As expected the animal use industries are mounting an increasingly bizarre pushback against the labelling of substances for which they long ago co-opted names. There are frequent media outcries about who has the right to use words like ‘milk’, ‘sausage’, ‘burger’ etc. Claims are made that because the animal use industries that sell flesh, breastmilk and eggs are such stalwart champions of transparency in advertising, there’s concern that consumers can be turning to plant nutrition only for the simple reason that they’re being misled. Yes, clearly consumers are buying plant milk and plant-based sausage, burgers etc. when what they really meant to buy are body parts and breastmilk, had they not been fooled and taken in by a devious plant-based agenda.
I have to concede that the animal industries’ media machines are the most skilful and unscrupulous I’ve ever witnessed, using petulant and childish charades as a tool to manipulate consumers on the pretext of concern for ‘transparency’. Of course depending on how one views this pantomime, it constitutes the most outrageous insult to consumers. Seemingly refusing to accept that they’re just becoming increasingly knowledgable about what’s really happening behind closed slaughterhouse doors, I see it as a declaration that consumers are perceived as too ignorant to actually recognise and make informed choices about what they’re spending their hard-earned cash on. It’s so offensive it would be laughable if it were not that trillions of innocent lives of every species are hanging in the balance.
Of course because the animal use industries are so heavily invested financially, pushback against the rising plant-based tide is only to be expected, and there’s a limit to the number of fronts on which they can feign concern.
All the latest science (other than what is produced by those with conflicted interests) makes it absolutely clear that any claims about animal-derived products promoting human health are likely to be shot down sooner or later. It’s no longer a secret that national dietary guidelines have for many years had little to do with health and a great deal to do with the wealthy and powerful lobbying of the industry. We have recently witnessed the radically different dietary guidelines issued by Canada as a result of their refusal to allow this lobbying to completely dictate recommendations, and as I write a review is underway in the US where eminent plant-based physicians are eloquently pleading for human health to become the evidence based priority there as well. It remains to be seen whether they will succeed. Whether they do or don’t, every major health authority is in agreement that plant nutrition is healthy for our species at all stages of life.
Another potential front might have concerned the environment but that avenue has closed completely and the door is bolted and locked. Our species’ regime of exploitation and oppression that is currently breeding, feeding and slaughtering 77 billion land based individuals to provide only a small proportion of the dietary indulgences (preferences – not needs) of 7.8 billion people – who then need to complement their intake of flesh, eggs and breastmilk with plants which are what we actually need for nutrients and health – is one of the main drivers of the environmental collapse that we are witnessing all around us. New reports are appearing with increasing frequency, each one more alarming than the previous one, each speaking more plainly but evidently still not plainly enough to inspire the action that must be taken if our species is to survive.
Despite several countries having declared a ‘climate emergency’, their superficial concern will remain only lip service until the animal use that is causing said ’emergency’ is brought to an end, governments stop propping it up from the public purse, and provide financial and practical support to farmers and others to facilitate sustainable diversification.
Storm and tempest
Meanwhile I look out my window at the weather and each day my heart sinks further. With the Arctic ablaze and the ice all but gone, the statistics and news bear witness that mine are not simply halcyon memories of the misty past, as I sit here in early August, a time that was high summer in the days of my Scottish childhood and youth. Today, yet again, it is raining torrentially and the winds are storm force. The track and the garden are flooding; bedraggled birds huddle in the wet greenery, having relied on my feeding to support them through an almost insectless summer; no longer a season of plenty; no longer able to provide for them and the hatchling mouths they struggle to feed.
This extreme weather is no longer unusual, as, despite the stereotypical UK obsession about weather, shopkeepers, receptionists, and others I chat to, shrug and smile about ‘the rain’, acting like there’s nothing to worry about. What remains standing of the barley crop in the field behind my storm-swept cottage is unlikely to be able to resist the deluge much longer. When this and the other nearby expanses of grain translate into food shortages, into even more empty shelves, and the continued spiralling of prices in the shops, will the penny drop then, I wonder?
So much for why health and environment are not the chosen battle fronts for individuals and corporations reluctant to see income from animal use dry up, as the death and misery they have inflicted on the defenceless for so long, falls steadily and inexorably out of favour with consumers who are turning to plants in their droves.
Who’s going to patent the dictionary?
Milk: (1) an opaque white fluid rich in fat and protein, secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young.
(2) the white juice of certain plants.
(3) a creamy-textured liquid with a particular ingredient or use.
Sausage: (1) an item of food in the form of a cylindrical length of minced meat encased in a skin.
(2) an object shaped like a sausage.
Burger: (1) meat or other food pressed into a round, flat shape and fried.
And so on. Unless someone has patented the dictionary, almost all the uses of the disputed words were legitimate before someone decided their vested interests meant they needed to re-write the definitions. So is ‘transparency’ really the reason?
Transparency – bring it on!
In all truthfulness, I have no problem at all with transparency in advertising. I’d love to see more of it – everywhere. But then, that’s not what advertising is actually for, is it? Advertising, along with marketing, is an art form that has developed along with the media that proliferates it; risen to prominence with billboards and bus shelters, tabloids and magazines, TV and supermarkets.
In a competitive capitalist world of commodities, advertising is the means of jockeying with competitors, enticing consumers to spend money on things they don’t need. As such it would probably (definitely!) be counterproductive to be honest. Just imagine a world of truthful adverts – I’m smiling at the very thought of how refreshing it would be. However let’s also spare a thought for how different everything would be if – say – some manufacturer had patented the use of the word ‘car’ and was taking steps to ensure that no other manufacturer would use it; or if ‘perfume’ applied simply to a product being sold by one company. Wouldn’t that seem like rather a blatant strategy to move the goalposts?
However let’s return then to the topic of this blog; the substances derived from trillions of annual aquatic and land-based lives. Imagine if the real truth were to be told. Just think about it. The torment and the mutilation, the misery and the terror, the destroyed lives and the broken bodies; the grief and desperation of distraught mothers and abandoned infants; the cages and the confinement, the trawling and the nets and the slaughter trucks, the bolt guns, electric prods and scalding tanks; the sheer, unending screaming, sobbing gore and bloodbath of it all.
What would happen if that truth were told, and is it likely that those who make money from this to meet the demands of consumers actually want it to become common knowledge? I leave the reader to their own conclusions about whether ‘transparency in advertising’ is really the motivation for the current media tantrums and the sudden need to redefine the dictionary, or whether the reason is something else entirely.
For my part, I’ll just carry on being vegan and reading labels. If real honesty matters to you, and if a habitable planet is something you would like to see continuing for your children to enjoy, you’ll probably want to be vegan too.