so compassionate as to offer the lambs a choice between walking to slaughter or playing in the pastures. I wonder which one they’d pick if they could! Also, “I wish you a safe journey”? To my plate? Yes, that will surely be safe – being held down against your will, getting “stunned”, being bled out, having your fleece [skin] torn from your flesh as you are still twitching, and then being eviscerated – yep, that sounds safe to me! I am sorry, but that is just laughable.
I can’t read this book because I would probably have to seek anger management treatment afterwards, and that doesn’t sound very fun or cheap to me. These reviews tell me enough: it just goes to show you that humans can justify anything if they really put their minds to it!