Murphy: Vegan Vitriol

"Live and let live" is not part of the activists' vocabulary. ( freeimages.com )

On the heels of Veganuary, the make-believe month when everyone went without meat, milk or seafood, comes “Februdairy,” 28 days of drinking milk and eating cheese and yogurt in a celebration of dairy foods and dairy farming.

Of course, mention anything, no matter how light-hearted, that involves livestock or animal foods and hardcore vegetarian activists crank up the outrage.

For example: In a story reported by the London-based newspaper The Times, an Australian activist is currently touring Great Britain, spewing venom toward farmers and producers alike.

“Farmers are a product of a sick society,” Joey Armstrong told the paper. “Farmers are forcibly breeding animals, sexually exploiting them, then loading them into trucks to slaughter them. For them to say they are victims because a vegan said something mean is absurd.”

As the article phrased it, “To vegans who share Armstrong’s zeal, meat is murder, farms are torture chambers and veterinary surgeons with long rubber gloves routinely commit bovine rape in the name of animal welfare.”

Armstrong, who calls himself Joey Carbstrong to promote plant-based foods, is a hothead whose rhetoric seems to spawn serious animosity among the born-again vegan community.

A few examples include these incidents:

Emily Norton, a farmer in East Anglia northeast of Greater London, proposed adopting “Februdairy” at the Oxford Union in January during a debate on the future of meat. The Times reported that days later “Her farm’s Facebook page was targeted by trolls accusing her of rape, kidnap and slaughter.” She told the newspaper that “The level of abuse has been horrific.”

Activists attacked Jonathan and Dulcie Crickmore, an English couple who run an organic, free-range farm in Suffolk, when they posted a picture of newborn calf triplets on Facebook. A professed vegan activist responded by posting, “I hope you get trampled by a cow.” If her children were harmed, another said, “It would be karma.

Closer to home, Jude Capper, a Washington State University animal scientist and dairy industry consultant, posted the hashtag #Februdairy on Twitter, and vegan activists responded by mocking her for being a cancer survivor. Some blamed her bout with the disease on eating dairy products. “Don’t be shocked when the cancer comes back, lol,” one person wrote.

And those are just the latest in what has been a nonstop string of attacks online and on site against even the most progressive farmers and producers in the UK and here in the U.S.

Underlying the Rebellion
What’s useful in analyzing the vitriol expressed by so-called “enlightened” vegan activists on both sides of The Pond is understanding the real target of their protests. While they condemn ranchers and producers, along with anyone who eats meat, drinks milk or wears leather shoes — along with a host of other animal-related activities, products and preferences — their real target isn’t the omnivorous diet followed by 95% of the world’s population.

What they’re really rebelling against are modern lifestyles, as well as the undue influence (in their minds) that multi-national corporations exert over those lifestyles, especially food choices.

On one hand, firebrands such as Joey Carbstrong preach about the need to embrace a purely plant-based diet, railing against animal agriculture and its practitioners, while conspicuously avoiding mention, much less criticism, of the many million of indigenous people and traditional cultures around the word that are dependent on hunting and herding for their sustenance, not to mention their very survival.

How about the Inuit tribes, the native Siberians, the Laplanders and other populations living in the Arctic regions? They’re supposed to start living on avocados, coconut milk and processed seitan, all of which are derived from crops grown thousands of miles from their homelands?

Or what about the Maasai tribespeople living in Kenya and Tanzania? Do animal activists realize that there are upwards of 1.5 million people of that heritage living in an area that extends across some 62,000 square miles, the size of Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire — combined?

Why such a large area? Because much of the climate in that region is semi-arid, making cultivation of conventional row crops nearly impossible, and cattle herding a necessity.

And how about the ultimate irony, the native tribes of the Amazon Basin in South America? While animal activists (properly) decry the encroachment of those tribes’ traditional rainforest homeland, I’ve yet to hear a single one connect the reality that those who insist on vegetarian diets are encouraging substitution of animal foods with plant proteins such as soy — the cultivation of which is the reason Amazon tribes have been displaced!

Our modern world is full of criticism and hatred toward people of different cultures, languages, religious traditions and lately, political perspectives. It’s shameful that tolerance isn’t valued, while inclusivity is condemned.

In their quest to promote a world in which animals live in peace and harmony, veganistas have ironically helped make it more cruel and more divisive for the people who share a place in that same animal kingdom.

Editor’s Note: The opinion in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.

Comments

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Submitted by Unknown on Fri, 02/09/2018 - 15:11

What a sad article. We're not asking for impoverished people to go vegan. We're asking people that have the resources to do so. Vegans aren't privileged, meat-eating is. It uses up extreme amounts of water and land, kicks indigenous people off their land and is hardly available to third-world countries. Go vegan and stop playing the victim card. You are not oppressed.

Submitted by World Citizen on Fri, 02/09/2018 - 17:36

I agree with Unknown's comments above--meat and dairy consumers are not victims of vegans or vegetarians...animals are victims of those who consume meat and diary. And that IS what it is about for vegan advocates. Vegans who are vegan for ethical reasons are the ultimate empaths, grieving for the lives of animals that are senselessly taken every single day for the plates and palates of those who do not NEED to consume them. One cannot compare "lifestyle choices" to the horrific conditions and abuses of animals who are bred, tortured, and killed for the FLAVOR of their end products. And this commentary does not even touch on the effects of animal agriculture on the environment...the author should do some research and then write an article about that.

In reply to by Unknown (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 02/09/2018 - 17:42

Very ironic claim about soy there. The vast majority of soy grown in this world is fed to animals as feed. The best way to grow less soy would be for everyone to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Also I am a vegan and I don't eat any soy at all.

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 02/09/2018 - 20:57

85% of soy is used to feed animals, meaning, that to reduce the damaging impact that it has on the environment we must go vegan. Now that the author knows this fact will he reconsider his diet?

Additionally, 14.5% of greenhouse gasses are caused by animal agriculture. This is more than all planes, trains and cars combined. Furthermore, the UN says that everyone must adopt herbivorous diet by 2020 if we wish to adequately deal with climate change. Does the author care for the environment, if yes, will he or she consider veganism?

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 02/09/2018 - 20:58

sorry I made a minor error. The UN says that we must all become vegetarians by 2050, not necessarily herbivores, but that a herbivorous diet would be a positive benefit too.

Go vegan!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Edc2879 on Sat, 02/10/2018 - 07:59

The UN has also said that Livestock are an important part of food security. The UN has admitted a report linking livestock to global warming exaggerated the impact of eating meat on climate change. Dr Frank Mitloehner, from the University of California at Davis (UCD), said meat and milk production generates less greenhouse gas than most environmentalists claim and that the emissions figures were calculated differently to the transport figures, resulting in an “apples-and-oranges analogy that truly confused the issue”.

The meat figure had been reached by adding all greenhouse-gas emissions associated with meat production, including fertiliser production, land clearance, methane emissions and vehicle use on farms, whereas the transport figure had only included the burning of fossil fuels.

Pierre Gerber, a policy officer with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, told the BBC he accepted Dr Mitloehner's criticism.

"I must say honestly that he has a point – we factored in everything for meat emissions, and we didn't do the same thing with transport," he said.

"But on the rest of the report, I don't think it was really challenged."

He said a more comprehensive analysis of emissions from food production was being produced and should be available by the end of the year.

Dr Mitloehner told a meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco that producing less meat and milk would only result in “more hunger in poor countries” and that efforts should be focused on “smarter farming, not less farming”.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by craigermt on Thu, 02/15/2018 - 09:48

Have you ever done research on how much greenhouse gas is created by the raising of rice? Our world would be better of if a part of the world started raising and consuming a less environment damaging grain.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Robert Grillo on Sat, 02/10/2018 - 09:23

This tactic of finding the most salacious or sensation vegan comment and presenting as somehow representative of an entire movement is straight out of the FOX News (fake news) playbook. But then we are dealing with an industry that profits on violence and killing, right? This industry has a three-pronged approach to PR. First, it must deal with its adversaries. Industry spokespeople criminalize dissent and at the same time portray themselves as the victims of “eco-terrorists” or “militant animal rights extremists.” While flooding the media with this false narrative, they will also lobby legislators to pass laws like the infamous Ag Gag bills, which criminalize industry watchdogs or make it exceedingly difficult to expose animal exploitation. These tactics have the added benefit of deflecting attention away from their own violent practices. Second, they must systematically conceal the ugly side of their enterprise by hiding their victims in remote facilities where neither the public nor the press are permitted, or only when supervised and only when the experience can be carefully controlled to favor the exploiter’s agenda. Third, they must continually project a positive, feel-good fantasy about the lives of the animals on farms and the love and devotion farmers have for their animals.

Submitted by al smith on Sat, 02/10/2018 - 09:57

well I guess they told you LOL.. didn't you know all Masai are "impoverished" and so are all Intuits..could it be it is their CULTURE, not the amount of what "nonprivileged" vegans see as monetary gain. Could it be they CHOOSE to live this life of theirs? face it vegans .. you are the privileged class You are not oppressed but I sure wish you were. Extinction of all domestic animals is your goal and I cannot disagree with you more. and yes power and control.. but you are dinky in the realm of the real world like an annoying fly.

Submitted by Tony on Sat, 02/10/2018 - 10:42

Accept he speaks the truth. By purchasing meat and dairy you are complicit in the rape, torture and murder of sentient beings that want to live. That’s why it’s hidden. I cannot respect the choice of a person to eat meat as I could not respect the choice of a plantation owner to own slaves.

Submitted by Not for me. on Sat, 02/10/2018 - 22:57

I am not going to stop eating meat, drinking milk or consuming eggs. Period. I do not understand the mindset of people that want to force the rest of us to embrace their fads.

Grow up. This is what happens when parents don't discipline.

Submitted by Simon James on Sun, 02/11/2018 - 03:40

Not very many references there fore some of the claims you make. Erb et al 2016 in their paper published in Nature show that a vegan diet could feed the worlds population in 2050 using less cropland than we use now. Its diets with animal products that risk causing further deforestation and destroying ecosystems. Why? Because all that soya you complain about is inefficiently fed to animals.

Submitted by Drinking Water on Sun, 02/11/2018 - 07:11

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Submitted by Rebecca on Sun, 02/11/2018 - 16:40

Oh, Dan. You've been around long enough that you must know how disingenuous you sound. Amazon soy grown to replace animal products?? Try - Amazon soy grown to CREATE animal products - as in, most of the soy grown is to feed animals who will then become food for meat-eaters! How naive do you think your readers are, anyway?

As for your Inuits, Maasai, Siberians and Laplanders - We are not concentrating on them. Rather, we are concentrating on you, and all the other people in the temperate lands of America, Australia, Asia and Europe, who have no such restrictions on their diet.

“Her farm’s Facebook page was targeted by trolls accusing her of rape, kidnap and slaughter.” She told the newspaper that “The level of abuse has been horrific.”

How does that "abuse" compare to the abuse the cattle suffer? Please name me ONE farmer who would give up their comfy life to be repeatedly physically altered and violated, only to be killed at a fraction of their lifespan. THEN we can discuss abuse.

Submitted by Swaph on Sun, 02/11/2018 - 22:39

The tribes you mentían are not the cause of the sistematic slaughter of animals. Rich and middle class are responsible for that, despite all the choices available to them. It’s stupid using them to try to justify your unsustainable and cruel diet.

Submitted by Craigermt on Thu, 02/15/2018 - 09:44

So you are saying poor people aren't involved in the unsustainable and cruel diet? Not well educated are you?

In reply to by Swaph (not verified)

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Submitted by Ms Vanilla Rose on Mon, 02/12/2018 - 02:58

*Is* Dan an actual Inuit? Or is he someone who could live perfectly well without animal products?

Submitted by Murray on Mon, 02/12/2018 - 04:29

The misdirection and hyperbole in this article is through the roof. With this kind of zealous rip-roaring bluster, Dan should go under the pen name VeDan and have a satirical column in Vegan Weekly.

Submitted by cka on Mon, 02/12/2018 - 09:52

What a sad, misled, and ignorant group of people who make it their life mission to change the world. What do you propose we do with the hundreds of millions of acres of grazing land that is not productive in any other way? You do realize that without animal agriculture millions of people will perish. If you don't want to eat meat, don't eat meat. If you want to eat vegetables, eat vegetables. But don't come to my ranch looking for abused animals, or hungry animals, unless you propose to be one. By the way I haven't fed any soy based supplements to my cattle in years, only byproducts of the ethanol industry and good old home grown forages.

Submitted by Hank Wilbur on Tue, 02/13/2018 - 03:43

What would be a farm animal's opinion on their elimination? They have all the necessities of life delivered to them daily giviing them the pleasures of leisure. Unlike wildlife they they don't flee at the sight of humans. Even song birds dining at a feeder scatter when approached by other spiecies. A farm animal's last day is better than the last days of humans suffering from disease. Given a choice, I'm betting that farm animals would choose life.

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