The New York Times recently posed a challenge to meat eaters: Defend eating animals. In typical Times fashion, the odds were stacked firmly against the forces of common sense and bacon grease: The judges included the godfather of the animal rights movement, Peter Singer; the “vegan before 6” (a.m.?) Mark Bittman; elitist Berkeley foodie Michael Pollan; and anti-meat writer Jonathan Safran Foer. Not exactly a jury of their peers.
So, with the self-respecting omnivores smelling a vegetarian rat, the “defense of meat” was left to—drum roll, please—Ingrid Newkirk of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, among others, who said she’d only eat meat grown in a petri dish. (Don’t call it pink slime.) She didn’t say whether she’d retract comparing humanity to a “cancer” or whether she regretted funding arsonists, but perhaps the Times will have other essay contests yet.
Of course, what the Times called “a powerful ethical critique” of omnivorous eating could better be called “nonsense.” The Times’ vegetarian public editor conceded that the essays were “pretty narrow” and acknowledged criticism from a former Stanford professor who reminded the urban elite that Inuit and grassland nomadic peoples need to eat meat to survive. And more simply, who really believes that animals are humanity’s equal? Certainly not the indigenous Americans who killed and ate them. Even PETA doesn’t seem to buy that line.
Not to mention that those “cruelty-free” vegetables come from farms from which a myriad of insects and invasive rodents have been driven out or killed. (That goes for the “organic” farms, too.) And some writers now suggest that plants can even “talk” or “howl.”
So, vegans, what separates “talking peas” from “food with a face”? We find this a very powerful critique, at least if you don’t think humans are “the biggest blight on the face of the earth.”