Vegetarians & Politics

Not Harmless Eccentrics Anymore

Not long ago mainstream America chuckled fondly at vegetarians and our excesses of compassion. Not any more. With a large percentage of British youth going veggie, the cattle and food industry is starting to get uneasy. All this fuss about humane caging and slaughter is pushing up costs, and a large scale switch to a plant-based diet would eat into a lot of profit margins. Cattlemen are the most outraged; it was a cattlemen’s group that sued Oprah Winfrey and Howard Lyman for ”slandering meat” (the cattlemen lost). The food industry as a whole doesn’t really care what people eat, obviously, even if it kills them; there’s always more of us. But they don’t want the expense of retooling if they can avoiod it. Further, most animal activists are, logically enough, vegetarians, so feds can expect to find some direct action folks in our ranks. Suddenly, vegetarianism is a political issue. Beware; Big Bubba is Watching You. Don’t forget: the original name for Homeland Security’s email sniffing software was Carnivore.

Tofu Makes You Gay, Right-Wing Blog Says We already had to deal with popular culture’s efforts to feminize vegetarianism. Now Jimmy Rutz of MegaShift Ministries calls upon his vast scientific knowledge as a “pioneer thinker” to warn us vegetarians of the dangers of tofu, a vegetarian mainstay. Turns out, according to Jim, it makes us gay. It also gives us leukemia, and contributes to heart disease (Mr. Rutz doesn’t comment on beef, a “food” known to cause heart disease). And soy products depress the thyroid. This article crowds too much misinformation into its few paragraphs for me to consider it all here. I’ll simply mention there is no evidence that soy is dangerous to even hypoactive thyroid glands, though those taking the synthetic thyroid supplement levothyroxine should avoid consuming large quantities of soy. And they should also cut back on fiber. Many otherwise healthy foods can interact with various pharmaceuticals, which is why nurses warn you of certain foods when instructing you about prescribed medicines.  As for the dangers of soy infant formulas (Rutz says ¼ of babies are getting them; the USDA says about 1/5 in 2000), also overstated, but mother’s milk is amost always best. Dr. Weil is not the first authority I would go to, but he appears to be right on the money about soy hysteria. And, as to this guy’s headline claim, there is absolutely no evidence that soy feminizes men. In fact some studies are suggesting that soy may actually make men more agressive. As a long-time male vegetarian, I vigorously object to Rutz’s suggestion that I’m a sissy. Makes me want to kick somebody’s ass.

It is very important to inform yourself about the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Don't assume this doesn't apply to you; even contributing to an animal welfare group might be enough to qualify as a potential terrorist. This act has been replicated with almost identical wording in state after state at the behest of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (it is not immediately clear exactly what they're Exchanging for Legislation) and the Center for Consumer Freedom which is actually a front group for restaurant industry lobbyist Berman & Co, and is now making its way into federal law through both houses. The new version is a harsher version of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992, and would penalize such things as "veiled threats" to individuals and families, economic disruption or damage, and "tertiary targeting," whatever that is. All intentionally vague. In some states even secretly photographing the everyday operations of an animal enterprise can be considered terrorism. Kevin Kjonass and five others were recently convicted under the earlier law for… <drum roll/> setting up a website, and, apparently, not moderating their forum stringently enough.

Also visit the Green is the New Red site which addresses the current McCarthy-like witchhunts of animal and environmental activists. Say, is your familiar a cat or a dog?

Vegetarians of the Apocalypse Many vegetarians eschew meat for religious reasons; there are links to several vegetarian religious groups on our Links page, including many Christian groups. Not all Christians embrace vegetarianism, of course; some regard the spread of vegetarianism as a sign of impending doom. A tract printed by Ray Comfort's Living Waters Publications warns us that signs we are living in the end times, according to the New Testament, include: earthquakes, "increased violence, nation rising against nation, wars, a breakdown in the institution of marriage, famines, increase in vegetarianism…" As to that last, from Ray's lips to God's ears. Let's hope we are living in the end times for the meat industry.

YOU may be a Terrorist!  Ever said bad things about factory farms or animal experimentation? Brought to our attention by the show above, a proposed law, HB 433, would subject family farm and animal rights activists to jail time and a fine of up to $10,000 for taking pictures of penned-up animals on factory farms, joining an environmental organization involved in a corporate campaign, or even donating to a group involved in peaceful protests or civil disobedience against corporate farms. Shades of Saddam! Scroll Advocacy.

Vegeterrorists, Part 2 Maybe we can't track down Osama Bin Ladin, but we can sure put those furrin vegetarians in their place. Professor Rosalind Gruben of Sussex, England reports that, upon attempting to enter the US to deliver a series of vegetarian raw foods lectures, she was subjected to the sort of abuse we used to associate with the treatment American missionaries sometimes got when entering totalitarian countries. Her account. And don't forget: Tom Ridge and the FBI know when you check out vegetarian cookbooks from your library. And the packet-sniffing software they use to spy on your email is code-named "Carnivore."

Organic Torture Perhaps you thought "organic" also meant cruelty-free. The USDA agreed with you until recently, but they've changed their minds. Guess who persuaded them. See Advocacy.