Along my journey from nutritionally preoccuppied meat-and-dairy shunner to social-justice-oriented animal rights activist, continual self-education on virtually every issue surrounding veganism has transformed my psyche into a constant radar for carnistic language—commonly accepted words, phrases, or discussions that demean animals in an attempt to justify their exploitation for human consumption. This radar certainly does not pause while in a classroom setting; indeed, it perks up at the notion of detecting any morsel of unacknowleded immorality so deeply entrenched in society as to serve as an acceptable mechanism of education.
During my first class of the morning, my radar practically combusted from overstimulation in response to two topics my professor mentioned. The first concerned the issue of wolves preying on the cattle of the Western U.S.’s ranches—rachers assert a right to the safety of their “property” (ugh) by killing the wolves, while conservationists and animal rights proponents protest vehemently the violence against an endangered species. Rightly observing the problematic implications of this situation, my professor expectedly failed to recognize the most effective method of ameliorating wolf-induced violence against cattle: get rid of the cattle. No cattle means no domesticated animals on which wolves can prey, as well as no cows abused to satisfy human tastebuds. Obviously, this solution does not avoid its own set of complications (individual ranchers must find new, albeit more compassionate, livelihoods), but it definitely carries the most animal-friendly and environmentally sound effects. The fact that neither my professor nor any other student in the class seemed to even consider the elimination of livestock as a viable option unfortunately proves that the majority of public consciousness still requires a major shift in the direction of humane treatment of animals.
The second disconcerting topic broached by my professor began with the discussion of psychological aversions toward certain foods resulting from a sickness, food-induced or otherwise, contracted soon after consuming that particular food. Mentioning their own distate toward black pudding contracted after a visit to England, my professor described the repulsion of eating something covered in/made out of the blood of an animal. However, how does the act of consuming the blood-stained flesh of an animal in sausage form differ from munching on a pork chop or a steak? The answer: visibility. Glimpsing the gore inherent in slaughter brings omnivores closer than they would prefer to the truth that what they put in their mouths derives from an innocent, living being—this accounts for why producers package their meat in clean, benign forms, such as an unoffending, beige, fully cooked chicken’s breast. As an animal rights activist, I look upon all meat, whether crimson-splattered or presented on fancy china, as the manifestation of egregious suffering, but clearly the majority of America (or at least my professor and classmates) remains blind in this sense.
I fear that a professor’s blatant acceptance of the unnecessary and unethical system of animal cruelty, or that of any authority figure, will project their ignorant notions onto the malleable minds of their students. Hopefully, though, my otherwise progressively-inclined classmates will extend their revolutionary endeavors toward, in my opinion, the current most pressing ethical, environmental, social, and global issue: the elimination of animal agriculture.
Comment Provoking Questions: Do you often hear carnistic language used? How do you respond to it? What are your views on the two issues I mentioned above?
Until next time, Ali.