Rhys Southan has an awfully interesting post here about how some vegans cultivate revulsion. I'm of a different school of thought--more like the married people he talks about. Infidelity isn't allowed, but that doesn't mean other men are disgusting. Likewise, I don't see meat as disgusting or unappetizing--at least, not deliberately. (After 17 years of being a vegetarian, a rare steak does look weird, but I'm pretty sure it would taste good.) Many vegans try to see animal products as revolting. At some vegan blogs, they call milk a "glass of pus" and Rhys says PETA refers to eggs as "chicken periods." It seems to me that all sorts of bodily processes will start to seem disgusting if you go that route. Breastfeeding could seem revolting, if you get yourself to associate milk and pus. If chicken periods are disgusting, are human periods disgusting? Think about pregnancy--good heavens, all those months cuddled up with a placenta! Eww! To maintain resolve about not eating meat, I have called to mind slaughterhouse images and chickens crammed into cages and what cattle are fed at feedlots. Ugh. It's another thing to cultivate revulsion about animal bodies themselves. I worry that there are attitudes associated with super-pure veganism that are not desirable--and that's why I read Rhys's blog (despite its "not what I think" name). It's a wickedly satirical expose of those dubious attitudes. I don't think for a minute he's lacking ethical concern for animals. He's pulled in multiple directions, and that's what makes his writing interesting.
Labels: animals as food
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Heh, I don't shy away from calling a whole host of things disgusting. Disgust has something to do with the unusual, because things that are usual we typically don't find disgusting. So bodily processes we don't find disgusting because they are usual. But when people point out the nature of bodily processes, when we are forced to bracket them, as the phenomenologist would say, we find them quite disgusting.
What does that say about the morality of something? Nothing really. "Yuck" doesn't mean "bad" unless we're talking about a morally "light" issue (I've only recently added that exception to my belief structure... Still testing it out.)
I'm not one to talk about pus in milk or chicken periods, but I don't think this is all that outlandish. It's not clear to me that the revulsion these vegans are cultivating is about animal bodies so much as the idea of eating those bodies and things that come from them. When you ask, "If chicken periods are disgusting, are human periods disgusting?", perhaps the question to ask is "If eating chicken periods is disgusting, is eating human periods disgusting?"
I think PETA is banking on a bunch of taboos (oh my god, PERIODS!), and not really looking objectively at when/whether bodily secretions are problematic to imbibe. Going back to milk, I don't see how a person can get worked up about the grossness of cow's milk and retain a healthy acceptance of mammals. In fact, it's potentially speciesist to think it's repugnant for one species to consume another's milk.
I bicycled by some farms today, saw new calves, thought So cute I wouldn't want to eat them. The little piglets were also to be gently pinched, but no, not chewed. The sweetest, yummiest baby in the world - no, I would not eat my kid.
The vegans sure got it backwards. Milk, blood, thymus gland, tripe? Bring it on. Sauce a la pus? Well, is it factory farmed? That's the crucial question.
I don't plan on letting myself get freaked out by bodily fluids. I agree--what's really non-negotiable is how appalling factory farming is. I can look at other issues from many perspectives, but don't think I could possibly change my mind about that.
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