Recall that earlier in his book, Omnivore’s Dilemma, author Michael Pollan saw nothing in the eyes of steer #534 (“As I gingerly stepped toward him the quiet shuffling mass of black cowhide between us parted [Pollen’s steer was now at the feedlot], and there stood 534 and I, staring dumbly at one another. Glint of recognition? None, whatsoever. I told myself not to take it personally; 534 and his pen mates have been bred for their marbling, after all, not their ability to form attachments.”) nor in the chickens whose throats he was cutting (no fear). Extending his seeming innate inability or unwillingness to perceive or research what he thinks he is seeing, he next dismisses people who believe individuals from other species have rights (also species, and by undeniable relationships, ecosystems).
Pollan goes out of his way to insult tens of millions of people when he writes, “To contemplate such questions from the vantage of a farm, or even a garden, is to appreciate how parochial, and urban, an ideology animal rights really is. It could thrive only in a world where people have lost contact with the natural world, where animals no longer pose a threat to us … and our mastery of nature seems unchallenged.”
He is being ridiculous. Like other conclusions found in Dilemma, he bases his beliefs on false premises. He believes if we choose a vegan response to what ails the Earth and humankind, we are disconnected urbanites who only need to wake up to the reality of his carnist world-views. Pollan’s dismissive attitudes and misrepresentation of vegetarians and vegans exposes his failing to explore adequately what a vegan human ecology offers. It is insulting and more than that, aggravating, because an important portion of the progressive community that really cares about issues is being misled.
A new era is unfolding. Our understanding of how the biosphere does and does not work should expand our awareness, not shrink it as it appears in Omivore’s Dilemma. I am vegan because of what I have seen and experienced with ecosystems and other species while doing both animal welfare and rights advocacy and environmental campaigns.I have been charged by a grizzly bear, watched a black bear at play in the wild, had sea otters mating within a few feet of my toes, walked among the poor of many cultures, had close calls with whiteouts in the wilderness, been swarmed by mosquitoes, covered in leaches, and suffered frostbite and heat stroke. Those experiences made me deeply committed, spiritually committed, to the vegan new human ecology and the ecosystems it relieves. By Pollan’s accounting, I have never been to a farm or garden, left a city, or otherwise come to understand anything he experienced in researching his book. I have, and I refuse to be ever again, a carnist omnivore.
Next: The Omnivore’s Disappointment