examining the sensorium of political engagement between humans & animals
October 6, 2016 9:11 AM   Subscribe

"A prominent animal rights activist in New Delhi, explaining her relentlessness on behalf of animals, said to me the following: "I only wish there were a slaughterhouse next door. To witness that violence, to hear those screams... I would never be able to rest." She was not alone among animal welfare activists in India in linking the witnessing of violence against an animal to the creation of a profound bond that demanded from her a life of responsibility. I argue in this article that this moment of witnessing constitutes an intimate event in tethering human to nonhuman, expanding ordinary understandings of the self and its possible social relations, potentially blowing the conceit of humanity apart." Witness: Humans, Animals, and the Politics of Becoming, an essay by Naisargi N. Dave. [cw: contains vivid text/visuals describing non-human animal suffering and death*]

[Alternate link, if needed.]

* There is one graphic (to me) photo of a dead cow in the essay [PDF] itself. There is a non-graphic photo of an anaesthetized dog getting his/her tubes tied by a pair of veterinarians on the Supplemental Material tab of the OP link, along with a few mild PETA-on-the-street-type photos further down on that page. There is no blood anywhere. An interview with Dave also appears on the Supplemental Material page, excerpted below:
To generalize just a bit, most of the people I know who wear the moniker "animal lover" are the sorts of activists you talk about: people who love dogs (and sometimes cats) and will do anything for them—as you say, leave a job, turn their own home into a makeshift shelter, sacrifice hours of their life, and often face severe social opprobrium. These same people might experience no conflict between loving animals and eating meat. And there is no conflict! Dogs are animals (and animals are beloved), while chickens are chicken, lambs are mutton, and cows are potent symbols that are also milk and beef. Some of this is about language but it's also about regimes of visibility and ocularity: which animals do we see; in what contexts do we see them; and what, if anything, occurs through the exchange of gazes (which is premised on the question of which animals we see as being capable of seeing us at all)?
A few months after her essay was published in Cultural Anthropology, Dave was interviewed by Grant Jun Otsuki for Episode 15 of AnthroPod, the podcast of the Society for Cultural Anthropologists... [sorry, audio only]
Professor Dave draws our attention to the act and experience of witnessing an animal's suffering for activists in India, and, through a narrative that is both theoretically innovative and deeply affecting, helps us think through the contradictions and complexities of being human with animals, as we live with together, speak and act on their behalf, and perhaps even become them.
...as well as by Sangamithra Iyer for Satya: The Ethnography of Activism [text only; audio available on YouTube]
We claim to care about "humans" (whatever those are), but our hearts do not burst at the sight of all human suffering, which is, of course, ubiquitous. And so we know at some level that an act of care or recognition does not obligate us to, or result in, infinite care. The very fact, then, that we feel we must guard against a descent into obligation when it comes to animals is the result of something far more real and pernicious, which is what I think of as the tyranny of consistency. On what basis, logically, must not wanting to eat the flesh of a pig grown for my enjoyment mean that I must never consume the bodily product of any living being or never swat at a mosquito or always stop to help an animal in distress? If we say there is a logical connection here that is because we inhabit a language ideology that equates all these things as "animals" and all of those acts as "violence." But also, it is to suggest from within that ideology that every act we perform must be consistent with every other[...]

[L]et me just say that I'm a vegan myself; I've been one for 20 years and at this point will probably always be one. But I also think there's something ineffective about taking practices and thoughts that I want very deeply to spread broadly—thoughts about the injustice of human exceptionalism and the suffering it breeds—and making those practices and thoughts about me, about my identity, my being, my credo. If you think about it, this is just another way of saying, "These thoughts and practices are not yours; unless, that is, you want to subject yourself and be like me." Again, this strikes me as ineffective. But the fact that it is ineffective does not strike me as surprising; the tyranny of identity is how normativity is sustained.
posted by amnesia and magnets (16 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've always thought it was interesting that Levinas denied that animals could have "face," when it seems that this idea would be a natural development of his work.
posted by praemunire at 9:19 AM on October 6, 2016


I am a city boy who for a while lived on a farm while teaching in a small community. I thought it would be cool to be a bit of a hobby farmer, and so I got some animals. The memory of my mishandling of those animals continues to guide my life. In particular, I work toward promulgating the idea that all life-forms possess a soul, no matter what our learned scientists and skeptics might say.
posted by No Robots at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


A slaughterhouse that has violence and screams is really doing it wrong.
posted by shelleycat at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I confess that I found the original piece's text dense and a little difficult to stick with, in part because of the emotionally loaded choice of language and in part because of the many independent clauses joined with commas. I furthermore confess that the apparently glowing treatment of Ingrid Newkirk immediately raised some hackles with me, because my politics regarding animal welfare and Newkirk's are deeply opposed, and I view her and her work with PETA as a deep ideological and political threat to things like my ability to keep pet dogs in a civilized nation.

I am further disturbed by what I perceive as dog whistles and minimizing violence towards humans in this piece. For example, the author mentions that Maneka Gandhi spends much of her time threatening people via telephone to achieve her political ends, mentions that "given her history, nobody takes these as idle threats", but then immediately rushes to set this violence towards people aside and insist that most of her calls are idle threats. Given the history of animal rights activism, I want to know more about this history and more about what Gandhi thinks are acceptable ends--but then, I imagine this would be a different piece with that context.

That's where I'm coming from. Perhaps I shouldn't be commenting here; I'm deeply committed to animal conservation, welfare, and ethics, but I am not a vegan, I am a research scientist who works directly on live animal subjects, some of whom I sacrifice for their tissues, and my political opinions about animals hew much closer to "respectful and ethical management, with attention paid to animals' opinions and motivations" than to "reduction of potential suffering at all costs." I come from a very different tradition of thought and opinion than the writer of this piece appears to, and I imagine that she would find my commentary unwelcome and that she would consider me 'the enemy,' or at any rate an enemy.

Nevertheless.

I am interested, here, in the writer's treatment of emotion in the work of the activists she profiles. In part, this is because the reaction that these activists describe--being horrified by a thing, and then metaphorically becoming consumed by that horror and running immediately to try to fix it--is antithetical to my own approach to the things about animals ethics that horrify me. One reason for that is that I listen to history, I look for things that need fixing, I'm not usually surprised by cruelty--as these activists are described as being?--but instead seek to understand the context for cruelty, why it exists, and look for ways to minimize it which do not interfere with other interactions that we have with animals.

Moving without forethought bothers me, but that's the entire narrative of this piece. Indeed, it is framed here as a virtue; as activists seek to immerse themselves in cruelty so that they are never tempted to pause, rethink, and assess the problem from other angles. Only immediate action is an acceptable response to horror; well, if immediate action is the goal, then immersing oneself in horror is laudable.

The section about "becoming animal" makes me even angrier. You see, I don't think these activists are doing anything of the sort; they are not pausing to think about what an animal sees or perceives or wants. They are not pausing to think about the animal on its own terms, thinking about the context of its motivations, or about animals as individuals within their own societies with variable opinions and experiences of humans. Instead, they are simultaneously elevating and reducing animals to the status of a voiceless human in a different skin who needs protection, control, and guarding (and perhaps, if you agree with Newkirk, annihilation--but only for their own sake, of course).

This happens in part because they are so focused on their own emotional reactions of horror towards the cruelty they see--which needs, again, to be evaluated and reduced--that they cannot stop and think about an animal's experience on its own terms. Everything is evaluated through a lens of personal and powerful emotion, so that there is no room to drop one's own emotions sufficiently to think of animals as possessing any agency or opinions of their own. Because the individual activists' emotional response is held so close to the surface of their mind, no communication or disagreeing dialogue is possible; how can you find a middle position when one side of the discussion is choosing to immerse itself in the worst horror it can find as a goad to constant action?

Becoming an animal. She is doing nothing of the sort. Instead, she's taking the animal she sees--and instead of its own experience, positions, and perceptions, she inserts her own emotional response at seeing its pain between its ears, and ascribes that emotional response to an animal. In a real way, she has turned the animal into an aspect of herself, not the other way around. It's the same impulse that leads people to clutch tight a small dog, paint its nails, and dress it in constricting clothes, and shout that the dog loves it because the person loves to see it--as the dog hyperventilates and tries to escape.
posted by sciatrix at 10:09 AM on October 6, 2016 [19 favorites]


I confess that I found the original piece's text dense and a little difficult to stick with, in part because of the emotionally loaded choice of language and in part because of the many independent clauses joined with commas.

I found it difficult to read too. It did make me think a lot. About the personal and cultural contexts in which we relate to animals. I chose to live with a large number of animals that many humans hate – I raise jumping spiders. Despite my efforts not to, I've become very emotionally attached to them, which is a shame since some of them were eventually intended for research labs. I'm not sure I could part with them. They are somewhat intelligent and definitely have endearing little faces. I went out on a date recently with a man who told me he had killed a jumping spider on his desk and it made me not want to see him again.

They are carnivores so I also have to raise their food, which is mostly flies and crickets. I occasionally feel guilty about them, especially the crickets who seem somewhat intelligent and able to feel pain even though I'm often horrified by their behavior towards each other (cannibalism, which spiders have errr...issues with too, which require careful separation of them). Of course all of this is arbitrary, I've assigned values to all these creatures, values based on characteristics that are entirely arbitrary in my value of them like "intelligence."

In essence I've crafted an entirely arbitrary and bizarro world of morally relating to these animals in my apartment, but probably not too different from the more common ones in our culture in which cats or dogs are jumping spiders and chicken/pigs/other "livestock" are flies.
posted by melissam at 10:21 AM on October 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


This happens in part because they are so focused on their own emotional reactions of horror towards the cruelty they see--which needs, again, to be evaluated and reduced--that they cannot stop and think about an animal's experience on its own terms. Everything is evaluated through a lens of personal and powerful emotion, so that there is no room to drop one's own emotions sufficiently to think of animals as possessing any agency or opinions of their own.

I don't care to make a full defense of the extreme positions taken by some of the people in the FPP, but I don't think you understand the way in which they perceive emotion to work.

For them, the emotion they feel at animal suffering, and continuing to be immersed in animal suffering, is revelatory of the violation of fundamental values it involves, which are not, in any human, a matter of pure reason. If you saw a human being tortured in the ways that some animals have been, at times, tortured by human beings, I very much doubt that your reaction would be to "seek to understand the context for cruelty, why it exists, and look for ways to minimize it which do not interfere with other interactions that we have with [those people]." Nor is it likely that you would sit there and try to reason out a priori whether you considered the suffering objectionable. Rather, your reaction of horror and disgust, prior to reflection, would reveal to you that your fundamental belief about the value of human life and dignity was being violated. You would consider being urged to "evaluate and reduce" your emotional reaction to a flayed child or prisoners crammed into pens so tightly they could not move to be offensive and dangerous. You would not be interested in prioritizing the other uses made of the humans in those conditions because you would believe that those interactions are inherently less important than the preservation of human life and dignity.

Well, these people believe that many others actually hold similar values concerning animals, but that they are allowed to avoid recognizing that through a system structured to keep the death and cruelty out of sight. This is not emotion as delirium, this is emotion as messenger of the values we already hold.

Everything is evaluated through a lens of personal and powerful emotion, so that there is no room to drop one's own emotions sufficiently to think of animals as possessing any agency or opinions of their own.

I have to tell you, I am at a loss to imagine what agency or opinions you think are being denied the cow rescued from the slaughterhouse or the chimp from the lab. I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but in all but a handful of cases I don't think the problem with those positions is that they impinge on the agency or opinions of animals. Honestly, it's a little odd to see the "white-knighting" rhetoric imported into the animal-welfare context.
posted by praemunire at 10:30 AM on October 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


To be clear, the reason I'm framing my criticism in those terms is because the rhetoric used by the activists being discussed--as is evident from the Western activists she cites, whose work I am much more familiar with--is less a problem of the cruelty at the extremes, and more a problem of what happens when that concept of cruelty gets extended outward and outwards to apply to issues where there is room for a difference of opinion.

TL;DR: my problem isn't that I don't get their emotional response to horrific cruelty. My problem is that their emotional response is not tempered in any way by reason or dialogue, and that this approach to issues of animal welfare does more damage than good. I associate it with issues like the ban on draught dogs in Victorian England, where a similar projection of emotion happened, leading to early animal welfare activists banning draught dogs entirely... which lead to the dogs in question being slaughtered wholesale. Or to issues of keeping pets, which is where Newkirk's bread and butter is; is keeping pets cruelty? It's impossible to have a discussion about that when one side is flooded with the most extreme horrific examples they can contemplate, and using those images to fuel their activism without pause.
posted by sciatrix at 10:40 AM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


This argument still reduces to your thinking your a priori values are at least potentially more weighty than theirs. That is not the same as emotion vs. reason or extremism vs. nuance. Obviously, you think that whatever part of your research involves harm or death to animals serves some purpose higher than the avoidance of animal suffering. Well, though I don't know what your research is, the odds are good that I agree with you. But do you actually think your sense of the importance of your purpose is exclusively rational and "practical," that it doesn't arise in substantial degree from (most likely, sorry if I get this wrong) your intuitive sense of the fundamental importance of ameliorating human suffering? And if someone proposed nonconsensual human experimentation of the same nature, offering the same benefits, would you regard it as a matter for reasoned discussion and differences of opinion? Would you consider it extremism to focus on the dead bodies? You are thinking in terms of a cost-benefit analysis, they are thinking in terms of categories.

U.S. society goes to a lot of trouble to cover up what goes on to produce our meat. Our human brains have the tendency to other things that are different from us and to forget about things they don't see. You don't need to see the dead bodies of your family to consider their sacrifice morally unacceptable. It's probably easier for you (and me, all of us here, nothing personal) to overlook the suffering a poor brown person in Bangladesh, but ultimately you would not argue for their sacrifice in nonconsensual medical experimentation. Animals can fall outside that protected sphere altogether, and cruelty to animals that no one has to think about doesn't even get morally evaluated. In that light, being rigorously conscious of the suffering they benefit from is probably a necessity for some kinds of activists. A radical moral re-ordering is a deeply emotional process. So you're right that they're extending concepts across category boundaries based on emotional reaction, but that in itself doesn't make them wrong, I think. (I personally cannot bear to look at many images of animal cruelty, which is a problem when you follow a lot of rescues, but I don't think that makes me a more nuanced or effective activist.)

I love dogs, I support animal charities, if I could have a dog I would have five. But, if you asked me at the time we were domesticating them if we should create a species whose well-being is so dependent on the kindness and responsibility of humans, I would say no. My rejection of the extreme anti-pet position isn't based on reason, it's based on my weighing up of two sufferings: the suffering of mistreated pets vs. the suffering of loved pets being taken away from their people and put to death. I love my rational brain, but if I'm being honest here, its involvement in that judgment is somewhat limited. Sometimes I wonder: if I did more direct work in rescue, would my opinion change? I don't know.
posted by praemunire at 11:19 AM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Right, yes, I agree with all of that. My point is that the way that this tradition of activism works is explicitly not stopping to compare two sufferings, but only focusing on one suffering measured in terms of how disturbing the observing human finds observing the sight. I keep saying that a major problem is the failure to pause and weigh; I'm not sure how to phrase that any more clearly.
posted by sciatrix at 11:28 AM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


A slaughterhouse that has violence and screams is really doing it wrong.

They’re all doing it wrong.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:32 AM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


The excerpt puts me off so much that I'd likely implode if I read the article.

I'm a meat eater. I strongly believe humans evolved to be omnivores. In my observation, most people do not do well at all as long-term vegans.

I was a vegetarian for years and made sincere attempts to be a vegan. I felt like crap, despite educating myself as much as possible about nutrition. And that was when I was younger and my baseline was healthier.

I chose to eat meat again, but I certainly as hell "experienced conflict" about it. I seek out the most humane sources I can. I don't waste meat. And I am kind to nearly all animals I encounter (OK, maybe not mosquitos).

I love many animals, not just cats and dogs. I'm just not willing to sacrifice my own life for theirs. There are many other meat eaters who feel as I do. To paint all meat eaters as uncompassionate, or at best idiots who fail to make the connection that a cow is a sentient animal just as a dog is, is facile at best.

It's really no different than anti-abortionists portraying all pro-choice advocates as uncaring monsters who never gave a single thought to the potential ethical implications of abortion.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 11:51 AM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


So that is--sorry, I'm posting in between walking to teach--that's one of my two criticisms of this style of activism: not stopping to weigh competing harms. Again, my problem is not that activists experience strong emotional reactions; fuck knows I do that, too. It's the absence of pausing, thinking about other potential harms, and actively weighting them that I find dangerous. And the author is actively praising that absence in the piece.

My second criticism is the one about emotional projection, and you're correct that it isn't an issue in cited cases that we all agree are inherently cruelty--deliberately causing pain for no reason, or leaving an injured animal to be eaten by crows. But those are not the only issues in animal welfare, nor even are they the most difficult!

Here is an ethical issue from my own life and work. In order to understand the processes I study, it is necessary to kill a wild mouse and extract its brain immediately afterward. There is a conundrum here about methodology, which I will discuss in the paragraph below so that people can choose whether or not to actually read it, and which I will set off by so it is easy to skip and pick up what I am saying again below. (It is ethically important to me to get consent for difficult subjects on a general interest discussion, which is why I'm doing this.)

example beginning here



My animal ethics care and use committee prefer methods of euthanasia that involve briefly handling the animal (a process that is, since I work with wild animals that do not acclimate to human contact, unavoidably stressful to the animal) and then transferring it to a clean cage where it appears to fall peacefully asleep and not wake while I observe to make sure that nothing goes wrong to cause the animal stress. Or I can use another technique that involves quickly picking the animal up and almost immediately, in the same breath, decapitating it. This looks much nastier to a human observer, because there's blood and there's visible tissue and I just decapitated that animal.

Well. The problem here is that the clean cage is a foreign environment for my wild rodents, and they find it stressful to be in unfamiliar areas, especially with no room to hide. They also wind up being restrained and handled, which is again, something that the animals find very stressful, for much longer using this method because I am transferring them between two cages and have to move multiple cage tops rather than restraining them for a split second before death. And the death itself, while it looks kinder, is also much slower--and while the animal does lose consciousness well before death if you do it correctly, there is actually much more chance of causing stress during euthanasia if you don't get the rate of infusion correct.

Which is the kinder method? Ignoring the question of whether or not it's ethical to euthanize an animal so that I can run an experiment at all--that's a disagreement that comes down to how different people weight different ethical factors impacting the work--if I am going to euthanize the mouse, which method is kinder to the mouse? I'd argue that decapitation, which is very fast and minimizes time the animal spends alive in a stressful situation, is kinder. And yet without that context, because most people find that decapitation is much more horrifying to observe, most people immediately make the opposite decision entirely.



example ending here

So my second point, then, is that when we handle edge cases and make hard decisions, it's important to understand the animals' perspective instead of making decisions about ethics based on the horror level of a human observer. And that is a problem I have very, very strongly with this tradition of animal rights activism--the total absence of attempts to understand animalian perspective and the reliance instead on focusing on human observers' level of emotional horror.
posted by sciatrix at 12:07 PM on October 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Thought-provoking stuff. Thanks for the post.

The conclusion -- "asking what it would mean to believe a phenomenon that challenges our regimes of rationality, and not merely to believe that this phenomenon is true for our interlocutors"; the suggestion to "occasionally abandon the imperative of consistency and be open to being surprised by what affects us" -- seems like a useful self-reflexive exercise, particularly for an anthropologist. I'm not sure, though, that it resolves any problems where animal rights are concerned (maybe that's not the point, but it's what I was hoping for when I read the article). If there's a gap between those who have a specific affective core that motivates their beliefs and actions (the animal-rights folks) and those who don't, I'm not sure what "surrendering to the spirit of becoming" amounts to other than trying to inhabit the animal-rights person's position in the hope of experiencing and taking on that affective core. Isn't that just the conversion approach?

To paint all meat eaters as uncompassionate, or at best idiots who fail to make the connection that a cow is a sentient animal just as a dog is

I really don't think that's what the article is trying to do.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 12:10 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am further disturbed by what I perceive as dog whistles and minimizing violence towards humans in this piece. For example, the author mentions that Maneka Gandhi spends much of her time threatening people via telephone to achieve her political ends, mentions that "given her history, nobody takes these as idle threats", but then immediately rushes to set this violence towards people aside and insist that most of her calls are idle threats. Given the history of animal rights activism, I want to know more about this history and more about what Gandhi thinks are acceptable ends--but then, I imagine this would be a different piece with that context.

You are absolutely right to be disturbed by what are indeed dog whistles towards minimizing violence towards other humans. There is a long and uncomfortable history of animal rights in India, which are often set up in opposition to the rights of poor and lower-caste humans. To give you just a few examples, I hold Maneka Gandhi and her group of activists at least partially responsible for the giant problem that is stray dogs and rabies in India. Unlike in other countries, there is huge opposition to euthanasia of stray dogs in India, and in some cases even to neutering. Dogs, even when caught by the local pound, are almost always released back into the city and allowed to roam freely, and many of them contract rabies, leading to one of the highest incidences of rabies in the world. Those who create the huge fuss about euthanasia of stray dogs are rarely the ones who have to bear the brunt of this issue, as they rarely travel by foot or cycle. Instead rabies cases are endemic among the poor in India. In some states, this can be a death sentence. In the state where my mother was at one time playing a key role in the state healthcare system, this lead to huge expenses in terms of keeping large stocks of rabies vaccine on hand, which could have been used to fight other diseases.

There has been a recent outbreak of gang violence against Muslims suspected of killing cows, often aided and abetted by local police. While higher caste Hindus in India will generally condemn this kind of overt violence, there is also a palpable sense that being vegetarian or at least not eating beef is morally right and that to some extent these people are defending the rights of the cow.

I thus take animal rights articles written in India with a giant grain of salt - these issues are complex, and it's way too easy for Indians to pat themselves on the back for being vegetarian or caring about animal rights, all while ignoring the massive human rights violations that are happening next door.
posted by peacheater at 3:18 PM on October 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Luckily if you have to eat meat for health reasons, not eating meat is not the only thing you can do to alleviate animal suffering. In fact it might not even be very high on the list of the most impactful.

Animal Charity Evaluators is an organisation that works to find out how people can most effectively donate money to reduce animal suffering. They have found that even with conservative estimates, it takes a surprisingly small donation to reduce animal suffering by the same amount as living an entire life as a vegan. Maybe as little as $500. Even if that estimate is off by a factor of 10, it is still only one dollar a day for less than 15 years to reduce animal suffering by the same amount as never eating meat.

This is not to say that I think you should eat meat. By eating meat and just donating, you miss out on the secondary effects: spreading veganism through your actions and contributing to a shift in the public perception of meat eating. You also of course miss out on the direct effects, which are just as good even if you donate.

As an aside, veganism should not be hard. I personally know people who have been vegans for over 50 years with no discernible negative effects, and the research seems to show that vegans have equal or better health than non-vegans.
posted by Spiegel at 3:23 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Correlation is not causation. IF vegans have been shown to have "better health" (whatever that is, as defined in a particular study), it does not mean that veganism has caused their health to be good, or caused it to improve over what it used to be. It seems likely to me that people who tend to care about their health and attempt to do the best they can for it will, in addition to perhaps trying veganism, also tend to be non-smokers, exercise, etc.

There's plenty of research to the effect that veganism is NOT healthy. Here's a particularly interesting study that came out recently:

Long Term Vegetarian Diet Changes Human DNA Risk

And here's a few more articles with citations:
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-08/why-vegan-diets-suck
https://chriskresser.com/why-you-should-think-twice-about-vegetarian-and-vegan-diets/
http://empoweredsustenance.com/is-vegan-healthy/

Ultimately, though, it doesn't really matter what is or isn't healthful for the average human when it comes to my own life and choices. I know that with the best of intentions and effort, veganism did not work for me. And I don't appreciate someone who does not know me making assumptions about my feelings for animals or my ability to recognize the sentience of a given animal. And indeed, one of the excerpts posted does just that, makes huge assumptions about the perceptions and motivations of meat eaters.

In recent years, I've read about some possible reasons why veganism works better for some than others. For example, some people can at least to some extent process omega 3's from plants into needed hormones, and some *require* omega 3's from animal sources. Almost no one is very efficient at it, though, and it's a reason so many vegans are not actually healthy long-term.

I watched my ex's sister destroy herself through veganism. She lost her ability to play cello because of the nerve damage it caused, among so many other things. During the periods when she's caved in to eating eggs from their backyard chickens, she's recovered some of her health. It is so very obvious to outsiders, but something she won't acknowledge.

I've also observed that some "vegans" end up eating animal products on a regular basis, whether through ignorance or slip-ups. For some people, and for some nutrients, such as B-12, I think the tiny bit you get from giving in and eating a stray piece of cheese here and there may be enough.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 5:02 PM on October 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


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