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Meat, Dairy and Politics
It seems to me that the meat and dairy
industries are politically powerful these days. They
parallel the tobacco industry of the Seventies. What
shocked me is an ad I saw on television for a diet that
consists entirely of meat, dairy, and eggs. Watching
it appalled me. The actors were middle aged and older
people talking about how young they felt, how healthy
they were, and how much weight they had lost. They talked
about how they hated eating like rabbits and how now
they felt stronger and were experiencing "a happy shrinking
feeling" (hah -- don't get me started there). The thought
that kept running through my head was that this program
was developed by the meat industry. Who else would advocate
such lunacy? Could the meat producers be backlashing
against the trend of good nutrition with this plan?
Sure smells like it.
More and more nutrition specialists
and health-care practitioners are recommending diets
that include higher amounts of fresh vegetables, whole
grains, legumes, and fruits. Consequently, it is not
surprising to see those industries that would be most
economically damaged by a sweeping move away from animal-based
foods to react by promoting their products even more
History has demonstrated that whenever
groups of people effect lasting social change, the public
passes through three stages: denial/rejection, tolerance,
and, finally, acceptance. Actually, we could interpret
this type of dogged advertising in a very positive way.
The meat, egg, and dairy industries are no longer able
to refute the healthful benefits of a vegan/vegetarian
diet, so their only recourse at this point is to champion
their products based on whatever premise they can devise.
This also means that the general public is becoming
more tolerant of vegetarianism, creating a threatening
situation for the brokers of animal-derived foods. It
may be a long time before society arrives at stage three,
but the profusion of vegetarian commodities in the mainstream
marketplace is a distinct caveat that vegetarianism
As you pointed out, the parallels between
the tobacco industry and the meat, egg, and dairy industries
are compelling. From personal habit and dependence to
public censure, from physician endorsement to open denouncement,
from government collusion to levies and law suits, meat,
eggs, and dairy products are inevitably headed down
the same slippery slope as tobacco. However, all these
industries are deeply entrenched in our society's economy
and way of life, and it will take a long while to untangle
the practices they have worked so hard to weave into
the fabric of our culture.
I agree that these types of ads are
shocking and infuriating. But vegans and vegetarians
can, and should, take heart. View them with a smile
and a grain of salt knowing that because someone felt
the need to create such promotions our movement and
influence have been acknowledged.
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