The (so-called) alternative press rarely "gets" vegetarianism, animal rights, and related issues. Case in point: The February 5, 2007 issue of The Nation featured a book review by Daniel Lazare called "My Beef With Vegetarianism." The book in question was The Bloodless Revolution by Tristram Stuart (full disclosure: I have not read Stuart's book).
The "review" reads like a personal vendetta against those who choose a plant-based diet as Lazare dedicates as much space to his own opinions as those of author Stuart. "My Beef With Vegetarianism" also includes a wide range of uninformed assertions. For Lazare, death at a slaughterhouse involves merely "dispatching" the animal "quickly and efficiently" for the "good utilitarian purpose of feeding the hungry." He also engages in Fox News-level mind games with questions like: "If life is the highest value and taking it is never, ever permissible, then what are we to do in the case of a poisonous snake that is about to strike a sleeping infant?"
I'm wondering: Did a vegetarian spokesperson decree that taking a life is never permissible? Plus, we don't need imaginary examples like snakes and infants. The animals being slaughtered on a massive scale are not threatening anyone or anything, they do not die "quickly and efficiently," and the hungry are not being fed as a result of their grisly deaths.
Lazare dusts off another line of "reasoning" one might expect from a 12-year-old: "Cruel as it is to kill an ox or a pig, nature is even crueler. A tiger or wolf does not knock its prey senseless with a single blow to the forehead and then painlessly slit its jugular; rather, it tears it to pieces with its teeth." Lazare not only embarrasses himself with an absurd comparison, he yet again diminishes the horror and cruelty of the slaughter industry.
The ham-fisted Lazare forges on with his transparent agenda. Leonardo da Vinci didn't speak out against cruelty to animals, he "ranted" against it. Descartes' alleged "fruit-and-vegetable diet" may have contributed to his death at the relatively young age of 54. Vegetarianism's "dramatic resurgence in recent years" is thanks to "pierced and tattooed twentysomethings." Lazare erroneously-yet predictably-reports that Adolf Hitler was a "dedicated vegetarian," and goes on to enlighten his readers about what "most likely" drew Nazi dictator to vegetarianism: "its antihumanist and authoritarian elements." As if this were documented fact, no further elucidation is provided.
Speaking of ill-informed assumptions piled atop clumsy inaccuracies, Lazare also states: "More people are living better and eating more richly than anyone in the 1700s would have thought possible." Tell that to the one billion who live on less than one dollar a day and, by the way, how exactly do we know what "anyone in the 1700s" thought possible in this realm? Regardless, Lazare declares that scarcity "no longer serves as an argument for vegetarianism, and neither, for that matter, does health." For him, to consume animal flesh is to celebrate "humanity's ongoing struggle to create abundance out of scarcity." To do otherwise would be to wallow in "the silly defeatism of a diet of tofu and sprouts."
Ultimately, Lazare's "review" is nothing new and opinions similar to his are available widely...via the corporate media. On the other hand, an effectively functioning alternative media should be giving voice to opinions and ideas neglected by the mainstream.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.