Do carrots scream?

This nut cutlet reckons a meat industry commercial claiming that humans have evolved to thrive on red meat is misleading. But we humans are omnivorous creatures, and our metabolisms have indeed evolved over millions of years so that a daily menu including meat is the simplest way for us to maintain a balanced, nutritious diet (though not the vast quantities of saturated fats and refined sugars typical of modern western societies). It’s certainly possible to achieve a balanced vegetarian diet, but it’s more complex and requires care and nutritional awareness (not bad qualities to cultivate, I must admit).

Richard King’s real objection to meat and the industry commercial, however, seems to be that some animals are farmed and slaughtered inhumanely. I guess he must be a vegan. He sees it as a moral imperative. I don’t think much of battery hen establishments or some quadruped feedlots either. But has Mr King considered how much more gruesome would be the fate of many of these creatures in the wild? Being torn apart by predators or dying slowly and painfully of thirst and hunger in a drought?

And has he thought about the fact that Roald Dahl might be right, that plants might really scream in tiny, agonised voices as they’re torn out of the ground? Should Richard King also be protesting against the heartless slaughter of feedlot asparagus? Or is he a pampered inner-urban latte-sipping wanker who should grow up and get a life and stop imagining that he’s elevated himself to a superior moral plane by eating mung beans and lentils? I’ll leave you to decide. I’m going out to get a big juicy fillet steak.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Neil
Neil
15 years ago

Remind him that Hitler was a vegeterian so he fails the moral high ground. Point out that while you live only on vegetables so can you live only on animal products. Yes it difficult but if you are prepared to eat large amounts of offal you can survive. An example are the inuit people of the Artic who developed this survival strategy. Seal intestines anyone?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
15 years ago

Neil, you’ll have flexitarians and lacto-ovo’s over here with a rustle of unbleached hemp garments to tell you that the Inuit have dramatically shortened lifespans as a result of being at the top of the foodchain. It’s one of the more oft-put cases for vegetarianism. Personally, I suspect that hungry polar bears utterly disinterested in vegetarianism, probably took out more of the Inuit than their animal protein diet and anyway, these days it’s more likely to be Big Macs and alcohol.

As for Adolf “nuts n’berries” Hitler:

“One may regret living at a period when it’s impossible to form an idea of the shape the world of the future will assume. But there’s one thing I can predict to eaters of meat: the world of the future will be vegetarian.”
– Adolf Hitler. November 11, 1941. Section 66, HITLER’S TABLE TALK

Carrots do scream but if you chuck them in the blender and turn it on high, you can’t hear a thing.

Gummo Trotsky
Gummo Trotsky
15 years ago

Saw that article. Damned silly piece about a silly ad. Watching it, I get the impression that however earnest the Ad Agency was about it, Sam Neill wasn’t taking it all that seriously.

Remember when the vegetarians and vegans got in a lather about the Sam Kekovich “barbecue a lamb for Australia Day” ads? How sweet it is to be totally lacking a sense of humour.

Dan
Dan
15 years ago

But has Mr King considered how much more gruesome would be the fate of many of these creatures in the wild? Being torn apart by predators or dying slowly and painfully of thirst and hunger in a drought?

Except they wouldn’t, would they? Farm animals are not brought in from the wild and made to suffer. They’re bred deliberately and made to suffer. The alternative to being a farm animal is not being a wild animal, it’s being a non-animal.

Which is not the only reason that argument is silly. It’s likely that a lot of African slaves would have died of starvation in droughts etc had they not been forced into slavery. By your reasoning, that should make it okay to inflict any suffering on them up to and including the suffering they might have endured had they been left alone.

When normally intelligent people use arguments like “Animals suffer in the wild therefore it’s okay for me to breed them so they can suffer more”, or “Hitler was a vegetarian therefore vegetarianism must be bad”, or “You can live on nothing but meat therefore eating meat is good” (?), not to mention the old chestnut “People who live in the inner city and drink good coffee are more likely to be vegetarian, therefore vegetarianism is wrong”, it suggests to me that they might be evading the real issues because they like eating meat. I should know, I used similar arguments (although not those exact ones, as I remember) for a long time before I was forced to concede that they were bullshit.

If you want to keep eating meat and deny that there’s any moral issue involved, then fine. But perhaps it would be better for you to tactfully ignore writers who make the serious moral points, instead of trying to counter them with this sort of transparent nonsense.

J
J
15 years ago

“But has Mr King considered how much more gruesome would be the fate of many of these creatures in the wild? Being torn apart by predators or dying slowly and painfully of thirst and hunger in a drought?”

A very strange argument indeed. We’re saving animals from the horrible slaughter of their natural environment by putting them in battery-style containment?

Animals of the world should rest easy and give thanks for their enslavement at the hands of mankind. Now, a turkey can die a clean death, and die calmly knowing that it’ll end up serving as a nice nutritious meal for a human.

A very strange argument indeed.

david tiley
15 years ago

Maybe its just me, but I thought Mr King put his argument with more verve than most op-ed writers these days. Actually I do object to the science – it is not true that meat made us big brained, and the proto-human diet (I think) was not strongly carnivorous. It is probably just as good an argument for eating scorpions and running advertising campaigns for locusts dressed in a light nutella sauce.

I thought it was sad that the meat mob has to build an argument by attacking vegetarians. That must be because they have ruined the taste by getting the fat out of the meat.

As a male constantly afraid that I don’t eat enough vegetables, I wondered for years how the Inuit managed to survive without mangoes and oranges and all that vegetation stuff. I gather it is because there is enough vitamin C in blubber to live on, if your gut is adapted to process it.

I am told there is a huge irony with the Inuit death rate, aside from the usual impact of alcohol on tribal communities. They apparently often die from aneurisms called by too much omega 3 fish oil. But yes, they don’t get strokes.

Ron
Ron
15 years ago

I wonder why abbattoirs don’t have glass walls?

vegout
vegout
15 years ago

I object to the add as it is grossly misinformative.
Meat is deinitely not an ‘essential’ part of the human diet. If it was I would be dead!
If Sam Neil said, “I like the taste of meat 3 or 4 times a week’ I would have no issues. But he states it is ‘essential’.
My children were worried about me after watching this add & thought I might die as I do not eat meat!
The Australian meat & livestock commission really needs to get it’s facts correct!

msmisanthropist
msmisanthropist
15 years ago

You, the cow and the planet would be better off if you ate a nut cutlet instead of the steak.

*not THAT nut cutlet!*

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

I’m with David Tiley above,

I don’t think King put his argument all that well, but he didn’t put it that badly. I’m not sure why the argument should be treated in the derisory way in which it has been treated.

Whether and how far one can extrapolate from the suffering imposed on battery animals is a very difficult matter. But it’s a serious moral issue – and we should all be ashamed of the abuse that goes on in many intensive farming operations.

Alistair
Alistair
15 years ago

As a vegan for the last 8 years and a very fit and healthy one at that, I personally find it hard to understand the argument that meat is an essential part of the human diet that we apparently have evolved to.

On the contrary, since 2000 the studies have been rolling in from the well respected science community that meat is not only unnecessary, but hazardous. The EPIC study in Europe of just under 500,000 people over ten years and many EU countries finds that the risk of colon cancer is 30% greater in people eating two 80 gram portions of red meat a day.

The Total Wellbeing Diet, published by the CSIRO and funded by the Meat and Livestock Industry was based upon a study of 100 overweight women with a metabolic disorder for several months and recommends 200 grams of red meat a day.

Nowhere does it suggest using cholesterol free and haem-iron free vegetable protein sources, even though the CSIRO (Adelaide) is publishing work that demonstrates the correlation between haem-iron and carcinogenic effects in the bowels of rats fed cooked meat.

There is a connection here: The Meat and Livestock Industry. They have a vested interest in people eating more of their product – just like any business involved in self -promotion, but the difficulty arises when they are involved in advertising themselves with erronious and potentially harmful advice. Their interest is not the well being of the population, but to counter the growing public understanding that meat is not only unnecessary but damaging.

The public are already uneasy about the way animals are treated in intensive farming. Most animals consumed are part of a factory line designed for efficiency, not animal welfare. The BILLIONS of animals used in food every year around the world are multiplied unnaturally – there is no natural system that supports this weight of animals – it is fossil fuel that makes it possible. Farming grain, harvest, transport, processing, heating cooling, lighting, etc. The efficiency is low, the waste great and the conditions, abysmal.

It’s just sad that the product is ultimately unnecessary.

Sally
Sally
15 years ago

“The animals you eat are not those who devour others; you do not eat the carnivorous
beasts, you take them as your pattern. You only hunger after sweet and gentle creatures who
harm no one, which follow you, serve you, and are devoured by you as the reward of their
service”
–John Jacques Rousseau

Interesting quote that one :)

Colin
Colin
15 years ago

Msmisanthropist said “You, the cow and the planet would be better off if you ate a nut cutlet instead of the steak.”

I’m gonna assume that the cow from which the steak was lovingly carved was already dead at the time the guy decided to go and eat it. Hence the decision of the author to eat the steak would make very little difference to the already dead cow.

Also, eating some good, environmentally friendly artichokes or lettuce or whatever would remove some eco-friendly, co2 reducing plants from the planet. This hardly seems better for the planet.

You veggies/vegans would be better off if you didn’t trouble yourself by getting outraged at these kind of issues. Save what little energy you have for living your dull, meat-free lives.

Glen
Glen
15 years ago

It is always interesting to see the range of arguments put forward; although the pro-veggie arguments always seem to eminate far more logic thatn the pro-meat arguments.

Maybe Colin (above) should consider the impact that deforestation has on the CO2 levels of the planet. As the recent GreenPeace report on Amazonian deforestation shows, animal farming is the leading cause of deforestation. Surely this would indicate that chopping down plants put their by humans for human consumption would cause far less CO2 imbalance than chopping down vast natural forest lands.

Meat is not essential; Fact. This is impossible to argue against. A complete Vegan diet can be rich in all the nutrients that wee need to live healthy lives and often contains far less refined and artificial elements. Estimates for the number of Vegans in the UK range from 250,000 to 1,000,000; surely if meat were essential, the numbers would be estimated far lower than this.

Tray
Tray
15 years ago

Colin: How much CH4 is produced by animal intensive breeding?
How much NH4 is polluting the water sources that is still produced by animal intensive breeding?
And also like Glen said the deforestetion in Amazonia are the greatest threat to CO2 other than Fossil fuel

0s1r1s
0s1r1s
15 years ago

Red meat is essential … my arse it is!
Like the rest of us, I can’t believe this advert states red meat is ‘essential’ for humans to live.

I’ll say my piece:
Humans are first and foremost herbivores. We are designed by nature to primarily eat fruits and then vegetables.
Eating meat came later, MUCH later, and only happened because there wasn’t much else to eat around.
The last ice age, dated from 2.1 million years ago down to 21,000 years ago (I might be off by a little) meant that a lot of the vegetation was destroyed by the ice and cold climate, so humans had to resort to the only other food source around – red meat. Even though we were forced to evolve into hunters, this doesn’t mean we were built to eat meat.
We don’t have large canines – essential for meat eating predators to bring down their prey. We do not have large incisors

SarahSoAndSo
SarahSoAndSo
11 years ago

I thought Mr. McMahan wrote an excellent article. It was posed as a ‘what if…?’ not a ‘we should…!’.

SarahSoAndSo
SarahSoAndSo
11 years ago

Whoops. Forgot the link…