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http://www.dailyemerald.com/vnews/display.v/ ART/2003/04/22/3ea585cf15190

Oregon Daily Emerald, OR

Vegetarians curb fecal conditions, immoral industry
Joseph Bechard
Edge Culture Columnist
April 22, 2003

It's friggin' Earth Day -- that exciting one-day event when a few people make a futile effort to persuade others to think about the environment. I'm sure this day, since the first-recognized Earth Day 33 years ago, has changed the way some people think about their impact on our world. But from where I see it, it's not working that well.

Let's use my pathetic life as an example. I'm a vegetarian and, apparently, that's amusing stuff.

It happens a couple of times a week. Some guy whose car is lined with Carl's Jr. burger wrappers or whose teeth are peppered with Taco Bell Gorditas, tries to poke holes in my logic. I guess it's easier to make fun of the guys with morals.

The stupid insults about my manhood or intelligence don't work. I know I'm an idiot. But I'm a compassionate idiot, and no one can make me feel bad for giving a damn. Especially when none of them even bother to understand why I made this choice.

This first assumption is that I do it for health reasons. People love to chide me when they catch me doing something unhealthy. While I'm sure mankind is aching to keep my hot bod around as long as possible, I think I have a better reason.

I chose vegetarianism because, for me, it's pious. It is a constant manifestation of ethics and an agreement with the cosmos. It says to whatever god may be out there that I respect what I have and am willing to make a sacrifice for a greater good. I recognize the inhumanity of this industry and peoples' decisions to ignore it. By avoiding the stinking, putrid and bedeviled flesh of improperly raised animals, I have a couple reasons for feeling better about being a disgusting human.

First, I'm boycotting an exploitative and sickening industry. The federal Animal Welfare Act and most state anti-cruelty laws don't protect farmed animals. Because of this, many of these animals endure agonizing and painful lives before they ultimately become our food, soap and makeup. These animals live in confined and fetid environments -- anyone with the stomach for it should check out the "Why Vegan?" link at
www.veganoutreach.org . Under these horrible conditions, animals are pumped with antibiotics and hormones and are handled with an utter lack of respect.

Vegetarianism is also an act of minimalism. For anyone who feels even remotely guilty living in this land of excess, avoiding animal products forces them to be conscious of what they consume. Most Americans don't even take the time to consider the impact of their decisions as a consumer.

We don't think about where all those great products come from, we just use them. We continue to believe in eating meat for our three daily meals. And we'll fling ignorant insults at people who try to do something positive.

I listen to jokes about how I don't "measure up" to my beef-fed counterparts. People insult my intelligence by calling me a "granola" or "that freaking moron." They'll try to persuade me into eating meat again with something like: "But humans were meant to eat meat. It's natural."

But those freaking morons won't ever listen to what I'm trying to say. They don't care about the unnatural conditions in which these animals are raised.
They won't hear my sermon about man's sick relationship with the earth. All they want to hear is the sizzling flesh of a cow that grew up wallowing in its own feces at some nasty, polluted feedlot. They are only thinking about the next time they can bite into some pork that never saw the sun because it grew up indoors covered with pig waste -- in tiny pens with hard, disgusting floors.

These animals have some sad lives. But what's worse is how discussions of this topic are discredited. We never question the morality of some of the crazy things humans do; we flippantly justify them with anthropocentric nonsense.

I can't avoid all animal products in this world of mass production, but I sleep a little easier knowing I don't have any tortured little souls trapped in my body. And I'll insult you with that.

Distributed in accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107.

cc: Vegan Outreach