The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, November 29, 2019

Signs of the Times – Veganism and Vegetarianism

I noticed recently that across the street from the Tim Horton’s coffee franchise that I frequent somebody has put up a large, garish, billboard with the message “if eating animals is a choice, why choose to be cruel?” It is the only one of its kind that I have seen so far, although I suspect that many others can be found around our city significantly reducing her aesthetic value.

My first thought, upon reading the banal message upon this hideous sign was to wonder how those who are promoting this message plan to get it across to that vast body of meat eaters who cannot read signs in English or any other human language, that is to say, carnivorous animals. If eating animals is cruelty, then surely it is no less cruel when done by a lion, a tiger, or a bear than by a human being.

Perhaps vegetarians and vegans live in a fantasy world where Tennyson’s memorable description of nature as “red in tooth and claw” does not apply and animals all live in harmony with one another. A world even more out of touch with reality than the one portrayed in Disney cartoons.

My second thought was to wonder whether or not those who decry the cruelty of eating meat are for or against abortion. Pro-abortionists, as we all know, describe themselves as pro-choice, and if any choice deserves to be described as cruel surely it is abortion.

I think it would be a safe wager to say that the people behind that sign are “pro-choice”. Trendy causes like pro-abortion and veganism always seem to draw the same crowd of supporters regardless of how incompatible and contradictory the arguments for the causes may be. Veganism itself may make people susceptible to the influence of other silly ideas simply because the brain, starved of nutrients, cannot be expected to work right. Auberon Waugh hit the nail on the head when he said “too much salad can drive people mad, especially young women.”

One young woman driven mad by her vegan diet and the lack of any real discipline in her home country is the notorious Greta Thunberg. This infamous Swedish rabble-rousing juvenile delinquent combines her veganism with her other cause célèbre, her fight against the bogeyman of anthropogenic climate change. When she is not attacking the oil industry she turns her wrath upon the raising of livestock for the production of meat. Raising livestock, you see, has a huge carbon footprint due to all the greenhouse gasses that the animals emit.

Do you see the extremely ironic self-contradiction in her position?

It is a very dark sort of irony. On the one hand veganism condemns the eating of meat because it is cruel, because animals lose their lives in order that we may eat. On the other hand, Thunberg’s version of veganism condemns the raising of animals for meat because of all the greenhouse gasses that they emit. When this latter reasoning is taken to its logical extreme it becomes an argument, not for veganism, but for eliminating animals altogether. Which, of course, completely contradicts veganism’s primary position.

We can only expect more of this sort of fuzzyheaded irrationality as more and more people starve their brains of essential nutrients by going vegan.

The percentage of the population that is either vegan or vegetarian seems to have significantly increased in recent years. I have not bothered to look up the statistics, assuming they are there to be looked up, but the fact that almost every major restaurant franchise has been adding vegan options to its menu speaks for itself. That these options usually take the form of plant-based imitations of meat products is itself testimony against the vegan claim for the superiority of their diet. It is a strange sort of superiority where that which is regarded as superior has to be disguised as that which is regarded as inferior.

This brings to mind what Fran Lebowitz once wrote, that “Vegetables are interesting but they lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat.”

When you cut through all of the cant and posturing of the anti-meat movement you find that there is very little to be found underneath. It is perhaps the most shallow of fashionable, trendy, movements and there is no substance whatsoever to its claims of moral and intellectual superiority.

Vegetarian and vegan claims that their diet is intrinsically healthier have gradually been eroded by the accumulation of evidence. While it is not absolutely impossible to get all your essential nutrients from a vegan diet, it is much more difficult to get your daily recommended intake of Vitamin B12 and protein with all essential amino acids. Decades ago, when dietitians were obsessed with cholesterol or animal fat as a cause of obesity and related health problems, this lent support to the vegan/vegetarian cause but it has long since been discovered that sugar, which comes from plants, and not dietary cholesterol, is the culprit in the obesity epidemic. The studies that at one time indicated that vegans and vegetarians live longer than ordinary people, when corrected to take into account other lifestyle factors show no such thing.

Those who argue for vegetarianism or veganism on the grounds of efficiency – that growing plants, feeding them to animals, and then eating the animals introduces an unnecessary step when you can just eat the plants themselves – insult the intelligence of those they seek to persuade. Grazing livestock, such as cattle, feed off of grass, which the human stomach is incapable of digesting. Poultry, at least the kind that are raised free range rather than being fed grain, subsist on a diet that few human beings, except perhaps those in some Third World jungle, would find palatable. As for the stuff that is typically fed to swine it is hardly fit for human consumption. Since the animals raised for meat do not ordinarily eat food which we would otherwise feed to humans it is nonsense to suggest that we can make food production more efficient and cut out an unnecessary middle step by going vegan.

These arguments against meat speak volumes about the vegans and vegetarians who make them, namely that they are silly city slickers who don’t have the faintest notion about the realities of food production.

If someone wants to personally refrain from eating meat that is, of course, his choice. As Sir Winston Churchill said to John G. Diefenbaker when the latter declined a drink on the grounds that he was a teetotaler and after he had explained the difference between this term and prohibitionist “Ah, so you are only hurting yourself.”

My beef, if you will pardon the expression, is with the vegans and vegetarians who condemn the eating of meat, regard their peculiar diet as a sign of their enlightenment and moral superiority, and see the conversion of the world to their lifestyle as their sacred mission and a step in progress towards a better world.

I began by talking about a sign and I will close by quoting another one. Several times a year I head out of town to visit my family in the country and when I return to Winnipeg, I often like to stop at Nick’s Inn in Headingley. Among the signs that adorn their walls, there is one which expresses perfectly what I think ought to be the final word on the matter.

“Either you like bacon or you’re wrong.”

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