Save a hog, eat a teacher: Challenging animal agriculture

Ethical Eating

Ethical Eating

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

What happens when you criticize animal agriculture? I’ll tell you. You’re called a “complete moron.” A “libtard.” An “idiot” and an “a**hole.” You’re told to “shut the f up.” Oh, and look, here’s Yoda in an Internet meme: “The retard is strong with this one.” The local newspaper is labeled a “commie” for printing your guest column (a “direct assault on our culture”), and further accused of printing “a bunch of propoganda [sic] stuffed with opinions.” OK, I’ll cop to the opinions…my column (read it here) appeared on the Opinion Page.  

Missoula County (Montana) voters are being asked to pay for a multi-million dollar high school bond to make significant, needed upgrades to infrastructure, Internet capacity, and school security. Included along with these vital necessities is nearly $600,000 for a “full meat-processing center” for the Vocational Agriculture Program. For me–a former teacher–that’s the deal-breaker, and my column outlines why. The reasons are larger than “just” the exploitation of animals, though that alone would suffice.

I didn’t expect to feel the love, but the vitriolic, sometimes apoplectic response was a stark reminder that–in spite of its unsustainable and devastating excesses, its out-of-proportion resource use, its inability to address world hunger, its violence and the human health woes that result from consuming its products–animal ag is not going to go gently into that or any goodnight. The status quo hates change, doesn’t wanna change, and won’t change without a fight. But “status quos are made to be broken,” quips author Ray Davis, and evolving consumer values and advances in humane alternatives just might supplant the fight anyhow.

“Because violence has no place in schools,” I wrote,  “taxpayers are asked to fund security upgrades to thwart those whose intentions are violent. Fair enough. At the same time, we’re asked to fund a program that promotes violence against sentient nonhumans (and inures students to it) as part of the curriculum.” And here’s where a major disconnect comes into play: it seems that animal ag people don’t consider it violence to take the life of another who wants to continue living. Said one commenter, disputing a couple of my claims, “Their sole purpose is not to be raised for slaughter. They are learning tools, companions, and teach students responsibility. Animals are not treated as commodities, but as friends.” Though I don’t doubt the sincerity of this response, where do you go with that? (Yes, yes, I know…with friends like that, etc.)

If so inclined, peruse the 100+ combined comments posted to the column at the newspaper’s website (some of the more civil comments appear to be from ag students and industry people) and at the newspaper’s Facebook page (“save a hog eat a teacher”) to see what happens when you challenge animal agriculture and the ag program in your local school. Keep in mind that Missoula recently became the first city in Montana to pass an ordinance banning wild and exotic animal performances (article), meaning that folks around here are just like humans everywhere: they possess well-honed compartmentalization skills that enable us to place some sentient nonhumans (e.g., wild, exotic, and companion animals) in one protective box while relegating others (e.g., “market” animals; “livestock”) to another less compassionate and entirely utilitarian box.

Learn more:

  • “Is meat sustainable?” Worldwatch Institute
  • “U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat, Cornell ecologist advises animal scientists,” here
  • FAQ: Processed meat and cancerAICR (my guest column was written just before the WHO report was released)
  • “Meat-eaters may speed world-wide species extinction, study warns,” Science, AAAS
  • Cowspiracy,” website; see “facts” for animal ag facts and their source citations
  • “The dangers of industrialized animal agriculture” a must-see short video


11 Responses

  1. Ah jeez Ms. Stachowski…my thanks to you for taking the time to write your detailed and well-reasoned column for the newspaper readers.

    I’m sorry that your effort elicited the various negative reactions that were presented…however…if it is the case that we are defined not only by our friends but also by our enemies…it would seem that you are well-served by those who position themselves as your attackers.

    Were they to be folks who were your friends…you would find yourself allied with persons like Taz Tess who wrote: “Myself and my friends made very close bonds with our animals.” She wrote more but she failed to specifically mention in her comment that after she and her friends made very close bonds with “their” animals….they killed and ate them.

    Be glad you don’t have “close bonds” with anyone who’s so disconnected as to think that “close bonds” and killing and eating someone can, in any rational universe, exist together sensibly.

    I console myself with the hope that the current acceptance of bizarre incoherence, as evinced by Taz Tess, presages a coming paradigm shift toward compassion and that raving like hers is the dying screech of destructive obliviousness. Fingers crossed.

    Congratulations on your astuteness for having such a well-selected bunch of detractors.

  2. Hey VeganElder–great to hear from you again…reminiscent of the old, rollicking days at Animal Blawg!

    I appreciate that you took the time to write such a kind and insightful response to this post and hope you’ve been well and thriving. ~Kathleen

  3. THANK YOU…I needed that! So defeated from our local advocacy in a farm community about to build an 85 million dollar school which the farmers (with all of their acreage on which to plant Monsanto toxins and artificially inseminate) do not wish to pay for which is odd since their agriganda has been more than welcome at school assemblies and they have been courted by the school board at 4-H activities…in photo ops selling milk shakes…veal anyone? Products emanating from an overproduction of those baby calves dying for ice cream in all of its sticky forms…I truly appreciate these words of truth from you, Kathleen…again!

  4. You are welcome, my friend @murphysmission! Good to know you are, as always, on the job. Remember… “endless pressure, endlessly applied.” Take care! ~Kathleen

  5. Thanks again, Kathleen! Oh, I very seldom stop…
    only to monitor the presidential candidates, looking for one who might actually care about animal rights…still pondering who (whom) that just might be?

  6. Regarding presidential candidates, check it out–it’s time for a viable third party, right?!? Here’s a candidate for ALL animals–human and nonhuman:

  7. […] Our thanks to Animal Blawg, where this post was originally published on October 30, […]

  8. Kudos to her for highlighting a very important & controversial issue!! It makes complete sense to me, most people live life with their heads in the sand as they don’t want to know & don’t want to change! One word & I stand behind this 150%!!

  9. […] Source: Save a hog, eat a teacher: Challenging animal agriculture […]

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