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can you be a carnivorous, environmentalist feminist?

September 19th, 2007     by Thea Lim     Comments

Have you seen the new PETA ad starring Alicia Silverstone? I don’t know about you, but I find this video just plain weird (especially the part where her nipples are missing). If the video made a connection between Silverstone’s nudity and what she’s saying, I might not find it as strange.

But many others, including Bitch Magazine, have called out PETA on their gratuitous use of female bodies to push vegetarianism, even when there is a connection between boobies and animal rights, as with the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign.

What do you think - does this video undermine Silverstone’s message by insinuating that her lithsome body is more important than her politics? Or do you think that, since corporations freely use female bodies to sell everything, groups like PETA should feel free to use T & A - especially when it’s with consent of the women involved?

As I get older, I just get more and more confused about the ethical implications of meat-eating. As if it weren’t confusing enough that PETA’s ad strategy (which, in case you were wondering, I don’t really agree with) is sorta at odds with feminism, PETA is now claiming that being a carnivore is at odds with environmentalism. Grist magazine has a good article here that sums up PETA’s position, and you can read about it from the horse’s mouth (oh ho ho) one one of PETA’s websites.

This may be controversial, but I disagree that meat-eating is bad for the environment. In fact, it may even be good for the environment, depending on how you do it. A meat-eater who eats local and buys from organic farms where the animals frolic merrily in the fields may be better off than a vegetarian subsisting on a strict, all-year-round diet of mangoes, eggplants and coconut milk.

This summer, after seven years, I gave up vegetarianism and went back to meat. One of the hugest reasons why I went veggie was for environmental reasons (wow, I was so ahead of the curve…). But after seven years of eating GMO soy (soy is one of the most highly modified crops in the world, and also is usually farmed on a massive scale, i.e., monoculturally) and avocadoes shipped from Mexico using tonnes of gasoline, I began to wonder if there was a flaw in this plan.

I also made a shocking discovery this summer, while living on a farm. I learned that animals are the cornerstone of any farm, even one that only grows vegetables, because manure is absolutely central to the farming process - unless of course, you want to use pesticides, which we all know are bad for Momma Nature. So if you’re trying to be vegan and cut all animal products out of your diet, the only way to do so is to actually support a type of farming that is more, not less, detrimental for the environment.

I still think that vegetarianism is a fine choice - I’m just not sure anymore whether or not it is the only way to eat ecologically. And just as meat-eating can be bad for the environment, I think veggie-eating can be just as bad.

But here’s another “but”: maybe my reunion with sausages has more to do with the fact that I missed them every single day I was a vegetarian, than it does with me trying to be environmental. Maybe it’s just convenient and noble for me to say that I’m having a ham party to be more eco-friendly, when it’s really just because I love eating piggies.

I dunno, am I huge dirty hypocrite, or can I quite cheerfully be a carnivorous, environmentalist feminist?

Tags: body politics, eco speak

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