Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An Open Letter To Angry Vegetarians

About once a week I get an email or comment from the Animal Rights contingent. It is expected and usually I do not engage. I need to remember that when I published my first book I was a vegetarian raising a few laying hens and pet rabbits. Readers who knew me as the 25-year-old girl they read about (at the time just farm-curious and toying with the idea of homesteading) meet a very differnet woman on my current blog. To read that book and then pop into a blog where just seven years later that same vegetarian is raising hogs, lambs, and poultry for meat is unsettling and shocking to some readers. And so I get these notes from what I call the Angry Vegetarians. The folks who feel personally betrayed, not just for my change of diet but my change in ideas. Yesterday I was called a murderer. I've been called that many times, and in some emails, that is the nicest part of the correspondence.

The following is a letter to that Angry Vegetarian and to any others who may feel the same way. But before you read it please understand that this letter is not directed at the vegetarian diet in general. I have no qualms with it, at all. Millions of people avoid meat for religious, health-related, or various reasons of preference. This letter is not directed at them. This is a letter for the angry folks who think not eating meat makes them morally superior to those of us who do. 


Dear A.V. Club,

I recently received your note, the one that accused me of being a murderer. I understand why you are angry and I applaud your compassion. I understand because I was a vegetarian for nearly a decade, the same breed as yourself actually. Meaning; I chose the diet because of a love for animals, passion for conservation, and concern for our diminishing global resources. Avoiding meat seemed to be a kinder, gentler, and more ecological choice. I supported PETA. I had ads in Vegan magazines for my design website. I am no longer a vegetarian and do raise animals on my small farm for the table, but we have more in common than you may realize.

It would be foolish for me to try and change your mind about eating animals, and I have no interest in doing so. The vegetarian diet is a fine diet. We live in a time of great abundance and luxury, and that means choices! Never before in the history of the human animal have so many options for feeding ourselves been presented like they are now. If you want to eat a gluten-free, dairyless, low cholestoral, and mid-range protein diet based on whey extracted from antibiotic free Jersey Cows-  you can. Your great grandparents could not. There was no almond milk at the Piggly Wiggly and ration cards kinda ruined that conga line. But now there is so much food and your diet is as much a personal a choice as your religion and sexual activity, possibly even more personal. So understand I am not writing you this open letter because you don't eat meat. I'm writing you this letter because you called me a murderer.

Murder is a legal term, meaning the unlawful and premeditated act of taking a life, usually with malevolent intent. To call me a murderer is to imply that I broke the law and there is malice intended in my actions. When animals are harvested here for food, I assure you there is none. There is only gratitude, respect, and blessed relief. I do not enjoy taking animal lives and the bulk of my supposed premeditation include looking up recipes. I am not a murderer.

But I am a killer.

You are 100% correct. I kill animals. I raise chickens and rabbits from young fluffballs in the palms of my hands and mindfully bring them to the age of harvest when they are killed and stored for food. If I don't do the killing myself I hire a professional butcher to come to my farm and harvest the pigs I raised. I am also a licensed hunter in the state of New York, where I stalk deer and wild game of all sorts. I also do this with the intention of harvest. I am a killer for my table and I fully understand the seriousness of that statement. I also understand why you are disgusted by it. You are digusted because you see me as taking sentient lives when there are alternative choices as bloodless and innocent as the down on a muscovy duckling.

I know that I do not need to eat meat to survive, but I also know now that it is impossible for me to live without killing. It is impossible for you, too. I think this is the heart of our misunderstanding. This is why PETA and the FTCLDF are not working together to be one giant powerhouse for good and ending animal suffering. Most animal rights activists do not acknowledge (or perhaps are not aware) that every meal includes death. The simplest backyard salad from your own organic garden to the fake bacon in your shopping cart — both take lives. I have simply chosen to take lives in a way that causes the least amount of suffering and causes the least amount of wasted global resources. And yes, it means there is blood on my hands now.

I know that is hard to understand. It was hard for me, too.

I was a vegetarian and animal activist before I was a farmer, but that was all about passion for me and did not include much science. The only things I read about meat and the environment were based on giant corporate farms. I did not understand anything about ecology, biology, wilderness, and the personal responsibility of eating local. But what I really didn't understand was agriculture. I mean I was totally ignorant. I did not think about anything but ingredients on the package, never questioning the methods or politics behind them or the larger picture. As long as my dinner did not include animal flesh or animal products I was content in my righteousness. I was a pro-choice vegan. To be blunt, I didn't think things through.

The truth is there is no meal we can eat without killing. None. A trip to your local grocery store for tofu and spinach may not include a single animal product but the harvesting of such food costs endless animal lives. Growing fields of soy beans for commercial clients means removing habitat from thousands of wild animals, killing them through deforestation and loss of their home. Songbirds and insects are killed by pesticides at legion. Fertilizers are made from petroleum now, and those fields of tofu seeds are literally being sprayed with oil we are fighting wars over. Deer died for that tofu. Songbirds died. Men and women in battle died. And then when the giant tofu factory harvested the beans they ran over those chemical oil fields of faux-food with combines that rip open groundhogs, mice, and rabbits. Tear apart frogs and fledgling birds. It is a messy and bloody business making tofu or any of that other non-murderous food.

What about organic tofu and vegetables? That doesn't include chemical fertilizers and the companies are mindful? Right? Well, that is correct. But if you are not using oil to fertilize your crops then you are using organic material: manure, blood, bone, fish, etc. You may be a vegetarian but your vegetables are the most voracious of all carnivores. That small farm at your local green market needed to lay down a lot of swine blood, cow bone, and horse poop freeze-dried in bags marked "ORGANIC" to grow those carrots so big and sweet. Animals are an integral part of growing food for us, as food themselves or creating the materials that feed the earth. And the earth must be fed.

And let us not forget the miles on the road these vegetarian options must travel. That oil-free organic tofu sure needs a lot of diesel to get here to New York...

You can not ignore this. You can't call a small farmer a murderer and turn a blind eye to the groundhog ripped in two, the owl without a nest, or the blood spilled for oil halfway across the globe through military force. I mean, you can ignore it, of course you can. You can also search the internet for people killing pigs and call them names, but that doesn't make you right. There is nothing you or I eat that wasn't once alive save for some minerals. Plants and mushrooms are living things, just as alive as animals. And we take their lives wholesale and without regret. In the words of Joel Salatin,

" ...By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn't?"

Though I know you may not appreciate that quote. After all, Joel is a murderer, too.

I eat animals I raise myself because I want to eat local food that causes less animal suffering and empowers my local community. I live in upstate New York. A place where farming vegetables does not make sense. This is a far cry from southeast Asia or southern California. Our growing season is around 100 days. What we can grow here in bulk is grass, and by extension the meat that eats the grass. We can let hogs range our woods and eat grubs, vegetation, and nuts. We can buy local non-GMO feed grown by our neighbors and give our animals full lives, outdoors and on pasture! Eating meat here is eating in a way that respects our region's food shed.

We can graze our animals in ways that returns good nutrients to the soil and heal the earth. We can grow two or three harvests of those grasses and feed them to animals like sheep, cows, and goats all winter. This is what my part of the world eats if they are serious about saving the environment.  We can do this without using a lot of oil, close to home, and harvest the animals we know without driving to a store to waste gas, plastic bags, and pave another parking space. When I kill a chicken I end one life. A life I was present for, grateful for, and worked hard for. I have a hard time taking criticism seriously from someone who swipes a credit card for a bag of groceries they have convinced themselves is more righteous, having never weeded a row or hefted a bag of feed. A really hard time.

My "murdered" pigs were raised from babes, seen to several times a day, carefully tended and lived a life of ample space, porcine company, sunshine, mud puddles, and rooting their snoots in the dirt. They were raised with the help of a small village of folks who bought shares of the pigs to help pay for my livelihood. These people are counting on me to help them buy good food that isn't laced with antibiotics or factory farm atrocities. And while raising these pigs I purchased feed from neighbors raising non GMO field corn and soy, a rarity these days. I employed a small butcher and his staff to come to my farm so these pigs never have to be loaded into a truck and driven away to a slaughterhouse. They have had one bad day, one bad moment actually, and that moment surprised the hell out of them.

Eat in whatever way invokes respect and gratitude in your soul. Be grateful we live in this time of contrived and soon-to-be over luxury and abundance. But do not come to battle here, accusing those of us raising good meat of murder. Those are fighting words, unkind words, and for someone so intensely passionate about treating animals well you seem to have no issue treating human beings like crap. I'm an animal, too. I would appreciate some ethical treatment.

So, yes. I am a killer. I take lives and eat the flesh of sentient beings. I farm and fish. I hunt and stalk. I fully embrace this primal and beloved part of my person. I do this with great joy and appreciation, savoring every bite of effort, community, time, and grace those meals include. Each slice of bacon or bite of roasted chicken comes with a couple dozen faces of neighbors and friends. It comes with stories of carrying buckets in the rain, of catching escaped piglets, of never leaving for a vacation or even visiting my family for Christmas.

I am a solider for my soil, stationed here at these 6.5 acres to create mindful, healthy, food because I think it makes a better and more peaceful world. And that world is not found in the fake meat section of the grocery store, darling. Life is not a storybook where you get to ignore the fact that the Three Little Pigs boiled a wolf alive. Eating meat you raised means eating food infused with integreity, sweat, loyalty, determination, love, friendship, memories, loss, perserverance and respect.

And none of these things are ingredients you will find on a package of tofu no matter how close you look.

219 Comments:

Blogger Cat H said...

Bravo!! This is wonderfully written and right on the money. Having seen firsthand how all the animals on your farm are treated while alive and how quickly they meet their end I can attest that everything you say is the truth. Shame on those who point fingers and judge. They would do well to remember that when they point a finger there are four others pointing back at them.

July 15, 2014 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Mel Baker said...

Amen!!!!

July 15, 2014 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I never, ever tired of these sorts of posts from you. Say it loud and say it proud, sister!

July 15, 2014 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

yeah. these guys. hey at least you dont post graphic 'how to butcher' posts like me. you should have seen the note i got this weekend. i blamed it on the superbad moon. normally i tell them if they keep contacting me the next chicken/pig we butcher will be done in their name. *shrugs* weirdos. i keep wondering why do they keep coming by if they are only going to make themselves upset? oh well. onward.

July 15, 2014 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

ps at first i read this as Angry Veterinarians hee hee hee

July 15, 2014 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Say it, Girl. They neer think.

July 15, 2014 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger DarcC said...

Can I get an AMEN! I'm going to share the hell out of this post.

July 15, 2014 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Well said, well written.

July 15, 2014 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Coop Co-op said...

Beautifully said. The best response on the matter I've ever read. You have a multitude beside you that feels the same way. Thank you.

July 15, 2014 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thanks all! please do share this post if you agree! And there's an interesting conversation happening on my facebook as well

https://www.facebook.com/jenna.woginrich

July 15, 2014 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Karen C said...

So I'm moving more and more towards vegetarianism, but I really don't understand throwing stones at the small farmers who raise their own animals and do it as humanely as possible. Anyone who cares about animals should go after those that abuse animals needlessly, kill them inhumanely, and have no gratitude for the sacrifice that is made by animals.

July 15, 2014 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Desert Willow said...

Nicely stated. I have been a vegan & vegetarian but now prefer to call my style of food consumption as "mindful". I like to know where and how all this food arrives on the table. I see nothing wrong with raising chickens for meat and eggs or having a personal relationship with the person that raised them. Locally (small farm) raised livestock and produce takes the pressure off a taxed world. It's easy to have tunnel vision when beating the drum of veganism and animal rights, things get harder when you start examining the food system and the consequences of how things are grown. Honestly, would they rather have a block of tofu (organically grown and non GMO) at the cost of habitat destruction or and egg from one of my three hens loving tended, cared for and mindfully fed. Warm and fuzzy ideals aren't so pretty when the rose colored glasses come off and you look at the cold hard reality of how things work with eyes wide open.

July 15, 2014 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Thera said...

Another Bravo!

July 15, 2014 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thanks all!

July 15, 2014 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I am glad my vegetarian readers understood this was not an attack on their diet or choices, but at my offense at being called a murderer.

Eat however you want, but if you are angry about animal suffering there's more ammunition for your disgust in the freezer section of your grocer than there is here on this blog. A lot more.

July 15, 2014 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Sammy Q said...

I totally giggled at this post and am in complete agreeance (I know it's not a word but it should be way moreso than "selfie" :: shudder ::) with you!! Well said and aptly written. My hat's off to you Miss! I laud what you do and hope to one day do the same :D... Can't wait to visit!

July 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM  
OpenID rawketstarling said...

PREACH, sister! LOVE it. Fantastically logical--I love how you called people out for their hypocrisy. Bravo, bravo.

July 15, 2014 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Alli R said...

Your animals (and all those raised and harvested with such care and dedication) are the lucky ones! I agree one's diet is an intensely personal choice, though I wouldn't equate it to sexuality as I don't think that is a choice. Keep up the good work because we need farmers like you who dedicate themselves to responsible animal husbandry!

July 15, 2014 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Laura Stephens said...

This is beautiful Jenna! Thank you for a respectful, but very informative and clear description of how the local food system is the responsible and adult way of eating.

July 15, 2014 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger margaret minetti said...

love the part about the organic manure with bones, flesh etc!!! all true, you tell sister!!!

July 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Bravo Jenna!
I always think of the folks that will not eat a cow or venison due to them being cute, but have no problem with fish or chicken (although my chickens are pretty dang adorable!) I guess only the pretty ones count.
I've been meaning to get your new book, in spite of my lean budget; this post just garnered you a sale. Where do you recommend I get it?

July 15, 2014 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger live pura vida said...

This is so well written and with such passion. Much of what you have written here is part of why I want to learn to hunt. One deer I'd take from the forest and can thank for its sacrifice after a life well lived would save how much meat purchased at the store? It bothers me that we can choose the right fish, the free range eggs or the humanely raised and slaughtered chickens from the market, but it still keeps us very detached from our food. Sure it may be somewhat painful to experience the death of an animal you have raised since birth or close to it (even knowing from the beginning that was its destiny), but I think that's a good thing. It keeps us in check a little bit - not over-consuming meat. But I bet it helps people grow. When you garden and farm, raise animals and cook for yourself, you're holding onto those skills so many Americans are losing as fast as they can make it through a fast food drive-thru. And it's so very true the costs that are not accounted for when someone buys even a tomato at the grocery store. How much damage was caused by growing that pesticide-laden tomato, picked before peak ripeness and trucked across the country? "Who cares" is the normal attitude, but that cost is so very high. Just as you say, vegans and vegetarians aren't innocent just because they're not supporting the meat industry. Thanks for being a voice of reason and spreading some sense to those who are hiding from reality.

July 15, 2014 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger ddu said...

Brava. This vegetarian admires your sanity and your poised, gracious response. You be you, Jenna. Best wishes.

July 15, 2014 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger MIB said...

Amen and hallelujah!

July 15, 2014 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

Yes, yes, yes and thank you!

July 15, 2014 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger jack mattke said...

who is not a killer? surely not these murderer critics!

to walk, talk, breathe, pay with cash or credit card is to kill---they know that and choose to continue.

they have no standing to cast stones, except at themselves.

July 15, 2014 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger LM Hed said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

This is a little off topic but I am getting hounded by members of my husbands family about my rabbits. Mine just kindled last week and I keep getting comments like "your not going to eat those poor little things are you?" This is from people who have no problem eating their poultry and pork that get sent by truck to get processed.

July 15, 2014 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Sharon Smiley said...

I am speechless! You have rationally exposed the the fault in zealot thinking. Thank you!!! You are amazing.

July 15, 2014 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Nancy po said...

Excellent post! I have really changed my mind about small scale meat production over the years. I thought I would NEVER want to raise my own meats. When I move somewhere bigger I probably will. And really there isn't "so much food" with droughts hitting harder every growing season nationally. At some point folks may not be able to buy expensive meat substitutes. Bean will work though :) Anyway, great ideas, as there's always a cost for things, no matter how you slice it (excuse the pun)...

July 15, 2014 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Sharon Smiley said...

I am speechless! You have rationally exposed the fault in zealot thinking. Thank you! You are amazing.

July 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger Ali Hammons said...

I whole heartedly respect all beliefs of the eating world. I am no one to say what someone chooses or doesn't choose to eat. I however, am glad that someone is standing up to those angry vegetarians. Such anger, such misguidance, such arrogance is too much for this world. We don't need it. Not even those sharing their anger with us. I appreciate and respect you sharing your letter with us. It was very to the point and honest. Well said.

July 15, 2014 at 5:46 PM  
Blogger jacquieknits.com said...

I wouldn't have bothered. I would be concerned for my safety though. A fanatic is a fanatic. Trying to engage them in conversation only prolongs the connection.

Please be safe.

July 15, 2014 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Ian Kleinfeld said...

What an amazingly articulate, kind, and passionate response. You could have ignored them, you could have gone off on them. Instead, you crafted your integrity on the page in a way that the sanctimonious could never do. And thanks to my seeing this on Facebook, you now have another follower. Cheers!

July 15, 2014 at 6:17 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Wonderful and well thought out response to an ignorant comment. People are so quick to judge others with out being informed. thank you for taking the time to write out your response for all to be encouraged by.

July 15, 2014 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Amen and Amen. And dear name-caller: Stop raining on other people's parades simply because they don't look like yours. We all see the world through our own soda-straws.

July 15, 2014 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

Thank you for re-articulating and reaffirming our stance on how to live and eat rightly in our world. I have a friend who is a wildlife rehabbed and strident vegan, and it can be really hard to hear her point of view and know how to respond respectfully and honestly. Mostly I keep my mouth shut, I guess. I admire the hell out of her passion and her commitment to her beliefs. She really lives it. But like you said, I think our points of view are closer than they seem. There is more than one way to stop supporting horrific factory farming of meat.
So, as someone who is fed by the work that you do, literally and figuratively, thank you for this. And thank you for doing this in spite of the ugly emails you will no doubt receive as a result.
Elizabeth from the Berkshires

July 15, 2014 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Joan Hobbs said...

Very thoughtful post. I can totally respect the "wonderful life and then one bad day" ethic in animal husbandry. I totally respect small farmers who give their blood, sweat and tears day in, day out.

On the other hand, 26 years ago my then-boyfriend-now husband told me why he was a vegetarian. He said, "I can't kill it myself. I don't think I ought to ask someone to kill it for me." That resonated with me.

For people who choose to eat meat, I hope more of them start thinking like you, start supporting small family farms and stop buying stuff shrink-wrapped at the grocery store. For me? My adopted pig is four years old. I scratch him behind the ears and give him treats just my dog. We will grow old together.

July 15, 2014 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Tony Zebrowski said...

I feel like I am being shamed in a way for lacking the privilege of being able to participate in this wonderful circle of life above. The most salient point in this post was that humans should be treated humanely, too. As a former vegetarian, freegan, and forager, I now have an education a career and a home. I don't see how my city dwelling lifestyle can practically participate. I buy organic and local but it still comes grocery sacks. I'm still angry. I'm angry that I can't wave a wand and make people have a heart and care for every living thing. I will die and so will the compassion in my heart, my only hope is to spread this love of all living things. It's so crazy to blame a farmer for farming, but realize so many of us want that but can't have it please consider in the future that people who are angry with you are in a way asking for help. You may not think you are the one to help them but a post like this makes me think you could do a better job than I ever did so I encourage you to further develop what you started here, and perhaps take my initial point to heart. Thank you.

July 15, 2014 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Ellamama said...

you are awesome. right on.

July 15, 2014 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger John Harrington said...

Where are the angry vegetarians in the comments?

I see a lot of hostility toward vegetarians, no angry vegetarians. Are you removing their comments in moderation?

July 15, 2014 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

No Sir, no comments were removed. I have not received any angry comments yet. but I will soon as it hits Huffpo.

July 15, 2014 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

the recent post where this was (and the angry veg comment) was in this post.

http://coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com/2013/01/happy-pigs-good-deaths.html

July 15, 2014 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Knytling said...

I've been a vegetarian for over 30 years for all the reasons you mentioned in your post. I have no problem with people like you eating meat, but I see the incredible waste a lot of meat eaters create. As long as I can't raise my own animals, I will not eat any, but I manage to have some veggies in my very small backyard, as well as 3 laying hens. Most my food comes from the farmer's market and very little is bought at the grocery store. I enjoy reading your blog and will continue to do so.

July 15, 2014 at 11:07 PM  
OpenID cathmiller said...

Perfect!

I haven't eaten meat for over 30 years, as I don't like it, it doesn't agree with me, I don't like intensive agriculture and I personally couldn't kill something to eat - I can't even fish or kill spiders.

BUT, my dog and partner both eat meat. We have just got a small flock of meat sheep and my dairy goats were bred to meat goats and the offspring will all go to a local butcher to feed others. I can already see the beneficial impact of having sheep strip graze the pasture while fertilizing it and the manure from the goats and horses fuel our food growing.

We grow a lot of our own vegies and have chickens for eggs, but my almonds, walnuts and cashew often come from California to Australia (more Australian nuts are available now) my dates from the middle east and the (oh so fashionable) goji berries mainly come from china. My raw organic cacao/cocoa and mesquite come from Peru and of course my maple syrup comes from Canada -all brought over 12000 miles to here by fossil fuels.

Militant veganism is a fad fuelled by an era of "plenty" and the luxury of living in a rich western society. No-one living on the edge of subsistence would knock back the nutrition offered my meat and dairy. The complacency of western civilization offers choices not available to much of the world population.

July 15, 2014 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Tried photosynthesis?

July 15, 2014 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Helen K said...

I,too, am a small farmer. Just getting started with my amazing daughter who after being able to choose and do anything in this world decided on farming, homemaking, and rearing an amazing daughter herself. This piece is wonderful and very well stated. I applaud you for such a wonderful writing talent!

July 16, 2014 at 12:34 AM  
Blogger Tiffanyk10 said...

I'm applauding you all the way from southern California!

July 16, 2014 at 2:16 AM  
Blogger aart said...

Brava!! Well said.

Tho you can't fix fanaticism, even arguing with it really is a waste of energy.

Saw a FB 'quote' the other day that resonated:

'Don't try to explain yourself to stupid people. You're not the Jackass Whisperer'

July 16, 2014 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger Westfarm Goat Mom said...

I applaud your eloquent wording. Education is the best defense.

July 16, 2014 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Greg T. Jeffers said...

I am very taken by people that can express their outrage soooo civilly. I will strive to take instruction from the writer.

Great post.

July 16, 2014 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Greg T. Jeffers said...

I am very taken by people that can express their outrage soooo civilly. I will strive to take instruction from the writer.

Great post.

July 16, 2014 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Shelley said...

Well said, Jenna. Keep up the good work.

July 16, 2014 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger dwr said...

Well said!

July 16, 2014 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

When the angry people can stop wasting their energy on changing the rest of the world by injecting negative vibes and use that energy towards good, what a wonderful world it would be!

It was one your your old posts that pointed me to "The Secret"....I want to remind you to keep all your energy focused on your own goals....your writing rises above most others, your lifestyle envied so don't let the small percentage of "bad apples" become anything but sweet cider.

Peace Jenna....I hope you don't let their negativity ruin any part of your spirit.

July 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM  
OpenID burlesquebutcher said...

Great piece! I experienced something similar (I'm a hobby butcher who works with meat in my performance art). Thought you might enjoy my response to the "angry vegans" (so funny we both called them "angry"): http://burlesquebutcher.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/attacked/

July 16, 2014 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger Dan Moore said...

I couldn't write anything this well written if I spent a month on it. With that being said, I'm blatantly reposting it for our farm blog (with a link to yours, full credit, etc, of course) so that I don't loose this wonderful bit of writing when militant vegetarians show up at my door.

July 16, 2014 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

What a fabulous post! You pinpoint exactly why I am about to take the plunge from being a vegetarian to raising my own meat. And I'm counting on your small freezer meat farming workshop to help me make this transition!

July 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Barb-Central Texas said...

Very well said!

July 16, 2014 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger olyfarmstead said...

Can I just tattoo this on my body?

"Eat in whatever way invokes respect and gratitude in your soul. Be grateful we live in this time of contrived and soon-to-be over luxury and abundance. But do not come to battle here, accusing those of us raising good meat of murder. Those are fighting words, unkind words, and for someone so intensely passionate about treating animals well you seem to have no issue treating human beings like crap. I'm an animal, too. I would appreciate some ethical treatment."

July 16, 2014 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger grossmismanager said...

So your defense against the "murderer" charge is "yes, I kill with forethought when I want to eat a sentient being, but there aren't any laws against that so I'm technically not a 'murderer'?"

I grew up in upstate New York and spent much of my childhood on a family farm – where, by the way, vegetables grew quite well, thank you. Seeing animals raised only to be killed and eaten made me give up meat nearly 50 years ago. It wasn't easy, back then, to be a vegetarian – but these days there's no reason to kill animals (no matter how much you strive to make sure they have just "one bad day") in order to eat.

Are vegetarians somehow to blame if the truck that delivers their tofu to market runs on fossil fuel (dead dinosaurs!) and accidentally hits a deer that runs into the road and the lights at the store itself are powered by a coal-fired plant producing emissions that kill birds? I don't think so – and I don't see why it isn't possible/desirable to try to reduce or eliminate those deaths AND not kill animals because you think they're tasty.

As for the notion that without stirring animal blood and bones into the soil, vegetables can't thrive, I have a one-word answer. Suffice it to say that word is also a potent fertilizer, but doesn't provide a rationalization for killing a sentient being.

July 16, 2014 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Kelly Jean said...

Hi! Thanks for this! Everyone is sharing it on facebook today :). Your points are so well thought out, and the letter is phrased kindly and intelligently. I grew up in Kingsbury, NY. It is beautiful there. This is a wonderful letter! There are a couple tiny grammatical errors at the end there, in case nobody had mentioned. They in no way take away from the message though. Thanks for writing it!

July 16, 2014 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Bulldogma said...

Great post! I just raised a flock of very spoiled, free ranged meat birds... I gave them a good life and then I killed them to feed my family. I would rather eat meat from animals that have not had to endure factory farming conditions... but I WON'T stop eating meat.
I will be sharing!
Leigh
From:
Natural Chicken Keeping

July 16, 2014 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger sandalfoot said...

Wow!

July 16, 2014 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger Cynthia Huber said...

I have a great garden and my fertilizer is SEAWEED, not bone or blood. THX, but there are many ways to do as little hard as possible, I choose this path.

July 16, 2014 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger caronah said...

Native Americans worshipped the buffalo because it provided sustenance and that is the proper attitude. Respecting the animals that provide food is the right thing to do. There will always be militants. Pay them no mind. They just need publicity.

July 16, 2014 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Wendy Rogers said...

That was so wonderfully said it made me cry. thankyou Jenna, from a fellow female homesteader in northern Minnesota. Your best writing! I buy and read all your books. Its wonderful to read about your life's journey. Keep up the very important good work.
Wendy

July 16, 2014 at 8:57 PM  
OpenID ecosenseliving said...

Perfectly said, and it really relates to our journey. We say thanks to every animal we eat, we knew them, and remember them, and usually we cried and had anxiety over them. We never waste a morsel of them, as that would be disrespectful. We don't overindulge in them. Thanks

July 16, 2014 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Tammy Smith said...

I used to be nearly vegan for years.. now i hunt, fish and butcher chickens. one question i've never heard a good answer to is what happens to animals if we all stopped eating them? Neuter some and keep them in zoos? Let the rest what? Overpopulate until they die out from disease or starve? I never had an answer for that either. So i choose to join in the natural food chain in the most humane way i can. We're all going to die someday.

July 16, 2014 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Ruben said...

Wonderful, thank you.

Some of my own thoughts tangential to this:

"My eyes welled up as I took the first bite. I believe our world would be healthier if we saw ourselves as part of nature, not above it—but abstract thoughts like that are made up of many little specifics, and I felt bad for taking that deer’s life."

I don’t want salvation.

July 16, 2014 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I was a devout vegetarian for 15 years, and then I went to work on a farm and saw that death is a part of life. For really real, not just in theory or in books. No matter how hard you try, no matter how passionate you are, no matter how painful it is to see or experience, death will happen to every living organism that is ever born. When I became a vegetarian it felt "wrong" to eat an animal I couldn't kill myself. Now I feel it's "wrong" for me to pretend that I believe death is the same as dishonor. If it's going to happen (and it is, because we don't get to control the universe), I choose to participate in it in a way that makes me feel whole. To me that means focusing on the quality of life for those animals that sustain me & be grateful for it. And I feel much healthier inside & out now - but that's just me. As you pointed out, not every person has that luxury of choice. I, for one, am just grateful we're having this conversation and all thumbs up to you for living an authentic life and respecting everyone's right to do the same, even when that means we don't all agree. When I was vegetarian, ex-vegetarians annoyed me more than the ignorant a-holes who just thought it was funny to make fun of my morals. Now I can admit why! It hurts to listen to one of your own tribe "betray" the cause, especially when they are eloquent, intelligent, and mindful while doing so. You are living the life you believe in, with passion, respect & honesty. Rock on, sister!

July 17, 2014 at 12:20 AM  
Blogger George Michael Anderson said...

I don't mind vegans and vegetarians as long as they keep the self-righteousness out of my face.

July 17, 2014 at 6:08 AM  
Blogger Lilac Hill said...

Wow, great post.

July 17, 2014 at 6:52 AM  
OpenID juniper76 said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective and knowledge! (You may want to fix the double negative in the last sentence though...)

July 17, 2014 at 8:03 AM  
OpenID amberrains said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective and knowledge! (You may want to fix the double negative in the last sentence though...)

July 17, 2014 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger JD Rhoades said...

Well written, but I'm into the whole brevity thing, so I would have just gone with "go fuck yourselves."

July 17, 2014 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

I am with Joan Hobbs; the words of her husband are the exact same ones that found me, at 16, a vegetarian. For twenty years, I remained one, until I finally decided that I had no problem with eating fish and became a pescetarian. Ideally, I'd live someplace I could responsibly fish and grow my own food, but I don't live in an ideal world, so I do what I feel I can.

July 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Heather Jackson said...

Beautifully written! We processed a batch of chickens 2 weeks ago and sent 2 pigs to the butcher yesterday. It was done with a heavy heart, but it was the right thing to do and they were pampered until the very end.

July 17, 2014 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Qi said...

Brilliant and appreciated by someone living much as you. I sent this to Upworthy. Hope they will consider it. But alas they just promoted a video talk about how we all should be vegetarian.

I have experienced this too, having a similar life to the author, and the angry shaming was in person. I had to leave my church over it because it was totally tolerated. And I have medical reasons to support my choices too. There are literally millions of people in the USA alone who medically could not survive on a vegetarian/vegan diet. And the science of environment is already in, and again the eating of animals by humans is a necessary part. A very scary, yet seemingly acceptable prejudice.

July 17, 2014 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger MT said...

Read this yesterday and all I can say is, "right on!" I was a vegetarian for many years and had the same epiphany once I started learning and listening and not running my mouth. Thank you for this fair, smart and level-headed post. Good on ya.

July 17, 2014 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Transmogrifier said...

Let me preface my comment by saying I am a vegetarian. I largely agree with your post and do not think you are a murderer.

But I do have some thought about some of the content of your post. You cite concerns that farmland for growing Soy bean for making Tofu destroys wildlife habitat. That is true. But most of the agricultural land is currently being utilized for livestock feed. Most of soy grown is fed to livestock and doesn't go towards making tofu! Most of corn similarly goes into either making fuel or livestock feed. So increasing meat consumption is more to blame for the habitat loss than increasing number of vegetarians or even angry vegetarians.

The truth is current per capita meat consumption is supported solely through industrialized animal farming which is extremely inefficient and wasteful not to mention cruel in it's treatment of animals. Sustainable animal farming, like you practice, **alone** cannot support current demand for meat. If industrial farming is eliminated tomorrow, that will be the end of all the cheap big Macs and McChicken nuggets and per capita consumption will come down in the face of rising prices. However people are used to cheap meat and so industrial animal farming continues to grow and keeps driving the habitat loss and other negative externalities.

So while the points you make are valid, in the current scenario, reducing (if not totally eliminating) meat consumption will have a larger impact towards preventing the loss of wildlife habitat, fertilizer use, fertilizer and waste run-off in rivers, greenhouse gas emissions from animal waste and reducing the unwanted suffering of animals on industrial farms.

July 17, 2014 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Asami Soru said...

Killing animals is currently not illegal, but neither was human slavery at one point. "Angry Vegetarians" are so because they see grave injustices happening.


"Privilege of domination:

the socially-sanctioned and often even legally-protected prerogative of one group to exert arbitrary control over members of another group, often in the context of some widespread form of exploitation. This term helps distinguish those forms of domination that are socially deviant, such as kidnapping and confining another citizen, from those that receive broad support. For example, during the era of human slavery in the US, especially in slaveholding states, the utter domination of enslaved people was considered "normal" and was protected under the law. Similarly, the use and killing of animals for many purposes is now legally protected and for the most part socially-accepted, making this situation one of inherent privilege for those in the dominant group. In many cases, the privilege of domination is the gateway to financial gain through exploitation of those being dominated, as in the case of human exploitation of nonhuman animals."

Just because you CAN kill doesn't mean you should. Plants do not have a central nervous system so cannot feel pain or fear. I haven't seen any reports on the destruction that vegetarians are incurring but I have seen many about the damage caused by meat-based diets. A local organic vegan diet is kindest for animals, your health, and for the survival of the planet.

July 17, 2014 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

This discussion is great! And per Transmog, he is right that much land growing grains and beans is going to feed the factory farm system. All the more reason to support pasture and grass-based agriculture!

July 17, 2014 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Donna Boyce said...

Amen sister!

July 17, 2014 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Alamar Kote said...

Human society is always going to be the kind of specie that LOVE to indulge him/ herself into intellectual reasonings as to "why I choose what I do". In this case, this is not new! According to you, We are all murders right from our birth, so happily killing animals to eat is so natural, right?! I am just glad there are not more of you out there because that will be one more reason why this entire human specie should be wiped out completely, and entirely!

July 17, 2014 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger orchidgrrl nyc said...

A wonderful essay! Recently I saw an article about how cattle grazing is helping preserve some crucial grassland wildlife habitats in California by manuring and aerating the land. Monoculture based on pesticides and chemicals is killing EVERYTHING, wildlife and humans alike. If all meat animals were ethically raised, not everyone could afford as much of it as they can now, but that's not a terrible thing either! (And I would rather we use all parts of the animal, like leather and bone, rather than use MORE oil creating plastic shoes and bags!)

July 17, 2014 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger Carlos Umaña said...

Meat eaters are indeed victims, yes, not not of "angry vegetarians", though, but rather, of a system that shoves the need for meat down their throats (basically either for the "protein" or for the "taste"). Her arguments are stupid at best (plants need animal carcasses in their soil? really, that's all you got??). The "non-GMO" corn and soy this mother Teresa gave her beloved piglets before she ever so humanely turned them into porkchops could have well gone to feed many human children directly (without having to go through all the inevitable carbon/methane/water pollution inevitably involved in raising "meat"). The truth of the matter is that non-vegans are selfish. They consume up to 20 times the resources vegans do (regardless of whether they're angry or not) while polluting the planet, killing innocent, sentient beings and affecting their own health.

July 17, 2014 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger pablo paz said...

Amen… I was raised a farm boy, and tho i eat economically, locally and low on the food chain, i am happy to eat everything that is raised sanely and compassionately. Most of all, i am tired of self-righteousness --especially of those who have no clue how it really works. Thanks for putting it into clear words.

July 17, 2014 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger The Friggin' Immigrant said...

"as much a personal a choice as your religion and sexuality..."
Religion as a personal choice, yes. Sexuality as a personal choice, I truly don't know for certain; but I am reminded that LGBT people have never said that they chose to be that way... that is my only complaint regarding an article that otherwise was completely and totally awesome and well-written.

July 17, 2014 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

That is a very good point and not what I meant at all. I meant sexual activity, not sexuality. I do not think you can help who you love. well said and will change!

July 17, 2014 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Adam Bacon said...

This is the best argument I've heard on this subject from someone yet. Excellent!

July 17, 2014 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Excellent. Very well said. Thank you.

July 18, 2014 at 1:18 AM  
Blogger grahamjanz said...

Although you didn't make a convincing argument for the differentiation between the two terms "murderer" and "killer" (the words are synonymous of one another, and dismissing your opponent’s word choice as a legal term implies that people can't make moral judgements independent of state government. It doesn't makes a difference either way, but I'm glad to read that you treat your animals with respect and I believe your words on this. I also understand you are responding to personal attacks. People will dislike you no matter what. Vegetarians are ridiculed on a daily basis, which could be the cause of these outbursts of repressed vegetarian angst, and I think it's absolutely uncalled for), I do agree with you that everyone should be growing and consuming locally as much as possible.

The real issue is making locally grown produce (and land, for that matter) more accessible and to shake the stigma some people have towards locally grown food. I live in an agricultural community and have come from a long line of old school small scale farmers whose land, because of the my immediate family's disinterestedness in the location and in farming, has been purchased and subsumed by wealthy large-scale industrial farmers who plant monoculture crops of canola, corn, flax, wheat, et cetera and export all of it. And not only that, they drain the wetlands in the fields and tear down the trees of the homestead. They could produce more than enough food for the local communities (even without draining and clear cutting, which, enhanced by climate change is causing massive flooding right now); the city itself is home to about 50,000 people, but it isn't in the interest of many of them to sell locally or in the interest of the citizens to purchase local food. Purchasers expect local food to be much less expensive due to the fact that is it local, and in doing so fail to consider the additional effort these farmers have taken to make their produce organic and wholesome, or the impact importing fruits and vegetables from 3000 to 5000 kms away has on our environment, for that matter. There are a few market garden farmers in the city growing a variety of vegetables and meats, but they can not produce enough food to supply all 50,000 people plus the surrounding communities.

Buying property is very expensive and not everyone who wants to has the means to do it. Even looking at a small parcel, such as 6.5 acres, which laws will require that the land is developed, is going to cost an upwards of $250,000 (house included), at least where I live; whereas it's more likely that parcels will be sold in quarter section plots (160 acres), which will cost an upwards of $450,000. Otherwise available land may be in a suburban setting where laws demand certain landscape designs and forbid the presence of livestock (still, a suburban home costs an upwards of $300,000). You are fortunate to have land and support yourself.

We need to challenge existing laws that forbid efficient use of land and make local food more accessible by educating and convincing people to utilize their land for the good of themselves and their community, especially people in the suburbs who have the largest patches of useless lawns.

July 18, 2014 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Mrs.Haggie810 said...

This article is wonderful. To the haters in the comments 1. It doesn't matter if it's the vegans/vegetarians "faults" that the trucks use fossil fuel to deliver their items...it matters that you can choose to do something about. Saying that you are right because the things that are wrong with your point of view aren't your fault, is a very weak argument.

I love the argument about "if we all stopped eating meat tomorrow what would happen to all the animals." We are all going to die, and we are all part of the food chain. We need to do the best we can, to do our part well.

2. Yes, the corn, soy beans, peas, etc could have been fed to "hungry children" just as easily as meat, but the meat is a better quality protein, and also provides essential fats and nutrients that you don't get from those vegetables alone. Being really healthy on a vegetarian/vegan diet is possible, but rather difficult, and expensive. I have a garden, but I live on a half acre, that I rent...trying to grow enough vegetables to sustain my family of 7 on a vegetarian diet, is very difficult, if not impossible, and we just can't afford to buy all the things we need to have a complete vegan/vegetarian diet. Even if we could though...I believe we are omnivores, and being omnivores best serves our health. I also believe that if you can't kill the meat yourself (not saying you HAVE to raise, it, I know that's not possible for everyone) but if you couldn't do it, if you needed to, then you shouldn't be eating meat. My mother once said to me that she didn't know how I could raise birds for meat, and that it was just mean, and wrong. I asked her where she thought her meat in the grocery store came from and told her that I was happy that at least my birds were enjoying a much better life...she kind of agreed but still said it was just "mean." I told her she shouldn't eat meat then, and she didn't really love that. lol.

But I digress. Great, well written response! I applaud you, and I will be sharing as well! :)

July 18, 2014 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger kwalk said...

Hot damn, girl! You're my hero, Jenna. What a beautifully written letter.

July 18, 2014 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Colin Wright said...

Do you think it's wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals?

100% of the suffering and death we intentionally inflict on nonhuman animals is unnecessary. 99.99% of that is in the matter of "food" alone. However, the ways in which we exploit nonhuman animals are numerous and go far beyond the mere production of "food."

In regards to the subject of morality, human animals are not superior to nonhuman animals. This means that there is no way to morally justify the intentional, unnecessary exploitation of nonhumans by humans without also morally justifying the intentional, unnecessary exploitation of humans by other humans. If you personally are against nonhumans having the right to be safe from being enslaved, raped, tortured or killed by humans then that means you have no claim that you yourself should be safe from having those same things done to you by other humans.

In addition, animals are sentient. Each individual animal has an interest in it's own continued survival and freedoms. If we claim that nonhuman animals matter morally, as most of us seem to do, how can we morally justify unnecessarily harming even one individual animal? And yet, each year, we intentionally kill around 60 billion nonhuman land animals and upwards of 1 TRILLION aquatic nonhumans (that's 1,000,000,000,000) for no other reason than our pleasure, amusement or convenience. Every single one of those nonhumans can feel pain, pleasure, fear, happiness, and many other sensations and emotions that humans do.

Not only is there no dietary requirement for flesh, dairy or eggs, but the consumption of those substances is the majority cause of chronic disease in humans. The production of those substances for "food" is the majority cause of all environmental destruction caused by humans as well.

All the worst infectious diseases have also been linked to the domestication of various nonhuman animals in the past. And we are creating worse and worse new infectious diseases in factory farms right now. Moreover, the consumption of animal substances as "food" both facilitates the contraction of infectious diseases and prolongs and exacerbates the symptoms of those diseases.

The intentional exploitation of nonhumans by humans is also directly and/or indirectly the cause of all the human rights problems we now face.

If we claim that animals matter morally, even the tiniest amount, then the only logical course of action is to stop exploiting them in any way. Not stopping means that we do not have the courage of our own convictions, and that we believe in irrational, subjective personal opinion and not objective fact. To stop exploiting animals for any reason means Abolitionist Veganism.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism, go here:

http://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

July 18, 2014 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Colin Wright said...

Do you think it's wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals?

100% of the suffering and death we intentionally inflict on nonhuman animals is unnecessary. 99.99% of that is in the matter of "food" alone. However, the ways in which we exploit nonhuman animals are numerous and go far beyond the mere production of "food."

In regards to the subject of morality, human animals are not superior to nonhuman animals. This means that there is no way to morally justify the intentional, unnecessary exploitation of nonhumans by humans without also morally justifying the intentional, unnecessary exploitation of humans by other humans. If you personally are against nonhumans having the right to be safe from being enslaved, raped, tortured or killed by humans then that means you have no claim that you yourself should be safe from having those same things done to you by other humans.

In addition, animals are sentient. Each individual animal has an interest in it's own continued survival and freedoms. If we claim that nonhuman animals matter morally, as most of us seem to do, how can we morally justify unnecessarily harming even one individual animal? And yet, each year, we intentionally kill around 60 billion nonhuman land animals and upwards of 1 TRILLION aquatic nonhumans (that's 1,000,000,000,000) for no other reason than our pleasure, amusement or convenience. Every single one of those nonhumans can feel pain, pleasure, fear, happiness, and many other sensations and emotions that humans do.

Not only is there no dietary requirement for flesh, dairy or eggs, but the consumption of those substances is the majority cause of chronic disease in humans. The production of those substances for "food" is the majority cause of all environmental destruction caused by humans as well.

All the worst infectious diseases have also been linked to the domestication of various nonhuman animals in the past. And we are creating worse and worse new infectious diseases in factory farms right now. Moreover, the consumption of animal substances as "food" both facilitates the contraction of infectious diseases and prolongs and exacerbates the symptoms of those diseases.

The intentional exploitation of nonhumans by humans is also directly and/or indirectly the cause of all the human rights problems we now face.

If we claim that animals matter morally, even the tiniest amount, then the only logical course of action is to stop exploiting them in any way. Not stopping means that we do not have the courage of our own convictions, and that we believe in irrational, subjective personal opinion and not objective fact. To stop exploiting animals for any reason means Abolitionist Veganism.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism, go here:

http://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

July 18, 2014 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger Colin Wright said...

The idea that we cannot eliminate all unintentional suffering and death in existence and so we should just choose to inflict intentional suffering and death in a "better way" is called The Nirvana Fallacy:

http://www.veganise.me/vegan-faq-4-arent-vegans-hypocrites

There is no moral justification for being non-Vegan.

Human animals are not morally superior to nonhuman animals. This means that any argument you use to attempt to morally justify humans intentionally exploiting nonhuman animals can also be used by other humans to justify exploiting you. This further means that since you are not acting in a morally consistent manner (because you are against nonhumans having the right to be safe from being exploited by you), that any human who wants to exploit you is justified in doing so, using the exact same arguments that you use to justify exploiting others.

If we claim to want to live in a world where human slavery, rape, torture or murder are decreased as much as possible, we logically must first accord nonhuman animals the right to be free from those things:

http://supremacymyth.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/anatomy-of-the-supremacy-myth-animal-rights-argument

http://supremacymyth.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/the-golden-rule-in-animal-rights-argument-2

Learn about Veganism:
http://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

July 18, 2014 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Colin and other vegan friends:

I respect your choices and your lifestyle, but I am not interested in a non-violent life any more than I am interested in living a violent life. As a human animal we do not choose to be one or the other, we just make choices. Our choices can create more or less violence in this world, more unrest, and more trouble.

I am not a pacifist in any form. If someone tries to hurt me, I will defend myself. When Thanksgiving comes or one of the big eight holidays, I celebrate with meals I grew on my farm.

I am not interested in becoming a vegetarian or vegan again, though perhaps some of my readers are and I thank you for the resources.

July 18, 2014 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Also Colin, you gave me a chuckle since your profile image is a guy in armor weilding a hammer :)

July 18, 2014 at 2:46 PM  
OpenID berkshireporker said...

Another veggie who agrees. Very well written article. I would love to run a smallholding but lack the funds (and the balls!) - one day maybe, but for now find vegetarianism the best way to be mindful (word totally stolen from another blog reader, but it's great!).

July 18, 2014 at 2:59 PM  
OpenID berkshireporker said...

Also a note to Colin et al. - we wouldn't exist as a species if we didn't eat meat; it's perfectly natural and has nothing at all to do with supremacy!

July 18, 2014 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Tasha Bird said...

I was a vegetarian for 15 years, a sort of an asshole self righteous kind. In my defense I was hungry, haha! But, I was trying to do the right thing, I just had the wrong information. I now hunt often and look forward to the day I can raise animals of my own. Soon! Thank you for very accurately describing my sentiments and my very similar journey.
Bless you Soil Soldier!
Tasha

July 18, 2014 at 3:51 PM  
OpenID jaidemoon said...

Thank you now I have a spot I can send those who yell at me for not being vegan :)

July 18, 2014 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Tea Party Democrat said...

Ooohh Jenna this is wonderful. Although I have a few things to say about Soybeans and Tofu, and I would like your permission to repost the full text of this on http://www.7el.us

-- Vegan Soybean farmer Troy

July 18, 2014 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Robert Grillo said...

In the last several years, a number of scholarly and non scholarly arguments have gained traction by claiming that if vegans factor in the amount of animals killed in the harvesting of plant crops, they would find that vegan and vegetarian diets result in a greater number of animals killed than diets based on pasture-raised animals. And they conclude that if vegans seek to minimize harm, then a vegan diet is not the way to go. Many counter arguments have emerged to refute this claim. One of the best among them is AnimalVisuals’ comprehensive and well-researched study, Number of Animals Killed to Produce One Million Calories in Eight Food Categories. See chart below for a snapshot of the results of this study.

animalvisuals_diagram

It’s important to note that aside from the actual numbers of animals killed, intention is a critical factor in assessing the moral weight of an action. The unintentional killing of field mice and other animals during the process of harvesting essential food crops is a vastly different intention from that of deliberately and artificially breeding billions of sentient individuals into existence for the sole purpose of exploiting and killing them, for flesh and secretions we have no need to consume. If killing certain animals in the process of raising necessary food crops is morally objectionable, then how can our ethical accountability for their deaths be rectified by breeding even more animals into existence in order to intentionally exploit and slaughter them at a fraction of their natural lifespans?

Professor Gary Francione points out that this claim that eating pasture-raised animals is more ethical than unintentionally killing animals in the harvesting of crops is “a version of the argument that if we cannot avoid unintentional death, we might as well engage in intentional killing. Think about that. We cannot avoid accidental or unintended death in manufacturing anything, including the most innocuous and beneficial of products. So it’s okay to kill humans intentionally? Surely not.” ”If we all went vegan because we cared morally about nonhumans, that would necessarily translate into methods of crop production that would be more mindful of incidental and unintended deaths,” argues Francione.

- See more at: http://freefromharm.org/eating-animals-addressing-our-most-common-justifications/#sthash.ZAS2xzT5.dpuf

July 18, 2014 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger Robert Grillo said...

Jenna,

It's a very common logical fallacy, called an Ad Hominem, to attack a person's character rather than the substance of their argument. Dismissing the vegan argument on the grounds that someone is angry, extremist or unreasonable is the oldest trick in the book. No doubt there are angry vegans out there, but that is besides the point. Gratuitous slavery and killing is wrong, for human and non human animals and for the same reasons. Your feeble attempts to defend what you do have no serious basis in morality. You kill for your tastebuds. You've taken the blue pill, as Morpheus would say in the Matrix. I wouldn't be too proud of that.

July 18, 2014 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Bill Brain said...

Jenna, you are a murderer, plain and simply. You kill animals because you gain pleasure from it. Period.

It's a shame that you haven't taken the time to educate yourself before writing your "open letter". I'm surprised not many people have taken the time to point out the many flaws.

1) Pointing out that unfortunately animals are killed as a result of planting crops, so vegans contribute to animal death is not significant. If we shift from a meat-based agriculture to a plant-based agriculture, we will inevitably displace and possibly kill sentient animals when we plant vegetables. Surely, however, there is a significant difference between raising and killing animals for food and unintentionally doing them harm in the course of planting vegetables, an activity that is itself intended to prevent the killing of sentient beings.
In order to understand this point, consider the following example. We build roads. We allow people to drive automobiles. We know as a statistical matter that when we build a road, some humans–we do not know who they are beforehand–will be harmed as the result of automobile accidents. Yet there is a fundamental moral difference between activity that has human harm as an inevitable but unintended consequence and the intentional killing of particular humans. Similarly, the fact that animals may be harmed as an unintended consequence of planting vegetables, even if we do not use toxic chemicals and even if we exercise great care to avoid harming animals, does not mean that it is morally acceptable to kill animals intentionally. http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/faqs/#.U8nEfBa4lFI

2) Animal agriculture is not sustainable, even your "local" "humane" agriculture. The only way we'll be able to feed the world and prevent climate change is by adopting a plant-based diet. See this UN report: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet
Grass fed meat is just as bad for our environment, perhaps worse: http://animalrights.about.com/od/animalsusedforfood/a/WrongGrassFedBeef.htm

3) It's so depressing to read that you have no problem with raising your own animals then cruelly slaughtering them. Even if you sang songs to the animals everyday and gave them luxury baths, their death is just as tragic. Each animal values it's own life and has an interest in continuing to live - hence sentience. You're speciesist attitude with regards to taking their lives for pleasure is saddening.

Here's some links for you to educate yourself. I doubt you'll be interested, from reading your comments you have made up your mind, based on ignorance.

FAQs about vegan diets: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/faqs/#.U8nEfBa4lFI
Justifications for eating animals dissected: http://freefromharm.org/eating-animals-addressing-our-most-common-justifications/

Regarding your comment above: "I am not a pacifist in any form. If someone tries to hurt me, I will defend myself."

That situation involves a genuine conflict of interest that justifies harm. If a bear was to attack me as a vegan, I would be like "ah fuck, kill me I'm vegan". No. The difference is that every time you kill the animals on your farm, each individual who's life you take is completely unnecessary. There is no conflict of interest, you take their lives because you gain pleasure from killing them. That's the difference.

July 18, 2014 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna and fans...please get a copy of Food Choice and Sustainability by Richard Oppenlander. He presents quite a different picture on locally grown meat being sustainable--in a nutshell--it is not sustainable. Then pick up a copy of Will Tuttle's The World Peace Diet for even more reasons on why veganism is necessary if we are to live in a sustainable world, a world of environmental and social justice, and for those so inclined, a higher level of spirituality. Veganism is not a personal choice, it is a humanitarian imperative.

July 18, 2014 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Joanne Marcucci said...

Just wondering about the comments that state that killing any human or non human is wrong and essentially the same thing, then does that mean we should stop other animals killing for their food? The last I heard, lions were meat eaters etc.

July 18, 2014 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger Cjlata said...

Well done! You're very thorough and cover all the bases. You're straight forward and respectful. A lot more than I would have been on most days. Kudos!!

July 18, 2014 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Cjlata said...

You really need to get a life.

July 18, 2014 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger Sam Yalda said...

Wish to treat you and your loved ones the same way you treat your LUCKY animals !
Cannibalism is the way to go and guess what human flesh is very similar to pigs and tastier !

July 19, 2014 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Good blog! How is killing for sustenance unethical? Other animals do it and not always "humanely"! Everything dies eventually...your animals had a nice life then served a purpose of being food. These abolitionist vegans make me shake my head.

July 19, 2014 at 2:29 AM  
Blogger Linda McKenzie said...

Response from Professor Gary Francione: PROFILE OF A MODERN “ANIMAL ACTIVIST”: JENNA WOGINRICH. Essential reading.

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/profile-modern-animal-activist-jenna-woginrichl-activist/#.U8oj1lYSmZg

July 19, 2014 at 3:54 AM  
Blogger Linda McKenzie said...

Comment from Professor Gary Francione: PROFILE OF A MODERN “ANIMAL ACTIVIST”: JENNA WOGINRICH. Essential reading.

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/profile-modern-animal-activist-jenna-woginrichl-activist/#.U8oj1lYSmZg

July 19, 2014 at 3:56 AM  
OpenID jen2014 said...

Dear Jenna,

Nobody likes to be called names, and I'm sorry that happened to you. I appreciate that you've obviously given your choices much thought. And believe me, I'm not under the illusion that a diet free of meat/dairy/eggs causes zero harm.

So that's not really a point of misunderstanding between us.

But I've read about stock-free (or "veganic") farming, and I'm wondering if you're familiar with it? If not, maybe that's an area where we could find some common ground. Would you be willing to read about Iain Tolhurst's experience, and comment on it? http://www.stockfreeorganic.net/category/whatandwhy/

Also, do you know about Melanie Joy's work on carnism? I realize that you have a certain amount of emotional investment at this point in being an animal farmer & hunter, so I imagine it might be hard for someone in your situation to pull back the curtain on carnism and take a good look at the system's justifications. But if you are curious about how the psychology of meat works on us, I recommend this presentation. Joy shows compassion for her audience; her approach is nonjudgmental and most assuredly non-angry: http://www.carnism.org/carnism-presentation-video

(And I do have one minor question—I'm confused by this: "dairyless…diet based on whey…"?)

Grateful for the exchange,
Jennifer

July 19, 2014 at 4:01 AM  
Blogger Nancy Bell said...

The word total denial and justification come to mind. A well written, self serving piece that sways the reader through it's use of what appears to be brutal honesty and REASON but it's not with reason.

" ...By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn't?"

It's not about important, as clearly that is not so but it's about other things....spirit, trust, love and more. I can't help stepping on an ant. I eat my broccoli just before it seeds and dies....you chose to end a life long before it is over and even lived fully. You choose to trap and cage animals so you can eat them. Why? You like it. Wait until you're older, meat will seem odd even repulsive to you. I bet you. Vegetables provide enough. As Alan Watts once wrote: "I've been to may a rice boiling and a few pig roasts" The rice boilings had much better vibes. Animals esp those with faces and brains and warm blooded want to live and in my view have souls. They feel fear. What comes around goes around. That said I am 100% for each person making up their own minds on this. I don't even care to know what people eat. This article just went too far in my view.

July 19, 2014 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Frank Miles said...

While I agree completely with the author's position, the use of the Nirvana Fallacy here doesn't aid it. In fact it hurts it.

That some killing is unavoidable doesn't logically imply that all killing is therefore morally neutral. That would be making the perfect into the enemy of the good. (If not killing animals were in fact good, which is itself debatable).

Using a bad argument to support a good idea is dangerous. Because when the argument is shown to be unsound, the idea it was meant to support winds up looking wrong too. Even when it is right!

July 19, 2014 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

Wow, what a hornet's nest you've stirred up here, Jenna.

July 19, 2014 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What a well-written and interesting post. Thank you.

July 20, 2014 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger rooneyjulia said...

Nicely stated and major props to you!

July 20, 2014 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Terri said...

Amen! Bravo! Thank you!

July 20, 2014 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Em said...

I find it amusing that the abolitionist vegan argument hinges on drawing a line between sentient and non-sentient creatures. They are still using the outdated theory that only creatures with a brain that resembles that of a human are sentient. More and more scientific studies and researchers are coming out to show that all animate creatures--from single-celled bacteria to plants to insects to animals to human--are sentient. Unfortunately for their arguments, vegans are engaging in just as much deliberate killing of sentient beings (plants) as meat-eaters are. If anyone would like to read more about the scientific basis behind the sentience of so-called "lower" lifeforms like plants and even bacteria, check out Stephen Harrod Buhner's books, "The Lost Language of Plants" and "Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm." Vegans are using the same "speciesist" arguments to support their positions that they accuse meat-eaters of.

July 20, 2014 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

On the other hand, I couldn't ever be a doctor. Does that mean I shouldn't ever go to a doctor, just because I couldn't do it myself? I could never stomach being a garbage collector. Does that mean I shouldn't get to benefit from municipal waste? There's nothing wrong with relying on other members of the community to do jobs that you yourself can't stomach. That's the whole point of community: I contribute my talents and skills and you contribute yours. Why is food cultivation any different?

July 20, 2014 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger annaladybug said...

I've been a veg 30 years. I've never pushed it on others or been fanatical about it (well maybe when I was 14). I've seen so many people become veggies for 5-10 years then start eating meat again. Actually most people. You are just one of those people.

July 20, 2014 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

My personal feeling, having worked with animals in veterinary hospitals, farms, ranches, wildlife rehabs, shelters/rescues/sanctuaries, and in pet homes, is that everything dies, and options for death are not pretty: predation, starvation, disease, injury, or slaughter. Of those, humane slaughter is *by far* the kindest, with the least amount of suffering. Only someone who hadn't witnessed thousands of animal deaths, in nature and in man-made environments, could claim that humane slaughter is more cruel than allowing animals to die "natural" deaths. This is one of the many reasons I support permaculture and humane farms such as yours.

July 20, 2014 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Claudia said...

Respectfully submitted: From a 30 year+ vegetarian, who doesn't believe in killing anything, let alone animals and fish for food. Why do those of us who believe in animal rights and, in my case, strongly believe that I do not have the right to take any animal's life, who do not hunt, and do not condone hunting, get attacked for it? Because isn't that doing the same thing that you feel some are doing to you? I don't push my beliefs on my friends, in fact, I don't mention it unless it comes up in conversation. But I have the same right to fight for something passionately that you do. And I respect your right to live your life the way you see fit.

July 20, 2014 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Arwen Carlin said...

"According the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization‘s recent report Livestock’s Long Shadow, over fifty-five billion land animals are raised and slaughtered every year worldwide for human consumption. This rate of slaughter already consumes thirty percent of the earth‘s entire land surface (approximately 3,433 billion hectares) and accounts for a staggering eighty percent of the total land utilized by humans (Steinfeld et al, xxi)."

"Therefore, in addition to problems of sustainability, meat consumption also entails a massive loss of biodiversity which, ironically, would actually be increased by a shift to a locally based diet, as even more land would have to be set aside for free-range grazing. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization report, ―306 of the 825 terrestrial ecoregions identified by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF)...reported livestock as one of the current threats.‖ (Steinfeld et al, 2006: xxiii)"

July 21, 2014 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Benny Malone said...

It seems like an attempt at creating a moral equivalence and a tu quoque to silence any possible criticisms. The closer you come to treating an animal like a companion animal the closer it is to killing a companion animal at a fraction of their natural lifespan. I'm sure people raising dogs and cats for meat could use these very same arguments you state in your letter. I don't agree with ad hominem attacks against anyone however. I would be interested to know if you will be writing an open letter, not to the 2% of vegans, but to the 98% of people who are not vegan and questioning where they source their animal products. Which is worth concentrating on in regards this issue - 2% of vegans or the fact most animal products come from factory farms? http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/15/your-pig-almost-certainly-came-from-a-factory-farm-no-matter-what-anyone-tells-you/ I am unsure of your criteria for moral consideration. If people refer to the study by Davis on least harm then are they aware that they would have to be 'vegan except for___' whichever large herbivore they consume? Following his least harm principle is still following a limited aspect of one criteria of veganism. http://www.ourhenhouse.org/2014/07/the-ethical-arguments-against-ethical-veganism-2/ Deaths in harvest are regrettable and it is sad too that rather than say that this is something that could be reduced along with the reduction in exploiting animals (there is no false dilemma) it is used to draw a moral equivalence with veganism which has been shown to have less environmental impact. Will you be telling people that are not in your position to have control over their own food production that veganism is the best option? I'm unsure if you are following a criteria of least harm or using it to point out that veganism is not perfect - a Nirvana fallacy and a strawman as most people realise they can not live without some impact. Veganism is against animal exploitation. There is no way anyone following a least harm principle can consume seafood or commercially produced eggs, dairy, chicken, turkey, cows, goats and all the other animals routinely exploited. The issue of food miles is not as simple as local being better as economies of scale come into effect in transportation. ''In comparing the cultivation of animals versus plants, there is a clear difference in magnitude of energy efficiency. Edible kilocalories produced from kilocalories of energy required for cultivation are: 18.1% for chicken, 6.7% for grass-fed beef, 5.7% for farmed salmon, and 0.9% for shrimp. In contrast, potatoes yield 123%, corn produce 250%, and soy results in 415% of input calories converted to calories able to be utilized by humans. This disparity in efficiency reflects the reduction in production from moving up trophic levels. Thus, it is more energetically efficient to form a diet from lower trophic levels.'' Eshel, Gidon and Martin, Pamela A. Diet, Energy, and Global Warming. Earth Interactions. 2005. 10: 1- 17 I think there will of course be cases of people living off grid that will not have the impact that a vegan will have by just being part of civilisation. But in terms of a meaningful difference that can be made to our lifestyle veganism reduces impact on both domestic and wild animals and the environment and has many health benefits therefore reducing human suffering from disease. http://veganomics.com/2014/02/02/70-percent-of-human-diseaes-linked-to-animal-agriculture/ Perhaps you could clarify your position about what you think people should do to reduce harm to animals to prevent this letter being used as an excuse for conspicuous consumption of animal products

July 21, 2014 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Benny Malone said...

This argument is a comparison of number of deaths whereas in reality it is a comparison of unfortunate accidental deaths with intentional confinement, 'processing' without pain relief, genetic manipulation, artificial insemination, antibiotic use, transportation to slaughter and killing on most farms. "Our calculations reveal that the environmental costs per consumed calorie of dairy, poultry, pork, and eggs are mutually comparable (to within a factor of 2), but strikingly lower than the impacts of beef. Beef production requires 28, 11, 5, and 6 times more land, irrigation water, GHG, and Nr, respectively, than the average of the other livestock categories. Preliminary analysis of three staple plant foods shows two- to sixfold lower land, GHG, and Nr requirements than those of the
nonbeef animal-derived calories, whereas irrigation requirements are comparable."
http://www.pnas.org/.../early/2014/07/17/1402183111.full.pdf


NOTES
1) http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/... 2) http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/food-carbon-footprint-diet 3) http://www.takeextinctionoffyourplate.com/faq.html 4) http://www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife/0711.asp 5) http://www.nature.org/.../everydayenv.../eat-more-plants.xml 6) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/660S.full 7) http://www.thescavenger.net/.../863-animal-agriculture-a... 8) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/.../is-the-livestock.../... 9) http://www.dailykos.com/.../-Want-to-stop-hunger-Shift... 10) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17035955 - Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems. 11) http://union-bulletin.com/news/2014/jun/28/letter-plant-based-diet-conserves-water/ 12) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/27/vegetarian-carbon-footprint_n_5538914.html 13) http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/15678/20140626/vegetarian-diet-linked-longer-life-lower-greenhouse-gas-emissions.htm 14) http://www.pbl.nl/.../2009/Climate-benefits-of-changing-diet
15) http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6297 16) http://web.stanford.edu/~longcao/Archer_et_al(2009).pdf Climate change:

[1] http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6297
[2] Climate Change 1994: Radiative Forcing of Climate Change and an Evaluation of the IPCC IS92 Emission Scenarios.
[3] http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/planet-2/report/2009/1/amazon-cattle-footprint-mato.pdf
[4] http://www.earthsave.org/environment.htm
[5] http://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/livestock_impacts.pdf
[6] http://resourcebasedeconomy.yolasite.com/resources/The%20Best%20-%20Jacque%20Fresco.pdf
[8] http://www.worc.org/userfiles/IATP%20cheap%20grain.pdf
[9] http://www.fao.org/docrep/019/i3440e/i3440e.pdf
[10] http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/nspills.asp
[11] http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/ffarms.asp

[12] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18348709
[13] http://www.who.int/drugresistance/activities/wha66_side_event/en/
[14] http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/
[15] http://nutritionfacts.org/video/when-low-risk-means-high-risk/
[16] http://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/2009/Climate-benefits-of-changing-diet

July 22, 2014 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger JAMES09 said...

*stands up & applauds*
BRAVO!!! BRAVO!! BRAVO!!!!

I applaud you for you have nailed it PERFECTLY.

Most vegetarians have absolutely NO IDEA what happens on a farm...they only know the end result & even then, most of what they "know" is fiction.
TY & GOD bless you.

James

July 22, 2014 at 12:40 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

One question, Jenna, that no one else has as yet addressed: Why would it be necessary to have tofu processed and shipped to you from far away when you are feeding the pigs on your farm locally-grown, non-GMO soy? It seems that the most efficient, least destructive path to protein would be to eat the soy yourself, would it not?

July 22, 2014 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Benny Malone said...

Animals raised for human consumption are exempt from cruelty laws. Why is this? https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=672937392756585&set=a.580859588631033.1073741829.576297035753955&type=1&theater ''In response to industry lobbying, most states have adopted an exception to their anticruelty statutes for farm animals. These are called "Customary Farming Exemptions". Some practices deemed lawful are:
- Crushing or severing the testicles of unanesthetized animals.
- Slaughtering chickens while they are awake and alert.
- Killing unwanted male chicks or spent laying hens by suffocation, starvation, or disposal in a garbage can or wood chipper.''
''Industry-backed laws passed in the last 30 years make it legal to do almost anything to a farmed animal. Connecticut, for example, in 1996 legalized “maliciously and intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding, or killing an animal” – provided it’s done “while following generally accepted agricultural practices.” Since most states have similar exemptions, farmed animals have almost no protection from inhumane treatment.'' - Meatonomics.
http://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/legal-protections-farm-animals
Illinois Cruelty to Animals Statutes -The Humane Care for Animals Act:
''Sec. 3.03. Animal torture. (a) A person commits animal torture when that person without legal justification knowingly or intentionally tortures an animal.
(b) For the purposes of this Section, ‘animal torture’ does not include any death, harm, or injury caused to any animal by any of the following activities:
(1) any hunting, fishing, trapping, or other activity allowed under the Wildlife Code, the Wildlife Habitat Management Areas Act, or the Fish and Aquatic Life Code;
(2) any alteration or destruction of any animal done by any person or unit of government pursuant to statute, ordinance, court order, or the direction of a licensed veterinarian;
(3) any alteration or destruction of any animal by any person for any legitimate purpose, including, but not limited to: castration, culling, declawing, defanging, ear cropping, euthanasia, gelding, grooming, neutering, polling, shearing, shoeing, slaughtering, spaying, tail docking, and vivisection; and
(4) any other activity that may be lawfully done to an animal.'' It seems then that what we would normally define as animal cruelty is reclassified when it comes to needing to use animals for our purposes. Simply put we could not use them in this way if cruelty laws applied to these animals. There is a great discussion of this and other issues in this TED Talk. No one wants to think they are being cruel to animals and so if they think it is necessary then it is justified by them. But when we take away the necessity what are we left with? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fr26scqsIwk

July 22, 2014 at 2:04 PM  
OpenID urbangardeningproject said...

This article for me, puts the key point about how we eat. Eat mindfully. No food-politics position, no flag-waving tribalism, can substitute for thinking things through. Who are you? What do your choices mean? What kind of a world and way of being is manifested through you?

I do not eat meat, though I am likely to be involved in raising animals, even animals for slaughter, though I won't be advocating that. I will be working to help develop food growing projects and systems which promote biodiversity, and develop stock-free (vegan) growing techniques - probably with research that uses animal products though, for control examples.

We can remake a world with less suffering in it. But we must be in the world we find, work with that world, to remake.

July 22, 2014 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger Rabbit Industry Council said...

Colin (and the other aggressive vegetarian/vegans), you just don't get it, do you....A good and mindful stockman (someone who raises animals, usually for food) is going to minimize as much of the avoidable stress, pain, disease and other negative factors as they possibly can. Why? Because the animals benefit, and when the animals benefit, so does the stockman. It's his or her responsibility to make sure they are housed, fed, and treated well (not like a human, or beyond reason, but well). If the stockman is involved in the final destination, it's also their responsibility to make sure that the slaughter plant is humane in their management of the animals, and to withdraw their business if it is not.

Animals don't have rights. Humans have responsibilities. Get it straight.

July 23, 2014 at 1:45 AM  
Blogger Rabbit Industry Council said...

Jenna, thank you for an incredibly well-written post. :)

To those who raise rabbits for food and have people asking 'you aren't going to eat those adorable little things are you'...a good answer is that 'No, I'm not--I'm going to wait until they grow to the proper size.'

Rather than arguing the right and wrong, and winding up feeling defensive, we recommend using the plain truth. It's HARD not to get attached to those cute little goobers, and many times people trade duties on 'the day' so that they don't have to kill the ones they raised. Nothing wrong with that.

You are not a murderer, although you may be a killer, as Jena pointed out. Murder is a human cultural term applied only to the death of a human, caused by a human. Hang in there.

July 23, 2014 at 1:50 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Dear Rabbit Industry Council (are you the whole council??): what is your definition of an "aggressive vegan"? Someone who is standing up for what he or she believes in, regardless of the "way it's been done for years"? I call that person "progressive," not aggressive. Also wondering what you consider "beyond reason" when caring for animals you will slaughter?

July 23, 2014 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Melwph said...

So if it is not so bad to kill an animal, why am I prevented from showing a video to children of animals being killed for meat in my classroom (as a teacher) ? I can show any video I like of apple picking or corn harvesting. I think if you fine with the whole killing thing then it should be fine to show to the kiddies…teach them how it is done.

July 23, 2014 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Lots of great conversations here, from both sides of the discussion. I truly appreciate your response, Jen 2014, and will look into what you presented. Thank you for your kindness and approach.

July 23, 2014 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

What this seems to come down to is this:

I do not think it is immoral to kill and eat animals. I do not think it is immoral even though they can feel pain, are sentient, or we have the ability to eat other foods. I do not have any problem with taking an animal's life for food.

I do think we all need to support grass-based farms, and the food raised outside the factory/CAFO/giant corporate system. I don't care what you buy - tofu or turkey - but do so locally from farmers who care about what they are doing.

And to answer that last question: I have no problem having children see animals slaughtered or butchered for food. Many farm kids see it all the time, many have seen it here. Many hunters take their children out hunting with them as well.

July 23, 2014 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Frimmy said...

Very well said.

July 23, 2014 at 11:23 PM  
Blogger steve parke said...

I don't get why you had to write this. If you are doing what you think is right then just do it. Food is not the entire issue, its that we are way over populated and our demands for the way we eat are not sustainable at any level. I'm happy people are working to provide options outside of giant agribusiness. I support hunting for food, raising animals for food but still believe that eating a vegetarian or even mostly vegetarian diet is least impactful until all food is back to being raised or grown responsibly. I also think people should do the butchering themselves, otherwise it seems a tiny bit hypocritical.
That said - the stupid ranting from assholes who are vegetarian and the support from recovering vegetarians are equally unimportant to what you are doing. You are working outside the screwed up food system and doing it yourself. Most of the naysayers, or even your supporters are not likely investing that heavily in what they believe to be the right thing. Bravo for that.

July 24, 2014 at 9:17 AM  
OpenID 9a032724-135a-11e4-b338-0f9ef0854023 said...

Gibberish. I applaud her give-and-take perspective on attaining balance. You know, as an animal in the food chain. Embrace nuance and reason.

July 24, 2014 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger DorisRose MacBean said...

Beautifully written, thank you for sharing and caring!

July 24, 2014 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Brilliantly written! I used to raise sheep - for both wool and meat. People would often say "oh, how can you kill those adorable lambs?!?" My answer was "with tears and love that only someone raising their own food could understand". My sheep and lambs were well cared for, had a wonderful life, were loved on and petted and talked to multiple times daily. These comments often came from people who were not even vegetarians! I would explain to them that if they had any idea the horrors their store bought meat went through prior to it's life ending, they would most likely become a vegetarian. I've raised pigs as well, butchered right on my property, avoiding the horrors of a slaughter house and their final hours being filled with the smell of death, and the fear that comes with it. I have hens for eggs, but occasionally butcher an extra rooster or two - the result of a broody hen that runs off and hides a clutch of eggs to hatch, or even an older hen that suddenly decides to become an egg eater. Farm raised, vice commercially raised meat, is a completely different world. I no longer have the sheep, but I now have meat rabbits, and it seems the horror of that is more than some can handle. I ignore most of the comments, knowing there is nothing I can really say to get them to understand and not judge me to be some cold hearted killer. I bite my tongue a lot. Even the time the VEGAN judged me so harshly, while wearing leather shoes - and her 'excuse' was that she had to wear leather or her feet sweat too much. Oy!

July 25, 2014 at 12:06 PM  
OpenID examined1ife said...

Bob Comis is the humane pig farmer whose conscience was bothering him. https://stonybrookfarm.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/the-grapple-of-ethics/

His story continues here: https://www.thedodo.com/community/BobComis/happy-pigs-make-happy-meat-428323633.html

Of course, he didn't grow up on a farm. Maybe if he'd been a farm kid, he wouldn't have struggled with the ethics so much?

That could be. But then what about Harold Brown and others profiled in this documentary? http://www.ithaca.edu/fleff/blogs/fleff_intern_voices/interview_with_james_laveck,_peaceable_kingdom:_th/#.U9L7O4BdVAg These folks grew up in farming culture. And they also decided they're not okay with using and taking the lives of animals.

July 25, 2014 at 9:02 PM  
OpenID Tim McCormack said...

While I think you've made an excellent point about the animal death inherent in eating basically anything, my partner posted a pretty compelling counterargument about trophic levels and how many animals get killed for vegetable vs. animal food:

http://alexandra-thorn.dreamwidth.org/51365.html

Basically, eating animals that were fed farmed feed results in 10x as many deaths as just eating farmed veggies.

(She also notes that eating animals fed on natural rangeland may actually reduce the number of deaths.)

July 26, 2014 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger E said...

Per calorie, beef requires more than 100 times as much land as rice and potatoes

http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/07/22/per-calorie-beef-requires-more-than-100-times-as-much-land-as-rice-and-potatoes/

July 27, 2014 at 3:11 AM  
Blogger Katherine Nobles said...

Beautifully said. Thank you. I wish I could do the same.

July 27, 2014 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well said.

I have a strong affinity for vegans/vegetarians (we're "on the same page"), but what I cannot reconcile is that almost none of them are customers of farms that treat animals well. There's some major cognitive dissonance going on between their own righteousness about not eating anything with a face and their willingness to pay for animal torture to feed their beloved carnivore pets. I mean what do they think is in that dog/cat food in the pretty packages?: the absolute worst animal treatment on the planet.

Then secondly, sometimes I'll hear someone at the farmers' market say they're a vegan or vegetarian. This immediately causes me to look into their bag/basket to see if they're buying something I might learn how to prepare better--I figure if you're only eating veggies, you're probably really good at preparing them. With an occasional exception, they have tiny amounts of food. I mean I'm buying for one omnivore, have at least a milk crate's worth of stuff and they've got half to one quarter of what I have. And most are buying for 2 people. What the f...k are they eating? Probably a lot of junkie grains and processed food. Makes me want to scream, but I hold back realizing that they're moving in the right direction. It took me years, but sources were really limited when I started. I would buy this type of food for the nutrient density even if it tasted as bad as grocery store anything, but I have to say I think the incredible taste is our reward for paying the farmer enough for them to do things right. You'd be surprised how much you can cut your spending in other areas so you can eat as well as your peasant ancestors.

Tomorrow I'll unload about 4 tall pallets of raw dairy/pastured meat going to about 180 families for a food club in Miami I help out at. Never feels like work.

July 28, 2014 at 1:51 AM  
Blogger Alexander Hodgkiss said...

I really enjoyed your piece. I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, and thankful I've never gone through what you do. Just from going through some of the comments it seems so utterly ridiculous how some people are that vicious about this and unwilling to really look at all the facts.

I wish you all the best and hope nothing more comes from these individuals. It seems clear many of them feel a need to simply promote their own superiority complex.

July 28, 2014 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Google "seaweed deforestation" before you sound so smug. Wantonly destroying marine ecosystems to grow your crops is hardly harm-free. You 've just shifted the deaths to where you can't see them.

July 28, 2014 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger lujlp said...

People like to think we are more than animals. Perhaps we are mentally, but not biologically.

When ever someone claims to be vegan or vegetarian I am always so temped to give them a plate of leaves plucked off the tree out back to see them actually try and eat vegetable matter.

Humans are carrion eaters, we eat dead things. Our meat is dead for months usually before we eat it. Very rarely do we eat meat fresh off a corpse, and when we do we cook it to the point cell membranes are destroyed in a similar manner to purification. Even the vegetable matter we eat is generally dead.

Fruits, gourds, vegetables, they are the dead and decaying uteri of plants, packed full of nutrients deigned to rot quickly to provide nourishment for the seeds within.

We're scavengers, bone pickers, vultures with brains big enough to allows us to engage in petty self delusions and pretend the reason we are at the top of the food chain isnt because we are willing to eat the dead things around us.

Also recent science show plants have a form of sentience as well and can recognize their offspring, and 'siblings' and have been how to share or even sacrifice their own resources to ensure the survival of a close 'family' member

July 29, 2014 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger marlahrd said...

Love this post! I am an omnivore and a plant-lover. It pains me to pull up a carrot or radish. I hate to pull up any plant that seems to be dying, because I know I can bring it back to health.

Thank you for this balanced message!

July 29, 2014 at 3:46 PM  
OpenID cafemoi said...

Very nice letter. Very well written.

July 30, 2014 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Matthew Underwood said...

Humans are superior to animals in many ways.

July 31, 2014 at 3:55 AM  
Blogger Matthew Underwood said...

Humans are morally superior to animals. We can choose self control that has nothing to do with survival or relations but purely moral reasoning. Animals cannot do this. Why not argue the benefits of veganism, cuz there are many, WITH science and reason instead of the morality of animals. It makes for a debate most can understand and agree with, especially health benefits of veganism and the torture chambers animals live in. If you spent your time focusing on corporate death houses and educating people on cancer-freeing vegan diets, you certainly wouldn't have time to hassle hard working, honest, animal respecting farmers.

July 31, 2014 at 4:09 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Mathew. You are an animal.

You can live a "morally superior" life becuase right now all your needs are met.

July 31, 2014 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger grahamjanz said...

Come to think of it, there isn't enough space on earth to keep up with human consumption rates to provide meat for all humans that want it in an ethically way without completely destroying all wildlife regions. Do the math. If there are 7 billion people on earth and each had 6.5 acres there would need to be 45,500,000,000 acres of land on the face of the earth, but there is only 36,794,240,000 acres of land. That doesn't include the land required to grow the food your animals eat. It simply isn't possible given the size of the earth for everyone to adopt a lifestyle such as yours. Ethical meat is only for the privileged few. You can grow more sustenance in the form of vegetables on your land than you would by raising animals.

July 31, 2014 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Nancy Bell said...

Graham, The point you make is THE primary issue. This topic goes beyond morality. How much do we care about the planet and deforestation? How much do we crave our meat? Do we want to alleviate the suffering on the planet or add to it?

July 31, 2014 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Restore Sport & Remedial Massage said...

Fantastic, it sounds like your're living the life I dream of! Such a great article. I recently started harvesting wild meat (rabbits, pigeons etc...) and initially have had a really hard time of it. First rabbit I shot I utilised completely but put the rifle down and didn't pick it up again for a month. A month I spent agonising over the ethics of this lifestyle choice and whether or not I had the guts to carry it on. The logic and ethical stand point prevailed in the end, but the killing never gets easier and I never want it too. I don't see that I can stop this way of life now I've set foot along its path without becoming a vegetarian or a hipocrite! I have learnt respect for my food. Even from an already educated position I was amazed how detached I had become from the reality of eating meat or of feeding ourselves full stop. Rather than feeling that I have put myself at odds with nature I now feel much more a part of the natural cycle of things. More primal. More in touch and humbled. In conversation with a serious vegan the other day I made the comment; "how amazing that our ethical standpoints led you to become a vegan and me to buy a rifle". When he finished spluttering we had a fantastic hour long conversation whereby we both came to respect each-others position but more interestingly, this hard-line vegan came to understand a whole new perspective on reasons for eating meat and was impressed... or confused! The fact that I am also a 'lay Buddhist' really had to make him think (and myself too at the start of this journey!). I think he had spent so long in the belief that animal products are bad and wrong that he must have convinced himself that anyone continuing to consume animal products was only doing so out of laziness, cruelty or greed. I don't think he had ever considered that one day he might meet a conscientious Buddhist who's decision not not only to eat animals but also to actively kill and prepare them from field to plate could in-fact be a decision based on an ethical and moral standpoint.
Thanks for reflecting back at me the logic I hope to perpetuate. Great article and well done for doing what you're doing. I hope to do the same one day.

August 1, 2014 at 5:01 AM  
Blogger Eric & Melissa Brown said...

I'm awfully skeptical of the non-GMO field corn and soybean grown by neighbors argument, especially that they pass the "I don't care what you buy - tofu or turkey - but do so locally from farmers who care about what they are doing" test. Is this corn and soy not conventionally fertilized? Surely these crops are grown with chemical herbicides (only with selective instead of broad-spectrum herbicides after seedling emergence), no? Probably conventional insecticides, too? Probably without ever growing any cover crops or even rotating out of corn and soybeans? I hear farmers like Salatin talk about how green his grass is and how he's building soil, etc., etc., and I'm sure that's true, but all those gains are the loss of the farms from which he buys his grain. His farm is totally dependent on the chemical fertilizers, the soil erosion, the monocultures, the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, etc., etc. that he outsources to the kind of farms that grow the feed for his animals. What's the ecological value in outsourcing/displacing ecological abuse? I don't mean to say there are any easy answers. Your customers aren't going to pay you enough to cover the cost of growing grain to feed your own animals (such that you could use the manure from your animals to fertilize the grain crops), especially not on a reasonably small scale, and they're certainly not going to keep their humanure properly segregated from all the other toxins in sewer systems and care for it such that it can be responsibly used to fertilize farm land, and there's no practical way the farmers growing the grain to feed your animals (and all the other farmers whose animals their grain feeds) are going to get the manure from those animals back to fertilize their crops. So I'm not saying there's presently really any commercially viable alternative for raising grain crops -- regardless of whether we're talking about raising crops for food or for feed -- but I still think the "sustainability" and "local-ness" of poultry and pork, in particular, is being grossly exaggerated, and, in the process our arguments to vegans for animal agriculture greatly undermined. I don't think veganism really solves anything, but I do think the rise of veganism is connected to agriculture's heavy, unhealthy dependence on not-locally-defined ways of grain farming. To the degree that animal farmers can break that dependency I think they'll make much better arguments for animal agriculture. As it is, those token "grubs, vegetation, and nuts" that Salatin-style hogs eat surely don't even offset the feed conversion inefficiencies compared to highly controlled confinement systems. In other words, the confinement operations surely feed less corn and soy even without the grubs/vegetation/nuts per pound of meat produced than the Salatin-style farms do, and if the corn and soy are nearly the same, then one has to question if it isn't really the Salatin-style hogs that represent the most corporate-industrial agriculture.

August 3, 2014 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Eric & Melissa Brown said...

Grahamjanz, the huge flaw in your argument is that animals can make use of all sorts of land (not to mention oceans and other waters) that isn't usable for crop production (especially not sustainably) as well as making use of what to people can only be waste products and feeds that are too inefficient for people to gather. Your math is based entirely on either-or assumptions of animals raised on crops like corn and soy that could be replaced with crops for direct human consumption. Of course, there is some land where your math might mostly be applicable, but there are huge parts of the globe that are too susceptible to erosion (especially heavy sloping land) or that receive too little rain to sustainably (or even unsustainably) grow anything other than grass, and even those areas that can grow crops may depend on grass rotations to break disease and pest cycles and otherwise sustain those food crops. And there are (and always will be) huge parts of the globe that simply aren't going to be used for human crops in the short-term. A particular farmer will own a particular farm (and parts of farms) that he only has the time and resources to fence and graze, not to plow and cultivate and harvest crops from. And then there are all the areas that people want to keep in grass completely apart from any agricultural use of the grass but that nonetheless could be grazed instead of mowed. And then there's the wildlife that will eat our crops that we can often control most efficiently by killing: in terms of land allocation that's completely free meat that only increases the supply of food crops, turning your math completely upside down. And then there is huge amounts of crops and crop byproducts that animals can convert into usable food: the shucks of sweet corn, the hulls of peas, spent brewers' and distillers' grains; simple waste like moldy bread, half rotten vegetables, perishable crops that farmers bring back from the market unsold; things unfit for human consumption like food spilled on dirty surfaces or accidentally contaminated with potential human pathogens on farms and in other ways like in wet years when mycotoxins flourish on grain crops or grain that gets infested with insect pests. And then there are potential foods that are simply too inefficient to harvest and process without an animal, for example, hogs picking up acorns in forests, a few chickens pecking up the grain that shatters before harvest, guinea fowl eating crickets, domestic pigeons gathering tiny seeds in tiny increments, bees harvesting nectar and pollen, etc. Take all those animal food sources away and you'll starve more of the world's (current, not necessarily sustainable in any fashion) population than if you forced everyone to eat only the conventional American diet. It's obviously absurd to suggest any one narrow model of food production for the whole world. And it's absurd to take that fact and present it as an argument for veganism.

August 3, 2014 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger grahamjanz said...

Eric & Melissa Brown, my math is based entirely on everyone in the world doing what Jenny is doing. She buys food to feed her animals, as she states in her article, so it doesn't include additional land for growing food to feed the animals. That can be grown in the oceans, I suppose, or on the moon. I guess we need to figure out how much land is actually being used beyond her property. She doesn't appear to be eating seafood, and I think her response would be that she doesn't because of the CO2 emissions involved, or either the state of fisheries on the east coast. Nevertheless, there are plenty of jellyfish. Of course there is land that is unsuitable for anything involving humans, and it should stay that way.

August 3, 2014 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger grahamjanz said...

Eric & Melissa Brown, my math is based entirely on everyone in the world doing what Jenny is doing. She buys food to feed her animals, as she states in her article, so it doesn't include additional land for growing food to feed the animals. That can be grown in the oceans, I suppose, or on the moon. I guess we need to figure out how much land is actually being used beyond her property. She doesn't appear to be eating seafood, and I think her response would be that she doesn't because of the CO2 emissions involved, or either the state of fisheries on the east coast. Nevertheless, there are plenty of jellyfish. Of course there is land that is unsuitable for anything involving humans, and it should stay that way.

August 3, 2014 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger James said...

So your argument is that vegans still kill animals because the process of harvesting crops kills animals? Here's the thing about that, veganism is about trying to reduce animal suffering as much as possible, even though sometimes it's unavoidable (hell, car tires aren't vegan). But by choosing not to eat animal products, we are reducing the amount of crops needed, since it takes 13 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. So yes, the crops we eat still cause suffering. But it sure causes a heck of a lot less than people that eat an omnivorous diet based on food from factory farms.

August 4, 2014 at 1:06 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

James, I am not arguing. Eat however you wish. This post is about not thinking veganism is better than any other mindful diet.

Your grain to meat example discludes folks raising animals outdoors, on grass, with little to no grain at all. There are plenty of ethical farmers raising meat in ways that heal the land and help the earth - it just means killing animals to do it. Which I am fine with.

We both agree factory farms and mindless consuming is bad. A person choosing pasta at a restaraunt because she doesn't eat factory farmed meat and buys her food from a grass farm she respects is just as aware of these facts as you are.

It comes down to thinking less about people who eat animals, even those who eat mindfully and with respect. That is my problem.

August 4, 2014 at 9:03 AM  
OpenID sneakierbiscuit said...

That argument only works if you accept the philosophical premise that sentience defines worth or personhood (with all its respective rights and presumably responsibilities.) Which is odd, because we typically apply both rights and responsibilities to human persons, but only rights - and no responsibilities - to non-human persons. I don't buy that argument, because I don't think cognitive capability or potential is the be-all and end-all of the rights of personhood. There are human beings with significantly less cognitive capability than, say, a dog, dolphin, ape, elephant, or rat. The injured person in a vegetative state, the newborn with Trisomy 18. The coma patient.
As to the portion of blame, you've actually taken the old Catholic moral theology approach to mortal and venial sins, both objective and subjective, and differing levels of culpability depending on intent, proximity, etc. Such an approach would indeed apportion less blame to a vegetarian for remote and unintended cooperation with an evil (assuming killing animals in gaining your own food is evil) such as buying tofu from a store which is powered by a plant that produces emissions that kill birds. But what this author is saying is that the wide and indiscriminate killing involved in modern farming and food production and distribution practices is more wide-scale and wasteful and thoughtless, and therefore more worthy of condemnation, than the mindful form of killing she participates in. She has also come to the conclusion that it is not an objective evil to kill an animal for food, that other factors determine the relative morality of killing acts, so you differ in that very basic premise.

August 4, 2014 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Eric & Melissa Brown said...

Graham, isn't it obvious that the math won't add up if you take as a starting point that every person and every acre (in all the extremely diverse parts of the world) would be used the same way (i.e. "my math is based entirely on everyone in the world doing what Jenny is doing")? You conclusions are no more absurd than your assumptions.

August 5, 2014 at 7:31 AM  
Blogger grahamjanz said...

Eric and Melissa Brown, it isn't impossible, so why rule it out entirely? From reading Jenna's article I get the notion that she believes her approach to be morally superior to any alternative, so if we maximize her morality to an universal imperative the result is everyone doing the same, which isn't sustainable. On the other hand, people who wish to live like her may not have the privilege of doing so. They may not have the money or access to land, et cetera, as there is no right to property, which is why, in many cases, people are homeless. But of course, some people would want more than 6.5 acres and many people today own multiples of 6.5 acres, and, of course, some people might recognize that it's more efficient to live off vegetables, grains, nuts, beans, and fruits grown on their land than it is to raise animals for slaughter, others would rather purchase their food and make no use of their land whatsoever, but since there's more people purchasing than raising animals, there isn't enough land available to meet consumption needs and that's why there are factory farms. There simply isn't enough land to satisfy the demand for meat -- this is the point. Dismiss my comments all you want, but dismissal won't alter the fact that this is the greatest issue facing farm ethics. Raising your own animals may be fine for you and the small amount of people you feed and make you feel moral and superior, but it won't topple the industry of factory farming as effectively as rejecting, wholesale, the consumption of animals, and promote this lifestyle choice.

August 5, 2014 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I don't think it is a matter morality.

And I raise a very small amount of animals here, I could easily raise a thousand chickens a summer on pasture - maybe more, twenty hogs in the woods, work the horses, milk more goats, and have more laying hens. I have a single person's amount of animals and gardens that feed me and some friends. I could easily feed many more people with this land.

And I think we eat way too much meat, in general. To think eating meat three meals a day is normal, even more than once or twice a week, is something only normal since we have had factory farms, F2 corn, and industrial oil. Once those things are gone no one will be eating 99 cent hamburgers.

August 5, 2014 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Eric & Melissa Brown said...

Graham, are you saying that in some instances it may be "more efficient to live off vegetables, grains, nuts, beans, and fruits grown on their land than it is to raise animals for slaughter" or are you suggesting that that's generally true? And why phrase it as an either-or question? Why not take advantage of both and also dairy and game and fish and maybe draft animals, too? Surely food can be produced most efficiently by using animals where they offer advantages (as in the many examples I already listed above), not by limiting ourselves to abstract theories based on modern industrial agricultural averages. Besides the very omnivorous diet and agriculture of almost all pre-industrial societies (even very poor societies without food resources to spare), the efficiency of animal agriculture for meeting dietary needs like protein is evidenced by how much cheaper local-organic grass-fed beef is per unit of protein than any local-organic/non-industrial vegetarian source of protein. The "efficiency" of veganism only holds in a heavily industrialized context (chemical- and fossil fuel-intensive monocultures, confinement feeding, etc.)

August 5, 2014 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Eric & Melissa Brown said...

Graham, it is indeed totally impossible for everyone in the world to do what *any* one farmer is doing, no matter who the farmer is. This ought to be self-evident. Different plants grow better in different places, on different soils, with different amounts of available labor per acre, with different amounts and seasons of rainfall, with different slopes, different latitudes, etc., etc. And very often, for much of the world's acreage (including also land that is most sustainably rotated between different plants/crops), the most efficient leading plants to grow on any given parcel of land for producing food will be grasses and other forages for livestock (not only but especially in the absence of heavy chemical and fossil fuel use.) If you don't understand this reality, go visit some farmers or farming communities that meet the vast bulk of their dietary needs from their own production, and you'll surely see the truth of it.

August 5, 2014 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger Francesca Giordano said...

Well said! Although my prospective is a bit different: it would be great if we can work towards sustenability, but my major concern is my health. I've been vegetarian 3 years, of which 1 vegan: I was miserable all the time. I felt weak, I would eat and eat and eat because I was never satisfied, my body needed something I was not giving it. I gained 40 lb in those 3 years, and I'm still fighting to loose that weight. I guess there are people that can be healthy without eating meat, but I am not one of those, I've learned that the hard way. My body needs animal meat, animal fat, animal organs to thrive, and I had to accept that even if I didn't want to hurt animals. Maybe you can live without meat, but I personally cannot thrive without it, and I don't care for people who want to convince me of the contrary, I've tried: it doesn't work. Keep your tofu or soy (which is actually bad for your health), I'll have my fatty steak instead.

August 6, 2014 at 2:58 AM  
Blogger grahamjanz said...

Eric & Melissa Brown, I used the word "than", which is the English word to denote a comparison between two things. It doesn't imply a disjunction, but, if you understand formal logic, a disjunctive statement still holds true if both the antecedent and the consequent are true. I know that most meat eating people don't live on meat alone, and that a diverse diet is best. I have been alive and eating for many years. I've settled on using the word "than" because I'm talking about two types of land use. You can either grow produce on a piece of land or raise animals. You can't do both on the same land or the animals will destroy your crop. To do both would require more land and fences. That brings me to efficiency. I can grow enough beans for a year in an area smaller than my bedroom. Beans serve as my main protein source. I can grow a diverse selection too. I can grow enough tomatoes in a year on an area the size of my bed and so on. And I can, once I can afford it, build a rooftop garden, which would occupy virtually no useable land. I use compost and water, no chemicals. A cow should not be forced to live in an area as small as my bedroom.
I would like to see some actual numbers on how many acres a single cow requires. I'm finding that cows consume between 24 and 28 lbs of dry material per day and humans consume about 4 lbs of dry material per day on average. So one cow consumes the same amount of food as six or seven humans. In 2006 the UN reported that, "Livestock now use 30 per cent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 cent of the global arable land used to produce feed for livestock” (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsID=20772&#.U-GP59axulg). That's 63 per cent of all arable land used for livestock, and that number has likely increased since then. But yes, I'm aware that not all land can be used for agriculture and not much land is free for the taking anymore. I have been living on Earth my whole life. The point that I've been repeating, and that you've been stressing as well, is that there isn't enough land for everyone to have 6.5 acres each. There's significantly less than the number I gave that's actually useable, as you've mentioned. It isn't impossible for everyone to want to have 6.5 acres or more or less to themselves, nevertheless. I don't think wanting 6.5 acres is unreasonable, but it is impossible that everyone could have that land. This is where we are confused.

August 6, 2014 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Eric & Melissa Brown said...

Graham, you continue to suggest that all land usable for raising animals is equally (i.e. fully interchangeably) suitable to growing produce. That's absurd for many reasons I've already pointed out and many others. Do you or do you not recognize that the most efficient use of any given piece of land will vary according to all of the factors I listed in the post from 8:26pm on 8/5 (besides many other factors)? That's the most critical point I would make in response to your argument. Your failure to recognize or admit this reality is reflected when you include all permanent pasture as arable land. In reality, much of the world's arable land is only very unsustainably made arable by depleting aquifers and eroding topsoil, which is to say much of the world's current crop land can either be returned to pasture or it can be rendered useless. In any case, much of the world's current permanent pasture fails even at today's unsustainable standards (let alone sustainable standards) to be minimally suitable to growing crops, which is to say raising animals for dairy and/or meat is the most efficient use of much of the world's land that's currently in agricultural use. But it's further absurd to over-emphasize the value of using land for it's "most efficient use." You said, "it's more efficient to live off vegetables, grains, nuts, beans, and fruits grown on their land than it is to raise animals for slaughter," but using the same logic one could say that it's more efficient to live off grains than fruits, and therefore we shouldn't eat fruits, and it's more efficient to live off corn than any other grains, and therefore we shouldn't eat other grains. Or since you consider one-for-one comparisons between cattle feed and human food acceptable, you could say it's more efficient to live off grass than human food, so we shouldn't eat human food. Do you see how absurdly over-simplified your argument is on so many levels?

August 6, 2014 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger Eric & Melissa Brown said...

Graham, that you say you can grow enough beans for a year (especially such that you don't need meat) in an area smaller than your bedroom tells me you haven't ever grown any beans, certainly not dry beans (as opposed to low protein fresh green beans). The relative inefficiency (compared to grass-fed dairy or meat), generally speaking, of local-organic dry beans is evidenced in at least a couple ways. First, as I've already pointed out is the very high cost of dry beans from local-organic sources. Normally the cost is so high that it's completely prohibitive. Visit 100 random farmers' markets, and you'll be extremely lucky to find 1 with a farmer selling dry beans he grew himself organically. However, many of those same farmers' markets will offer dairy and meat from animals raised organically on grass, for less than half the cost per unit of protein of the beans (where beans can be found at all.) It's absurd to suggest that dry beans exemplify the path to "topp[ling] the industry of factory farming" when you're buying your beans from corporate-industrial farms! Second, the relative inefficiency of local-organic vegan protein (and fat) sources is evidenced by the limits of self-sufficiency among vegans. Multiple examples can be found of Americans producing all their own food (and feed/pasture/etc.) organically with the benefit of animals as part of the mix. There are no comparable examples of vegans. American vegans trying to pursue self-sufficiency inevitably still rely on corporate-industrial agriculture for at least half of their caloric needs, notably industrially farmed grains, pulses, and oilseeds; and non-local nuts and produce (varying, of course, with location) like almonds and avocados to fill the role of much more efficient (and therefore achievable) local-organic sources like grass-fed dairy and meat, wild-caught fish, and game.

August 6, 2014 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger grahamjanz said...

Eric & Melissa, I have never said that all land usable for raising animals is equally suitable for growing produce. I think you may be reading too deeply into my comments. There's no question that land is used unsustainably in the world, it's all around us. That's not the point. I never meant that all land could or should be used for something human either, though thinkers like Frank Lloyd Wright believe that all land should be used by humans, which would leave no room for wildlife at all. I wish that more land was reserved for wildlife, that was my initial point (that if all domestic animals were raised ethically, there would be less than no room for wildlife, if current demand continues or increases or even decreases), which leaves everyone with the responsibility of making the most of the available land (in urban centres and in rural communities, et cetera). I don't agree that animals should be mistreated, so what options have I if it's not possible to meet the demand for meat and at the same time satisfy ethical treatment of animals (provide animals with enough space) than to reduce my meat consumption as much as possible? I don't think livestock should be wiped from the picture entirely. These animals have been bred to have a dependency on humans. For example, it's cruel not to the milk cows who have been bred to produce vast quantities of milk. I know that cattle can graze in swampy lands or lands too arid or desert-like, and that the swampy lands shouldn't be drained for a number of reasons. My home city experienced massive flooding this year due to excessive drainage of wetlands (the land lost its natural ability to retain moisture) and a freak 250 mm rainfall. This year many farmers will be collecting subsidies only. Cattle and other livestock degrade the quality of habitats, unless they're given plenty of space roam. Such degradation causes issues for the wildlife nesting in the area. I live in the agricultural heart of Canada and most of the land used for agriculture here can be used for either raising animals or growing produce. There are some lightly forested and swampy areas that have cattle on them, but sometimes a new owner comes along and clear cuts the whole of it and drains the wetland and sows it to canola. Much of the area was originally swampy, but wetlands have been drained. I think it's something like 70 to 90% of wetlands have been drained in the last 50 years. Farmers often rotate crops between raising cattle and growing produce on many fields in this region. If you don't believe I have a garden and eat from it, good for you. Disbelief won't make it disappear. One day I went to the store and bought a bag of beans and I've had beans ever since. If you live in a city and you've got space for a garden, why not grow some food? That way you can have at least some control, and I'm happy to see a growing interest in urban gardening as more people come to realise this. You don't need a whole lot of land to grow lots of food. In China every square inch on boulevards, between sidewalks, et cetera, has food growing on it.

August 8, 2014 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger grahamjanz said...

The reason I'm not going as far as to say human should eat grass only is because we won't get the nutrients we need to survive. Our body isn't adapted to a diet of grass, so the regressive ad infinitum ends when biological necessity is no longer satisfied. Corn has little nutritional value, and wheat simply isn't enough. It's best for the soil and your health to grow a variety of plants. Until lichens began breaking rocks into organic material, the earth had no soil. Machinery or animals that keep the vegetation to its lower phases of ecological procession prevent this development. Of course, it has its limiting factors: climate and hydration. This is why many people are turning to permaculture and bio-dynamic techniques, which can incorporate animals into the picture. For example, a park might trade lawn mowers for a herd of goats or sheep. I was comparing cows to humans because you said that there's nothing more efficient than a cow. But humans eat less than a cow and for that reason require less land to grow food. I'll have to look into the reasons why market gardens don't sell dry beans. It may be because they don't think they'll sell and they stick to what they know will sell. It could be because they're not ready until closer to autumn or because shelling can take a while, and they're already very busy. Farming is a business and most businesses want to eliminate as much risk as possible and produce whatever will make them money. That's why canola and corn dominate in Canada. Corn is put in practically everything and canola has multiple uses. Beans, on the other hand, could be put in basically all foods, but the demand to do so or the interest isn't very high, and the reason for a low demand could be as simple as the stigma created against beans that they will give you gas.

August 8, 2014 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Leon Morton said...

As in so many "moral" issues,it's not what is right or wrong but WHO DECIDES that is the important issue.Public policy is best that maximizes personal freedom and responsibility."Morality" gives very little to that question.

August 14, 2014 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Genevieve M Malouin said...

Gotta love that whole "vegans kill animals too" argument. Because.... because that makes it okay to raise meat for slaughter and hunt. Sometimes, if you tell yourself something over and over again you eventually believe it to be the truth so you just keep telling yourself whatever you need to justify being a bonafide, premeditated killer. (Wow... saying the word "killer" out loud and omg... that is indeed and horrific word to associate to one's self.) It's all so sad. Poor innocent creatures. Rest In Peace. :( :( :(

August 18, 2014 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Vanessa Green said...

Stop copy and pasting this response all over the page. It's evident you didn't read the article and that you are not going to take a moment to reflect upon the other ways in which animals are harmed of murdered for the sake of living comofrtably in the first world.

Take your preachy attitude elsewhere, people aren't interested in a self absorbed, pious finger pointer shoving their I'll informed decisions and hatred down our throats.

August 21, 2014 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Sassy Breese said...

Colin Wright, right you are not. Did you miss reading this part of the blog? "The truth is there is no meal we can eat without killing. None. A trip to your local grocery store for tofu and spinach may not include a single animal product but the harvesting of such food costs endless animal lives. Growing fields of soy beans for commercial clients means removing habitat from thousands of wild animals, killing them through deforestation and loss of their home. Songbirds and insects are killed by pesticides at legion. Fertilizers are made from petroleum now, and those fields of tofu seeds are literally being sprayed with oil we are fighting wars over. Deer died for that tofu. Songbirds died. Men and women in battle died. And then when the giant tofu factory harvested the beans they ran over those chemical oil fields of faux-food with combines that rip open groundhogs, mice, and rabbits. Tear apart frogs and fledgling birds. It is a messy and bloody business making tofu or any of that other non-murderous food.

What about organic tofu and vegetables? That doesn't include chemical fertilizers and the companies are mindful? Right? Well, that is correct. But if you are not using oil to fertilize your crops then you are using organic material: manure, blood, bone, fish, etc. You may be a vegetarian but your vegetables are the most voracious of all carnivores. That small farm at your local green market needed to lay down a lot of swine blood, cow bone, and horse poop freeze-dried in bags marked "ORGANIC" to grow those carrots so big and sweet. Animals are an integral part of growing food for us, as food themselves or creating the materials that feed the earth. And the earth must be fed.

And let us not forget the miles on the road these vegetarian options must travel. That oil-free organic tofu sure needs a lot of diesel to get here to New York... "
Bottom line, vegans and vegetarian are not morally superior.

August 21, 2014 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Sassy Breese said...

Collin Wright, how young are you? Do you remember the Star Trek episode where the formidable threesome came across what they thought was nonsentient, and Spoke did a mind-meld that translated into "PAIN PAIN PAIN!!!" Then MaCoy said "Jim! I'm a doctor, not a dentist!" and they beamed down some sort of amalgam and MaCoy patched the injury and all was well. So, what makes you think "sentient" belongs only to mammals, reptilians and amphibians? I eat meat. I don't raise animals for meat but I hope to some day soon. Yesterday, I was mowing the lawn and hit a rock. The force and angle split a piece off the rock. I stopped to pick up the rock and examined it. The cut revealed beautiful layers. I was sorry for hitting the rock, I appreciated its previously hidden beauty. I placed it in the bucket with respect to be moved to a safe place. Would you have done the same?

August 21, 2014 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Sassy Breese said...

Colin, Human animals are not morally superior to nonhuman animals. AND Vegans are not morally superior to non-vegans. You come across as angry and judgmental. If that is what veganisim does to people, I want no part of it.

August 21, 2014 at 5:57 PM  
Blogger Nancy Bell said...

This discussion is endless if we focus on morality. Let's face it there is no fixed morality...morality is a matter of personal belief. If you do something I find immoral that does not make you immoral, only immoral in my eyes.

The issue of killing animals for food is in my view an issue related to how it's done, what is sacrificed for this meat and what other foods might be better...by better I mean better for the health of our bodies, the earth and those around us (people, plants and other animals)

Some of the gentler cultures eat meat but in small quantities served with whole grains and other plant based foods.

Much of the plant based foods will die anyway if not harvested. Once corn has produced the cobs the plant dies; same with squash, broccoli and many other foods. Berries are the fruit of the bush or tree as is most fruit..the main plant does not need to be killed. It seems self evident that these plants were put here to feed us...but a rabbit? A pig? Not sure.

Small ORGANIC farms and home gardens can produce alot of food. There is also ample farmland in California, Florida and the midwest. There is no need for deforestation. Much of the deforestation done or being done in the world is for the raising of beef. But I didn't come in to post about commercial meat products.

I know folks who grow all sorts of delicious vegetables using no fertilizer. They rotate crops and it works. You don't need blood and bones to grow a carrot!

I wish everyone posting would read both The Magic of Findhorn which does make you question just was is and isn't sentient...and Diet for a Small Planet which shows how much actual food is wasted in raising animals for their meat.

August 21, 2014 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger Eric & Melissa Brown said...

To put Grahams' claim that he can grow enough dry beans for a year in an area smaller than his bedroom, if one takes the generous assumption of a full (not "smaller than") 200 sq ft bedroom and average commercial yields in prime dry bean growing areas (about 25 bu/acre), Graham is claiming that he can replace the protein omnivores would receive from animal products with less than 7 lbs of dry beans, equating to the protein content of approximately 2% of average annual meat consumption in the US (even less if one were to include protein from fish and dairy.)

August 23, 2014 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger L C said...

I feel as if you read my soul and printed it here. I am also in upstate NY. In September, it will be the end of our first year here, the end of our very first year of homesteading. I have learned so much about how frustrating it is to grow vegetables here. Flea beetles and japanese beetles and powdery mildew, oh my. I am ever so thankful that we can raise the small animals we do on our little half acre in the woods. I've never visited your blog because I didn't know it existed... but you've won a follower.

August 26, 2014 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Criss Murdoch said...

Outstanding writing. Your eloquently put into words what a lot of us feel about raising our animals for food. Bravo!

August 26, 2014 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Cryss and Patrick said...

Maggie let's see how happy your parade would be if I started killing your family to eat them, or for their skin or even better I just kept them prisoner so I could harvest their ovaries and breast milk. Btw I'd need to keep your female family members pregnant and delivering babies to get good access to milk. Oh and depending on my type of farm, I'd kill most of their babies if not all then most if the males.
Hope I didn't 'rain on your parade' too much.

August 27, 2014 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Von said...

Sound arguments and good to read sense. As a sufferer of severe Vit B12 and Vit D deficiencies I have come to appreciate those who produce meat ethically for the health of others. Vegetarians need to be very mindful of their food intake because all our bodies need cannot be obtained from a vegetarian diet no matter how well balanced it appears.

August 27, 2014 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger Hannah Mae said...

Fantastic piece, and as a vegetarian of the non-angry variety I wholeheartedly agree. If I had anything bigger than a city balcony at my disposal I'd be raising my own happy chooks for dinner too. What worries me is that people who don't have farms themselves will read this and think "yeah, bloody vegetarians! I'm so much better off eating meat!" Each person can only do what we can do, and I'd much rather live on predominantly organic fruit and veg and the occasional bit of nasty tofu than on factory-farmed, miserable, hormone-ridden animals who never had a chance at getting a good life. My tomato may have once been alive too, but it's not exactly as sentient as a lamb, now, is it?

The important distinction isn't "vegetarian or meat-eater", it's whether or not we mindfully consume whatever food we choose.

I would hate for an insightful and well-written piece like this to become a paean to all kinds of animal-consumption. It's about a very specific set of circumstances, one that is unobtainable for lots of people, and I think it's important to keep that in mind.

August 28, 2014 at 2:13 AM  
Blogger Stan Dyer said...

This is a poor, feeble, and weak attempt to justify torture, abuse, and murder. The author makes a lot of "assumptions" that are not true, and easy to disprove.

To me, this author's treatise reminds me a lot of the people who claim to be "Pro Life," but have no problem at all buying products from China, a country that not only promotes birth control, and abortion, it mandates both.

It is a form of cognitive dissonance to try to intellectualize one's own poor behavior by pointing the accusative finger at other assuming they engage in any of the activities the accuser does.

It is easy to refute every aspect of this poorly researched diatribe.

August 28, 2014 at 1:40 PM  
OpenID capalove said...

Show me a vegan culture that has survived to procreate and thrive. You can't, because it doesn't exist, has never existed. We NEED to live in harmony with animals in total respect for the circle of life, that's why farmers like Jenna are so incredibly important. We NEED the sustenance that animals and fish give us, either from eggs, milk, or meat. Any culture that has lost access to animals or seafood has died out. It doesn't mean that humans are superior. On the contrary! We must live in gratitude and respect and understanding of nature's beautiful interplay.

August 28, 2014 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Nancy Bell said...

http://www.vegantalk.com/forum/4-science-research/1067-oldest-vegan-cultures

August 28, 2014 at 5:48 PM  
Blogger Jea525 said...

Wonderfully written. I hope this message gets to those accusing you of murder. They need to think twice before making such critical comments. I have great respect for this piece of writing. Keep up the good work, your animals sound like they have been raised in a lovely manner and greatly respected. I highly respect you for that.

August 28, 2014 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger =Eric said...

Alan Watts, the late great Buddhist teacher, once said "We are all part of a mutual eating society." "We" being all living beings.

I think he would have loved your words here, and laughed heartily and often while reading them. I can hear him now.

=Eric

August 29, 2014 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger Caro said...

Hi Jenna, I'm a vegan and I just want to say that I have from time to time come up against quite a lot of disrespect so I know how it feels to be on the receiving end. I'm so sorry that you've been subject to regular abuse. We think differently on a few matters, however, I'm glad you have posted a well-considered explanation to answer the hate. I very firmly believe in making the most of local and seasonal produce. Having grown up in a farming area in the UK I can appreciate how much better the animal husbandry on your smallholding is from the larger-scale, industrial farming. My personal choice is still Veganism. Nothing is perfect but just having people think about where and how their food is sourced is a step in the right direction. All the best.

August 29, 2014 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Joseph Brutschy said...

This is self justifying BS. It does not hurt one bit to try and learn to eat more veggie. Two points, it's much more efficient and eating animals seems way more gross from a spiritual perspective, it makes me feel dirty. Granted, sometimes I feel bad for the plants too. Best Wishes

August 29, 2014 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Barbara Lynn Cantone said...

Hi Jenna. Thank you so much for your insight. I was a strict vegetarian for over 20 years. I had to change my diet several years ago for medical reasons. Knowing that I have the choice to include animal protein from farms such as yours gives me tremendous peace of mind. And also reminds me even more of the sacredness of ALL life. Thank you.

August 29, 2014 at 12:25 PM  

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