meat, economics, whole foods and veganism

Oooh, my first challenge! It went down on Facebook something (exactly) like this…

TJU: “Still shop at Whole Foods? WF sponsors “top butcher” competition across America! Time to go elsewhere.” {link to Clash of the Cleavers}

crazyrawvegan: “I’m not weighing in on the Whole Foods debate – people still eat meat, Whole Foods still sells it. Basic economics. The problem starts before people get to the market, wherever they shop…”

TJU: “So you’re vegan for health strictly, not for compassion for animals, right? Because when you find out you are sponsoring Whole Foods’ Meatopia AND their “Top Butcher Competition” , your response is “oh well, too bad, not my problem, I don’t buy or eat meat, that’s all I’m willing to do.”…? Just so that we’re clear.”

So, after having this in the back of my mind as I finished up a 17 hour work day in front of the computer, I feel compelled, at 1:25am, to respond. And another FB response just won’t cut it.

I am, first and foremost, a raw vegan for health reasons. I do, however value all the other benefits of being a raw vegan including, but not limited to “compassion for animals”, the environment and being able to eat desert for breakfast without feeling guilty. I felt my response to the initial question re. still shopping at Whole Foods was neutral and pragmatic – no, I don’t support Meatopia or the Clash of the Cleavers and therefore won’t be attending the event (neutral). I do understand, however that people still eat meat, therefore there is a demand for meat, therefore Whole Foods still sells meat and supports that large, wealthy meat-eating customer segment (pragmatic). If and when I go to Whole Foods, I am supporting their fresh produce section and sometimes their nutritional section, but never the meat, dairy, bakery, or processed sections. I also believe that Whole Foods is a reflection of society’s behavior not a driver of it, and am concerned that people might think a grocery chain had so much influence.

That being said, I feel that a significant amount of interpretation and (unfair) judgement went into summarizing my position on the situation as “oh well, too bad, not my problem, I don’t buy or eat meat, that’s all I’m willing to do.”

Just so we are clear… I stated that the problem starts before people get to the market, wherever they shop. The general population is not well educated enough to make good decisions about food – for starters, a  disturbingly large number of school children think meat comes from a plastic wrapper not a cow! A lot of people don’t have the financial means to make better decisions about food because the food they can afford is processed rubbish (these people are not the population that is supporting Whole Foods’ Meatopia though!). And a lot of people also want to make better choices about their food but don’t have the culinary skills to pull it off.

Changing this situation is everyone’s problem, for the animals, for the environment and for their health, and I can say that I’m not only willing to help, but am actively helping in ways I feel I can:

  • I started a blog and share my daily experiences with raw vegan food with total strangers in the hope that one single person will be inspired to try vegan foods, and better understand how to create a balanced diet without animal products and have interesting recipes to try… hundreds of hits a day…
  • I am growing an online community of people interested in raw vegan foods through Facebook… a bit under 400 fans in 4 months isn’t too shabby for a personal blog in my humble opinion…
  • I do in-depth research on diet and nutrition in my spare time (of which I don’t have much) so I can talk to my family, friends and colleagues about their diets and how they might improve them – a lot of people close to me now eat significantly less meat and think twice about it when they do, and have cut back on dairy products
  • I am supporting my aunt in her battle with breast cancer through sharing ideas on raw healing foods, and my mother in helping her prevent it and also address the risk of osteoporosis
  • I share information about healthy eating choices with my mother – she is a principal of a school and has set up a cafeteria with healthy, home made foods for her students
  • I am trying to start up a health resource group at work to increase people’s understanding of their dietary choices… and when it launches, it’s a company of over 32,000 people…

I’m trying to change people’s choices before they get to the market, just to be clear.

I also know how hard this change this will be on a mass scale. I grew up in meat and dairy country in Australia. Most of my relatives own dairy or cattle farms and I spent a lot of time on them growing up. It is nothing like the mass production you see in the States but I know that people make their livelihood from these industries. Some may change their opinion and turn their life upside down. Others won’t, particularly while there is a demand and money to be made. Same can be said for those who don’t support their family from farming but just simply want to eat animal products, no matter what the health, environmental and animal rights impact because they enjoy it. But myself and a load of other dedicated people are helping people make more educated decisions.

I also believe that the way, if there is one, to influence people to move to a vegan diet is through issues that affect them directly, i.e. their health. Hence my focus on the health benefits. People are essentially self-interested – if you don’t look after yourself, who will right? When people become sick, or overweight, or understand that their actions are increasing the likelihood of these risks, the danger is more immediate and results of doing something about it are more visible. Educating people on the animal experience is important and will speak to already interested parties but in my experience will rarely ‘convert’ people like their personal concerns will.

It is important to remember that not everyone really understands what it means to kill a cow, or a pig, or a chicken, to eat it. At 12, I was too young to do it myself but have seen this up close and personal so I do understand. But am not an activist. You will never see me jumping up and down protesting the sale of meat until we have done everything we can to change people’s opinions about eating it.

Phew! It’s 2:30am and I need to be up in three hours but am interested in your thoughts…

Love and respect has the power to change the world. Judgement will get us nowhere.


2 Comments on “meat, economics, whole foods and veganism

  1. Pingback: masticating makes me happy « crazy raw vegan

  2. What a beautifully written post! You are doing so much to help make a change in the world! Keep up the good work! I am doing some of the same things, and if we all keep at it, change will come. I love your statement about how love and respect has power to change the world; judgement will get us nowhere.

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