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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

watch it: Humane Society on downer cows

This is shocking but not, alas, anything new. Except now we can see it:

I’m not a vegetarian, and have no desire to be — not only do I like eating meat, but I think we humans, as omnivores, need the protein that animal flesh supplies to be healthy. (Vegetarians rarely look to me like they’re well.) But there’s absolutely no need to be inhumane to the animals we eat: it’s cruel to them, and it’s simply stupid from our perspective. If an animal isn’t well enough to walk, it’s not well enough to be eaten by us.

via Americablog

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  • Well I don’t want to start a big thing here, because debates about vegetarianism can get surprisingly stupid really quickly. But I’ll just say that I am not a vegetarian, but my girlfriend is, and has been since she was about 9 years old. You do obviously need to make sure you get protein elsewhere, which she does, and she looks and is perfectly healthy. I know you don’t know my girlfriend, but for a public example, Paul McCartney’s a vegetarian, and he looks pretty good at 65.

    The whole protein thing is kind of a silly argument that everyone always brings up, like eating meat automatically makes your diet good and balanced. Go outside and take a look around at people and you’ll see that that’s for damn sure not the case. If you want to bring up what a “natural” diet would be for humans, it for damn sure wouldn’t be as much meat as we eat now. It’d be a lot closer to vegetarianism than it would be to our modern diets. It’s not like you’d be bringing down a hog or a chicken every day in the wild, ya know?

  • Oh also, more on topic, I agree. I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t want my food tortured, either. This is where I think PETA goes wrong. Instead of comparing eating meat to the Holocaust, or putting up “Got Prostate Cancer” billboards with Rudy Giuliani’s face with a milk mustache on them when he had gotten prostate cancer and some really questionable study linked milk to prostate cancer, they should focus on veal and chickens being tortured by KFC and stuff like that. Everyone can get behind not wanting to needlessly torture animals. But when you call them Hitler for liking pork, or laugh at people with cancer because they drank milk, you aren’t really drumming up sympathy for your cause. I know they want everyone to be vegans, but, ya know baby steps. Pragmatism, not idealism.

  • MaryAnn

    like eating meat automatically makes your diet good and balanced.

    I never said that. And clearly, many people who are not vegetarians are unhealthy. But eating animal protein makes it much easier to get the complete proteins our bodies need than limiting oneself to vegetables does.

    A natural diet for humans would be paleolithic, and would not feature many foods that vegetarians eat today, like potatoes. Very, very few people today eat anything like the kind of diet we ate as hunter-gatherers, before the advent of agriculture.

  • I know you didn’t say that, and I didn’t say you did, but people get weird about vegetarians and they get really offended by the fact that they don’t eat meat. Like, who cares what they do or don’t eat? Unless they’re trying to tell you what to do, who gives a shit? Again, not saying you did that, but others do, and when you watch some obese person yelling about how being a vegetarian is horrible because you won’t be eating healthy, it sorta makes you raise an eyebrow, ya know? Remove the log from your eye before telling me about the splinter in mine and all that.

    If you’re going to make the decision to be a vegetarian, yes, absolutely, you should do some research, and be careful about your diet to make sure you’re getting proteins and etc, because it is harder to do that when you don’t eat meat. But it’s not this huge, impossible task. My girlfriend eats a pretty normal diet, except for the lack of meat, and she’s quite fine. She makes sure to include meals on a regular basis that get her the protein she needs, and she’s healthy. Yeah, some vegetarians don’t do that, and they don’t look healthy. But some people eat tons of meat and get fat and get gout and have heart attacks. Doesn’t mean eating meat is inherently bad either, it just means that no matter what you choose to do, you have to be smart and moderate with your diet.

    Your point about the natural diet was basically what I was getting at. Basically no one today eats anything close to a “natural” human diet, so the argument that we’re meant to eat meat is silly from that standpoint. We weren’t eating medium rare steaks covered in A1 with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy in the wild. I wasn’t saying vegetarians eat a “natural” human diet, what I meant was strictly the ratio of fruits/vegetables/non-meat to meat in a “natural” diet would be much closer to vegetarian than to the amount of meat a normal person eats today.

  • Jennifer

    You basically just have to be thinking about what you’re eating, meat or no meat. It might be somewhat easier to get protein with meat, but I think that’s canceled out by the greater risk of contamination. And it’s so easy to think in terms of complete proteins once you get used to it. Why would you go out of your way to call me unhealthy? It’s not even that I’m offended, it just seems strange.

  • MaryAnn

    But some people eat tons of meat and get fat and get gout and have heart attacks.

    But is it the meat that’s causing that, or all the junk carbs?

    no one today eats anything close to a “natural” human diet, so the argument that we’re meant to eat meat is silly from that standpoint.

    No it isn’t. Hunter-gatherer humans were not vegetarian. They ate meat — it was a vital part of their diet.

    It might be somewhat easier to get protein with meat, but I think that’s canceled out by the greater risk of contamination.

    I think all the scares about e-coli contaminated spinach proves that that’s not true. The problem isn’t with what we eat but how we grow what we eat. Factory farming, with all its weird chemicals and abuse of both the animals and the people doing the work, is the problem.

  • Well, the gout is from the meat. That was an interesting side effect of the Atkins craze. Everyone was cutting out carbs and eating nothing but meat and all the sudden gout was on the rise. But the obesity and heart attacks? Sometimes, sure. Obviously you have to look at the whole diet, but if you’re eating red meat three meals a day, I have little problem saying you’re a great candidate for a massive coronary. The point being that the meat itself isn’t unhealthy, it’s the poor diet and the lack of moderation. Just like with being a vegetarian. You can’t just choose to eat or not eat meat and automatically be healthy. Either way, you have to watch what you eat and have a balanced diet.

    No it isn’t. Hunter-gatherer humans were not vegetarian. They ate meat — it was a vital part of their diet.

    Well but yeah, it is silly. Because you said being a vegetarian isn’t healthy because humans are omnivores and our natural diet includes meat, but then you conceded that no one really eats anything close to our natural diet. And our natural hunter-gatherer diet for damn sure didn’t include nearly as much meat or kinds of meat as we eat today. And it didn’t include cooking it. Shit, it certainly didn’t include three meals a day every single day. It’s so vastly different from a normal diet today, that picking out one aspect of it (eating meat) and saying you can’t be healthy if you don’t do that is silly.

  • MaryAnn

    That was an interesting side effect of the Atkins craze. Everyone was cutting out carbs and eating nothing but meat

    The only people who say that are those who have no idea what Atkins is about. It is most certainly NOT about eating nothing but meat. It’s about replacing unhealthy refined carbs with nonstarchy veggies. Atkins eaters eat a LOT of veggies. I should know: I’m one of them, for the most part.

    And you’re completely misrepresenting what I said about meat. Please don’t do that.

  • misterb

    I feel obligated to comment on the “Paleolithic” diet. Hunter-gatherers eat what they can find – humans evolved to survive over a very wide range of ecologies. While Inuit may eat almost entirely animal protein, in many jungle areas, meat may have been a rare treat.
    The key circumstance is that every ecology has periods of food scarcity and abundance. For instance, fruits ripen around the same time so the high sugars in fruit triggered our metabolism to store all that “excess” food energy as fat. Since fruit was one of the most basic hunter-gatherer foods, most of us will starting storing up fat when we eat a lot of sugar.

  • The only people who say that are those who have no idea what Atkins is about. It is most certainly NOT about eating nothing but meat.

    I know that. I didn’t say Atkins was about that. I said a lot of people did that because of Atkins though. I think most of them just, ya know, saw a commercial for Atkins, or read an article about it and said, “Oh, ok. I can eat whatever I want, as long as I don’t eat carbs. Awesome! I can eat steak 3 meals a day as long as I don’t eat potatoes with it!” I am not saying that’s what Atkins is or that that was a problem with Atkins. Atkins really has nothing to do with any of this, though. It was just a totally tangential thing to the comment.

    I’m not sure where I misrepresented you, but I was right, and this got stupid fast. You said vegetarianism isn’t for you because vegetarians rarely look healthy. Hey, that’s fine, I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t want you to be or care if you are a vegetarian. But I guess I’d prefer if you didn’t portray it that way because I know plenty of vegetarians who look healthy and are healthy. And there are plenty of famous examples of vegetarians to counter that as well. You have to make a little bit of an effort to make sure you’re eating healthy if you’re a vegetarian, but everyone should be doing that, vegetarian or no.

  • MaryAnn

    I think you have to make a lot more effort to eat healthy if you’re a vegetarian, because your options are so much more limited.

    I’m not sure where I misrepresented you

    Okay:

    Because you said being a vegetarian isn’t healthy because humans are omnivores and our natural diet includes meat, but then you conceded that no one really eats anything close to our natural diet.

    With the gist of all that being that vegetarians are further removed from a natural human diet than omnivores.

    And our natural hunter-gatherer diet for damn sure didn’t include nearly as much meat or kinds of meat as we eat today.

    Nor did it include all the non-meat foods we eat today. Which I said before.

    And it didn’t include cooking it.

    Say what?

    Shit, it certainly didn’t include three meals a day every single day. It’s so vastly different from a normal diet today, that picking out one aspect of it (eating meat) and saying you can’t be healthy if you don’t do that is silly.

    I said nothing about meat three meals a day every single day, or that you can’t be healthy if you don’t eat that way. You’re putting words into my mouth and making assumptions.

    Look: People who think they can live on steak three times a day, and nothing else. are idiots. People who think they can live on pasta and corn or nothing but fruit because that’s “healthy” and “vegetarian” are idiots. I think we’re both in agreement on that.

  • Ah. Well there’s the misunderstanding. I never said you said any of that stuff. I was saying those are things that were not part of the “natural” diet, and I included that there are plenty of non-meat things we eat today that we didn’t eat then. I wasn’t saying you said any of that, my point was that we differ from our hunter-gatherer diet in just about every conceivable way today, so unless you’re one of the crazy people who actually do try to eat like a caveman (and they’re out there) it doesn’t make sense to pick one facet of that diet out and say that if you aren’t doing it, you can’t be healthy. Just as easily as you can say not eating meat isn’t healthy because it’s not natural, I can say eating three meals a day isn’t healthy because it’s not natural. This was my point.

    Either way, yes, we agree that no matter what you do, you need to not be stupid about what you eat in order to be healthy. Being a vegetarian does not automatically make you healthy, nor does eating meat. And we agree that it’s harder to eat healthy if you’re a vegetarian. We simply disagree on the level of that difficulty. And like I said, personally knowing several vegetarians, I’ve seen what they do, and it’s not that big a struggle for them. You do it for a little while, you get used to it, ya know?

  • Danielle

    Please, my meat-eating friends, stop bickering and just agree to go forth and eat only animals that are treated nicely and happily sacrifice themselves to you. Ethical issues resolved!

  • MaryAnn

    I have no ethical issues with eating animals. If you do, that’s fine. But don’t assume that we meat-eaters are wallowing in guilt for being carnivores.

    I was saying those are things that were not part of the “natural” diet

    It suddenly struck me that the most unnatural thing about our diet today — whether we’re vegetarian or not — is that we have to be extremely conscious about what we eat if we’re going to be healthy. That’s not natural. Used to be, if you came across some raspberries in the woods, you gorged yourself on them, because they were likely to be the only “sweets” you’d have for months. Used to be, you ate as much of the hunt’s catch as you could get, because it might be a while before you’d have fresh meat again (and you’d expend a lot of calories bringing it down, butchering it, and cooking it). You didn’t think about food choices: you just ate what was around, and it was all good, and never too much. That impulse to just eat whatever we can is not one that’s easy to overcome. Now we have to stop and think: Does my body really need this? We never used to have to do that.

  • Deb

    Personally, I feel very good that that video is entirely not my fault and I bear no responsibility for those poor animals suffering, pain and fear. I am a vegan. There will also be no baby calves deprived and tortured as a result of me demanding to be able to eat cheese and have milk on my cheerios because I am just plain selfish and only interested in my appetites at the expense of animals. And if you people who do eat meat and all the rest of it don’t feel any guilt over your responsibility for their pain, than you are lacking in compassion.

  • MaryAnn

    I am just plain selfish and only interested in my appetites at the expense of animals.

    Yup, that’s it: I am just plain selfish. Because there’s absolutely no difference AT ALL between corporatized factory farming and humane, sustainable agriculture and ranching.

    Deb, that video is not my fault. I would much rather buy organic, free-range, etc, and I do whenever it’s possible, because it’s better for me and the animals I’m eating alike. That video is the fault of greedy humans who put their own wealth ahead of the well-being of both their fellow humans and the animals in their care. If you think demonizing all non-vegans is the way to stop this kind of thing from happening, you’re wrong. And you don’t do anyone — including the animals — any good by pretending otherwise.

  • Deb

    You are right, there is not difference between corporate farming and sustainable agr. & ranching, to the the animal. It is my understanding that all meat for sale to the general public has to pass a health inspector, so that meat that is coming to you with an organic label, etc. on it, is going to be shipped and go through the slaughterhouse system just like the feedlot cow. Do you think that the brutality experienced by, not to mention the terror and mental suffering, that those animals go through is any less horrendous at the end of their life journey? And consider this: any eggs that you buy that are referred to as free range, simply means that those chickens are not locked in tiny cages for six years. Instead, they are from thousands of birds that are kept in huge sheds, where they spend their days under artificial lights, scratching around in the litter and feces of all those birds. The ammonia levels that they exist, in from the accumulated urine burns their respiratory system, and as well the dust raised by their movement through the powdered filth clogs their lungs. If any one of these birds gets sick, there is no medical aid for it, and instead it will huddle in a dirty corner somewhere, waiting for death and if they are lucky, they will not be noticed in the meantime by their bored prison mates, nor by the rats that inevitably scurry through places like that.

    When cows, who provide you with milk and cheese, are no longer giving the same quantities of milk that they were, they go to slaughter. During their lives, they are bred every other year, they give birth to a calf and it is taken from them after two or three days. And if that calf is a female , she will lpossibly enter the milking system at maturity. If it is a male, he is placed in a tiny pen, where there is no foom for movement, and he is fed a iron poor diet, which results in anemia, continual feeling of unwellness, etc, and then while still a baby, is shipped to a slaughter house so that all you veal lovers can eat him. No sunshine, no romping in the meadow, just a shack or a chain, then violence and death.

    The fact that you and every other meat eater out there insists on their pound of flesh puts these animals and birds in harms way and your video is only one example of how human beings abuse and torture living creatures all over the world. The next time you think you would like to buy a jacket with fur on the collar, prepare for the purchase by researching where that fur comes from. In our consumer society, China has become the supplier of all things and that includes fur that goes on jackets from Italy or wherever, so I would challenge you to Google “China Fur Farms”. If, after watching that you can go out and buy that jacket, then I will be totally baffled.

    Until about 15 years ago, I was a total flesh eater like you, but then something happened to some baby rabbits that our bunny had, which I didn’t intend, but it was totally my fault. I felt absolutely awful, horrible about it and suddenly the thought came to me that if I felt so bad about our bunnies, and if I loved my pets and animals so much, how could I possibly eat any of them or other animals like them. I was a vegetarian until the last year and after becoming aware of the videos that are there on youtube that show exactly what happens to animals in all the food industries and fashion industries, I swore off meat, eggs, and dairy forever. I will no longer be responsible for the suffering of any animal. I am also a 53 year old woman and made the decision a few years ago, not to take hormone replacement therapy because I didn’t want to be responsible for even one horse enduring the kind of lives that PMU mares must live with daily in order for me to “take a P pill” or should I say estrogen tablet.

    You have said that telling it like it is (although you did try to put a different slant on it), won’t do anyone, including the animals any good. Well, I’ve said the same things to one of my daughters, and she got curious, viewed the Youtube videos, and now she is a vegan. She is healthier, has lost some extra pounds she was carrying and she has saved how many future animals, by doing so. If even one person reads any of this, opens their heart and mind to what they are seeing on the videos mentioned, and makes a change, then how many animals will have been saved from being tortured and abused.

    When I say that meat eaters are selfish, it is in reference to them putting their own appetites above the well-being, both physical and mental, above that of another creature. And to say that one must eat meat to survive, and that is the justification for continuing the practise really has no basis in truth. It does take a willingness to learn to do it right and to do it well and there will be a learning curve, but there is absolutely no reason why a person should go short on protein and all the vitamins and minerals that the human body needs to survive. So it really does boil down to satisfying appetite and nothing more. Sorry, but it is inescapable.

  • MaryAnn

    Treating animals humanely is not automatically inconsistent with being a meat eater. Animals raised for food do not necessarily have to suffer, and they do not need to be slaughter in a way that induces terror.

    And you do know that the food that you are eating, too, is invariably contaminated with all sorts of nasty things. Our air, water, and soil are loaded with so much detritus of our unsustainable abuse of our own environment that you can’t escape it even if you limit your diet to vegan foods.

  • Debby

    Living in New York City, it is quite likely that you are unfamiliar with how sensative animals are, how quickly they pick up on even the slightest difference in their environment. For example, at a horse show, a horse that is being ridden by someone who is nervous is more than likely to be the worst behaved animal, whereas, put a calm and confident rider on that same horse and after a moment, the horse will have the attitude of “uh, whatever” and get down to business.So if you believe that animals can be slaughtered in such a way as to not induce terror, than I think that you are sadly mistaken. I have had horses for the past 15 years and I am familiar with their sensitivity to the smallest stimuli, so I can speak on this personally.

    When I quit eating meat, it was not for the health benefits, but for the emotional benefits to the animals that I previously had consumed. I made a choice not to be the cause of their pain. When they arrive at a slaughterhouse for the “coup de gras”, they smell the blood and the fear, they hear the cries of the other animals. They might not have your intellect, but neither are they brain dead. Do the following searches, and find out what goes on in America’s slaughterhouses all over the country.

    http://www.goveg.com/feat/agriprocessors/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4dpHtsivAs

    http://www.goveg.com/organic_eggs.asp

    These videos will show in sad and graphic images why I no longer consume meat, eggs or dairy. I can only hope that you watch and begin to understand that your choices have an impact on the lives of animals who have no choices.

  • MaryAnn

    Living in New York City, it is quite likely that you are unfamiliar with how sensative animals are

    Yes, that must be what it is. I must be ignorant. As a city dweller, I must be locked behind concrete walls for my entire life, with no knowledge or understanding of anything beyond the city line.

    Did I mention anything about slaughterhouses? I did not. But I did say that the consumption of meat is not necessarily inconsistent with the humane treatment of animals. As this company, as just one example, advocates and practices:

    http://www.northstarbison.com/IBS/SimpleCat/About/asp.html

    If veganism, at least for you, is not about health, but only about not wishing for animals to suffer, then what if animals don’t suffer? I know that animals, while not sentient, or not at least as fully sentient as we are, do have emotions of a kind and can suffer. But what if we treat them well and ensure that they are not stressed even when killed for their meat? That *is* possible, has been done in the past (when we were hunter-gatherers and probably up until the advent of corporate factory farming), and is being done on a small scale now.

    If you’re suggesting, on the other hand, that there is no way animals can be spared suffering, then there’s no way that animals *can be* spared that suffering, because in the wild they are subject to being killed and eaten too.

  • Debby

    While it is may be possible for animals to be slaughtered without the stress that is evident in your video, that likelihood is slim, the above being the norm. I think that going to the argument that in the wild, animals eat animals is of little value. We are not animals, so comparing us to animals with a lower intellect and no ability to make other choices seems to me to be a weak argument.

    With regards to your comment that suggests that if animals didn’t suffer during the process, then perhaps I would feel that it is acceptable to eat meat, I would have to answer no to that. I have the ability and capability to make other choices, and would find it abhorrent to eat animal flesh. With regards to the health aspects of eating a vegan diet, I am not consuming the growth hormones that are pumped into the animals that you eat, I am not consuming the adrenal hormones that pump through their system at the time that they are dying, I am not consuming any of the animal fats that clog the heart and blood vessels as you are. I get far more fibre in my diet, and consume far less processed junk than the average person. So I feel that I win on all fronts. I’ve lost weight, I feel more energy, I have a clear conscience and I am learning a whole new way to manage my health long term. All of the above benefits are enjoyed by most of the vegans that I’ve communicated with on the various forums.

    I am sorry that you have taken offense at my words as that was not the intention. I just think that you are uninformed, but obviously, judging by your credentials, not ignorant. I also am inclined to wonder at what may have compelled you to post such a video and to maintain an open attitude with regards to discussion that was sure to come your way. It is said that everything that we do, we do for a reason and that it may be years before the true meaning of todays action becomes clear. I think that you and I have come to the end here, and I thank you for the opportunity to explain myself. May you find your way in this world, with a peaceful heart and the same openess that you’ve demonstrated here to the ideas of someone who believes differently than you do. Best Regards

  • MaryAnn

    I get far more fibre in my diet, and consume far less processed junk than the average person.

    So do I. Eating meat is not incongruent with being healthy. Eating artificial crap is incongruent with being healthy.

    I also am inclined to wonder at what may have compelled you to post such a video and to maintain an open attitude with regards to discussion that was sure to come your way. It is said that everything that we do, we do for a reason and that it may be years before the true meaning of todays action becomes clear.

    You’re suggesting that I’m subconsciously conflicted about eating meat and that someday I’ll come to my senses about it and convert to sensible veganism? I can assure you that that is not the case.

    I think I’ve explained quite well already why I posted the video. You may not see it, but there *is* an ethical middle ground between abusing animals and our own food supply and completely avoiding consuming any animal product.

  • BennyP

    Sorry MA, but you ARE “profoundly ignorant”.

    First of all, your glib comment that vegetarians don’t look healthy is stupid. Are you a scientist; a sociologist, perhaps? Are you not aware that vegetarians live longer than meat eaters; significantly longer?

    Hate to break it to you, but you ARE responsible for that video. I don’t care where you buy your meat; you are the consumer for this madness. The Gov’t needs to drive up the price of meat by making the meat industry pay for the true cost of its product on the environment (check out “Diet for a New America”, a book/video by John Robbins, if you care to).

    Lastly, the claim that humans “need” animal protein is again, ridiculous. If that were the case, every veg would be diseased or dead, due to some “animal protein” deficiency disease. Of course, that is not the case.

    Open your eyes to what’s going on in America. Obesity is an epidemic; eating meat is a huge part of that problem. The 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse are: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, & stroke. Look at the FACTS: check out the China Study by Dr. Campbell. There is a DIRECT correlation between eating meat and all four of those diseases.

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