Never understimate the Opposition
Vegetarianism is now more popular than ever before and there is increasingly widespread appreciation of the fact that a vegetarian lifestyle is healthier, more compassionate and environmentally sound. However, despite growing awareness of the many health advantages of an animal-free diet and the wealth of information available about the dangers inherent in the use and consumption of animal products, the impact of the vegetarian message is being significantly distorted by a variety of commercial, political and religious pressure groups with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, the better to control the minds and pockets of their potential customers or followers.
The BSE Crisis: Bad habits die hard
The recent beef scandal highlighted the need for fresh new strategies to confront the lies and deception associated with the modern meat industry and its political allies. Powerful marketing techniques are used to shape the minds and habits of millions of gullible consumers, who are effectively being told what to think and what to buy and are actively encouraged to ignore their own common sense and to dismiss as mere scaremongering the now overwhelming evidence of the health risks involved in consuming the products of modern agribusiness.
McSpotlight on Multinationals
The so-called pleasures or ravenous suicidal instincts, deeply rooted in human ignorance, and the prevailing meat-eating mythology, still widely held as mainstream and unquestionable truths, are being carefully nurtured by governments acting as acolytes for the dubious but highly profitable business practices of giant multinationals such as McDonalds, whose financial success at the expense of the environment, the earths natural resources and the health of consumers represents a serious threat not only to the countless animal and plant species being wiped out by such practices but to the health of the human community worldwide as life-giving forests and oceans are turned into wastelands and chemical sewers incapable of sustaining life.
The excellent information campaign set up as a result of the McLibel trial in the UK was described by The Guardian newspaper as the most comprehensive source of information on a multinational ever assembled, exposing the ruthless social and environmental practices of powerful multinationals. The publicity for the trial, instigated by McDonalds to challenge a factsheet entitled Whats wrong with McDonalds? may have helped to reduce profits somewhat, but sales nevertheless rose by 14.2 per cent. in the first quarter of 1997, with profits soaring by $344.5 million in the same period the previous year.
Meeting the Challenges of the Meat Culture
What untried strategies, we may ask, might hold some possibility of success in our David and Goliath struggle to save what's left of our green planet? What might be done to make it less rewarding to plunder, kill or destroy what is unique and took millions of years to create? What can be done to avert the descent of spaceship earth into final disintegration as a massive slaughterhouse and waste dump? How might it regain some of its lost lustre and we our lost sanity?
As it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate among the victims of human folly, and as the misuse of knowledge has become dangerously widespread in a robotic world increasingly concerned with cloning and tinkering with life rather than with care and respect for the individual, it is in the interests of vegetarians as much as non-vegetarians to adopt a more active and determined role in seeking to become part of the solution rather than remaining, whether through omission or commission, a part of the problem.
Breaking the Chains of Ignorance
Many scientists and doctors are acting as powerful antagonists and masters of deception on issues about which they know very little. Whether through ignorance or self-interest, or a combination of both, they set themselves up to mislead and misinform the public on matters of health and nutrition, sometimes with fatal results.
In a recent radio discussion on whether meat eaters were affected by the fear experienced by animals at slaughter, I was confronted by a biologist and a doctor whose mythical belief in the supposed need for animal protein made it well nigh impossible for them to accept the possibility of an animal-free diet, thus bringing my word and indeed my very existence into question.
Paradoxically, foods and animals are being genetically manipulated and modified by so-called experts who themselves may need to alter their views and their diet, who may be ignorant of the most basic principles of sound nutrition and have much to learn about which unmodified foods are best suited to the human organism.
Equally, animals are being cloned and manipulated because researchers have no respect for their victims rights as individuals and cannot accord them their true status as sentient beings because such respect for life would invalidate both the need for and the acceptability of their own so-called research.
A truly genuine desire to establish a healthy and ethical relationship with our food and our common physical and social environment would of itself do much to bring about the changes required to prevent the human animal from succumbing to apathy and self-deception and to help overcome the gross injustices and social upheaval which threaten even greater environmental destruction.
- Francisco Martín, General Secretary