Yesterday, November 1st, was World Vegan Day, and dozens of Peta supporters staged….less a ‘protest’, more a ‘happening‘, in London’s Trafalgar Square, Peta being ‘People for the Ethical treatment of animals. I’m all for the ethical treatment of animals, and I’ve long been a vegetarian, but I’m certainly not vegan on the basis that I don’t see any essential non-ethical treatment of animals in the production of eggs or dairy products. Milk cows will largely be treated correctly, free-range hens treated correctly, although I’m certain vegans will produce evidence to the contrary. Thus, my diet will constitute dairy products and eggs.
Oddly, as a vegan diet won’t provide any adequate vitamin B12, vegans often have to ingest a synthesised version of the vitamin, a simple case of science having had to provide a solution to what nature can’t provide, and it undermines the argument (for me) that veganism is, thus, a natural diet. (Incidentally, on the same basis, I will avoid soya products where possible as a vegetarian: where’s the logic in creating artificial, processed products just so they can taste like bacon? Isn’t a bacon tasting product not made of bacon counter-intuitive? Shouldn’t vegetarianism be a whole different range of tastes, not just synthetic bacon tastes?)
Let’s keep this post on track, though.
A previous PETA protest highlights that 50 baths = 1 steak, referencing the huge amounts of water required to produce meat.
The event makes its way onto SLN because of the naked element of the protest, of course. As usual, the existence of bare skin has the capacity to turn something of a non-event (and I’m not singling out PETA’s protest yesterday -that’s a general observation of many protest events) into front page news. The naked body still holds that power.
But I’m slightly disturbed at an entry on Peta’s website which references Victoria Eisermann, voted ‘Europe’s Sexiest Vegetarian’ some years back. If we’re talking ‘ethics’, shouldn’t we be talking about the non-objectification of women as part of that ‘ethical treatment’ too? Doesn’t the existence of a ‘Sexiest Vegetarian’ poll point at some kind of ill-conceived animal equality? Most odd.
Ms Eisermann has said ‘you can’t be a meat eating environmentalist’. Wrong. Environmentalism is a broad church. It encompasses many forms, and being shoe-horned into a very narrow definition of environmentalism seems less about ethics, more about nature-fascism being espoused by someone probably munching synthetically produced vitamin supplements to stay healthy. (I wonder if she wears wool products. Wouldn’t sheep-shearing be a process that is traumatising to the sheep? Is it ethical to shear them for their wool?)
I ride a bike rather than drive a car, where possible, to aid the environment. We grow some of our own fruit and vegetables in a small plot in our garden for several reasons, such as the pleasure of tending them and watching them grow, the fact that we end up with naturally produced weirdly-shaped veg that the supermarkets discard (which is an enormous food waste on their part), the fact that we don’t use pesticides on them and that they resultantly taste better on the plate, and are fresh and seasonal. I won’t buy supermarket strawberries, which have been airlifted halfway across Europe, for a Christmas lunch. That logistical exercise is another stupid waste of the earth’s resources.
Equally, I won’t be finger-wagged at by someone saying that meat eaters, who may pursue the same policies as myself, aren’t environmentalists. All we can do is our own little bit.
Because SL doesn’t need us avatars to actually eat, there’s not many sims around where ‘vegetarianism’, or ‘veganism’ need to exist, but if you do a search you’ll find several in-world groups you can join that includes like-minded individuals, and I note there is a ‘Peta’ group presence within the game. I’d be confident that you would find well-educated avatars within those groups who will be more than happy to share information, links and so on about RL activism if you’re an SL player who likes (as many of us do) to link bits of their SL to our RL beliefs.
Despite my criticisms above, I’m still broadly in agreement with many of PETA’s aims, and one of their slogans, ‘I’d rather go naked than wear fur‘ makes perfect sense to me. In the 21st century, killing animals for their pelts, for fashion purposes, makes no sense whatsoever.