Oh deer.
March 28, 2018 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Pro-vegan activists have been organising protests outside Antler, a Toronto restaurant with a focus on foraged/wild ingredients, since December. (Apparently it all started with a joke about kale on the restaurant's sidewalk chalkboard.) Last Friday, Antler's head chef, Michael Hunter, responded to the protests by butchering and then eating a venison steak in the window behind said protesters. Antler had previously attempted to placate the protesters by adding more vegan dishes to the menu, but protesters have stated their goal is to show that 'ethical meat' is a fake idea and/or to push the restaurant to go all-vegan.
posted by halation (287 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, that's certainly a productive use of the time of everyone involved.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 3:17 PM on March 28, 2018 [105 favorites]


Right, labeling serving meat as murder is going to push the restaurant to go all-vegan. What are these activists smoking ?
posted by Pendragon at 3:19 PM on March 28, 2018 [34 favorites]


I guess picketing a feedlot wouldn't make the news.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:22 PM on March 28, 2018 [35 favorites]


Would the activists prefer the deer population be kept in check by road kill? Seriously, what the fuck. This is like, the absolute most ethical meat there could possibly be.
posted by notsnot at 3:23 PM on March 28, 2018 [73 favorites]


This is like one-half of the perfect Toronto controversy. If everyone involved could shoehorn in real estate, some sort of children vs. dog owners issue and/or bicycles, we'd be set.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:25 PM on March 28, 2018 [56 favorites]


This actually ended a lot better than I anticipated from the lede:
Despite the initial satisfaction, Mr. Hunter soon regretted the stunt.

“After, I didn’t feel good about it. I felt like they got to me and I played into them.”

The next day, Mr. Hunter received an e-mail from Ms. Ugar, offering to reduce the frequency of protests to once a month in exchange for an animal-rights sign to be displayed in the window: “Attention, animals’ lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust no matter how it’s done.”

Mr. Hunter responded with plans to introduce a vegan tasting menu and an invitation for Ms. Ugar’s group to join him on a foraging trip.

So far, Ms. Ugar has not responded. Although she said she is thinking it over.

“I’d always rather have dialogue. I want to sit down. I’m not targeting him. I’m there to defend animals.”
They both seem... kind of reasonable. Oh, Canada.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:26 PM on March 28, 2018 [40 favorites]


Protests like this just promote the idea that "nothing is ever good enough". Protesting a place that offers vegan options because it also sells meat is...I don't even have words.
posted by corb at 3:27 PM on March 28, 2018 [40 favorites]


Like- why ever even try to listen to a vegan as a restaurateur because if you don't do everything they say they'll picket you. There is absolutely no winning, no compromise.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:29 PM on March 28, 2018 [30 favorites]


Apparently you can't serve wild game in Toronto restaurants so this was probably a farmed deer, which is still pretty good by farming standards. Anyway this is pretty odd in that there are dozens of restaurants in Toronto like this, many even meatier so I don't get why this one got singled out. Maybe it's close to where the protesters live.
posted by GuyZero at 3:29 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


“I’d always rather have dialogue. I want to sit down. I’m not targeting him..."

If picketing his restaurant isn't targeting him, what the fuck is?
posted by Dysk at 3:30 PM on March 28, 2018 [67 favorites]


Do they not have McDonald's or something else with an equally genuinely horrific supply chain in Toronto to go for instead?
posted by Dysk at 3:32 PM on March 28, 2018 [36 favorites]


A butcher shop I go to here in Berkeley was picketed by vegans until they put a sign declaring meat is unethical in their window. And even then they only promised to protest less often. The same group has also been protesting inside of restaurants.

On preview, it's the same sign as above. So same tactic by similar terrible people.

Anyway, I've actually gone to the butcher shop much more often since they put up the sign and I know several other people who have as well. I wouldn't be surprised the publicity actually has increased their business.

I'm sure these people feel better about themselves, but their protests are counterproductive. Nobody's going to stop eating meat, the best you can demand is that it's sourced ethically. If you opt out and basically say "I'm not going to buy meat no matter what", then there's no reason to change practices, since they've lost you as a customer no matter what. By spending money only on ethically farmed and harvested meat I'm voting for that kind of production over horrific feedlots.

If you want to be vegan as a personal choice, great, but don't think that you're really doing anything to help change how animals are treated. And leave people who are trying to do the right thing the hell alone.
posted by mikesch at 3:35 PM on March 28, 2018 [40 favorites]


I'm guessing they think it's better optics to protest this guy than any of the restaurants on Spadina.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:35 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Anyway this is pretty odd in that there are dozens of restaurants in Toronto like this, many even meatier so I don't get why this one got singled out. Maybe it's close to where the protesters live.

Apparently, it's because of a message meant to poke fun at another nearby restaurant (the two had been doing this for a while in a form of playful ribbing) - "Venison is the new kale."

That's all.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


I'm not even vegan, but what do y'all think the goal of veganism is? I agree that this restaurant is a dumb target for activism, relative to... everything. But a lot of these critiques, when taken with the understanding that vegans literally consider meat murder, don't make any sense. "Why aren't they happy when we offer a few non-murder options?" "This is the most ethical murder out there!" "These irrational people won't be happy until there's no murder at all. It's ridiculous! You can't compromise with these people!"

It's such a bizarre way of attacking activists without acknowledging that you simply disagree on the fundamental point.
posted by abrightersummerday at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2018 [41 favorites]


I really don't appreciate being told that I should eat meat because it'll improve how animals are treated, thank you very much.
posted by hoyland at 3:40 PM on March 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


I'm not even vegan, but what do y'all think the goal of veganism is?

Depends on the vegan. Not all of them buy into the "meat is murder" argument - many adopted the diet for other reasons. Which is another reason these protesters are problematic - they're roping people into their fight that aren't part of it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:41 PM on March 28, 2018 [29 favorites]


I think the realpolitik of the matter is that most restaurants should offer vegan options (that are not salads) if only to make it easier for groups of mixed eaters to eat out. A vegan option is almost always kosher, halal and safe for people with dairy or egg allergies. If this guy offers a vegan option (that's not a salad) he's ahead of most restaurants IMO.

Like- why ever even try to listen to a vegan as a restaurateur because if you don't do everything they say they'll picket you

What? Not at all. The vast majority of vegans have never picketed anything. And being married to one, it's nice to go out to eat and for her to be able to order a meal. Plus vegan meals are usually halal, kosher and acceptable to people with dairy and egg allergies so the potential audience is a lot more than just people mad they have to live in Toronto instead of Berkeley.
posted by GuyZero at 3:42 PM on March 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


Does Toronto have the same issues with deer overpopulation as most of the US? I think it affects whether killing them is ethical or not, but I understand the absolutist argument too.
posted by mattamatic at 3:43 PM on March 28, 2018




I'm not even vegan, but what do y'all think the goal of veganism is? I agree that this restaurant is a dumb target for activism, relative to... everything. But a lot of these critiques, when taken with the understanding that vegans literally consider meat murder, don't make any sense.

So, here's the thing. If you believe meat is murder, then less murder should still be a win. And offering vegan options means that people will be less inclined to eat meat - because at least some of them will try the vegan options. If you want people to change their behavior, the best way to do so is to make it easier to do the right thing.
posted by corb at 3:45 PM on March 28, 2018 [42 favorites]


heh - the Ontario Deer & Elk Farmer's Association has a promotional website that seems to have been hacked. www.ontariovenison.ca is all posts about sex toys and vibrators.
posted by GuyZero at 3:48 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's such a bizarre way of attacking activists without acknowledging that you simply disagree on the fundamental point.

To be fair, many people are squeamish about saying "It's not murder to kill an animal and eat it." This is particularly true given the aggressive way that vegans and animal rights activists often claim to be responsible for or the main driving force behind animal welfare laws and initiatives, because animal welfare is even harder to oppose.

I am not one of those people, obviously. But I do have a certain appreciation for the level of disconnect many people have with where food comes from and what it does, and the similar lack of understanding many people have about the place of death in a balanced world--because that disconnect and discomfort is, I think, understandable given the context in which we as modern humans live.

I have noticed that meat-is-murder vegans are much more likely to target people who are involved with animals or care deeply about animal welfare, in part because of an apparent perception that "I care deeply about ethical animal treatment" means "I am terrified of death in all forms and I carry a deep sense of shame about humanity's place in what is currently a badly imbalanced ecosystem--in any and all configurations." There's no sense of "you reach for animal or environmental welfare as best you can, and I'll do as best I can, and together we'll at least help." There's only a naive and deeply insulting belief that if someone cares about ethics, obviously they will come to exactly the same conclusions as the meat-is-murder vegan in question.

NB: not all vegans, obviously. This is more of an animal rights thing than a vegan thing. But it' s closely enough associated with veganism that I have one hell of a sore spot about it.
posted by sciatrix at 3:50 PM on March 28, 2018 [44 favorites]


There are good food safety reasons for not allowing commercial access to wild meat to the public. There are disease source issues, including a native prion disease similar to CJD. It's not in Ontario yet, but why take that chance? There are butchery and transport issues. There's no infrastructure to inspect a lot of that and ensure safety. So why spend all the effort and resources to do that when farmed game is an easy solution and common enough.

Even then, leaving aside the issues of subsistence vs commercial hunts, native access rights (huge and likely raising constitutional issues), policy and economic outcomes of commercial hunters, etc&etc. No one wants the headaches for a very marginal gain.
posted by bonehead at 3:51 PM on March 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


[Additional note: I'm enthusiastically in favor of restaurants offering vegetarian and vegan options as a regular menu mainstay for a whole bunch of reasons, not least the fact that they're often quite tasty and provide options that someone might like to eat whether or not they're vegan, and I'm in favor of increased accessibility to food in general.]
posted by sciatrix at 3:52 PM on March 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


I don't think boycotting restaurants is a good idea and I don't support the protesters. For their purposes though, it seems like they picked an excellent restaurant to protest. Looking at the restaurant's website, they are intent on hyping how "wild" their ingredients are, as if they are all plucked fresh from the side of a bubbling brook, whereas others here have pointed out that that's clearly not the case. A portion of their customer base is being lured in because of the idea that it's somehow better for the environment (like people in this thread who think it will do anything to affect the deer population) when for some of their primary ingredients that is not the case. Unfortunately, the cookie cutter sign they made them put up does not appear to really draw attention to that falseness.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:53 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also it's sad that it's such a non-obvious idea to offer some foods that diners can eat without breaking religious or ethical codes that we treat it as an opinion.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:56 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


uh well, Ontario isn't California and unlike Alice Waters, Toronto chefs that want to serve local food aren't able to dish out 12-month-a-year strawberries and romaine lettuce. Marketing is marketing, but the restaurant's menu seems fine and basically localvorism for a province that has a pretty short growing season for vegetables.

McDonalds isn't exactly decorated with photos of feed lots either.
posted by GuyZero at 3:58 PM on March 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


Also boycotting restaurants is fine. I boycott like two or three hundred restaurants in my town every night.
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on March 28, 2018 [37 favorites]


Also it's sad that it's such a non-obvious idea to offer some foods that diners can eat without breaking religious or ethical codes that we treat it as an opinion.

Pretty much all food is stuff diners can eat without violating anything. Not all diners, but it's certainly not the case that eating meat or dairy violates universal religious or ethical codes (as stated) either.
posted by Dysk at 4:02 PM on March 28, 2018


Bowing to pressure, a Berkeley butcher shop makes a deal with vegan protesters

I sort of understand the approach, but I find that DxE and DxE inspired groups can be kind of kool-aid drinkers in terms of believing that if a particular action makes its participants uncomfortable, it must be working, and that the amount it works scales with the level of discomfort. I think of public protest efforts, Toronto Pig Save type actions are more effective and lead to more sympathetic news coverage, etc.

Do they not have McDonald's or something else with an equally genuinely horrific supply chain in Toronto to go for instead?

Generally the reasoning behind targeting "humane meat" suppliers is to try to frame the public conversation around animal rights rather than welfare. Often when you target a place for horrific practices, rather than killing animals per se, the conversation sort of unproductively (if you're promoting veganism) derails into one about welfare rather than rights. If you imagine certain "humane farming" practices applied to a beloved dog or cat, they seem much less humane; the idea of "humane slaughter" only really holds up under the assumption that animal products are a necessary thing in our diets.

I don't know if actions like this are the best way to address "humane meat" type marketing. But I think in part because of that kind of marketing, it can be very hard to discuss animal rights with people. People assume you're interested in welfare as an end in itself. So, while this may not be the best example of vegan activists targeting "humane meat" businesses, I hope this comment sheds some light on why a vegan group might choose to do that.

So, here's the thing. If you believe meat is murder, then less murder should still be a win. And offering vegan options means that people will be less inclined to eat meat - because at least some of them will try the vegan options. If you want people to change their behavior, the best way to do so is to make it easier to do the right thing.

You've kind of gotten to the core of a major ongoing debate within the animal rights movement. A lot of major, more welfarist groups (e.g. The Humane League, Mercy For Animals) are very interested in what you're describing. They tend to be more utilitarian in their philosophies. On the other end of the spectrum you have these very rights-focused groups that try to approach veganism as a social justice movement, are interested in moving the Overton window w/r/t animal rights, etc. At the AR conference last year there were some of the latter activists protesting a nonvegan "reducetarian" fellow's panel--the conference tends to trend pretty welfare-oriented, but having a nonvegan speaker who didn't necessarily promote veganism as an end goal was kind of a line for some people. It was "fun" to be in charge of keeping panel rooms running smoothly over the conference weekend knowing it was probably going to happen :)
posted by Gymnopedist at 4:04 PM on March 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


>>Like- why ever even try to listen to a vegan as a restaurateur because if you don't do everything they say they'll picket you. There is absolutely no winning, no compromise.

>What? Not at all. The vast majority of vegans have never picketed anything.


Always remember: if an omnivore is an asshole about something, then that guy's an asshole. If a vegan is an asshole about something? Man, all vegans are assholes!
posted by haileris23 at 4:05 PM on March 28, 2018 [23 favorites]


Right, labeling serving meat as murder is going to push the restaurant to go all-vegan. What are these activists smoking ?

Not deer jerky, one supposes.
posted by duffell at 4:05 PM on March 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


If you imagine certain "humane farming" practices applied to a beloved dog or cat, they seem much less humane

Maybe to you. I have no issues with eating or farming dogs or cats.
posted by Dysk at 4:07 PM on March 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm not even vegan, but what do y'all think the goal of veganism is? I agree that this restaurant is a dumb target for activism, relative to... everything. But a lot of these critiques, when taken with the understanding that vegans literally consider meat murder, don't make any sense.

I know an awful lot of vegans and very, very few of them are in the meat=murder camp.
posted by bradbane at 4:16 PM on March 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


protesters have stated their goal is to show that 'ethical meat' is a fake idea and/or to push the restaurant to go all-vegan

I'm vegan, and I'm all for certain vegans doing their vegan-thing (telling folks their opinion- that there's no such thing as ethical meat), but ultimately it's a battle of dictionaries- one side has one idea of what "ethical" means, the other side has a different idea of what "ethical" means. But I scrolled through Antler's website, and I couldn't find any instance of the website of the word "ethical" or "humanely-raised" (or any other similar foodie buzzwords), so it's like, I just don't get the point of protesting.

Like if some restaurant had all that foodie-buzzword language all over their website and menu, then sure, go ahead and protest to get them to remove that language. But just showing up anywhere that sells meat and protesting? I mean, if the owner of Random Meatselling Establishment walked out and said "Guys, we're not saying it's ethical to eat meat, we're saying that the animals we eat lead certain lives before we eat them. You guys can certainly feel that it's important to convince people to not eat meat, and we can feel that it's important to make sure that animals that become meat lead certain types of lives", I don't really see what chess move is left for protesting vegans in that situation that doesn't make them exactly like The Kind of Vegans That Piss Omnivores Off.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:17 PM on March 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


Also it's sad that it's such a non-obvious idea to offer some foods that diners can eat without breaking religious or ethical codes that we treat it as an opinion.

Which is presumably why Antler had a wide variety of foods that most diners can eat without breaking religious or ethical codes from well before the protest -- pre protest reviews mention entirely vegetarian -- hell, possibly vegan -- dishes, such as wild mushroom tarte tatin, farro risotto with root vegetables and Brussels sprouts, chestnut gnocchi, and mushroom yakitori, as well as multiple salads. In addition to a number of fish, poultry and venison dishes which can be eaten by people with some religious and ethical codes, but not all.

And I think it does a disservice to the billions of people who have religious/ethical/dietary codes stopping well short of veganism to erase them or use them as props to advocate for an entirely different set of rules.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:22 PM on March 28, 2018 [27 favorites]


The next day, Mr. Hunter received an e-mail from Ms. Ugar, offering to reduce the frequency of protests to once a month in exchange for an animal-rights sign to be displayed in the window: “Attention, animals’ lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust no matter how it’s done.”

I consider this to be reasonable in itself as a statement of vegan position in a way I don't see from the "murder" thing. Violent and unjust? I can agree with some part of violence, but I don't agree that animals have those rights and therefore I come to different conclusions about justice and ethics. On the whole, though, a good-faith statement. But if you ask a non-vegetarian restaurant to do this, what reaction do you actually expect? That's not good-faith engagement, even if the statement itself isn't as extreme. It's not a dialogue. It's just a stunt.
posted by Sequence at 4:27 PM on March 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


BlogTO: Reservations soar at Toronto restaurant after vegan protest . ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by rodlymight at 4:37 PM on March 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


BlogTO: Reservations soar at Toronto restaurant after vegan protest . ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Maybe it's all contrarian jerks, but honestly most Toronto restaurants die of obscurity rather than bad food. That bit of Dundas and Dufferin wasn't much of a hotspot last time I lived in Toronto.
posted by GuyZero at 4:40 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Nobody's going to stop eating meat

Obviously this is not true; people sometimes stop eating meat.

I enjoy the concern trolling in this thread, though. If only vegans would give up on bothering the nice, good people who eat nice, good (read: expensive) meat, they might finally get somewhere!

(I think meat is murder and that cuts of meat like steaks are the most murdery, with machine-made things like reconstituted chicken nuggets with added soy being the least murdery...so it is not obvious to me that these vegans should be protesting outside of a McDonalds, even though poor people eat there.)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:40 PM on March 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


Is your metric proportion of actual meat? Because outside of that, I can't really figure out the logic you're using.
posted by sagc at 4:45 PM on March 28, 2018 [16 favorites]


There are much better reasons to be angry about something in Toronto. TRAFFIC is my go to hating something in Toronto reason.
posted by Fizz at 4:45 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


What I would like assistance with understanding (forgive me, as the vegans I know aren't meat=murder vegans) is how vegetable/grain harvest which murders many, many animals - bunnies, groundhogs, chipmunks, etc), isn't just as unethical? Why is "oopsie" killing better than intentional killing where the animal will be used? (I understand issues with corporate farming, and we would all be better if we ate more plants, fewer animals) but seriously - if hoomans gonna eat - we all got blood on our hands/spoons.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 4:47 PM on March 28, 2018 [26 favorites]


I have noticed that meat-is-murder vegans are much more likely to target people who are involved with animals or care deeply about animal welfare, in part because of an apparent perception that "I care deeply about ethical animal treatment" means "I am terrified of death in all forms and I carry a deep sense of shame about humanity's place in what is currently a badly imbalanced ecosystem--in any and all configurations." There's no sense of "you reach for animal or environmental welfare as best you can, and I'll do as best I can, and together we'll at least help." There's only a naive and deeply insulting belief that if someone cares about ethics, obviously they will come to exactly the same conclusions as the meat-is-murder vegan in question.

...well, they also target these people because they provide a handy excuse for people to continue practices that they find abhorrent. And welfarist orgs often intentionally or negligently provide cover for really terrible behavior by (eg) for-profit corporations who are not "trying to do the right thing," but are instead doing the animal-rights equivalent of greenwashing so that they can continue making profits without worrying about bad PR.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:48 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


If you believe meat is murder, then less murder should still be a win.

I mean, yes and no. Like, sure, more vegan options = less murder (#yay), but it's easy to distort your line of thought into something close to "You vegans should be happy with any reduction in murder", which kind of promotes omnivores putting in as little effort as possible towards their vegan options, and low-effort-vegan-options can backfire and actually make people not want to try more vegan food. (#boo)
posted by 23skidoo at 4:49 PM on March 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


Is your metric proportion of actual meat? Because outside of that, I can't really figure out the logic you're using.

Sure. The more of your "meat" that is non-meat filler, the better. I also think (although this can be reasonably disagreed with) that meat byproducts are less ethically troublesome than big chunks of photogenic $$$ meat. In other words, if no one would bother to kill a cow to get the tiny chunks of cartilage that are used in a given meat product, then it's less ethically questionable to eat that meat product than it would be to eat a meat product that is the main profit driver behind animal husbandry and slaughter.

(This is the last I'm going to post about this, FYI, because the general point has already been made: just because a restaurant is fancy and/or has a lot of upper-class signaling does not make it obviously better from an animal-welfare point of view from a restaurant that serves cheap food to poor people.)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:52 PM on March 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I wonder how vegans feel when their food preferences are catered to not out of sympathy for their ethics but instead so that they can become customers and give their money to murder-adjacent restaurateurs?


No wait I dont lol.
posted by some loser at 4:53 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


What I would like assistance with understanding (forgive me, as the vegans I know aren't meat=murder vegans) is how vegetable/grain harvest which murders many, many animals - bunnies, groundhogs, chipmunks, etc), isn't just as unethical? Why is "oopsie" killing better than intentional killing where the animal will be used? (I understand issues with corporate farming, and we would all be better if we ate more plants, fewer animals) but seriously - if hoomans gonna eat - we all got blood on our hands/spoons.

Animals that are raised for slaughter eat farmed grain and other similar farmed products. So these issues are also present when it comes to eating animals. Perhaps even moreso, to the extent that it takes more grain to raise (eg) a cow than it would to feed a person the same nutrients made with farmed grain. (I have not actually managed to figure out if this is the case, given that cows are quite good at converting non-human-edible grains into edible-to-humans meat and fat).
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:56 PM on March 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


There are much better reasons to be angry about something in Toronto. TRAFFIC is my go to hating something in Toronto reason.

Also in Toronto today: A billboard declares Drake a ‘Kale God’, which should hit the sweet spot between this Antler imbroglio and the Sweet Jesus controversy.
posted by rodlymight at 5:01 PM on March 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


I wonder how vegans feel when their food preferences are catered to not out of sympathy for their ethics but instead so that they can become customers and give their money to murder-adjacent restaurateurs?

a) realpolitik
b) there's no ethical consumption under capitalism anyway (re: small mammals get killed by salad harvesting machines) so it's not like they were going to escape ethical issues anyway
posted by GuyZero at 5:02 PM on March 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


which should hit the sweet spot between this Antler imbroglio and the Sweet Jesus controversy.

makes me pine for the simpler days of instagram people lining up for anything made with activated charcoal
posted by GuyZero at 5:04 PM on March 28, 2018


What I would like assistance with understanding (forgive me, as the vegans I know aren't meat=murder vegans) is how vegetable/grain harvest which murders many, many animals - bunnies, groundhogs, chipmunks, etc), isn't just as unethical?

It isn't just as unethical because with meat you still have to farm grain, killing all of those bunnies etc., and then feed that to your cows and then eat that. So rather than you eating 100g of corn and calling it a day you are eating 100g of beef, which required something around 1kg of corn to be fed to the cow. You have increased the unintentional killing by some amount and added a layer of intentional killing on top of it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:04 PM on March 28, 2018 [26 favorites]


It's going to be interesting to see what happens to veganism as a political identity and lifestyle choice when (not if, when) animal-free meat and leather becomes not only commonplace, but preferred due to quality control and cost.

People like Weird Al will quietly go about eating (absolutely delicious) veggie sammiches like before, but he's not trying to prove anything to anyone. He likes what he likes for the reasons he prefers, and that's more than all right.

The activism will get weird.

The opposition to the sadism inherent to a carnivorous diet balanced with a public-health conscious plant-based diet preference, what happens when that balance goes boink? We might well see Cheeseburgertarians - people who cosplay "Randy" from Trailer Park Boys and eat at least one ethical meat and milk-cheeseburger a day. The beef and milk is lab synthesized from environmentally sound algal proteins, as is the egg for the delicious challah bun. They might make common cause with Jainists, but would Jainists make common cause with them?
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:04 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I smell the fetid stench of a big fat marketing ploy.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 5:06 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


the sadism inherent to a carnivorous diet

Yeah, no. This is not a thing. Indifference, perhaps, but sadism? If you're not trolling here, you're certainly indistinguishable from a troll.
posted by Dysk at 5:08 PM on March 28, 2018 [34 favorites]


I'm as vegetarian as the next guy vegetarian, but this is really not the way to get people to eat less meat.
posted by freakazoid at 5:12 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yeah, no. This is not a thing. Indifference, perhaps, but sadism? If you're not trolling here, you're certainly indistinguishable from a troll.

You don't think it's a thing. That is different from it objectively not being a thing or it being a thing that could only be forwarded in bad faith.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:13 PM on March 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Comin' at it from their perspective. More objectively, the typical carnivorous diet is certainly cruel, tho the pleasure derived from cruelty is typically absent. And factory farmed meat is over-the-top cruel, and I can say that as someone who just yesterday ate a fantastic Spam Musubi at a New-England based Hawaiian fast food chain.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:14 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


You don't think it's a thing. That is different from it objectively not being a thing or it being a thing that could only be forwarded in bad faith.

Sadism isn't merely about what is done, it's about intent. So no, it objectively isn't a thing.
posted by Dysk at 5:15 PM on March 28, 2018 [37 favorites]


Like, are some meat eaters or butchers or abattoir workers sadists? Sure, maybe some are. Is literally everyone who eats meat relishing the pain and suffering they're party in causing? Absolutely not. Sadism is in no way inherent in any diet.
posted by Dysk at 5:18 PM on March 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


There are much better reasons to be angry about something in Toronto. TRAFFIC is my go to hating something in Toronto reason.

This week city council was debating whether to keep Yonge St. as a 6-lane expressway between Finch and Sheppard so that people from the 905 can get to the 401 or actually improve the area for the Torontonians who live there. The only reason the vote didn't go the way you'd expect it to was because council instead decided to delay the vote to "gather more research".
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:19 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


(You could make a more convincing argument for masochism being inherent in a vegan diet, though.

/HAMBURGER)

posted by Dysk at 5:19 PM on March 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


I went and "died" in Nathan Phillips Square Monday for five minutes and that seemed like an okay form of protest. Five minutes out of my day, a decent photo op, maybe the mayor will spend two seconds looking at one of the photos of people pretending to be dead cyclists and pedestrians. Could help? Maybe? Maybe not. But, it was in a place where it might make a difference. So it feels like it could be effective.

Vegans holding signs in front of one out of thousands of restaurants selling meat seems not so much protesting as performance art? Maybe it makes the vegan potluck they have later taste good because annoying a few people for two seconds as they try to enter/exit the resto adds a nice frisson of accomplishment? It's more for themselves than to actually achieve anything, and therefore pretty dickish.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:20 PM on March 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


Point:
Is literally everyone who eats meat relishing the pain and suffering they're party in causing? Absolutely not.

Counterpoint:
BlogTO: Reservations soar at Toronto restaurant after vegan protest .
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:21 PM on March 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


Counterpoint:
BlogTO: Reservations soar at Toronto restaurant after vegan protest .


Try reading what I wrote again. Are there sadistic meat eaters? Sure, maybe there are. Is it all of them? Is it inherent to the diet? No.

Alternatively, "oh, there's a restaurant in the news I've never heard about, maybe we should check it out!" All this coverage is free publicity for the restaurant, regardless of why exactly it is in the news (well, as long as it isn't for food poisoning, I guess).
posted by Dysk at 5:24 PM on March 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


Most people think meat literally comes from Loblaws so yeah, there may be suffering but there probably isn't sadism.

Not to mention it's like 80's era Temple Grandin stuff to say that animals raised without suffering are actually more popular with people who eat meat.
posted by GuyZero at 5:25 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I wonder how vegans feel when their food preferences are catered to not out of sympathy for their ethics but instead so that they can become customers and give their money to murder-adjacent restaurateurs?

Maaaan, I miss getting to casually eat at restaurants with my omni friends. If you're an omni restaurant, please cater to my vegan-ass. I miss getting asked to do things.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:25 PM on March 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Is there a significant portion of the population eating a carnivorous diet or is this more of a talking point like saying "Democrat Party?"
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:26 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I mean, unless you're suggesting that literally every meat eater in the world is booking a table at Antler, in which case all I can say is that I'm omnivorous and haven't even considered a reservation.
posted by Dysk at 5:26 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Sadism isn't merely about what is done, it's about intent. So no, it objectively isn't a thing.

Right so given that the original person who posted that statement apparently doesn't believe it, I'm loath to put any more work into this particular issue. I will say that there are a lot of philosophers who are quite smart and thoughtful who would disagree with your version of this.

Most people already basically agree that eating meat is fine. I don't get the need to reflexively declare an entire line of thinking to be completely off-limits to all non-trolls and objectively wrong (instead of just misguided, counter to your experiences, etc.)

It seems to indicate a kind of fragility about one's own ethical choices that is very commonly human (especially in Christian-influenced societies), and yet, I think, very bad for ethical discussion, thinking and decision-making.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:27 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Sadism is the enjoyment of cruelty. That's not the aspect of meat most people are enjoying, believe me. By your logic, sadism is inherent to life in a developed country. At that point, the term is broad enough as to be meaningless.
posted by Dysk at 5:29 PM on March 28, 2018 [19 favorites]


The image on the restaurant's web site looks like a still from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, lol.

Ultimately, having a fancy dinner briefly disturbed matters less than a stubbed toe. Patrons could at the very least enjoy the novelty. As for the protesters, I can only respect the initial drive to action and sympathize with the inconsequential flailing.

For dickish protester and full-bellied murderer alike, the ecocide will continue until everything we know and love has been reduced to ash and bone. Relax!
posted by nwwn at 5:29 PM on March 28, 2018


I feel awkward enough eating at "fancy" restaurants (yes this counts) that the prospect of getting yelled at on the sidewalk would keep me far away. So, I guess that means the protest is effective?
posted by quaking fajita at 5:34 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


When the CIA stopped allowing live fresh kills as part of their butchery class on chickens, the instructor had a live cow delivered and demonstrated on the front lawn as a protest. It was unfortunately, also his last day.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:36 PM on March 28, 2018


It was unfortunately, also his last day.

Whenever someone at works asks "Can I do <thing>?" my answer is always:

You can do anything you want on your last day.
posted by GuyZero at 5:37 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I made the point/counterpoint comment more in jest than anything else because it was a funny juxtaposition to me.

I'm not a vegan and my kids are full omnivores so I'm probably not going to be joining in a similar protest any time soon but I must say that there is a large subset of omnivores who will go on and on about how much they love meat and how tasty it is and aren't your shoes made of leather if you even casually mention that you don't eat meat (and that only because you had to refuse the piece of meat they were about to feed you). Omnivore fragility I guess you could call it.

During the 80s I remember hearing about campaigns and protests against fur. People throwing red paint and stuff. I was a kid so I never really got a feel for the extent of them and how they were perceived but I do know that I never see people in fur coats anymore so they must have worked. Maybe 30 years down the line when artificial meet is everywhere protests like this will seem the same way - seemingly counterproductive but effective nonetheless.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:49 PM on March 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


Sigh. They're doing it wrong. The thing that pisses me off the most about militant vegans is that their compassion stops at humans. They need to understand why people eat meat. Why people can continue eating meat, even after knowing the details of how the meat gets there. It's fucking complicated. You can't just scream at someone. And My SO and I argue about this all the time (she is militant vegan). As I've said before, I'm a vegetarian/wannabe vegan. I love animals. I want to hug all of the animals. ALL OF THEM. I don't even kill bugs. And I know people don't feel that same way. But I get why people eat meat. I really do. And yeah, I do see meat as murder, but again, it's fucking complicated.

The militant vegans can protest their way. I'll do it my way by investing in companies that are working on making better plant-based foods. My dream is that McDonald's will discover that going to all plant-based food will save them a jillion dollars and they will focus on developing an amazing meat replacement. Profit motive can move mountains.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:53 PM on March 28, 2018 [24 favorites]


So at the farmers' market I go to, there was this guy who'd come and protest the live chicken sales. Some weeks it was just him, some weeks he had a small group with him. He passed out these flyers -- I picked one up once. It made such absurd and racist claims about live chicken sales -- like that most of the customers were using them for religious sacrifices. He'd walk around and intentionally try to start fights with people and record them on his camera, and then post them on youtube.

It had this weird effect on me. It made me look forward to seeing the chicken sellers, even though I'm a vegetarian. I started admiring their customers--I would have literally no idea how to turn a live chicken into food. And this guy seemed like such a neanderthal by comparison. Of course he won just by making himself enough of a nuisance, and now the chicken stand is gone, and I kind of miss it.

So yes, if meat is murder, then we shouldn't be surprised at people protesting the "good" meat. But shit, it's hard to look at where these people show up and not notice some disturbing patterns.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:56 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Maybe 30 years down the line when artificial meet is everywhere protests like this will seem the same way - seemingly counterproductive but effective nonetheless.

If in thirty years artificial meat is everywhere, having supplanted animal-based stuff, it'll be primarily because of significant advances in science and process engineering, not because some vegans picketed a Toronto restaurant.
posted by Dysk at 5:56 PM on March 28, 2018 [35 favorites]


But shit, it's hard to look at where these people show up and not notice some disturbing patterns.

Which patterns?
posted by nwwn at 6:00 PM on March 28, 2018


Sorry, maybe I made that too subtle. In the case I was referring to, it was super obviously racially motivated.
posted by roll truck roll at 6:02 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I also think (although this can be reasonably disagreed with) that meat byproducts are less ethically troublesome than big chunks of photogenic $$$ meat.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em, have you watched a skilled butcher process a carcass? They’re not grabbing a few premium steaks and then tossing the rest in the dumpster, so if this is something you plan on using as a talking point you might want to educate yourself a bit before declaring McD’s style pink slime meat processing to be ethically superior.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:02 PM on March 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


How does the racism of the solo crazy in your anecdote connect to a larger pattern?
posted by nwwn at 6:04 PM on March 28, 2018


How does the racism of the solo crazy in your anecdote connect to a larger pattern?

Protests of chicken sellers in multiple farmers' markets -- easy to find them through Googling. Protests of organic and humane meat processors over big corporate ones. It all shows an agenda that's about something more and something different from just stopping meat. What do you want from me?
posted by roll truck roll at 6:09 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I saw a bumper sticker that said "Humane Meat is Yuppie Bullshit"

I hadn't thought about it before. So it made me feel a bit... educated. "Oh," I thought. "Here's another point of view to consider. Here's another possible reason I might cut back on meat consumption."

==

I don't have advice for the protester. I think it's OK to try different approaches to activism and find out what has impact and what satisfies her need to DO FRICKING SOMETHING.
posted by surplus at 6:15 PM on March 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


The only thing I want is to not have people tell me you can recreate any dish in a vegan form. You can't god dammit.
posted by Ferreous at 6:24 PM on March 28, 2018 [16 favorites]


Has anyone thrown out the idea that this is all just a set up to advertise the restaurant? If not, here it is: this is obviously just a cheap stunt to give this restaurant more exposure.
posted by NoMich at 6:27 PM on March 28, 2018


I’m a vegan and I think both parties are assholes, but it’s more fun to call all vegans jerks, I guess. Same as it ever was on the Blue.
posted by Kitteh at 6:27 PM on March 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


I can’t believe that no one’s remarked on “Hunter,” the head chef at Antler. SMH. From now on it’s gruel for the lot of you.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:27 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I knew a vegan who wouldn't eat honey, because it was exploiting bees. Yes, the beekeepers care for, protect, clean and fuss over their hives, but the bees were exploited?

I've heard certain beers are not vegan because they use isinglass which is from a fish's air bladder. Hardcore vegans are crazy.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:28 PM on March 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


The Impossible burger is way better than the Beyond Burger. But the I-don't-know-what's-in-it patty at the vegan restaurant across the street is better than both.

This is a deeply weird story. I suppose just a daily reminder how deeply weird humanity is.
posted by crush at 6:31 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


The honey thing is a long running debate. Think of it as edge-case anti-capitalism and it makes more sense.

When rejecting the harvesting & consumption of fish, it seems obvious that the biproducts would also be rejected. It's not crazy, it's plainly consistent.
posted by nwwn at 6:34 PM on March 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


machine-made things like reconstituted chicken nuggets with added soy being the least murdery

Given the choice, I imagine a captured Mongol chieftain would find it more honorable to die as a steak than a McNugget.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:37 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


What about yeast? Drinking any alcohol is exploitation of yeast. And wide scale industrial farming is way more destructive to wild animal life than hunting or bee keeping. And honey is far more beneficial to the environment than even the most organic homespun sugar cane production. Which mainly exploits humans.

And yeah, deer become overpopulated quickly, can starve or freeze to death, or cause motor vehicle accidents which are as deadly for the human driver and passenger as it is for the deer.

Consistent? Sure. Near sighted and silly? Sure.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:40 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I’m a vegan and I think both parties are assholes, but it’s more fun to call all vegans jerks, I guess. Same as it ever was on the Blue.

tbh one party is clearly the instigator. Given how brutal and low margin the restaurant industry is I can understand the owner giving in to more base impulses.
posted by Ferreous at 6:41 PM on March 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


You know what, add vegetarian and vegan options to all restaurants! GREAT! Give the animals great and healthy lives! GREAT! Slaughter and process them humanely! GREAT!

But do NOT shut down my option to get access to meat. NOT GREAT!

How would a vegetarian or vegan feel if a group were to picket their favorite restaurant and argue all restaurants MUST serve meat or close down? (Please note, I am NOT calling vegetarians or vegans jerks, just making a point what's good for the goose is good for the soy gander)
posted by Samizdata at 6:49 PM on March 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Well, we were talking about fish, which are on a very different level of sentience than yeast. Bees are contentious, which is why I brought up the anti-capitalist angle in their case. Those same anti-capitalists will also find very serious issues with wide scale industrial farming techniques, including the farming of sugar cane. And the deer being consumed in the OP are not wild, so...
posted by nwwn at 6:52 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


> Slap*Happy:
"People like Weird Al will quietly go about eating (absolutely delicious) veggie sammiches like before, but he's not trying to prove anything to anyone. He likes what he likes for the reasons he prefers, and that's more than all right."

Innagaddadavita! Not a vegetarian, but that sandwich looks amazing! (Okay, a LITTLE skeptical on the pomegranite molasses, but otherwise...)

Also, there's so much talk about the sadism involved in a carnivorous diet. I believe in ethical animal husbandry and processing, but I really doubt a wolf is going to stop and agonize about inflicting the least amount of pain on a deer. I don't think a cougar is going to analyze how to as humanely as possible kill and consume a quail. If this REALLY is about meat being murder and animal rights, go picket some predators for a more thoughtful approach to their daily lives.
posted by Samizdata at 6:56 PM on March 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Sigh. They're doing it wrong. The thing that pisses me off the most about militant vegans is that their compassion stops at humans. They need to understand why people eat meat. Why people can continue eating meat, even after knowing the details of how the meat gets there. It's fucking complicated.

So yes, if meat is murder, then we shouldn't be surprised at people protesting the "good" meat. But shit, it's hard to look at where these people show up and not notice some disturbing patterns.

In this case, specifically, they are picketing totally recreational UMC meat-eating. Empathy, maybe. Compassion? Mehhhhhhh. Racism? Mehhhhh. This is like the opposite of that. They're not picketing a hospital. I guess some vegans somewhere have done bad things so that's relevant here because vegans are basically a monolith and that one time a vegan annoyed you means you know what's up with all vegans.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:58 PM on March 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


heh - the Ontario Deer & Elk Farmer's Association has a promotional website that seems to have been hacked. www.ontariovenison.ca is all posts about sex toys and vibrators.

Well, you play with the deer, you get the horn.
posted by smoke at 7:03 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I hear things really escalated when the protesters brought out their kale spoons.
posted by netowl at 7:04 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em, have you watched a skilled butcher process a carcass? They’re not grabbing a few premium steaks and then tossing the rest in the dumpster, so if this is something you plan on using as a talking point you might want to educate yourself a bit before declaring McD’s style pink slime meat processing to be ethically superior.

This is such a deeply condescending and rude comment.

First, I said in the comment that you're responding to that "this can be reasonably disagreed with." Meaning that I --- unlike you --- acknowledged the fact that there are people who might disagree with me without being ignorant and/or unreasonable. It would be great if you would give me the same courtesy that I showed to you.

Second, I do know what skilled butchers do. I also know what industrial meat processors do. I also understand the economics of mass meat production. This was the main industry where I grew up (and my family was in a closely related business; I also had extended family who hunted, raised meat animals, etc.) There are certain cuts of meat that, arguably, are responsible for most of the profitability of meat production. There are other meat products that, while they do contribute to the bottom line, would never be able to support meat production by themselves. The second types of products are typically termed meat "by-products," and there is a good argument that, because they are not the main drivers of demand for meat production, consuming them makes one relatively less culpable for the continued profit-driven production of meat.

Again, I think that this can be reasonably disagreed with. For example, one might argue that the ability to efficiently dispose of meat by-products without cost to the meat producer is also a large driver of the profitability of industrial meat production, and that distinguishing between different types of meat is not really a sensible way to understand one's contribution to the overall demand for mass animal slaughter.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:08 PM on March 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


Before anyone points at me, I have been personally and directly involved in the killing and field dressing of both rabbit and deer and have worked in butcher departments more than once.
posted by Samizdata at 7:11 PM on March 28, 2018


I am a beekeeper (and omnivore incidentally), and I can tell you, it is essentially impossible to keep bees without killing a few of them accidentally in the course of normal beekeeping operations, not to mention the deliberate culling of unproductive queens and excess queen and drone brood which is common even among the most crunchy-hippie beekeepers. It is not even slightly weird to consider honey non-vegan.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:19 PM on March 28, 2018 [27 favorites]


How would a vegetarian or vegan feel if a group were to picket their favorite restaurant and argue all restaurants MUST serve meat or close down?

Uhh, honestly, I would feel joy at the confusing novelty of it, and would probably hang out for a while asking questions about climate change, industrial scale meat production, and ecocide. If the crowd was engaging, I might even join your side for a bit, stumping passing vegans with 'how can animals have rights if they aren't mass produced in the first place?!'
posted by nwwn at 7:22 PM on March 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


This is such a deeply condescending and rude comment.

It was an honest question. My sister and her husband are vegan, I’ve spent more than a decade living with vegans and animal rights activists, and I’ve literally never heard anyone make a serious argument that industrially processed meat byproducts are more ethical than “normal” cuts of meat that your local butcher offers. If this is actually a thing and not just some bizarre concern trolling, I’d love to be pointed towards any ethicists that are actually taking this position.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:25 PM on March 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


I don't get the need to reflexively declare an entire line of thinking to be completely off-limits to all non-trolls and objectively wrong (instead of just misguided, counter to your experiences, etc.)
Rock 'em Sock 'em

It's being called objectively wrong because it is objectively wrong.

Dysk is right: by definition, sadism requires intent to take pleasure in causing pain. Just being indifferent or not even considering pain is not sadism. I would put money down that that vast, vast, vast majority of people who eat meat simply don't think at all about where the meat came from, suffering or no. It's just not a concern or consideration for them in their consumption of meat.

You can argue about the problems with that, but by definition it's not sadism. If your position is that it is, you are objectively wrong. You seem to be playing a semantic game here and using a non-standard definition of the word, or using the word to mean something that it doesn't in general usage.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:26 PM on March 28, 2018 [28 favorites]


> nwwn:
"Uhh, honestly, I would feel joy at the confusing novelty of it, and would probably hang out for a while asking questions about climate change, industrial scale meat production, and ecocide. If the crowd was engaging, I might even join your side for a bit, stumping passing vegans with 'how can animals have rights if they aren't mass produced in the first place?!'"

My issue was more of a "You do your thing, and I will do my thing." outlook. Although I am happy you would be pleased (although I wouldn't be there). And, as I said, I am willing to pay more for ethically sourced non-vegetarian food stuffs. And I am poor and on SNAP, so it's NOT a Slow Food/privilege thing.
posted by Samizdata at 7:26 PM on March 28, 2018


I feel that I should stop eating meat and it deep down it hurts my soul that animals are slaughtered in such a way I should probably be doing more to stop. To stop myself, and maybe even others. But that is very uncomfortable and when I see others trying to stop this slaughter I find it more comfortable to point out that they have flaws and no one is perfect and they are doing it wrong. I think I feel better and more comfortable then... but deep down I don't. I know I really feel better when I stop eating meat. My health does better with meat products but my heart doesn't. I am hoping health research and science will come together to create better health outcomes for people who have health problems when doing vegetarian diets.

I mean I really do think they are doing it wrong. I really do think certain kinds of meat eating are objectively better and think it's barking up the wrong tree and I wanted to come in here and say all that and laugh and join the fun but it sort of hit me what that does for me personally. It might only be me, I kind of hope we are having growing pains, we humans, and perhaps we will become more capable of compassionate living to all beings, not just humans. I still hope for it. And yes the vegans should be more peaceful and quiet and patient... I mean... MAYBE.... I'm not totally sure. Honestly I'm not sure. That would kind of assume that animal suffering and death doesn't matter and I don't think that's true. Or maybe there are just kinder ways to encourage change. I like to hope for change that comes with compassion and understanding for those who harm as well as those being harmed. With compassion and protections for those who cause suffering while slowly lowering the harms. There are any number of injustices though that when I think about using that attitude I find it hard to stand by at times... like no these injustices just need to STOP and we shouldn't HAVE to be gentle with those who harm!!! As a harm reductionist and a person with a body sustained on the slaughter of animals and any number of injustices in the world, I can just keep going and make what improvements I can, and try to sleep at night in the meantime while I hope it continues to get better, I continue to get better, we help each other grow in compassionate behaviors and making it easier for each other to do so.
posted by xarnop at 7:29 PM on March 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


FWIW, I don't have issues with eating animals as, by the fact that there are naturally originated obligate carnivores, I feel that eating animals is, well, natural. I see no reason, however, said food animals should not be treated compassionately during their lives and during their, well, post-lives.
posted by Samizdata at 7:41 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


showbiz_liz: I appreciate the info about bee keeping.

But even organic farming with compost and zero chemical fertilizers or pesticide? Your shovel or spade is slicing into the earth, cutting worms, grubs and shattering entire ant colonies into pieces. Tearing up native plants to grow your crops displaces birds, nests of voles, a toad's hunting grounds, etc. You are displacing native plant species. You are introducing foreign species of plants. You are very possibly cutting the roots of nearby trees.

There's a point where this kind of logic is pure lunacy. The lunacy comes from the consistency.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:43 PM on March 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Maaaannnnn, I was trying to consider ethical veganism vs. the vegan ethos vs. vegan dietary preference in the face of tech that was actual no-kidding science fiction when I was reading '50's Sci-Fi short story anthologies in the '80s as a kid, only it's about to be real now.

The sadism angle was unintended. Most people who eat meat aren't sadists. Like, to at least three nines sub-percentages. Which is still more than I like.

Also I like cheap and delicious meat. Grown in a vat with bio science and renewable energy? So it's consistent in quality to boot? Sign. Me. Up.

Also I would very much like to eat the Weird Al vegan sammich. I made pommegranite molasses for another recipe, tho I used honey rather than sugar (not Vegan, but sometimes, symbiosis is a thing), and you need a LOT LESS sugar/honey than in the vid. It's right tart in the right ways!
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:44 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


If this REALLY is about meat being murder and animal rights, go picket some predators for a more thoughtful approach to their daily lives.

Meet the people who want to turn predators into herbivores
posted by 445supermag at 7:46 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm all in favor of lab grown meat, but... First, it's a ways away. Second? I think it's going to be terrible at first. People talk about "terroir" in wine. Organic veggies taste better with rich compost and manure.

Meat out of a lab? It's going to be tasteless, uniform, and will likely have additives to make it taste like "meat," and will not chew like meat. Perhaps this will be disgusting to some folks here, but there's something about eating the flesh of an animal, tendons, bones, marrow, muscle, blood, etc., that I just do not think will be able to be replicated in a laboratory. Mario Battali (I know, he's an asshole) uses the term "capricious" to describe his style of cooking... each bite and chew is a little different. That's what makes food seem real, earthy or hand made.

Even supermarket grass-fed beef tastes different than regular supermarket beef. Lab beef? I'm skeptical.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:48 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I doubt Peter Singer had this in mind when he started the whole business. People like michael pollan are, in some ways, closer to some parts of the original animal rights ethic, because of the systems thinking. This whole debate is sadly consumerist. To pretend like one restaurant changing is a substantial political change seems to miss the whole point that the corporate-state run food systems we have are deadly to everyone on the planet and need to change, soon.
posted by eustatic at 7:50 PM on March 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


My issue was more of a "You do your thing, and I will do my thing." outlook.

Totally. It's just that I think the absurdity of the reversal comes from it pivoting on 'personal choice'. If 'your thing' is global industrial meat production, then I'm not sure I can just live and let live, yaknow? It's a major problem that brings massive human suffering with it, mostly on the poor of the global south. I may not care at all when some state fair patron snacks on a corndog, but if there were a way to abolish corndogs in general, I'd support it wholeheartedly.

If this REALLY is about meat being murder and animal rights, go picket some predators for a more thoughtful approach to their daily lives.

The real question is when we finally subject the bobcat & coyote to the terrible force of The Law, will they be given a jury of their peers? No owl in town would vote to convict!
posted by nwwn at 7:53 PM on March 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


I used to be a militant vegan and boy howdy was I an insufferable asshole 99 percent of the time.

I’m not a militant vegan anymore but I’m probably still an insufferable asshole...
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:55 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


@jeff-o-matic are you familiar with the incredible burger? I haven't tried it personally but by all accounts it is a convincing facsimile.

https://www.wired.com/story/the-impossible-burger
posted by askmehow at 7:57 PM on March 28, 2018


Werner Herzog: "I believe the common denominator of the Universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility and murder."

I believe this too. Which is why I consider myself a secular humanist. I'm not gonna go out of my way to hurt others, and I try to do what I can to mitigate the suffering of my fellow humans during this blink of time I have here on earth.

But I will proudly and happily eat honey.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:00 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


"I’m not a militant vegan anymore but I’m probably still an insufferable asshole..." Well you made me laugh at least.... :D
posted by xarnop at 8:00 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


@jeff-o-matic are you familiar with the incredible burger?


Yes, but like self-driving cars and jet packs and 90 minutes from New York to Paris? I'll believe it when I see it and taste it. EDIT: I am not a big meat eater or anti vegetarian.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:02 PM on March 28, 2018


I too stir the dead labor of exploited insects into my morning tea. The power-over-nature is even more eye opening than the caffeine.
posted by nwwn at 8:06 PM on March 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I disagree with these guys along about five axes, from principles to implementation, but it seems strange to complain that they engage in protests, as if that were somehow inherently inappropriate (instead of futile or misguided). Would you be angry if they protested at a facility where cosmetics were tested on animals? Probably not, right? What is the distinction here? If it's merely that the actual cruelty takes place at a facility once removed from the restaurant, that hardly seems to make a difference.
posted by praemunire at 8:07 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


A burger is a pretty low bar to clear as far as meat goes, being made from minced meat and generally presented and eaten with bread and condiments. Something like a steak or a leg of lamb - or even stewing steak, belly pork, or organ meats, that's a whole different class of problem.
posted by Dysk at 8:08 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think it’s possibe to think this is terrible without insulting all vegans. I work with a lot of vegans, and they’re all pretty conscientious, and I try to take their preferences into consideration, and they try to understand other people’s need for cheap and easy protein.

A lot of this “you need to understand they are justified in doing whatever they want because they believe it’s murder” seems bizarre - like, we wouldn’t put up with that from a pro-life group who were being assholes, there’s no need to put up with it from vegans. We live in a society with a lot of different people in it with many different ethical beliefs, and we need to be able to coexist with each other and try to change each other’s minds rather than just shout them down.
posted by corb at 8:25 PM on March 28, 2018 [25 favorites]


It was an honest question. My sister and her husband are vegan, I’ve spent more than a decade living with vegans and animal rights activists, and I’ve literally never heard anyone make a serious argument that industrially processed meat byproducts are more ethical than “normal” cuts of meat that your local butcher offers. If this is actually a thing and not just some bizarre concern trolling, I’d love to be pointed towards any ethicists that are actually taking this position.


Me. I am taking this position. In this thread. I have said, in detail, why I think it is defensible. (Consuming certain meat products arguably leads to less demand for meat, and is thus arguably ethically superior to consuming those meat products that lead to more demand for meat). So far I have given a reasonable counter-argument, which is exactly one more reasonable counterargument than you have provided. If you think I'm wrong, feel free to say why.

It's also very sensible that vegans and vegetarians would not have considered which meat products were more or less ethical to eat --- they, by definition, don't eat meat. Why would they care?

Meat eaters who seek to eat meat ethically, on the other hand, should consider which meats are more or less ethical to consume. If you haven't actually done so, then maybe you should start, and you might come to a similar conclusion to the one I've come to. Or, as I have repeatedly said, you might reasonably come to a different conclusion.

I mean, you could just sort of thoughtlessly go along with whatever is marketed to you as "better" (deer! for some reason! even though they haven't been bred to be as efficient at creating meat as cows, and they haven't been bred to tolerate captivity well, etc. etc. etc.!) but if you do that, you might want to consider refraining from blindly criticizing people for holding actual thoughtful positions on the topic.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:32 PM on March 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


They're...protesting, though. And the worst thing their protest is doing is maybe diminishing some people's pleasure in dinner, not torturing rape victims or invading someone's intimate health care choices. I don't think they're "justified in doing whatever they want," but peaceful protest on the street? This is in the box of "generally acceptable means of attempting to obtain social change."

Again, I don't think they're right, nor do I think their methods will get the change they want. I'm just a little bemused to see Mefi coming out against protest just because vegans can be freaking annoying.
posted by praemunire at 8:39 PM on March 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


If someone had posted a protest against a vegan restaurant that turned this ludicrous, I guarantee you the reactions would not be the same. It would still ZOMG DUMB VEGANS I HEART BACON 4EVA.
posted by Kitteh at 8:43 PM on March 28, 2018 [18 favorites]


I’m just tired of seeing this same crappy arguments on an Internet forum I like to be part of and hopefully have friendly folks to meet up with upon occasion, but yeah, vegans are not a subject MeFi does well.
posted by Kitteh at 8:46 PM on March 28, 2018 [19 favorites]


It'd be helpful if it came up in, well, pretty much any context aside from this misguided mess.
posted by Dysk at 8:48 PM on March 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


(And reasons to protest McDonald's instead of the restaurant in question are not limited to animal welfare - though the fast food industry in general are among the worst for it - but also sheer volume, even if they do dilute their meat with various fillers. There is absolutely no way that influencing an insignificant bit player like Antler will have any effect on global food supply chains or demand for dead animals. Gargantuan multinationals on the other hand...)
posted by Dysk at 8:53 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


if someone had posted a protest against a vegan restaurant that turned this ludicrous, I guarantee you the reactions would not be the same

The literally I will fucking fight you, best restaurant on earth is Sol Semilla, a vegan restaurant in Paris and if meat eaters protested Sol Semilla then I would fly to Paris (asshole propositioning and misogynistic men be damned) and start brawling because no one is allowed to fuck with sol Semilla. (Okay okay maybe I’m still a tad bit militant vegan...shit)
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:54 PM on March 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


By any metric, whether it's treatment of animals or environmental devastation, McDonald's is about six or seven orders of magnitude worse than a single independent restaurant. It's like a cop going to town on a streetwalker while across the street a serial killer is murdering someone in broad daylight.

No, the reason they aren't protesting McDonald's is that it's the 2000 pound gorilla of the food industry - too big to give a shit about anything that's not funded at the national level. Even PETA wont really touch McDonald's.

McD will be all "Oh aren't you the CUTEST protestors! Awww, go right ahead. Also, see that red line there? Cross it and our lawyers will fuck you up unto the 10th generation. Now go have fun you crazy kids!"

Probably the same reason why the group didn't touch the upscale restaurants downtown that might have real money backing them. But a small indie restaurant that advertises ethically sourced meat? They might as well have put a KICK ME sign in the window.
posted by happyroach at 9:02 PM on March 28, 2018 [28 favorites]


> 445supermag:
"If this REALLY is about meat being murder and animal rights, go picket some predators for a more thoughtful approach to their daily lives.

Meet the people who want to turn predators into herbivores"


First we say NO GMOs, but the only way to make an obligate carnivore anything else will be top-down re-engineering them. This gives the lie to "Nature finds a way." Plus, what about the carnivore's rights to live his predatory life the way THEY want?
posted by Samizdata at 9:12 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


> Annika Cicada:
"I’m not a militant vegan anymore but I’m probably still an insufferable asshole..."

In my experience, I wouldn't say that's an evidence-based conclusion. OTOH, I am sure there's a number of Bluefolk that say the same about me.
posted by Samizdata at 9:15 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Come on a gaggle of veganlings who misunderstood a joke, standing on the street cackling at an independent shop owner is hardly extortion.

And I mean hell these relatively powerless dietitian minorities have to take on proportional targets in order to be seen.

Whole Foods took on the major meat producers (I was there, I was part of the effort to establish meat production standards with Margaret Wittenberg and Temple Grandin which absolutely improved the meat production standards in the US). Let people have their proportional activism.

I kinda think the whole thing is a little too silly and useless but I also think vegans are the last group on earth that need to be picked on. Yeah they’re kind of totally insufferable but so fucking what. They are moving the needle foward, because Whole Foods and temple grandin would never together accomplished what they did had it not been for us asshole militant vegans in the 80’s and 90’s raising hell like we did.

I eat meat now, I’m an omnivore but I can’t really hate on vegans because come on, really. Yeah vegan activism may be annoying but as the Van Halen lyrics says “I (in this context being vegan activists) ain’t the worst that you seen”
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:19 PM on March 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


Looks like everyone wins here (well, except for the deer); the vegans got a bunch of publicity (which is what you want in a protest), the restaurant a bunch more business (which came due to publicity).

I certainly wonder if anyone sees a protest like this and has an 'aha' moment where they decide they should become vegan; but who am I to judge just because a particular protest might not be effective.

In a way, vegans remind me of Christians; most of them are fine folks and you wouldn't know what their beliefs were unless you asked them. And then the loud evangelicals who want to tell you what you should be doing with your life give the rest of them a bad name.

And here is my anecdote in regards to engaging with a vegan stranger (yeah, I have had vegan friends, and there isn't much to discuss about their veganism - see above regarding evangelizing)... He spent 20 minutes at the bar telling me how I was wrong to eat dairy products and how awful it was for oh so many reasons. At the end of the 20 minutes I asked him how long he had been a vegan - 3 months. Oh man, the newly converted (to anything) are the most judgmental and worst. I tried to convince him that telling people that what they did with their life was immoral and wrong and they were bad people wasn't the best way to win converts. While I'm not a vegan, I've been vegetarian for over 30 years.

As far as restaurants should cater to specific needs, I'm a bit whatever about that. I survive as a vegetarian, and life has been getting easier and easier for me over time. But it's a lot of work and energy to have a vegan selection, a vegetarian selection (I hate it when the only vegetarian selection is vegan, I want my cheese, damned it), a kosher selection, a halal selection, and a worthwhile selection for you know, meat eaters (without significant dietary restrictions who want some tasty animals), a gluten free selection, and an Atkins diet selection (that's still a thing, right?).

Personally I'd be a bit miffed if the vegan protesters threatened protests unless they got exactly what they wanted, and then the vegetarian selection didn't include any dairy (cheese damned it, I want cheese).

What I appreciate and want from a restaurant is clear labeling, so its easy for me to figure out what I can and cannot eat. The best disclosure I've ever gotten? At a Gordon Ramsey overpriced steakhouse in Vegas, they told me what things had chicken broth and other things that wouldn't have been evident ("do you have any dietary restrictions" "okay, here's what foods have things on your blacklist"). What was I doing at a Steakhouse as a vegatarian? I was socializing with friends, the reason I go out to eat (for the most part). My friends had reservations, were looking forward to the steakhouse, and it never once occurred to me to mention that I was vegetarian to them (they knew this already, but also knew I was the kind of vegetarian that wouldn't say word one about it).

To continue and end the rambling; I think it's in a bit poor taste to butcher something in your window - not everyone needs to see that. I understand why he did it though... And it's fine, because everyone won. Indeed, I will say that the vegans won as well, because here we are, having a long discussion about veganism that we wouldn't have had otherwise.
posted by el io at 10:30 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's assholes like these protesters and PETA type nut jobs, who I feel do more harm to their cause than help, other than maybe a circle jerk with like minded nutters, these tactics don't really win NEW supporters.
If I lived anywhere near the place, I would dine there deliberately to help prove their tactics don't drive people away.
Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and ways they wish to live their lives, when it comes to pushing their own standards on others is when I get annoyed.
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 11:25 PM on March 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


I forget, what's the difference between Singer and Pollan? And if there was one book to read that would convince me to personally quit meat, which book would it be?

I do think what the discourse of the 21st century lacks is the status of organized protests. Like, are these things still effective? And not based on a historicist argument but using modern science. Like, if people accept cognitive behavioral therapeutic ideas and emotional regulation and so on, then don't these more recent concepts problematize protest-based activism as well? I guess this is partly of a sociology question and whether that can inform progressive movements.
posted by polymodus at 11:52 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Really, the issue here is the choice to picket a particular restaurant rather than simply have a protest. Why this particular restaurant? Some kale joke on a sandwich board does not make this a particularly stand out or worthy target. It makes the whole thing seem like kind of a shakedown. If their issue was with restaurants serving meat, why picket this one particular place? That's what's getting people's ire going here - tree disproportionate disruption of one particular business when their menu and actions are not particularly heinous (in the sense of compared to so many others).

I'm not sure the discussion here is particularly a win for veganism. Unlike for businesses, there is absolutely such a thing as bad publicity for ideological causes. I think the comparison to evangelical Christianity is apt, though these guys are coming across more Westboro Baptist than anti-choice protestors to me. I think they're doing about as much good for veganism as Westboro do for Christianity.
posted by Dysk at 12:15 AM on March 29, 2018 [19 favorites]


I am right here with you, Dysk. Looks like they used the kale joke to put pressure on a small, definitely carnivorous restaurant. I suspect they picked a smaller target that would let them possibly shut it down so they could make another mark on their chalkboard. And, being distinctly carnivorous, that counts as a double check mark. That organizer certainly seems good about talking the talk, not so good at walking the walk.

I am also pretty strongly convinced they weren't really thinking this one out long term. The more she talked about being reasonable and wanting to open a dialogue and the more I read about the menu changes and other vegetarian fare (I don't know vegan well enough to tell if they were vegan), the more I was thinking she was convinced she had her teeth around their throat, but she didn't want to look rabid.
posted by Samizdata at 2:06 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


being distinctly carnivorous

Not only do they serve things that aren't meat, they had vegetarian and vegan things on the menu. They are in no way carnivorous.
posted by Dysk at 2:13 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


> Dysk:
"Not only do they serve things that aren't meat, they had vegetarian and vegan things on the menu. They are in no way carnivorous."

I know, but the main theme of the restaurant struck me as being pretty strongly carnivorous, from the name right though all the pictures on the front page of the website. Even down to the cook's response to the picketing. It's not like he went out there with corn muffins to distract them. And I did acknowledge that they DID have vegetarian stuff on the menu (although as I said, I don't know veganism well enough to evaluate them for that). I just figured that made them a more tempting target for the protestors.
posted by Samizdata at 2:45 AM on March 29, 2018


I did acknowledge that they DID have vegetarian stuff on the menu

I read it as you suggesting that they had added those things in response, when they were already on the menu. My mistake.

Eating lots of meat doesn't make you carnivorous. Even a total focus on meat doesn't make you at all carnivorous, as long as you're serving some non-meat with it. They are meat-focused, yes, though not quite to the extent of a typical steakhouse. I'm sure there are a few of them in Toronto.
posted by Dysk at 2:49 AM on March 29, 2018


I really don't get it, not only does McD's have worse practices regarding animal welfare, every single supermarket sells industrially raised animals that suffer through terrible lives. I get that she wants to raise awareness that ethically raised animals are still live beings, but aren't there priorities, even for militant vegans?
Let's get rid of the unsustainable and evil practices in the food industry first, and then let's see if we should cut even further down on meat. Me, I'm all excited because I think I saw a kite, and all the other birds of prey are making a huge noise outside, I think they are mating. The talk of the village is that there is a wolf here, which is novel and interesting, and may change a lot for the good since we are overwhelmed by deer, and their ticks. In other words, I can see that animals eat animals and it is the order of nature. I myself am an animal and I sometimes eat meat, but rarely since meat from ethically raised animals is expensive.
posted by mumimor at 2:58 AM on March 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


> Dysk:
"I read it as you suggesting that they had added those things in response, when they were already on the menu. My mistake.

Eating lots of meat doesn't make you carnivorous. Even a total focus on meat doesn't make you at all carnivorous, as long as you're serving some non-meat with it. They are meat-focused, yes, though not quite to the extent of a typical steakhouse. I'm sure there are a few of them in Toronto."


Fair enough, but I bet some of those steakhouses might very well be connected to chains. Someone like Antler is independent and a little easier to disrupt. Well, if you do it right.

Besides, I find it frustrating that they want accomodated (which is fine, mind you, perfectly fine), but they don't want to do the same back.
posted by Samizdata at 3:18 AM on March 29, 2018


The next day, Mr. Hunter received an e-mail from Ms. Ugar, offering to reduce the frequency of protests to once a month in exchange for an animal-rights sign to be displayed in the window: “Attention, animals’ lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust no matter how it’s done.”

How is this not extortion at the point where they offer a specific exchange for a reduction of protests?
posted by srboisvert at 4:26 AM on March 29, 2018 [21 favorites]


I was wondering that too, srboisvert. Where's the line between free speech and extortion, here, legally speaking? (And how does that differ between the US and Canada, given that they seem to use this tactic in both countries?) It certainly feels like extortion to me.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:36 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


If "killing animals is violent and unjust no matter how it's done", I wonder if Ms. Ugar is pro- vegan diet for obligate carnivores like cats.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:44 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Antler's head chef, Michael Hunter

Eponysterical?
posted by Foosnark at 5:14 AM on March 29, 2018


If "killing animals is violent and unjust no matter how it's done", I wonder if Ms. Ugar is pro- vegan diet for obligate carnivores like cats.

We actually had a friendly family fight over this the other day. There are vegans who feed their pets only vegan food. I feel it is cruelty to animals, others argued that if the pet knew no better, it was OK. You decide.
posted by mumimor at 5:24 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


My decision is that that is horrifying to hear.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:30 AM on March 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


mumimor, that may not be healthy for the animal. If their dentition and digestive systems have evolved to deal with one kind of food, deliberately serving them something else strikes me as being disrespectful and abusive.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:30 AM on March 29, 2018 [16 favorites]


My decision is that that is explicitly animal abuse.
posted by XtinaS at 5:33 AM on March 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


Vegans own pets? Where do they get off subjugating the animal kingdom?
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 5:33 AM on March 29, 2018 [17 favorites]


Marni Ugar, the activist in this story, is a dog walker.
posted by mumimor at 5:36 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


How would a vegetarian or vegan feel if a group were to picket their favorite restaurant and argue all restaurants MUST serve meat or close down?

I can't speak for all vegans, but I'd just laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh, then I'd go inside and eat at my favorite restaurant. (If the protesters were still there after my meal, I'd laugh on the way out, too.) Meat-Centric Restaurant Protests seem designed to make likely-customers uncomfortable with their meat-eating habits (in order to nudge them towards reducing or stopping eating meat), and to make the restaurant feel an economic hit (because of bad press, and because most omnis would rather not think about or feel uncomfortable about the meat they eat while they are eating it).

It wouldn't work the same in reverse. If a bunch of meat-centric omnivores picketed my favorite restaurant? That's not going to make me uncomfortable with my dietary choices. And unless they're, like, actively blocking the entrance to the door of the place or something, a bunch of protesting meat-centric omnis isn't going to make the restaurant take an economic hit- my favorite restaurants are ones that are all vegan, where I don't have to be annoying and ask questions or make ingredient-omission-requests, I can just order ANYTHING on the menu. If some protesting meat-centric omnis was asking/demanding meat be included on my favorite restaurant's menu, if the restaurant even considered it, I guarantee their social media would get blown up by vegans who would let them know that they'd come in less (or not at all) if their formerly totally-vegan restaurant now had some items that had meat in them. The restaurant would take an economic hit if it conceded to the demands of the protesting meat-eaters.

tl;dr: If you want to nonviolently protest in front of a vegan restaurant and demand they serve meat, have at it. Vegans will probably think it's funny, because protesting meat-eaters have no real way to make a vegan restaurant start serving meat.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:40 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


"Vegans own pets? Where do they get off subjugating the animal kingdom?" I actually have a dream of dogs and cats being free again and humans stopping removing their children from them at birth. Of course my own experience losing a child at birth shapes this but I really feel strongly about it. However while I dream big, I also like to incorporate a wee teensy bit of realism into the vision. Like, I like to hope in say 500 to 1000 years humans have not only found a way to not eat meat, but perhaps not even eat plants, we're like star trekkies and we beep boop our food out of energy- or maybe we'll give ourselves photosynthesizing genes that allowing us to make our own energy straight from the sun and a generation of green plant people will be born. And then for added fun, just like we can now give people robotic appendages controlled by brain waves, we'll develop the same technology for plants and an era of human plant communication can develop. We can give animals voice boxes like our own and assist with their ability to communicate with humans and yes, we might even get involved with the whole "predator/prey" nature of life on this planet in a whole way. But over hundreds of thousands of years that will allow to see both the ups and downs of each new change and work with the complicated web of needs and difficulties making changes like this entails. And doing all these things comes with risks of harms and certainty of committing some harms, just as at present we are certainly committing harms and taking the lives and ownership of other living beings.

Along the way, we're going to participate in harms. We can continually raise the bar for ourselves and the world, but ultimately we have to have at least some mercy for the state of living on the death and suffering of others that we live in at present. But the downside of being gentle and kind about waiting for change is that ultimate that means you are siding with the predators on matters of injustice and asking those who suffer or even die to be quiet and patient about it. For me, personally, it makes sense to do this on issues of animal welfare, but it doesn't make sense for others. And I relate because there are SOME issues in which asking humans to sit nicely and wait patiently and ask kindly and care about the FEELINGS of the people exploiting them seems cruel and unjust. I get that. So we also need to be gentle and kind with people who are not able to be gentle and kind because their welfare or that of their loved ones depends on it. And if we are to be gentle and kind with ourselves for feeling aggressive in the face of injustice we can be gentle and kind about ourselves being aggressive. And thus, we are then aggressive but gentle and kind about how aggressive we are to people who are being aggressive who we are gentle and kind about them having reasons for harming others for their own benefit. And now we are gentle kind and aggressive all at the same time. My brain has melted.

If you're going to take anything away from this confusing mess of thought exercise, it's hopefully that I don't think green plant people is too much of a stretch, right? LIVE THE DREAM!!!!!!!!!! Go green! Literally!
posted by xarnop at 5:54 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


"I sort of understand the approach, but I find that DxE and DxE inspired groups can be kind of kool-aid drinkers in terms of believing that if a particular action makes its participants uncomfortable, it must be working, and that the amount it works scales with the level of discomfort"

I ran into one of these the other day (not about meat but about economics) who was all "I'm making you uncomfortable so you know what you're doing is wrong!" And I didn't say this because (as you'll see) all I wanted was to escape the interaction as rapidly as possible, but I was thinking, "No dude, I'm not uncomfortable because of my conscience, I'm uncomfortable because you're a stranger being inappropriately intense to the point of shouting in a public place, engaging me in a conversation I don't want to be in and refusing to let me escape, shouting at me in front of my children, being a tall, large, and angry man while I am a small woman with children in tow, and drawing all kinds of embarrassing attention to us. My discomfort is social, not ethical. I'm afraid I need to call the police to get away from you!"

A lot of this sort of protester just have a very different set point for social discomfort, I think -- often to the good, in that they're willing to approach strangers, or protest for unpopular causes, without embarrassment -- but without empathy for the fact that others experience public interactions differently, and with the strange conviction that the only thing that makes people uncomfortable is bad ethics, you end up with guys who think they're saving the world by shouting at strangers because the strangers don't like it.

On the sociology of protest front, I have a friend who's a very strong animal rights activist (vegan, of course!) whose goal is to be effective (rather than publicity-generating or absolutist -- and not because she disdains those approaches, but because she feels there are already people doing them) and she's studied this a lot and worked with a lot of different people who struggle to make changes, or change public sentiment, or whatever. And what she's decided -- and she's very strict with the people who join her protests! -- is that they stand somewhere, politely out of the way (they don't block the sidewalk) with signs, but the signs are never gory or gross. Sometimes they have chants (it depends on the protest), but mostly they wait for people to approach them, which people do because they're curious. And then they talk to them politely and offer them literature and answer their questions. One of the reasons she protests this way specifically about animal welfare is that your easiest converts are absolutely and always children, so they don't want to be aggressive or frightening, or even have shocking pictures on their signs, because they want parents with children to approach them because the child is interested and the child wants to talk to them about elephant welfare or fois gras or puppy mills or whatever. And that gives them an opening to share information with adults who otherwise might not be interested, but who will listen because their child is listening. They try very hard to avoid making people defensive, because defensive people entrench their views. (And she 100% of the time carries a pamphlet that's called something like "So your child wants to be a vegetarian" because moms often say, "Yeah, she's been telling me she wants to be a vegetarian but I'm just not sure how to help her do that" and she's able to say, "I became a vegetarian when I was nine, here's what my parents did, here are some resources to help you parent a vegetarian child in an omnivorous household.")

She would be the first to say that the work PETA and other militant protesters is important, particularly for raising publicity about particular problems, and that there's room for many types of activism, but that's what she's chosen as effective. It's definitely effective on me -- I don't agree with her about everything, but her calm, kind, informational activism has changed my mind on a lot of issues, I think because she's willing to answer endless questions without getting mad, and I always have to turn ethical things over a lot before I get where I'm going. And I think basically people like me are who she's trying to reach -- women with children who probably find some PETA protests inappropriate for children to see, and who find being shouted at in public threatening. Like, if you have to change the channel when those awful ASPCA commercials come on because they're upsetting and manipulative and/or inappropriate for children, you're who she's targeting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:09 AM on March 29, 2018 [17 favorites]


Dysk: "Try reading what I wrote again. Are there sadistic meat eaters? Sure, maybe there are. Is it all of them? Is it inherent to the diet? No.

Alternatively, "oh, there's a restaurant in the news I've never heard about, maybe we should check it out!" All this coverage is free publicity for the restaurant, regardless of why exactly it is in the news (well, as long as it isn't for food poisoning, I guess).
"

We have coal rollers in Canada too. There are people in Toronto who would go out of their way to eat here simply because it would piss off people they see as virtue signalling.

any portmanteau in a storm: "During the 80s I remember hearing about campaigns and protests against fur. People throwing red paint and stuff. I was a kid so I never really got a feel for the extent of them and how they were perceived but I do know that I never see people in fur coats anymore so they must have worked."

You don't see much powder blue velour either; fashion changes.

jeff-o-matic: "I knew a vegan who wouldn't eat honey, because it was exploiting bees. Yes, the beekeepers care for, protect, clean and fuss over their hives, but the bees were exploited?"

Commercial bees are exploited as much as any other working animal and several of the best practices in commercial bee keeping stress the bees significantly. Also honeybee production has a negative impact on native bees.
posted by Mitheral at 6:11 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


praemunire: " but it seems strange to complain that they engage in protests, as if that were somehow inherently inappropriate (instead of futile or misguided). Would you be angry if they protested at a facility where cosmetics were tested on animals? Probably not, right? What is the distinction here? "

The distinction is these people are doing the equivalent of protesting someone's artisanal hand creme shop that also markets as a balm for udders rather than going after Max Factor or L'Oréal.

I'm not unsympathetic to the protesters in this case at least as protestors. They have essentially zero chance of effecting change at the multinational level. I have a lot of sympathy for the butcher though. Here's a guy who just wants to go to work at his mundane, completely legal, mainstream business and he's been singled out for attention. It's consuming time and energy better spent managing his business or playing with his kids.
posted by Mitheral at 6:52 AM on March 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


We have coal rollers in Canada too. There are people in Toronto who would go out of their way to eat here simply because it would piss off people they see as virtue signalling.

Do those people who “would” do that actually ever do that, though? I know it’s a different city in a different country, but Portland has plenty of artisanal meat joints and a fair assortment of lib-baiting right wingers, but I’ve never heard a single mention of someone eating at one of these places in order to poke the virtue signalers in the eye. I mean, why would they bother when it’s so much cheaper, easier, and more effective to just eat at McDonald’s several times a week and slap an Animals=Yummy sticker on their coal roller?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:16 AM on March 29, 2018


Nature is not kind. How do you fit evolution in here? Animals evolved to be predators, to hunt prey and eat meat. Deer and most creatures have evolved to expand their population up to and far exceeding the food available, and will die of predation and disease. In Maine, deer will swim to an island, then eat every scrap of food and die off, prompting harvests that are argued over at great length. Deer are pretty, so are cows, goats are really cute, they are creatures that have a right to not be treated badly.

Milk production means that calves are taken from their mothers unkindly, fed up for veal in tiny pens. Beef and pork, OMG, production can be indecent. Chickens are treated horribly for eggs and meat. And all that meat production has a terrible effect on the planet. Feedlots generate foul waste that poisons streams and rivers and people. Unions in the meat processing industries have been all but wiped out, and workers are injured and killed. The routine use of antibiotics in meat production is probably a major contributor to antibiotic resistant diseases. It's probably possible to raise meat is a less cruel and less damaging way to the planet, and some of us would be willing to pay the increased price. Methane from cows, the environmental costs of raising grain to feed to meat animals. Meat is a significant driver of Global Climate Change.

Those facts are more convincing to me than picketers. In Maine in hunting season it's not uncommon to see a hunted deer strapped to a car. The harvesting of meat by hunters doesn't faze me; it's a nice target because it's visible, but the egg farms in Maine are notorious for treating chickens and humans appallingly; I just never see it up close. I guess it's a strategy to target the idea of humane meant; those customers maybe care a little bit already. If you are vegetarian or vegan, thanks; you're doing something good for the planet.
posted by theora55 at 7:17 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


a box and a stick and a string and a bear: "Do those people who “would” do that actually ever do that, though?"

Are any of those suppliers currently experiencing a national attention protest campaign? Counter "protesters" eating at this place would be a thing for sure where I live; I'm guessing the same would apply to Toronto and explains at least some of the uptick in his business.
posted by Mitheral at 7:20 AM on March 29, 2018


Depends on the vegan. Not all of them buy into the "meat is murder" argument - many adopted the diet for other reasons. Which is another reason these protesters are problematic - they're roping people into their fight that aren't part of it.

That was certainly the case with me.

As a former vegan, I did it for weight reduction and health reasons. I wanted nothing to do with protesters like this - if I had to mention that I was eating a vegan diet in a social setting, I would always emphasize "I'm not one of those vegans - you can eat a bloody steak in front of me and I don't care".
posted by theorique at 7:21 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no. This is not a thing. Indifference, perhaps, but sadism? If you're not trolling here, you're certainly indistinguishable from a troll.

The only time I see people reveling in sadism in the context of meat eating is when they get their buttons pressed by vegan activists.

To be fair, sometimes the meat eaters in that situation are a little bit overly sensitive too - they get their buttons pushed by vegans merely existing around them ("Oh, you're a vegan? Well I love eating BACON. And I love foie gras because it's more cruel. And veal! Ha!")

But yeah, in general, very few people who eat meat, actively want their meat to be treated cruelly before it is killed.
posted by theorique at 7:36 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Are any of those suppliers currently experiencing a national attention protest campaign?

Nope, and I’m guessing it’s because our vegan activists are a bit more strategically on point than the ones this post is about.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:43 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


they get their buttons pushed by vegans merely existing around them

And oh, the gender politics. Meat is the manliest food, and manly men must eat meat. The idea that some people think you shouldn't eat meat is threatening and so manly men will double down and make a big deal of how much they love eating meat, ha ha. BACON!

But on another level... ff you think that eating meat is wrong, the implication is that you think I'm doing something wrong when I eat meat. That's practically criticism of me! I must defend myself, by explaining to you, the vegan, why meat-eating is actually the more moral choice - even if that isn't even the conversation that we're having right now.

And I'm saying this as someone who still eats meat. Sometimes vegans can be misguided, and sometimes they can be dicks, but in these conversations I usually end up slightly embarrassed for my side.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:57 AM on March 29, 2018 [13 favorites]


I can count more times I’ve been subjected to an impromptu diatribe or one-sided talk that runs along the lines of “BUT OMG BACON! Man, I can’t live without cheese or sometimes I want a huge steak. I just can’t understand vegans, man,” etc.

I’m like, “All I said I’d like a veggie burger please.” (Because wanting the veggie burger isn’t just enough; they HAVE to know why I want it.)
posted by Kitteh at 8:04 AM on March 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


tl;dr: If you want to nonviolently protest in front of a vegan restaurant and demand they serve meat, have at it. Vegans will probably think it's funny, because protesting meat-eaters have no real way to make a vegan restaurant start serving meat.

From the article, it looks like the meat-eaters thought this protest was funny too and then gave this restaurant even more business. There's no real way for any group to make a restaurant serve food they want.
posted by FakeFreyja at 8:10 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


And oh, the gender politics. Meat is the manliest food, and manly men must eat meat. The idea that some people think you shouldn't eat meat is threatening and so manly men will double down and make a big deal of how much they love eating meat, ha ha. BACON!

That's a great point that I did not notice until you mentioned it now.

Very similar to how the mere presence of a homosexual in the same space as a hypermasculine straight man can make the latter uncomfortable. Just as the straight man feels the compulsion to assert and double down on his straightness, so must the meat eater assert and double down on his preference for meat, lest he be suspected of enjoying girlish foods like salad.

As a meat eater myself (see how I now feel strangely compelled to emphasize that I do eat meat!), I am completely, 100%, comfortable with my masculinity, and also enjoy eating foods like salad and quiche.
posted by theorique at 8:15 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


a box and a stick and a string and a bear: "Do those people who “would” do that actually ever do that, though?"

Are any of those suppliers currently experiencing a national attention protest campaign? Counter "protesters" eating at this place would be a thing for sure where I live; I'm guessing the same would apply to Toronto and explains at least some of the uptick in his business.


Hot Doug in Chicago became a legend for defying a foie gras ban.
posted by srboisvert at 8:17 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


From the article, it looks like the meat-eaters thought this protest was funny too and then gave this restaurant even more business. There's no real way for any group to make a restaurant serve food they want.

Errr, the owner plans to introduce a vegan tasting menu, which seems like something that happened because of the protests.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:26 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


"I'm all in favor of lab grown meat, but... First, it's a ways away. Second? I think it's going to be terrible at first. People talk about "terroir" in wine. Organic veggies taste better with rich compost and manure. "

I don't buy that. It seems more psychological than anything. You could just tell someone something was grown with rich compost and each veggie was lovingly hand-raised organically and the farmer sung it lullabies at night and whatever else crap sounds good to people right now and folks would actually think it tastes better -- that belief probably does make it taste better, whether the origins are true or not. Wine is likewise greatly influenced by factors that don't have anything to do with the emotional state of the dirt in Italy that year or whatever.

A lot of the meat we eat is already glued together bits of scrap meat, and all of our livestock animals have been bred so far from what meat was even a few decades ago, let alone the undomesticated state of the meats, I really don't think lab meat will be all that awful. Especially for processed meats or products where the quality of meat isn't very important anyway. Nuggets, burgers, sausages, lunch meat, pulled pork, roasts, stuff like that.

Either way, more of the population needs to be weaned away from meat, but it isn't going to happen voluntarily or by guilt-tripping meat-eaters. Meat needs to become expensive and less widely available, alternates need to be subsidized, producers or buyers appropriately taxed for the environmental and economic damages meat production results in. I'm going to eat meat as long as it's cheap and there are burgers every half mile in any direction I ever go. I'm not "okay" with the cruelties involved in the production of what I eat, just like I'm not "okay" with underpaid laborers and children in foreign countries breaking their bodies and ruining their homes to make my cell phone. Yet, I still eat meat and use my cell phone and computer and all that. Does that make me a bad person? Yes, obviously, but I'm on a planet full of terrible people and without the right incentives I and others simply will not change out of the goodness of our hearts.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:37 AM on March 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


There's no real way for any group to make a restaurant serve food they want.

>Errr, the owner plans to introduce a vegan tasting menu, which seems like something that happened because of the protests.


To be clear, here, the restaurant already offered a bunch of vegan dishes before the protests started, as the first article linked in the FPP notes; the protests led them to offer a tasting menu in addition to that:
The restaurant had tried using the sandwich board to promote its vegan dishes: mushroom yakitori, sweet potato gyoza, vegan lumpia...[and later] Mr. Hunter responded with plans to introduce a vegan tasting menu[.]
So it's true that they introduced the tasting menu in response to the protests, yes; but that wasn't 'making a restaurant serve food they want' -- the restaurant was already doing that prior to the start of the protests.

That said, having been to plenty of places that offered a single solitary vegetarian 'option' (it's not much of an option if your alternative is Just Bread, Thanks), scale and scope do matter a lot, and expanding a menu isn't not a thing.
posted by cjelli at 8:37 AM on March 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


"Omnivore fragility" is a really great description of these sorts of discussions and I am going to use it all the time going forward.

And it's all over this thread.

I'm an ethical vegan and I keep it pretty much to myself unless asked about it. I don't really do the DxE thing but I recognize their right to protest as they see fit. I see the argument that we shouldn't consider all vegans to be doing it for ethical reasons because that's true.I will say that it's really annoying because a lot of the health vegans do it for a period of time and then find something else that works for them (fine), but then it adds to the perception that veganism is often a fad or just a phase (annoying as fuck).

The gender nature of talking about meat eating and veganism is definitely a thing. It's also a thing that a lot of the "real food" people assume that because it's "humane" and unprocessed that makes it ok. If it helps them sleep at night, cool? But it still involves the exploitation and slaughter of animals. This Antler restaurant is part of that aesthetic - artisanal and authentic, but totally focused on animal products. In California places like things are extra annoying because it would be so easy to make awesome vegetable dishes that were senselessly vegan, but you gotta have bacon or cheese to make it send fancy. Whatever.

Omnivores who then cry, "but think of all the bunnies killed in harvesting vegetables!" are just shifting the goal posts as deflection. So just because the whole world is cruel and barbarous we shouldn't try to reduce it in any way? It's like the whole thing about the impact of alterative milk production on the environment as a "gotcha", because it's much easier to point the finger at others than to change yourself.
posted by kendrak at 8:39 AM on March 29, 2018 [17 favorites]


As regards feeding animals vegan food, this is practiced by some people because it can have health benefits for the animals. I know one family who feed their Labrador a vegan food mix because it stops the dog having chronic digestive issues, so everyone's noses are much relieved! They are meat eaters, but the dog is not.
I have another friend who is vegan who feeds her dog a similar kind of food, but I don't know if it is vegan. That dog has itchy skin and will eat anything, but the skin problem calms down if she is in control of his diet.
There is now a vat grown protein based pet food which may be of interest.
posted by asok at 8:40 AM on March 29, 2018


So it's true that they introduced the tasting menu in response to the protests, yes; but that wasn't 'making a restaurant serve food they want' -- the restaurant was already doing that prior to the start of the protests.

To be triple-clear, I never used the phrase "make a restaurant serve food they want", I was merely responding to someone who did. All I was commenting on was that "vegans protesting in front of establishments that serve meat" and "meat-eaters protesting in front of vegan restaurants" will likely have different outcomes.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:46 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


If it helps them sleep at night, cool? But it still involves the exploitation and slaughter of animals.

The thing is - so does everything else. Like, again - I know a lot of vegans that cheerfully admit it’s an imperfect world and they’re just trying to make it better in one way and that is awesome - but they’re not the vegan absolutists that go around saying “what you do, unlike me, causes the exploitation and slaughter of animals” while using a ton of other products that contain animal byproducts.

If reducing the exploitation of animals is a goal, then people eating “ethical meat” are accomplishing it to a lesser degree and vegans are accomplishing it to a greater degree, but we are all on the same spectrum. I don’t know a single vegan who has completely eliminated every animal byproduct whatsoever from their life.
posted by corb at 8:47 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


If reducing the exploitation of animals is a goal, then people eating “ethical meat” are accomplishing it to a lesser degree and vegans are accomplishing it to a greater degree, but we are all on the same spectrum. I don’t know a single vegan who has completely eliminated every animal byproduct whatsoever from their life.

For me, "ethical meat" is but a step and I think it reflect some progress in people being more conscious of the food supply and their role in it. And we live in a capitalist world - if there wasn't such a market for cheap meat, then there wouldn't be so much of it. So if you opt out of the market but not consuming animal products, then that's one step to changing the market.

And again, I feel like the "gotcha! you're not a perfect vegan!" thing is deflection. So you don't know vegans who've completely removed animal products from their lives? Well, why is that? Laziness/obstinacy? Or the fact that animal bi-products are in everything as an afterthought and it's often inescapable?
posted by kendrak at 9:00 AM on March 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


I don't doubt that vegans have encountered people aggressively eating animal products at them, but I also don't doubt that almost every omnivore/vegetarian has encountered an extremely sanctimonious vegan. Given that a much smaller percent of the population is vegan, I think the ratio of aggressive and sanctimonious about food choices is much higher in that cohort.

There's also a bit of western liberal cultural imperialism about evangelical veganism in north america.
posted by Ferreous at 9:00 AM on March 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


I also don't doubt that almost every omnivore/vegetarian has encountered an extremely sanctimonious vegan

I doubt it pretty hard. The idea that vegans are sanctimonious about their veganism is such an established stereotype that people believe it even if they don't know any vegans.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:08 AM on March 29, 2018 [18 favorites]


I don't know any sanctimonious vegans, but I have met them. They are the main reason I hardly ever go to vegan restaurants, or health stores.
The vegans I actually know are all lovely people, and quite a few are vegan because of their faith. I'm pretty certain they never go around harassing omnivores at restaurants or any other places.
posted by mumimor at 9:14 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


GoblinHoney: Have you ever eaten a home-grown tomato? There's an enormous difference in ways fruits and vegetables are produced/grown, and enormous taste/flavor and texture and color profile differences, too. Beef isn't just "beef" no matter what you say. A tomato is not the same as all tomatoes.

As far as terroir... different grapes grow better under certain conditions and soil and moisture. This is a proven fact. Pre-columbian south America had hundreds upon hundreds of potato varieties—all genetically the same, species-wise, practically—, depending on where they were grown. I'm light years away from being a wine snob, but culture, environment, harvest time, rainfall, etc do indeed make for different smelling and tasting wine, different color, alcohol and sweetness levels, etc

Heck, they even age beef for bacterial breakdown of the muscle fibers. There's big differences.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:21 AM on March 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


I ask my vegan friends (who I know are okay with these questions) questions about their food ethics all the time, not because I want to play gotcha but because I'm genuinely curious. Food ethics are something we all have to deal with, and while my ethical decisions fall differently than theirs do, vegans and ethical vegetarians are usually the people who have thought the MOST about food ethics and so are the non-ethicists best situated to discuss it! And of course vegans all have different impulses -- environmentalism, health, animal welfare -- so I get different answers, but I really, genuinely want to know how they're engaging with the edge cases, because I know they do engage with them and it helps me think better about my own ethical food choices. I usually say, "I have a food ethics questions, when you have a second!" so I'm not just springing it on them in the middle of a conversation. (And again I only ask people who I know pretty well and who are cool with having that kind of ethics discussion.) But I totally want to know, "What about honey? What about almond milk? What about vat-grown meat? Why this and not that?"

And it's a big range! I have a vegan friend who is okay with deer hunting because where we live, deer need culling, and the limited and controlled hunting is, in her view, less-cruel than letting them starve. She doesn't want to eat it, and she doesn't think it should be able to be sold, and maybe in a perfect world wolves would cull the deer, but the world we live in now, it's less cruel to the deer to allow hunting, and food waste bugs her. Another friend is okay with culls, but not with eating the culled meat, because she feels it increases demand for meat. She is also against faux fur because she thinks it increases demand for fur in general. And it's super-interesting hearing this range of thoughts and helps me think better about my own ethics and helps me weigh those decisions.

Anyway LOTS of people are dicks asking as a gotcha, but occasionally I see people clumsily trying to understand the ethics and they don't really know any way to do it except a socially inappropriate and aggressive Socratic dialogue. Which, they should learn more social skills. But vegans and ethical vegetarians who are generous in discussing their ethical reasoning are an absolute treasure for the rest of us stumbling through figuring out our ethics in a capitalist food system. And I appreciate all of you in this thread who have been laying out your thoughts!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:22 AM on March 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


I concede that lab grown meat could be used in hamburgers, sausages and the like. And I would eat it, even if just to try it.

But which would be weirder... lab grown beef as a rectangular solid, or formed into a faux beef roast or steak shape?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:40 AM on March 29, 2018


faux shapes would be worse I think, primarily because I doubt it could recreate the nuances of muscle and fat in a given cut so it would be a homogeneous block trying to disguise the fact that it was a FleshCube™
posted by Ferreous at 9:44 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't doubt that vegans have encountered people aggressively eating animal products at them, but I also don't doubt that almost every omnivore/vegetarian has encountered an extremely sanctimonious vegan. Given that a much smaller percent of the population is vegan, I think the ratio of aggressive and sanctimonious about food choices is much higher in that cohort.

There's also a bit of western liberal cultural imperialism about evangelical veganism in north america.


Nope. You outnumber us and you LOVE to remind us of that.

There’s the same amount of evangelicalism about “humane meat” starting up in North America. It will be on par and you will never say boo about it because it will fit in with your beliefs.
posted by Kitteh at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


A question in the spirit of Eyebrows McGee's comment: would the vegans here eat lab grown meat? I don't know what to think of it.
posted by mumimor at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Probably the same reason why the group didn't touch the upscale restaurants downtown that might have real money backing them. But a small indie restaurant that advertises ethically sourced meat? They might as well have put a KICK ME sign in the window.

That's the part that makes me roll my eyes. It's not even that I think they should go protest McDonalds, I can understand why that would seem pointless. But there are likely local restaurants and chains where they could make a difference in terms of pushing them towards ethical sourcing and reducing harm, and introducing vegan options. But that wouldn't give them the same kick as making a small business owner dance to their tune and put stickers on his windows and generally crawl. Even though he's already sourcing ethically and has vegan options.

It strikes me as performative activism driven by ego.
posted by tavella at 9:55 AM on March 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


Muminor: I’ve gotten so used to not eating meat, I dunno. Maybe as a novelty?
posted by Kitteh at 10:11 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


The idea that vegans are sanctimonious about their veganism is such an established stereotype that people believe it even if they don't know any vegans.

There are quite a few in the UK queer punk scene. I tend to deal with it by just eating veggie in those contexts (which, in those spaces, will often be vegan by default as well). But I've certainly been on the receiving end of some lambasting for things like cooking myself a slice of black pudding or an egg for breakfast (in a separate pan, after having cooked everyone hash browns, mushrooms, tomatoes, and baked bread so that there's a decent breakfast that everyone can eat) when putting up bands playing in my town.

Don't misunderstand me, this is far and away not the majority of vegans. But the militant ones absolutely do exist.

There's also often an element of a certain... not xenophobia, but a cultural imperialism or cluelessness to a lot of it. Like, I'm an immigrant. I come from a tiny fucking island in a fjord in Denmark (population 900) and a very tight knit family background, in a small (livestock) farming and fishing community. Other than language, one of the only ways I have of accessing my culture, feeling any kind of connection to my background, my family (especially my late grandparents) is through food. Invariably, it isn't vegan, and only really the stuff from the sweet kitchen is veggie. Decrying me as a monster for cooking a dairy based dessert, or fried eel, or my grandmother's medisterpølse has an edge to it occasionally that is especially keenly felt in the current rah-rah-brexit climate. Food is an important part of people's identity, which is often overlooked by the most militant (even as their veganism is very much a large part of their own).
posted by Dysk at 10:13 AM on March 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


A question in the spirit of Eyebrows McGee's comment: would the vegans here eat lab grown meat? I don't know what to think of it.

I'm not a vegan right now, but sure, unless it grossed me out. (I'm also picky!)

There are some vegans who do it for health reasons. That might work for them (people do differently on different diets) but for the most part, I think that meat is a good way of getting specific nutritional needs met relatively efficiently.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:13 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I also don't doubt that almost every omnivore/vegetarian has encountered an extremely sanctimonious vegan

I doubt it pretty hard.

If you work with animals, have any hobbies surrounding animals, or in any way engage with animals on any level deeper than "I have a pet at home and maybe sometimes I go to the dog park," this is suddenly a much, much more likely proposition. I tried to make it pretty clear in my first comment that this isn't actually an issue of vegans per se, it's an issue of animal rights folks, who are disproportionately common within vegan groups because animal rights are a common motivator of veganism and in particular "militant" veganism.

Here are some of the places I personally have encountered people whose focus on animal rights (versus animal welfare) have impacted me in social situations and immediately created friction:
-Long-standing interest in/work with rescued animals - this argument is so deeply woven into fights about, say, kill vs. no/kill rescues and the whole clusterfuck surrounding PETA's horrific animal rescue record that I have a hard time imagining anyone in animal rescue who hasn't run into these conflicts
-Agility, dog training, and dog-sport--again, I have personally run into people who told me that trick training with my dog was the same as enslaving the dog or otherwise cruel; so has my spouse when they were working as a Petco dog trainer. These people are invariably loudly vegan as well.
-Animal nutrition work--my spouse, in the pet shop and training positions they've worked, has dealt extensively with vegans at pet shops who are determined to feed dogs, and much worse, cats on a vegan diet. This is not ethical from the perspective of the welfare of the cat.
-I am a research scientist who works on animals. The largest reason that my colony animals are strictly locked away from students and the general public is because research colonies have been targeted and protested by animal rights groups before, and I know institutions at which this has happened. It is a piece of professional unease and fear I carry with me when animal rights comes up. I also routinely get people who are deeply uncomfortable about my work when they realize that yes, it involves killing animals, and it is not uncommon for people to start lecturing me about the underlying ethics when I am mostly interested in talking about something else, like my scientific results.
-Ethical butchers--my spouse worked at a Toronto ethical butcher for some time; you can probably imagine the sorts of folks they've had in there.

But okay, I work with animals and animals are involved in some of my major hobbies. Same goes for my spouse. So I went and casually asked my roomie, who has a cat but is otherwise not deeply involved in any profession or hobby involving animal stuff, if she'd ever encountered an irritating vegan personally. She's a grocery store clerk, and she had an example from earlier this week of a gentleman who went off at her for asking if he wanted to make a routine donation to a cardiac health charity because we wouldn't need that charity if we all just ate right and didn't eat all those toxins in our foods, and that's why he's a vegan. I suspect these kinds of things are likely to affect anyone who works in food service or anyone who has experience with queer communities where there is quite a bit of overlap. There are assholes everywhere.

I should note that at the same time, like--I have multiple good friends who are vegan, so any event where one or both of them will be attending must have vegan options for a full meal, including a protein source. I have a colleague who is vegetarian-shading-vegan, and it pisses me off when my work decides to go to lunch and the only options folks can think of are barbecue and pizza, and she has to decide whether an anemic salad qualifies as her only option. I have previously advocated for a vegetarian colleague in the same way. I totally recognize the asshole omnivores vegans are complaining about here, too, and I have encountered plenty of those assholes, too--and honestly, I'd be surprised if most other omnivores don't know the stereotype of asshole we're describing there! But it frankly makes my own personal jaw drop to be told that most people have never encountered an obnoxious or sanctimonious vegan person who feels strongly about animal rights.
posted by sciatrix at 10:14 AM on March 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


You know how some big agriculture companies are like "We need GMOs because we need to develop crops that are going to be resilient in the face of global warming!" and the obvious answer is "Or... we could just stop warming the globe? Isn't that kind of easier?"

That's how I feel about lab-grown meat. Like, I would be happy if it were possible to eat meat without causing suffering to animals. That would be cool. But personally, I don't need meat to make my life better. It is much easier to make a good lentil soup or a good roasted squash than to grow meat in a lab and yet, hardly any of the restaurants in my town are doing that!

I doubt that it is possible to develop lab meat that's both good-tasting and environmentally friendly. If it is, great - for those people who really can't live without the taste of meat... but aren't there a lot of us who would eat more vegetarian food if the options available weren't so consistently boring and depressing?

Is this just because I nearly burst into tears last night trying to make up my mind between a terrible cheese pizza and a terrible garden salad?
posted by Jeanne at 10:15 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


The distinction is these people are doing the equivalent of protesting someone's artisanal hand creme shop that also markets as a balm for udders rather than going after Max Factor or L'Oréal.

It's not that I think their methods or targets are the best, as I said, I'm just a little surprised to find people arguing as though such a protest were inherently inappropriate (as opposed to, you know, goofy). As a general rule, if you're a commercial establishment selling a product that people think is harmful, it's not unreasonable or inappropriate per se for people to engage in peaceful public protest against it. This is not a principle with no limits or exceptions, mind you, especially when we start to get into the kinds of products that implicate people's privacy, but it works for the main run of commerce.

This seems as good a place as any to link to Scott Pilgrim's Vegan Police.
posted by praemunire at 10:21 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I doubt that it is possible to develop lab meat that's both good-tasting and environmentally friendly. If it is, great - for those people who really can't live without the taste of meat... but aren't there a lot of us who would eat more vegetarian food if the options available weren't so consistently boring and depressing?

I wonder if there is a big vegan / vegetarian divide on this question. Without eggs and dairy, nutrition gets a lot more challenging. I eat a lot of science food already (like high-protein soy products), it's just vegan science food. To me, meat science food would be nutritionally superior and likely taste/texture superior than the options I currently have --- by a long shot.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:22 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I already work in craft beer so while I’m increasingly comfortable claiming my space as a woman in a v male industry, I hide my veganism because it codes as feminine and weak among BOTH genders in it.
posted by Kitteh at 10:23 AM on March 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


A question in the spirit of Eyebrows McGee's comment: would the vegans here eat lab grown meat? I don't know what to think of it.

I'd be kinda grossed out by it at this point because my palate has changed a lot over the few years I've been vegan, but I wouldn't be abstaining for ethical reasons, assuming producing said lab grown meat didn't involve an animal in its production.

However, I'm very excited at the idea of having something "vegan" that would be suitable to feed to cats and other carnivorous critters. I noticed pet food coming up a lot in this thread; most vegans I know, including ones deeply involved in animal rights advocacy, are ethically OK with feeding cats meat, but none of them like doing it. Dogs, however, being omnivores like us, actually tend to do very well on vegan diets!

I think lab meat in general is maybe less exciting than it seems for people to eat. These past few years we've had a lot of excellent, eerily accurate plant-based meat alternatives come out (the Impossible Burger has been showing up in a lot of restaurants), and a lot of times it seems to me that maybe just better food technology in that direction might be more productive (and healthier!) than lab meat. But we'll see how it all shakes out.
posted by Gymnopedist at 10:24 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also the sanctimonious vegan stuff is just like...it's taking a cheap shot at people who are in this thread and in this community. I'm not going to argue with people who feel the need to prove that sanctimonious vegans are a real life problem. But IMO it's rude (and worse, boring) to do the "omg vegans sooooo sanctimonious amirite??!!!" thing in literally every thread that mentions veg*ns.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:25 AM on March 29, 2018 [13 favorites]


Je refuse to feed my cat vegan food. Moxie P is only omnivore in our house!
posted by Kitteh at 10:25 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


But okay, I work with animals and animals are involved in some of my major hobbies. Same goes for my spouse. So I went and casually asked my roomie, who has a cat but is otherwise not deeply involved in any profession or hobby involving animal stuff, if she'd ever encountered an irritating vegan personally. She's a grocery store clerk

Ha, let me stop you right there. Grocery store clerks are probably extremely-high on the list of people who will encounter a sanctimonious vegan, imo. I wasn't trying to say that sanctimonious vegans do not exist, but rather (imo) that most people do not casually encounter them but the stereotype continues to exist regardless.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:27 AM on March 29, 2018


I've noticed that the "sanctimonious vegan" stereotype can work to my rhetorical advantage when I'm tabling or otherwise trying to get people to take veganism out for a spin. People show up with their guard up expecting me to shout at them and are utterly disarmed when I offer them some recipes instead.
posted by Gymnopedist at 10:32 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also the sanctimonious vegan stuff is just like...it's taking a cheap shot at people who are in this thread and in this community. I'm not going to argue with people who feel the need to prove that sanctimonious vegans are a real life problem. But IMO it's rude (and worse, boring) to do the "omg vegans sooooo sanctimonious amirite??!!!" thing in literally every thread that mentions veg*ns.

I absolutely get what you are saying, and we really need to respect each others' choices here. But like I wrote above, the places I meet those sanctimonious vegans are restaurants and stores where I would probably need to go if I turned 100% vegan, so they are a real hurdle for me.
Back in the day, I regularly attended a macrobiotic supper club, and those people were just amazing. I was 95% vegan as long as it existed, even though I only went twice a month, because they were so inspiring and just basically nice.
posted by mumimor at 10:36 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


> praemunire:
"If it's merely that the actual cruelty takes place at a facility once removed from the restaurant, that hardly seems to make a difference."

No, as I said, I am all FOR ethical animal husbandry and processing. We may eat other animals, but we don't have to be jerks about it.
posted by Samizdata at 10:42 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


As a general rule, if you're a commercial establishment selling a product that people think is harmful, it's not unreasonable or inappropriate per se for people to engage in peaceful public protest against it.

I'm not opposed to the protest per se but it does seem to have needlessly singled out and attacked a small independent business. (Why this particular one rather than any of a dozen or a hundred other small restaurants, all of which serve meat? Apparently they wrote something cheeky about kale on their outdoor blackboard?)

That said, you could argue that the attack completely, backfired since it's put this restaurant in the media eye and made them famous, both locally and globally.

You could also argue that it has been win-win for both the protesters and the restaurant: it's created a media stir that has both driven business to the restaurant, and also given attention to the protesters and their cause.
posted by theorique at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


But like I wrote above, the places I meet those sanctimonious vegans are restaurants and stores where I would probably need to go if I turned 100% vegan, so they are a real hurdle for me.

I've been vegan for over 15 years so I'm really good at tuning that sort of thing out, but I think some of the vibes you're getting from veg*n focused restaurants and stores is because they're kind of safe spaces for veg*ns to vent and get riled up about animal rights. I know the local vegan food shop near me is run by a farm sanctuary and their marketing is really tied up with animal rights. I go, stock up on nut cheeses or frozen pizza, and ignore the cutesy shirts with pigs and cows proclaiming "friends, not food". There are also a lot of really good vegan places around here that are clearly vegan but aren't preachy about it. It's just understood there is only vegan food there.

There's been a bit of a cultural shift - and I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes more of a codified thing - between veganism and plant-based diets. I think veganism usually has some of the baggage of animal rights while plant-based is more focused on health and "clean eating". The vibes between the two are very different. I'm cool with more options to eat.
posted by kendrak at 10:47 AM on March 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


> adamgreenfield:
"mumimor, that may not be healthy for the animal. If their dentition and digestive systems have evolved to deal with one kind of food, deliberately serving them something else strikes me as being disrespectful and abusive."

Forget about digestion and dentition. Obligate carnivores are obligate carnivores generally because they both need certain amino acids they need from prey foods that they can't synthesize, and also, they manage their glucose via gluconeogenesis, which involves synthesizing glucose from high levels of protein. As they really don't eat carbohydrates, they will eventually begin consuming their own muscle tissue to supply said glucose.
posted by Samizdata at 10:49 AM on March 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


Samizdata: Exactly. A house cat needs all the things it gets from eating whole animals and insects, the nervous system, brain, bones, chitin, etc. I wasn't happy to watch, but cats chew birds whole, head first. They vomit up feathers and stuff later. This is not exploitation. They would do this in the wild as North African wild animals. Granted, they wouldn't be here in north america without humans, and I do not cheer feral outdoor cats eating birds... but also: many birds, and all the squirrels you see in the USA? Are from overseas. This idea of a Platonic ideal of non aggression and no human involvement is ludicrous.

Feeding a cat a veg diet is inherently inhumane, as these animals (cats) evolved this way well before they decided to hang around human dwellings to conveniently eat the vermin that liked our stores of grain... And even the majority of rats in the USA came from Norway!
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:02 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


> Kitteh:
"I already work in craft beer so while I’m increasingly comfortable claiming my space as a woman in a v male industry, I hide my veganism because it codes as feminine and weak among BOTH genders in it."

I don't even see veganism as gender-coded. The vast majority of vegans I have personally known were male, actually.
posted by Samizdata at 11:02 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


To be clear: Pure muscle protein does not have the nutrients for cats or dogs. Predator animals will often rip out and eat the guts of their prey first, because the guts are surrounded by fat, and the inside of herbivorous prey is full of digested plant matter which is an important part of the predator's diet.

Eat a whole rabbit? Mouse? Bird? they're ingesting everything those animals were eating and full of. And in some cases, getting nutrients only available because their prey was able to break it down into a content the predator can process.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:06 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Not eating meat definitely codes you as being less male. Men eat meat. Men who won't otherwise step in the kitchen will make sure to man the BBQ to make their steaks or burgers and share recipes or techniques with other men who also wouldn't otherwise step in the kitchen.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:06 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


...and was it vegan to keep cats near our stores of organic grain? Knowing they'd kill and eat the mice and rats and bugs that chowed down and spoiled with urine and feces— these stores of grain?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:21 AM on March 29, 2018


...and those earthworms you see when you till your organic, unspoiled by chemical soil?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasive_earthworms_of_North_America
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:25 AM on March 29, 2018


My husband was a vegetarian from age 18 to age 38, including the first ten years we were together. When we went to restaurants, I would often order steak and red wine, while he ordered pasta and Diet Coke. Almost invariably, the server would switch our orders when they came to the table.
posted by Daily Alice at 11:25 AM on March 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


Men who won't step into a kitchen are fools, pure and simple.

I'm glad my closest vegan friend isn't militant. We'll go out to vegan restaurants, her husband cooks delicious vegan food, and grumpybearbride and I have been trying to up our vegan cooking game so she can be more comfortable when we have them over for dinner.

Anyone looking for great vegan food in Philadelphia should try out Bar Bombon, it's fantastic.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:35 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm also going to back up Kitteh on this one. Most of the most obnoxious behavior I see from self proclaimed "carnivores" is also really tied to policing masculinity and rejecting the assumed femininity of a low or no-meat diet. In general, there's an association of meat with the "manliest" forms of cooking, like hunting and barbecue, and an association of eating vegetation based diets with eating for health and, often, restricting calories in an effort to watch your weight. Both of those are things coded super female, which is part of why some men go after them so strongly.

That isn't saying men are necessarily more or less likely to be vegan--in lefty circles specifically those masculinity connotations are much, much weaker. But it is saying that a lot of the aggression targeted at veg*nism when veg*n folks are not necessarily going out of their way to bother anyone else about their own eating choices is very, very gendered.
posted by sciatrix at 11:37 AM on March 29, 2018 [13 favorites]


I have mad respect for vegan dudes because they get serious shit from “real men” for daring to eat differently.
posted by Kitteh at 11:44 AM on March 29, 2018


I wasn't trying to say that sanctimonious vegans do not exist, but rather (imo) that most people do not casually encounter them but the stereotype continues to exist regardless.
I guess? I was just marshalling the experiences of the subset of people I happen to know, which actually includes a lot of folks working retail. I'm also thinking to myself, "well, the experiences of me and people like me are the fuel that goes into a stereotype, because lord knows vegans aren't exactly rare." And I mean, I'm a queer animal behavior specialist living in Austin; there are a whole lot of reasons that I've known many vegan people. But I don't think that the density of vegans in my life is all that unusual for many Americans, particularly not Americans who fit the profile of Metafilter's user base. So I thought I'd mention a couple of the places in my life that tend to harbor antagonistic interactions between vegans and omnivores.
posted by sciatrix at 11:47 AM on March 29, 2018


What's with the bowdlerisation of vegan in the more recent comments?
posted by Dysk at 11:54 AM on March 29, 2018


Veg*n is a term meant to refer inclusively to both vegans and vegetarians.
posted by Jeanne at 11:56 AM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think that's meant as wildcard, not bowlderization: veg[etari]anism as a catchall for the broader umbrella of eating philosophies.
posted by cortex at 11:57 AM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Thank you both!
posted by Dysk at 11:58 AM on March 29, 2018


Yep, they've got it right! A lot of these issues have historically and currently also applied to vegetarians, so I'm using an asterisk for simplification.
posted by sciatrix at 12:31 PM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wonder how they would feel if the normal omnivores amongst us started violently picketing their gardens; digging up all their vegetables and destroying them ??
posted by Burn_IT at 12:48 PM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


That sounds illegal, so people would probably feel like calling the cops, hahahah
posted by 23skidoo at 12:56 PM on March 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that's not really analogous to the situation at hand at all. The demonstrators are picketing, but not violently.
posted by Dysk at 12:58 PM on March 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


And someone called the police on the restauraunteur, which is its own flavor of fucked up.
posted by ChrisR at 1:09 PM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yeah, look, we can all debate the merits of veganism and trade anecdotes about the worst vegan you ever met, but getting back to the story at hand clearly the protestors had their jimmies rustled pretty badly both by being there in the first place and again when they called 911 to report passive-aggressiveness.

And to those who think it was all a stunt from step 1: clearly you know nothing about Toronto.

1 - opening a faux-rustic restaurant in a mediocre location focussing on local-ish game: pretty Toronto
2 - protestors rehashing decades-old Berkeley food politics because they were born too late, too north and too east - very Toronto
3 - subject of the protest responding passive-aggressively: extremely Toronto
4 - and then apologizing for it - PEAK TORONTO
posted by GuyZero at 1:14 PM on March 29, 2018 [24 favorites]


I wonder how they would feel if the normal omnivores amongst us started violently picketing their gardens; digging up all their vegetables and destroying them ??

This is what I meant by being embarrassed by my side. The actions of these particular vegans seem silly to me - but they aren't violent, they aren't vandalizing anyone's property, and if you read article you find that the situation is less acrimonious than you'd expect.

Pretending as though attacking vegans' gardens is equivalent to their protest is the type of strawmanning that's discussed in the thread right above you. Not to mention that the only reason you'd have to dig up someone's vegetable garden is spite because no one objects to eating vegetables.

Like, seriously, it is not going to be possible to have mature discussions about the ethics of food (of any type) unless you're willing to engage with what people actually believe and actually do, instead of falling back on this simplistic "rawr i am a meat eater and that means we must fight" mentality.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:18 PM on March 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


"Hello, 911. Sorry."

"Sorry to bother you, eh. I'm a vegan, eh ... and I went to protest this guy's restaurant because he serves meat, and he started butchering a deer in the window, eh."

"Sorry, but what is the problem then?"

"Well, see, sorry to bother you but I'm a vegan, which means I don't eat mean, eh. And so now we have a bunch of vegans being exposed to deer butchery."

"Sorry, we'll send a squad car to take a look, eh."
posted by theorique at 1:19 PM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


The actions of these particular vegans seem silly to me - but they aren't violent, they aren't vandalizing anyone's property, and if you read article you find that the situation is less acrimonious than you'd expect.

But they clearly want to protest someone really, really badly. per my comment above, Canadian politics is so absolutely overstuffed with people crowding into the centre of every issue while they watch American news and some Canadians want to feel that earnest anger they see on TV so, so badly they just latch onto random things. This is a cargo-cult of protest veganism. This is the reason Ontario politics is the way it is, rudderless.

"Well, see, sorry to bother you but I'm a vegan, which means I don't eat mean, eh. And so now we have a bunch of vegans being exposed to deer butchery."

"Sorry, we'll send a squad car to take a look, eh."


Again this is Toronto. The Toronto PD is pretty busy. So the protestors probably had to report a couple brown teenagers jaywalking so the cops could come out and check their id.
posted by GuyZero at 1:23 PM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there is a big vegan/vegetarian divide on this question.

Speaking only for myself, but yeah: as someone who was a hardcore (ovo-lacto-)vegetarian for sixteen years of my adult life, and that exclusively for political/ethical reasons, it always felt to me like there were broad differences of stance and style between the vegetarians I knew and the vegans. And that these differences carried across geographical and socioeconomic divides, as well.

I'm somehow astounded and yet not entirely surprised that the nasty vegan/(meat-eating) freegan arguments I witnessed in a squat in West Philly in 1990 are being replicated almost word-for-word in this very different space almost thirty years later, right down to the points about gender-coding and sustainability and the ethical obligation to consume all of something since it's already been slaughtered anyway for the pleasure of the rich. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a controversy that intractable over so long a period of time.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:38 PM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


the ethical obligation to consume all of something since it's already been slaughtered anyway for the pleasure of the rich.

yeah, so this one goes a little farther back than, say, the existence of Philadelphia.

I declare there are three circumstances in which meat can be eaten: when it is not seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); Jivaka, I say these are the three circumstances in which meat can be eaten. —Jivaka Sutta, MN 55 , unpublished translation by Sister Uppalavanna [3]

posted by GuyZero at 1:43 PM on March 29, 2018


Well, after all of this well-intentioned and reasonable debate on all sides it's become very clear to me what the solution most certainly is:

It's obviously time to for everyone to start eating other people.
posted by loquacious at 1:47 PM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's obviously time to for everyone to start eating other people.

Please check out my new book: How to Serve Vegetarians
posted by GuyZero at 1:49 PM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's obviously time to for everyone to start eating other people.

Would you eat lab-grown human meat, though? What if it was synthesized from cells that came from your own body? #stonerveganthoughts
posted by 23skidoo at 1:58 PM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wait, did I say people? Obviously I meant avocados.
posted by loquacious at 2:00 PM on March 29, 2018


Would you eat lab-grown human meat, though? What if it was synthesized from cells that came from your own body?

I was thinking about this a while ago in the context of Star Trek - you could totally scan your leg into a replicator, replicate it, butcher it, and eat it. Totally victimless cannibalism. In unrelated news I have far too much time on my hands.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:10 PM on March 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


Anyhow, I should say that among the vegans I have known, the only annoyingly self-righteous ones were the same way about every other political issue they were into, making their annoyingness less of a 'vegan' thing and more of a 'lefty type who gets off on feeling like the most righteous person in the room' thing. The specific issues they used to that end were almost beside the point.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:14 PM on March 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Gymnopedist: ... when I'm ... trying to get people to take veganism out for a spin.

This is the sort of thing I think many people find tiresome about vegans. I don't want to be encouraged to take veganism out for a spin any more than I want to be encouraged to take keeping kosher for a spin or to take being a Jehovah's Witness out for a spin or to take listening to Phish out for a spin. I'm happy for people to eat whatever they want to eat, and that includes any number of dietary regimes including vegan. I just don't like being evangelized to about anything unless I invite it, especially when I'm trying to eat my damn sandwich. Now, I'm certainly not saying there aren't annoyingly aggressive meat eaters. But I've never had someone try to talk to me about why I should put pork on my mushroom pizza.
posted by slkinsey at 2:49 PM on March 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Obligatory reference to the It's Always Sunny Manhunters/Human Meat episode.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:50 PM on March 29, 2018


Would you eat lab-grown human meat

Lab-grown? Listen, if we ever survive an airplane crash in the remote Andes, just remember that rubbing Worcestershire sauce on your skin helps prevent frostbite.
posted by slkinsey at 2:52 PM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Lab-grown?

Ha, the point of the question was to consider if you would eat human meat if it wasn't necessary for your survival and if no one had to die for you to eat it, but I'll still mark your answer as "enthusiastic yes"
posted by 23skidoo at 3:12 PM on March 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I would absolutely eat lab-grown human meat, and I'd pay extra for them to make it out of my DNA. For curiosity's sake, and also the ultimate icebreaker.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 3:58 PM on March 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is the sort of thing I think many people find tiresome about vegans. I don't want to be encouraged to take veganism out for a spin any more than I want to be encouraged to take keeping kosher for a spin or to take being a Jehovah's Witness out for a spin or to take listening to Phish out for a spin.

I don't go try to talk with anyone who clearly doesn't want to talk. I just set up a fold-up table in a public space, like a college campus or music festival, and it's always clear from the signage what I'm all about. I offer free vegan recipes, and people who are interested in them tend to be pretty open to chatting for a few minutes about veganism. In the past I've also done pay-per-view setups on behalf of a nonprofit where we paid passersby a dollar to watch a short video about some of what goes on, and we were always clear about what the video was about and that it was pretty graphic and difficult to watch. Afterward I would discuss it with people, if they wanted, which they often did. I don't wish to talk with someone who isn't interested any more than they wish to talk with me. I'm pretty socially anxious in a lot of ways, so I know what it's like to not be able to disengage from someone who's being super pushy. I like this sort of advocacy because people make the choice to engage with me. Setting up in the public square and having a chat with anyone who wants to approach is a scrappy little form of free speech that is very dear to my heart. I think it's becoming less and less common that we are able to have this kind of respectful, in-person dialogue with people about issues we care about.
posted by Gymnopedist at 4:20 PM on March 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


A perspective I have not yet seen here: did y'all know that there are some humans who are obligate carnivores? I have a genetic condition which makes me far less able to process iron derived from plant sources, and what this means is that if I don't have meat every so often I fall over with anemia. I can also take iron supplements, but they have to be derived from animals, which is actually difficult to find specifically labeled in a supplement. I have wanted to be a vegetarian since I was ten, and, even under the supervision of a nutritionist, it is not physically possible; my iron levels plummet in unmanageable ways.

The interesting thing about this is that it's hard to get people to believe that it exists. Militant vegans tell me that I'm lying to my face, but omnivores also insist that no one really needs to eat meat, and then often go into spiels about how they know it would be healthier if they didn't but they just can't resist the taste and surely that is what I am doing also, right? The omnivore doubling-down has an element of shame in it, insistence that the non-animal-eaters have either won the moral ground or have not either dammit, and I find this fascinating to watch because I am not ashamed of eating meat at all. I try to find ethically sourced meat, but I'd rather eat meat than randomly faint from anemia at short intervals.

And coming from a position of obligation on this really points out to me how much ethical panic there is on all sides of the debate.

A lot. There's a lot. From everybody.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 4:22 PM on March 29, 2018 [13 favorites]


If they aren't going to be reasonable with him. He is under no obligation to be reasonable with them. I wonder if you mix up meat broth in a humidifier and release a mist of beef around the entrance of your resturant if that would keep these crazies at a distance? Mix stock with glycerine and water and make a meat based smoke machine?
posted by Megafly at 4:32 PM on March 29, 2018


I wonder if you mix up meat broth in a humidifier and release a mist of beef around the entrance of your resturant if that would keep these crazies at a distance?

Only Americans come up with these nutty supervillain revenge schemes.

The Canadian response is to decide how hard you're going to grit your teeth as you walk past them every day.
posted by GuyZero at 4:47 PM on March 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


I was just listening to the latest episode of Citations Needed all about the overwhelmingly fake scourge of overly pc college students. The episode talks about how among a large strain of conservatives there is an almost insatiable appetite for outrage-inducing stories about the extreme measures some groups of students take in order to be pc. The episode intro lists some of these: A theater group at Wesleyan won’t perform The Vagina Monologues because it’s offensive to trans women! Oberlin is banning classes featuring white authorsI Rich, sheltered college students, increasingly indoctrinated by radical Marxist professors, are asking for safe spaces!

This article feels very much the same, and the reactions in this thread parallel a lot of reactions to the pc college student articles. Everybody has their line as to where challenges to the status quo become worthy of ridicule and disdain.
posted by Regal Ox Inigo at 6:25 PM on March 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ferreous: "faux shapes would be worse I think, primarily because I doubt it could recreate the nuances of muscle and fat in a given cut so it would be a homogeneous block trying to disguise the fact that it was a FleshCube"

With enough control there isn't any reason one couldn't extrude fat and marbling within the "meat". Texture could probably be added in a similar if not particularly realistic manner (IE the "meat" would have some grain). Easiest would be if the non-meat features extended the entire depth.
posted by Mitheral at 6:32 PM on March 29, 2018


Omnivores who then cry, "but think of all the bunnies killed in harvesting vegetables!" are just shifting the goal posts as deflection.

In my case it really isn't deflection, it's an attempt to understand. Because if vegans were also arguing for the hand harvesting of vegetables and grain to avoid the murder of those animals, too, that would be a sound, consistent message to me. But I haven't heard any do that. Again - I could be overlooking some who do.....I'm not arguing to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, just that vegans should also acknowledge that there are issues with their diet, as well.

But then, I'm the kind of person, who when watching a tv show where the dudes are all wearing jackets and boots and the ladies are wearing skimpy clothing - can no longer watch the show. Seriously show, is it cold or hot - the actors should be congruently dressed unless one of them is a fire demon and the other is a cold demon.

#havebeendiagnosedwithaninabilitytoacceptapremise

I crave congruence in my universe!
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 6:38 PM on March 29, 2018


> 23skidoo:
"It's obviously time to for everyone to start eating other people.

Would you eat lab-grown human meat, though? What if it was synthesized from cells that came from your own body? #stonerveganthoughts"


In Rudy Rucker's Ware tetralogy (Non-affiliate Amazon Smile link), they have meat cloning pretty much down pat. Thanks to the kind genetic donation of a major character, many restaurants and purveyors of fine meats now offer wendymeat, fully cloned, vat-grown human meat alongside beef, pork and (I think) chicken.

And I think, ethically, I would have to try vat grown human flesh, as I have found the taboo fascinating forever, and I am too curious for my own good.

As far as the current (non-human) vat meat situation, I will try it (and even the Impossible/Whatever burger, despite having made Veggieburgers at the industrial level) and give it a fair shake.
posted by Samizdata at 8:36 PM on March 29, 2018


Vegans own pets? Where do they get off subjugating the animal kingdom?

I can't tell if this is a joke, but in case you're serious: vegans tend to own rescues, which in their eyes is more humane than letting the animals live the life they would otherwise lead.

would the vegans here eat lab grown meat?

As an ethical vegan (opposed to systemic animal abuse in industry, doesn't believe that 'animals don't exist for human use') I hypothetically would, but already one year into veganism, subconsciously the concept of eating flesh is a bit weird to me. Also, my sense of smell towards meat has changed in that I often can't distinguish between what red meat is cooking; all red meat has a really strong 'animal' smell now that's slightly off-putting, like lamb or roo did when I ate meat (both of which I didn't like as an omni for this reason), so I'm not actually sure that I would enjoy eating red meat now. Similar for fish- the fishy smell is amplified to unpleasantness now. If it makes any difference, I went from essentially-carnivore to vegan cold turkey (excuse the pun).

Nowadays enough fake meat taste like meat without the animal smell that I'd probably prefer fake-meat. From talking to vegan friends I imagine vat-grown meat would be popular among meat-missing vegans and meat-is-healthier-than-fake-meat vegans, though not meat-is-cancer vegans and animals-are-not-for-human-use vegans (since the procedure still involves animals).

The times I might eat lab grown meat are 1) when occasionally I'm nostalgic for family dishes that represent comfort and happy memories, and 2) I'd like to cook for my family, some of whom can't not have meat in a meal (and one person who I suspect wouldn't mind food coded 'vegan' as much if she wasn't a doctor who couldn't go near anything potentially 'woo' adjacent for fear of being taken less seriously).

I was actually wondering the other day whether human meat is the only really ethical meat (harvested from a living being), since humans are the only animals that can really consent (I made the mistake of wondering this out loud to a close omni friend and they justifiably got a bit freaked out)

Because if vegans were also arguing for the hand harvesting of vegetables and grain to avoid the murder of those animals, too, that would be a sound, consistent message to me.

I'm a fairly new vegan, but definitely a lot of vegans do argue for this, and it's a big contributor to locavorism on the vegan side. From your questions in this thread it seems you think if vegans touch anything that harms a single life, it should negate their being vegan, but this is actually pretty much impossible (trust me, vegans definitely want this more than you do! If there was a way, people would do it already)(also see: militant vegans). Instead, vegans operate along the principle of least harm. For vegans, especially new ones, there's usually a lot of weighing of where their line of harm ends so they can feel consistent with their beliefs; 'should I take this medicine that has animal products in it because there is no alternative' is a common one (even militant vegans tend to advocate 'yes' for this for other people, even if they wouldn't themselves).

To add to the anecdata of whether meat is coded male, it was similarly common for me that when I ordered meat dishes and a male friend ordered dishes not-centred-around-meat (not necessarily salad, but sometimes), the order would get switched (same for if I ordered red meat and a male friend ordered white meat)

Personally, stunts like this was one of the many moments that contributed to me going vegan. It was when activist things like this gained publicity that the concept began to stick in my mind and dissolve the pet-animal/for-use-or-food-animal dichotomy there. I'm also a person on which emotional/shock appeals like this work better than calm facts. For every meat-eater that goes to the restaurant out of spite, they might move someone else closer to being vegan. The average person eats several thousand animals in their lifetime, so if even one person goes vegan, that's several thousand animals saved.

On the pet food front, it seems to depend on the species. Dogs are apparently fine on a vegan diet (apparently oldest dog in the Guinness book of records was fed on one), but every vegan cat owner I know feed their cats a carni diet.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 11:51 PM on March 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Side note:

McDonald's was protested by anti-meat-eating people. In 1996 I received fliers from the McLibel people outside of the Leicester Square/Central London Maccas which detailed a number of abuses of workers, anti-union stance of McDonald's, health/cleanliness standards, and onwards to the larger theme of McDonald's use of beef, its impact on the environment, human health, and then the notion of meat eating at all. There was such a big deal made over these fliers and activism that McLibel/McSpotlight became a thing. Simple googling with throw up hundreds and hundreds of places where groups protest McDonald's use of animals, live confrontation, facebook groups etc etc

Otherwise, reading this thread is upsetting. 'Antler' is not the epicentre of the moral problem but it wouldn't matter where or how this protest occurred. McDonald's vegan protesters were similarly addressed, the same arguments about plants and crop mammals and 'sanctimonious vegans' and meat ethically sourced etc were made. The same metrics are always levied, because the status quo feels pretty good, and crazy outlier cases like this make it easier to dismiss the decent, generally peaceful, dietary intentions of millions of people.
posted by honey-barbara at 12:21 AM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


I’ve been a vegetarian nearly 20 years. When people find out, they always ask why. I say: my dad had a heart attack in a steak house and I've met cows and I think they're lovely.

Actually I don't, I demur and deflect, trying to shut down the discussion gracefully. I didn’t dye my hair to get your attention. My life isn't about you, in fact I'd avoid you ever knowing anything about me if possible. I don’t want to debate. I want to just live my own life, please.

Even here I can’t really engage. The place of death in a balanced world is not animal experimentation. There is no disconnect. I understand fully. I am contextualized. Don't pat on my fucking head. You are wrong. From hell's heart I stab at thee.

The joke “Venison is the new kale” is a joke at vegans. It’s a joking replacement: X is the new black, so the new vegan is venison. It’s insulting by design. Farmed venison means hundreds of acres of deer-proof fence, and deer pushed into an abattoir's semi-trailer. Forget animal rights, it’s bad for the environment and animal welfare, but marketed as an untouched wild.
posted by netowl at 3:04 AM on March 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


Gymnopedist: I just set up a fold-up table in a public space ... I like this sort of advocacy because people make the choice to engage with me.

Totally legit. I didn't understand what you meant by "tabling."

It is also true, however, that vegans as a whole have justly earned a reputation for evangelizing in a range of styles from your passive advocacy to active advocacy such as the picketing described in the article, and in a range of settings from public spaces to their friends and colleagues around the lunch table. It's not everyone, of course. In general, I have found it to be either "activist types" who would be evangelizing about something no matter what, or relative newcomers to veganism who have fallen hard for the ethos. But even my friend who is the least demonstrable about his veganism of any I know sent around an email celebrating his "three-year anniversary as a vegan." This was somehow unsurprising, although despite knowing any number of vegans and vegetarians who have transitioned into omnivore diets I have never received a self-congratulatory email celebrating someone's decision to start eating fish three years ago.

I get it that #notallvegans, but the jokes and the perceptions exist for a reason, and I'm not entirely sure whether this evangelism is helpful or harmful to the cause. I admire people who pursue any number of ethical dietary, anticonsumerist, etc. practices. And I have been inspired by these friends to change some of my views and practices simply through the influence of their example as well as things I may have picked up from them in the normal course of conversation during our association. This, to me, is the way to effect these kinds of changes. I am willing to bet that very few people have been influenced to adopt the vegan ethos (or elements thereof) as a result of restaurant picketing or sanctimonious advocacy from their friends and associates. On the other hand, I am quite sure that plenty have acted upon the quiet example of others to dip their toes into those waters.


netowl: The joke “Venison is the new kale” is a joke at vegans. It’s a joking replacement: X is the new black, so the new vegan is venison.

What? No. The joke is on the (hipster-driven) ubiquity of kale. It has nothing to do with vegans whatsoever.
posted by slkinsey at 7:16 AM on March 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


But even my friend who is the least demonstrable about his veganism of any I know sent around an email celebrating his "three-year anniversary as a vegan." This was somehow unsurprising, although despite knowing any number of vegans and vegetarians who have transitioned into omnivore diets I have never received a self-congratulatory email celebrating someone's decision to start eating fish three years ago.

So...wait, does this annoy you or harm you? Are you really friends with this person if you call it "self-congratulating"? Yes, vegans do celebrate or remember their vegan anniversary, but I guarantee that it has nothing to do with guilting or annoying you; it has to do with feeling good about a decision they've made. If it bugs you, either say something or move on. Again, you would not bat a damn eye if someone did for a non-vegan anniversary. But because it's something you dislike, you want to point out how dumb it is.

Frankly at this point, I'd just rather omni MeFites be clear and say: hey vegans, go fuck yourselves because I refuse to talk about it without resorting to strawmans and making fun. Because at this point, posters are continuing to be jerks for the sake of wanting to be jerks to people who eat a different way.
posted by Kitteh at 7:51 AM on March 30, 2018 [11 favorites]


I'm not even a militant vegan, but now I'm wondering if I should be if it means having to defend a way I eat all the damn time on the Blue.
posted by Kitteh at 7:53 AM on March 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


But even my friend who is the least demonstrable about his veganism of any I know sent around an email celebrating his "three-year anniversary as a vegan." This was somehow unsurprising, although despite knowing any number of vegans and vegetarians who have transitioned into omnivore diets I have never received a self-congratulatory email celebrating someone's decision to start eating fish three years ago.

*shrug* I think of it more like a friend who's quit drinking and who celebrates the anniversary of when they got sober. I enjoy alcohol and have no plans to cut it out, but if someone wants to quit drinking and be proud of that, that's cool by me. I don't think anyone who celebrates an anniversary of a time they stopped doing something is trying to suggest/imply/say anything about what other people should be doing just because they're excited about something they've done themself.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:21 AM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Again, you would not bat a damn eye if someone did for a non-vegan anniversary

I think this is not true, but the reason this is not true actually exposes one of the main sources of conflict re vegans- which is that for many, veganism is functionally equivalent to a new religion.

I don’t say this to mock or denigrate veganism - I know some people call it a “cult”, but I don’t mean something freakish or dangerous like that. But essentially, I think the dietary restrictions are often not the focus but the reflection of a new ethical belief system that suggests that animal welfare and lives are sufficiently intrinsically valuable that they are not to be exploited or killed for human gain. And an ethical belief system that is shared by many enough to form a common culture, with a mild-evangelical focus, and a broad impact on daily life is functionally indistinguishable from a religion, whether it actually is one or not.

And so I think that the annoyance and frustration that vegans are seeing directed at them are actually very similar to the annoyance and frustration delivered at religion by people who are either part of an opposing religion, or who are considered sinners by that other religion.

So instead of “Hey, today is my vegan anniversary”, try to imagine getting an email from a friend saying, “Hey, today is the anniversary of my being Born Again in Christ.” I think that a lot of people would find that annoying, because the common cultural rules we generally have around religion do not allow for evangelism. Live and let live is hard when one group is insisting that the other group are sinning. We are not generally kind when members of a religion are protesting how other people lead their lives. Imagine, for example, Evangelicals were protesting a sex toy shop, demanding a sign be placed in the window saying that everyone using these outside of marriage were damaging their soul.

And that’s why people tend to separate between “irritating vegans” and “regular vegans” - they are trying, in their own head, to separate between people evangelizing for their religion, and those who are quietly and personally religious.
posted by corb at 8:26 AM on March 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


I know several lovely vegans, and IME one of the best things about vegan friends is that they are even more enthusiastic about sharing new recipes than most people. When one of my coworkers told me his son had decided to become a vegan, I said “oh, I have a great recipe for you to share with him!” and it became a topic of conversation for us, even though we are omnivores: how can we find good vegan recipes to make my coworker’s son eat something other than french fries (his teen boy vegan food of choice.)

When I talked to a friend who went vegan for health reasons, and I told her I had recently purchased some nutritional yeast, she immediately suggested her favorite uses for it.

Vegans also tend to be wizards of food substitution science, which has often made my life easier when I was out of something or just curious. And the more I explore vegan cooking in the spirit of experimentation, the fewer animal products I tend to use as a default option, and that's the kind of stealth vegan activism that has been the most effective on me.

The farmer vegan and the cowman omnivore should be friends!
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:44 AM on March 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


This is a terrible thread for Vegan So Preachy jibes. What is so damn upsetting about vegans who do virtually fuck all in the real world to inflect your eating choices? And outlier cases like this feel opportunistic moments for people who otherwise moderate their putdowns of minorities, free rein to crap on veganism.

Meat eating is embedded in religiosity, and patriotism, that's the thing you might notice, just you know, by looking around you, or at a calendar.

Most people I know who came to choose veganism did so by learning from others about a plant based diet. Every vegan I know hears the 'how do you know someone is a vegan? They tell you! lol' several times a year, and then a bunch of questions and a philosophical inquiry just to get through a basic, unfussy meal. Every vegan gets a parade of carnivore jokes about the bacon, or gets called militant. Nothing new, but the prodding and sanctimonious behaviour (if it's that) is a damn busy street the other way too.

In my experience, most carnivores can manage to be polite if they hear that a person's veganism was borne of health events, or they can sigh a bit about oh yes, the environment. Both those reasons seem okay to carnivores, but for people who can't stand vegans, the thing that upsets them the most is the vegan's feelings about animal welfare. Why is that? Why so much defence about ethical killing of animals, when the average carnivore has very little option but to eat meat farmed via industrial nightmare processing. I think most people know it sucks what we do to animals. And vegans are a bit of a scapegoat.

ETA - this is not responding to the poster above me, but earlier comments)
posted by honey-barbara at 8:53 AM on March 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


slkinsey: But even my friend who is the least demonstrable about his veganism of any I know sent around an email celebrating his "three-year anniversary as a vegan." This was somehow unsurprising, although despite knowing any number of vegans and vegetarians who have transitioned into omnivore diets I have never received a self-congratulatory email celebrating someone's decision to start eating fish three years ago.

Kitteh: So...wait, does this annoy you or harm you? Are you really friends with this person if you call it "self-congratulating"? Yes, vegans do celebrate or remember their vegan anniversary, but I guarantee that it has nothing to do with guilting or annoying you; it has to do with feeling good about a decision they've made. If it bugs you, either say something or move on. Again, you would not bat a damn eye if someone did for a non-vegan anniversary. But because it's something you dislike, you want to point out how dumb it is.

To be clear: No, I didn't find it annoying. It did cause me to roll my eyes, however, and it certainly had the effect of perpetuating the stereotype of vegans as being performative and evangelizing. Also for the record, I would find it equally eye-rolling if someone broadcast an email to celebrate his or her anniversary of omnivorism. But it's worth pointing out that no "returning" omnivore does this. For that matter, the recovering alcoholics and substance abusers in my life are far less performative about their lifestyle changes, and these are people whose reformations made a far more dramatic difference in their lives (many of them wouldn't be around today), than those who adopted veganism. I'm guessing that many of us know around as many recovering addicts as we do vegans, and yet the latter is far more performative and evangelizing as a group. On an individual basis, needless to say, there are wider ranges.

Listen, I'm not pointing the finger at most vegans. I've got no problem with vegans whatsoever. I admire vegans for the strength of their convictions. I have a strong interest in preparing vegan foods for myself and family. Although I don't agree with all the tenets of veganism, I believe that vegans are contributing positively to the betterment of society. I'm just pointing out some reasons the stereotypes exist. Another reason is being thin-skinned about people pointing out these things. This isn't something I feel called to do in my quotidian interactions with my vegan friends, none of whom is particularly performative or evangelizing on this subject, but this is literally an integral part of the discussion here.

corb, I think, nails it right on the head. It's comparable to the difference between those who are quietly religious in their own lives and happy to talk about their beliefs when queried, and those who evangelize and take every opportunity to be performative through things like displays of prayer and other overt manifestations of piety. I imagine non-evangelizing Jehovah's Witnesses feel similar frustrations at being viewed through the lens of familiarity with votaries who knock on doors and offer copies of The Watchtower in subway stations. But it's hardly worth pretending that these things don't exist.
posted by slkinsey at 8:55 AM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


What corb said goes for me, too. In fact, "evangelical" vegans vs "quiet and personal" vegans is a pretty good way to conceptualize the splits I've been trying to make--and honestly, in making them, I have been trying very hard to point out that #notallvegans engage in the behaviors that drive me nuts and which cause ill will. I don't think I've commented here without trying, in my own way at least, to communicate that point even as I talk about strong disagreements I have with many vegan folks. I apologize if that seems like demonization, but man, even as I agree with you that 'omnivore fragility' or 'obnoxious toxically masculine carnivores' are absolutely a Thing, it bothers me to see so many vegans here going "ugh this is just another example of omnivores making up things so they can demonize vegans again."

For the record, the recipe-sharing that a fiendish thingy mentions and the enthusiastic uses for different food substitutions--especially when coupled with an honest explanation of what works well as substitutes for what, versus what doesn't--is one of my favorite things about the vegan folks I know. Because I have a number of vegan, gluten free, etc. friends, my partner (who does most of the cooking) spends a lot of time playing around in the kitchen with agar agar, wheat gluten, egg substitutes, and so forth--and because we value our friends with dietary restrictions, it doesn't necessarily matter why someone can't have something, we try to accommodate that. Which means that vegan alternatives and substitutions can be very useful when, for example, making things for several of our friends who are not vegan but who have intolerances to things like dairy or eggs.

Irritation aside, I would very honestly say that, say, Kenji Alt-Lopez' yearly Vegan Experience is genuinely enjoyed and anticipated in my household, in part because it's a lot of fun playing with food and trying to make good food on its own terms without incorporating certain ingredients. Constraints drive creativity, and vegan cooking can be a really good way to enjoy that creativity and spurring originality in what you can do with food in a way I'm enthusiastically impressed by.
posted by sciatrix at 9:28 AM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think a good takeaway from all of this is people don't like being shamed over their food choices, vegans and omnivores alike. What is frustrating to a degree is that people are acting as though expressing frustration with being shamed/evangelized is a pile on without merit. The fact that so many people in this thread have real experience with being shamed speaks to the fact that it does happen.
posted by Ferreous at 9:53 AM on March 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


If someone remembered the anniversary of when they came out as gay, would that bug anyone here? (Just a question- I find the whole notion confusing that anyone feels that other people talking about their lives is somehow necessarily being preached at. )
posted by 23skidoo at 10:07 AM on March 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


It again makes more sense to view it in the context of a semi-religious function, that in sharing that info in that manner carries with it a sense of evangelism. Celebrating coming out doesn't hold the same connotations. It's also the format, a shared email has different connotations than an social media post. One being directed to specific people, the other being more like a general announcement.
posted by Ferreous at 10:22 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm an atheist and a vegan, so it makes no sense to me to think of veganism as a religion, sorry.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:31 AM on March 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


23skidoo: If someone remembered the anniversary of when they came out as gay, would that bug anyone here?

I might find it a bit eye-rolling if I got a self-congratulatory mass email about it, sure.

I think people may be getting a bit hung up on this one experience drawn from my life, but I think Ferreous makes a good point that emailing all your friends or including a statement about veganism in your email signature creates an entirely difference impression than making an annual "vegan anniversary" post on social media. Again, the comparison to religion is apt: There is a difference between quietly religious people who might make an annual post being "born again" and those who pepper every phrase with the likes of "praise be unto Him" and include scripture quotations in their email signature. One is performative and evangelizing and the other is not. Many/most people don't like being performed or evangelized to.

I'm an atheist and a vegan, so it makes no sense to me to think of veganism as a religion

The parallels in terms of evangelism, performance, fervency and zeal for a specific viewpoint and shared set of tenets seem inescapable. (This is the case with many other things as well, of course.) Obviously "religion" is not invoked as a point of comparison with respect to a belief in deity, but rather with respect to a constellation of beliefs and practices.
posted by slkinsey at 10:38 AM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Imagine a council of intelligent cows -- the Seven, if you will -- whose charge is the welfare of cowkind, and suppose they had the power to release a virus that would infect all humans, but was otherwise benign yet would convert anyone who caught it to strict veganism.

Would they do it?

I'd say not, because there are none of the original wild cows left (the last of the aurochs was apparently sighted in Poland hundreds of years ago), and if domesticated cows were simply abandoned to fend for themselves (India needs a separate discussion), the best case is that they would join the legion of large wild mammals that we are in the process of wiping from the face of the Earth as our numbers relentlessly expand.

If we stop eating them, which there's a good case for, the least we owe them is to re-establish the wild species as well as we can, and maintain it in a preserve in perpetuity.
posted by jamjam at 10:42 AM on March 30, 2018


And like, as an athiest vegan, I don't feel that every time someone mentions being Christian they're trying to preach at me. Yes, I have been preached at by Christians, but we have these Jehovah's Witnesses who come by maybe once every couple months and leave little pamphlets. Now that's literally-literally preaching at me, but it's so low-key that I don't really care. To me, lots of (what I'm guessing) what people see as Vegans Being Preachy is even more low-key than those pamphlets, so I just don't get it.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:43 AM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Other people have different tolerance for being preached at than you.
posted by Ferreous at 10:48 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying they don't, I'm just offering my differing experience.

Okay, if people view veganism as a religion (for some definition of religion), is this how other religious news story threads go?
posted by 23skidoo at 11:00 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone views veganism as a religion. I think they have identified what they perceive are similarities between the ways veganism manifests in certain people and the ways religion manifests in certain people.

Also, have you really not noticed the "opiate of the people"-type posts that crop up in threads around religion? Meanwhile, this thread centers around one of the central issues that many non-vegans have with a certain subset of vegans. It seems hardly possible to discuss a group of vegan activists picketing a restaurant in an attempt to force the owner to change his menu without discussing the performative, evangelical and activist aspects of veganism.
posted by slkinsey at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


if people view veganism as a religion (for some definition of religion), is this how other religious news story threads go?

Unfortunately, yes. There are many reasons to think it shouldn’t, but - for example, it is exceedingly rare that a post about Catholicism survives without at least one person bringing up their issues with the religion overall, or with certain aspects of doctrine. Essentially, it’s really hard to navigate those my fist-hits-your-face scenarios when one group is saying another group, both of whom are present on Metafilter, are engaging in immoral actions.
posted by corb at 11:16 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


People have a hard time separating their usually totally justifiable and earned annoyance at the obnoxiousness of specific genuinely obnoxious people they have known from an often poorly-targeted, generalized annoyance at whatever the thing was that those specific obnoxious people were doing as the locus of their obnoxiousness.

I wrote a page-long comment breaking down the structural issues behind the seeming intractability of that problem, but deleted it because it was very long and anyway it's more of a MetaTalk thing but really even more of a screaming-into-the-void thing, but, yeah. The tautology that specific annoying people are in fact annoying does not get as much use as an explanatory vehicle for Why We Get Annoyed as it should, and so instead we get people lazily attributing obnoxiousness to veganism-in-general rather than to a small subset of obnoxious people who happen to be vegan (or any other goddam thing), and then non-obnoxious vegans being understandably annoyed at the lazy attribution, and lazy attributors retroactively qualifying that no not you, just the obnoxious ones, which is a real hard landing to stick and so it all goes in a loop for the millionth time despite the notional specificity of the original thing that was nominally worth a post.

It would be keen if that didn't happen as much, speaking as both a reader and as a mod.
posted by cortex at 11:35 AM on March 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


LOL vegans are like Xtian evangelicals

I grew up with hellfire and brimstone Christianity as a kid, so no, please try again. Jesus.
posted by Kitteh at 1:15 PM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's a lot like in the politics threads. There is a big evil out there: corrupt Republicans/food industry and then there is a local evil: locavore restaurants/mainstream liberals. And a certain subset of people find it more important to attack the local evil than the big evil even though those local evils could be their allies, and I actually get it because I was once an activist. But goddamit, priorities, people.
I know, the point is you are doing both, but the end result almost always is that the bad guys win. I know this because I am old. I appreciate that you are not and I will not blame or condemn you. I'm just saying.
posted by mumimor at 1:56 PM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Just came across this - it seems somewhat relevant:
Sociologist Mari Mycek has come to public attention in recent weeks for her 2015 doctoral thesis, “Meatless Meals and Masculinity: An Examination of Men’s Use of Rationality and Scientific Research to explain Their Plant-based Diets.” Equating rationality with masculinity—a sensible enough approach—Mycek claims that “men effectively engage in a feminized practice (eating only plants) but masculinize it, rather than feminize themselves and their consumption identities.” You will notice the crucial assumption here: Mycek’s belief that, for men, it is obviously bad to “feminize themselves.” And in the background of this, no doubt, there is Mycek’s own anxiety.
This does seem to feature in the behavior of many male vegans: the approach taken to practicing veganism is a sort of aggressive, "nutritarian" optimization that has settled on plant-only foods as an optimum. Since abstaining from steaks and bacon codes as feminine / unmasculine, the lost masculinity must be regained through some other way - in this case, through a rationalist, science-based approach to diet.
posted by theorique at 6:34 PM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


LOL vegans are like Xtian evangelicals

I grew up with hellfire and brimstone Christianity as a kid, so no, please try again. Jesus.


People have said it's analogous in some limited ways to Christian evangelism, of which evangelicals have been used as an example occasionally. It's the evangelism that gets people's heckles up, not the evangelicalism.
posted by Dysk at 7:16 PM on March 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


This article feels very much the same, and the reactions in this thread parallel a lot of reactions to the pc college student articles. Everybody has their line as to where challenges to the status quo become worthy of ridicule and disdain.

Agreeing so hard. I'm an omnivore and know quite a few v*gans, and none of them have ever evangelised or made me feel bad for eating meat. This includes my best friend, who is a passionate animal rights supporter.

I was a vegetarian when I was a kid and the main reason I gave it up was because of the judgement I got from people, including my own family. My dad would take great delight in pointing out all the foods I couldn't eat because they had gelatine or other hidden animal by-products.
posted by daybeforetheday at 8:10 PM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have the same condition as Rush-That-Speaks, but I found it out when actually trying to be vegetarian.

I did it the smart way: went to the doctor, tests, making sure everything was good in my system, then tried it. Hospitalized after two months for severe anemia. Tests showed I have the 'genetic quirk' (as the doctor called it). So I went back to omnivore living. I still sometimes do vegetarian or vegan meals, but have to keep in mind that I really do need to eat meat to have working blood.

I'd try again, but I like living.
posted by mephron at 6:07 AM on March 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


The unstoppable rise of veganism: how a fringe movement went mainstream, Dan Hancox, The Guardian
One is always a bit worried about posting April 1st articles, but this one seems legit since it describes exactly what I see going on here as well. The main points are that Netflix documentaries + a more positive form of activism + a new attitude among young people are all driving a huge change that even the big food corporations are noticing.
posted by mumimor at 4:59 AM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


among the vegans I have known, the only annoyingly self-righteous ones were the same way about every other political issue they were into

QFT. It's almost as though it has nothing at all to do with their dietary restrictions.

I am an omnivore and an atheist, but veganism seems so obviously the most defensible ethical position that I've really never understood the need to argue for/against it. I generally just assume anyone arguing against has never spent any time thinking about where their food comes from, let alone visited a slaughterhouse or a chicken barn.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:12 AM on April 1, 2018


veganism seems so obviously the most defensible ethical position that I've really never understood the need to argue for/against it. I generally just assume anyone arguing against has never spent any time thinking about where their food comes from, let alone visited a slaughterhouse or a chicken barn.

That feels a little bit condescending to hunters, people who grew up and/or still live on farms, people who work within the industry to improve conditions for meat/dairy/egg-laying animals. It's also kind of all-or-nothing.

What would it mean if a person considered a variety of data and evidence, including visiting a slaughterhouse (or CAFO or chicken battery) and still came to a different conclusion?

Also worth noting is that most people who give these questions careful consideration and continue to eat meat and other animal products do deplore the living conditions of industrially produced meat. Thinking about this tends to push people in the direction of pastured meat / eggs / milk, in my experience.
posted by theorique at 4:20 PM on April 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


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