Originally published May 26, 2011 on my former blog- moved here for posterity! 🙂
Choices. I’m all for them. As long as a person is making an educated decision, whether I agree with them or not, I’ll support them. The USDA recently conducted a sting operation against an Amish farmer for daring to sell raw milk to people who not only knew what they were buying, but went to great lengths to acquire the product. The folks did their research and made a choice based on what they thought was best for their families. And none of them tried to make me buy any.
I am an unrepentant carnivore. I am chronically anemic and can’t maintain iron or B levels without adjusting my diet. Supplements just don’t absorb well for me so I work in foods rich in these nutrients. The upside is that my lipid levels never move an inch, no matter how many cheeseburgers and steaks I eat. Not so for some friends, who have made the choice to be vegetarians or vegans, for health concerns and, in some cases, to appease their conscience. And that’s ok with me. You won’t catch me sneaking bacon into the dishes I prepare for them or lying about the ingredients in a casserole to get them to eat it.
What I’ll never understand though is the lengths some folks will go to try to get others to follow their own dietary plans. You’ll never see a meat eater trying to push a slice of chicken on a vegetarian, yet the majority of the public, who are not vegetarian, are constantly assaulted with inaccurate information and fear based advertising about our food choices from the radical minority.
These VegAn’gelicals, as I like to call them, have elevated a vegan lifestyle to a religious fervor and rabidly proselytize in an attempt to push their morally superior choices on everyone else. And if they can’t get you to convert, they take your choices away from you.
So it is with the radical animal rights group the Humane Society of the United States. You’d think from the heart breaking commercials showing abused and neglected shelter pets that their enormous annual haul of $100 million a year (and assets of nearly another $100 million) would be going to help those shelter pets, right? Wrong. Less than 1% of that huge tax free windfall goes to the thousands of real humane societies nationwide (they don’t own or operate a single one anywhere); they spend much of it on legislating away your right to eat what you want.
An organization that spends the majority of its funds on eliminating animal agriculture shouldn’t be given a place at the table to create laws that affect this industry and the food we eat. Yet they are, claiming to be only interested in better welfare for farm animals and not on abolition. Their actions, however, speak louder than their words- animal products of any kind are not permitted at their offices or events. And recipes posted on their website and in their magazine are completely devoid of all animal products. You won’t find a single egg, a solitary tablespoon of butter, a splash of milk or any animal based proteins (aka meat) anywhere in their publications, all in the false presumption that all animal products are the result of mistreatment and abuse.
In the past few years I have met many producers, from the humblest mom and pop roadside stand to the largest commercial facilities. Though they were varied in their approaches and beliefs, all shared on common theme- all were deeply concerned about the welfare of their animals, and were confident their methods worked. It stands to reason, after all, that healthy animals that are well treated are more productive. I can’t and won’t argue that fact, or the methods employed by each producer. If I don’t like the way one does business, I just won’t buy the product. End of story.
To aggressively advocate that all animal products should be removed from everyone’s diet, and to do so on the platform that all animal based foods are the result of mistreatment, is ridiculous. To discover these deceptions are being perpetrated using tax free donations is appalling.
Browsing through the collection of recipes on http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/eating/recipes/recipes.html I come across some real whoppers. “Cheese sauce”, says one. Oh, I like cheese! It goes with nearly everything, and the simplest sauce recipe is a basic roux of butter and flour, plus hot milk and whatever shredded cheese you happen to have on hand. I’ve started a lot of low cost, tasty meals this way. So imagine reading this ingredient list:
1 cup of water
1/4 cup roasted red peppers
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons corn starch (or arrowroot)
Seriously? Who in the world, other than maybe the combined $40 million in annual salaries HSUS employee roster keeps items like roasted red peppers, raw almonds, whole wheat or arrowroot flour and tahini in their pantry on a daily basis? Why fake it in the first place? Why put so much time, effort and money- this isn’t an inexpensive sauce- to recreate a food you have a moral objection to eating?
Why go to such extreme lengths to pass off a substitute, when there’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating the original item you’ve worked so hard simulate?
The assumption or as I see it, excuse, is that you, gentle reader, don’t have brains enough to determine where your food comes from, and on the off chance that your food is the product of a rare individual case of animal mistreatment, you should simply avoid those foods forever. It’s really not the point at all. The purpose is to convert you to their lifestyle, regardless of high costs and unsustainable claims it is healthier for everyone. It’s just not true, and repeating a lie isn’t going to make it reality.
I don’t eat like you and you don’t eat like me. I think you’ve got the right to feel comfortable with wherever your foods, whatever they are, are sourced from. You should have the choice.
And national groups should be transparent about their real reasons for the influence they exert on those choices.
Otherwise, they are just as fake as the faux foods they are pushing.