photo: CALM Action/Creative Commons
Over at Grist yesterday Tom Philpott wrote one of the most important and practical pieces in food politics writing I've seen in a while (and self-reflective green movement commentary). Philpott rightly urges both vegans and meat-eaters to set aside dietary differences for the greater good of combatting our common enemy, factory farms--which in case you don't step outside the green bubble much, account for 99% of all animal farming in the US, despite any strides made in sustainable and more ethical food production over the past couple of years.
Here's Philpott's conclusion:
[Vegan food commentator James McWilliams] recently argued that "free-range meat isn't much better than factory-farmed." But that very same article contains this line: "factory farming ... produces 99 percent of the meat we eat."
If McWilliams is correct, then vegans and omnivores agree on 99 percent of the meat issue. So let's put aside the other 1 percent -- for now -- roll our sleeves up, and clasp hands. There's no fee to join the Vegan/Omnivore Alliance against Animal Factories, no number to call, no petition to sign, no special handshake. Declare you're a member, and you are one. (I am a writer, not an organizer; the VOAAF will never formally incorporate -- under my watch anyway).
So, no more potshots between camps, no lashing out about pastured poultry or dancing dairy cows; and no more mocking the culinary virtues of tofurky and the like. To the ramparts ... together! You in?
I'm in and I think you should be too. I'm vegetarian and repeatedly publicly advocate for that, but I'm not so narrowly dogmatic about it that either I 1) think everyone is going to become vegetarian, still less vegan, or 2) don't recognize that there's a big difference in the lives of animals raised in non-factory farm conditions and those raised in CAFOs, even if the end result is still their deaths.
Vegans, vegetarians, and conscious omnivores alike all recognize that our current food production and distribution system in the United States is broken (we do agree on that, right?). So let's work together in fixing one of the most egregious examples of that broken system.
Philpott proposes #VOAAF as the hashtag to collect this all.