I have lived with the knowledge of these horrific abuses for over 25 years. For much of that time, I have worked hard to be a “nice” vegan. I was like the lone non-homophobic person in a group conversation demeaning lesbians and gays who chooses to not challenge what is happening, so as to not make anyone uncomfortable. Moving to Lawrence a decade ago shocked me because I met so many here who told me they had once been vegetarian, but more recently, with the growth of small farms purporting to be “humane,” were eating meat again. I also came to appreciate that overall, milk, cheese and eggs have even more violence in them than meat. Yet when I attempt, to raise these issues, I am vehemently attacked for being “unkind” to humans, branded as sensational, unwelcoming – even as an extremist.
I believe that the humans who feel most injured by the truthful things I have said, are experiencing my words as “injury” because deep in their hearts, they can feel the discord of their own choices. They are either participating in carnism, defending carnism, or ignoring it. To paraphrase Albert Einstein --The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do bad things, but because of those who look on and do nothing. If those running The Merc and The Seed Fair truly believed my perspective had no validity, they would simply ignore me. But they can’t, because most of them are good, caring people, and I am raising awareness about how our widespread violence against other sentient beings is completely unnecessary here and now in Lawrence, Kansas, (and a factor contributing to many environmental problems, and the most common chronic diseases.) My perspective challenges how they want to see themselves – as progressive, non-violent, tolerant and champions of free speech.
It is unfortunate that The Merc proceeded as they did. They could have stayed “above the fray” by telling their meat vendors who objected to my teaching there, that The Merc represents a diverse community and they embrace free speech and the marketplace of ideas for their teachers, employees and member-owners, and taken no other action. But instead, they disallowed my teaching there for the upcoming month. They frame this as “They were just taking a break to let things calm down.” But in fact this action deprived me of income for a month, in direct response to my whistle blowing, and their vendors being upset.
I chose to discuss all of this publicly as it unfolded, because even more important to me than the lost income was the opportunity for people to see for themselves, what is normally invisible but powerfully shapes the dissemination of information in our culture. The public normally has no idea how decisions made out of their view determine what information they are (and are NOT) exposed to and may contribute to unnecessary exploitation of animals (and harms to humanity as a whole.) This is what I discuss in my talk “What Really Matters,” where I suggest that all human-caused tragedies in history have been enabled to occur for exactly one reason: Because every culture teaches its people to “not see” specific injustices that privilege some at the expense of others. For the record, the Merc employees I dealt with, I believe to be well-meaning people who have contributed much to make our community better in many ways. However I also believe that all of us, myself included, have the capacity to participate in injustice against others, that our own unique life experiences have contributed to us not recognizing what we are doing. That is precisely why people willing to come forward and express unpopular ideas are so critical. Do the people of Lawrence wish to end such willingness? If you believe you have witnessed injustice – from an employer, a public policy or group supposedly acting in the public interest -- and you risked speaking up about it, how would you hope others in our community would respond?
Sadly, people have no idea how much this rampant, unquestioned support for carnism is preventing dissemination of the best science related to nutrition in med schools, or being represented in USDA nutrition guidelines and driving our public subsidies to farmers. Collectively all these reduce exposure to information that might alter individuals’ dietary choices. (Check out the book, Meatonomics for more on this.) The science showing arrest and reversal of heart disease with a healthy vegan diet is compelling (and it’s a CHEAP option!) – and yet most cardiologists never even mention this is an option to their patients.
"If an oil-free, whole-foods vegan diet could arrest or
reverse my heart disease/diabetes/asthma/prostate cancer,
and get me off these expensive drugs with terrible side effects...
how come my doctor hasn't ever mentioned this to me before?"
(What dozens of people have said to the author -- Now you know why.)
If you care about slowing climate change, reducing violence, solving the health care crisis, not exacerbating food insecurity for the global poor, one choice you make every single day connects all of these issues, and it’s what you choose to eat. Please, if you are reading this, go to my resources page and start engaging the information there. You will find out about free videos, mp3s, essays, library books and links to peer-reviewed literature on so many different but interrelated topics. This information can improve your life and together we can change our world.
To read more about events leading up to what was discussed here be sure to read my other posts:
Is Free Speech Dead in Lawrence Kansas
Judge For Yourself -- This is What the Merc Board....