Where's the Beef?

The carnivorous curmudgeon responds to our animal-rights feature.

Ten things I hated about the Thanksgiving week cover story on animal "rights" activists and terrorists. (The reason it has taken two weeks for this reply is that I had to distill this down to 10 from the original 273.)

1. The writer, Connie Tuttle, threw out the names of a dozen or so organizations, including the Animal Liberation Front and the (ahem) Kalamazoo Animal Liberation League. They all pretty much fit under the umbrella designation of Food Nazis. They're just a bunch of fun-stealers who hold press conferences to see if anybody will show up. One such group recently claimed that Italian food is bad for people. Last I checked, Italians outlive Americans, on average. And Italians eat all kinds of meat and dairy products, including the undisputed king of mystery meat, sausage.

2. The writer liked to throw out an outrageous statement and then try to qualify it by saying "but not all people agree with that." To suggest that some of these people sincerely believe that breaking into a lab to free some lab rats is equivalent to abolitionists (and Union troops) fighting and dying to put an end to human slavery is repugnant beyond words.

3. It must be noted that when zealots form a firing squad, they assemble in a circle. Does a malaria-bearing mosquito have the same right to life as a companion dog, a cockroach the same as a horse? If you buy into the "animal rights" argument, you pretty much have to go that far.

Then, what about plants? Does a head of lettuce utter a silent scream when it's hacked away from its roots? Do blades of grass experience pain when trod upon? Then there are microorganisms, protozoa and the like. For all we know, there's some dork out there who wants to protect the prion, the non-organic, protein-like substance that serves as the conveyor of kuru and its ugly cousin diseases, Jacob-Kreutzfeld and Mad Cow.

Hey, what about artificial intelligence? And I don't mean that awful movie that Steven Spielberg grave-robbed from Stanley Kubrick. Will "thinking" machines have a soul and, therefore, a legion of people willing to look past their suffering fellow man in order to latch onto a "cause?"

4. All people agree (as I do) that animals should not be used in research on such idiotic things as cosmetics. But, at the same time, some actually disagree with the use of animals in medical research.

I'm sorry, but if 10,000 animals have to die in research so that one human being can be cured of cancer, that's a good deal.

5. The cover said, "There's no holiday for animal activists." Damn right! Holidays are fun! These people don't want fun; they want gravity. They want to frown so that other people will think they're serious, when, in fact, the only reason they're frowning is that they haven't had pepperoni in a long time.

6. A labored attempt was made to refute the common argument (be it religious or simply realistic) that humans have domain over the animal kingdom. (Actually, I've never thought that my ability to do algebra in my head had anything to do with my right to eat bacon.)

Why not look at it the other way? We're animals, just like all of the other animals. And, like it or not, animals eat animals all the time. We just happen to be the baddest cats in the jungle.

There is simply no way to dispute the fact that human beings have been carnivorous since the dawn of time. (Trying to claim otherwise is like that time you got stuck on the wrong side of the debate in high school and had to try to find facts to back up your stance that communism would be good for the economy.)

It's natural for us to eat meat. If you don't want to, that's fine. But don't tell me that it's wrong for me to do so, because it's not. Vegetarianism is simply a choice that some people make. And it's a choice that's about as natural as celibacy among married people.

So, either we're superior to animals, which makes it OK to eat them, or we're the exact same as animals, which makes it OK to eat them.

7. A vegan friend of mine (a gaunt, rather sallow fellow) agrees that mankind has been eating meat since before we began walking upright, but he says that he hopes that we might evolve beyond that.

We have evolved! We now bread our chicken and deep-fry it instead of shoving a pointy stick into it and holding it over a flame. If that's not advancing as a race, I don't know what is.

8. The writer suggested that a vegetarian diet will help one lead a longer and healthier life, when, in fact, there is absolutely no data to back up that claim. The country with the longest average life span among its residents is Japan, and no one will ever accuse the Japanese of being vegetarians. They eat tons of fish and more than a little beef. Next comes Switzerland, where they eat meat and cheese, hence the name.

The United States is 28th on the list. Some people think it's because of gun violence, but I personally think that the unhealthy vegetarians are dragging us down.

9. They quoted Isaac Bashevis Singer as saying (or writing), "Even in the worm ... there glows a divine spark. When you slaughter a creature, you slaughter God." Who knows in what context that statement was made?

10. Hitler was a vegetarian. He used people for experiments.