Popping up all over the web are ‘carnivore pride’ sites whose messages range from unapologetic, caveman cravings, to defensive and arrogant rationalizers’ manifestos. Some even refer to a “call to arms”, as if every aspect of consumer culture isn’t already unrelenting in pushing meat and other animal products onto a terrified and protein-obsessed, infantile and hedonistic consumer culture.
“The average American consumes 218.3 pounds of meat every year. But in the face of concerns about Mad Cow disease, dubious industrial feedlot practices, and self-righteous vegetarians, the carnivorous lifestyle has become somewhat déclassé. Now, Scott Gold issues a red-blooded call to arms for the meat-adoring masses to rise up, speak out, and reclaim their pride.
“So this…is my rallying cry. A call to arms. I’m certain that there’s a veritable army of carnivores out there just like me, ready and waiting for someone to come forth waving that blood-red banner high, unabashed, in true carnivorous splendor.” – ShamelessCarnivore.com
Do you know why these meat-pride sites have emerged? Not because meat-eating has any intrinsic legitimacy, but because perceived change and a loss of identity on the part of those who consider themselves “carnivorous” is scary and polarizing. What exactly are they rallying against? Simply put, they are resisting the emergence of truth, and like every other social justice movement, once the economics and the very identity of those who will go to the ends of the earth to maintain the status-quo are challenged, an instinct to defend their comfortable positions arise. Something in the tone of these sites tells me that they’re designed specifically with pissing off vegetarians in mind.
One of the most common accusations made by meat-eaters to vegetarians is that we think we’re ‘morally superior’. We are referred to as ‘self-righteous‘. This would mean we have an unfounded certainty that we are right. I can’t tell you how many times I have to point out to people who accuse me being self-righteous that it actually has almost nothing to do with me, per se. Instead, it has everything to do with respecting other individuals, whose will to live, attempts at escape, and inarguable signs of suffering have put me in a position to respect their validity as individuals with intelligence, interests, and complex emotions and social behaviors in consistency with a larger system of ethics.
Inconsistency (and a defiant defense of those moral inconsistencies within a larger ethical context) is the hallmark of carnivore-pride positions. We say “If you wouldn’t eat the family dog, then why eat a pig?” They say “It’s perfectly fine for me to be morally inconsistent because it’s about me and my desires – not about the pigs’ (or even the dogs’) interests,” or “because it tastes good”.
The term ‘carnivore‘ is reserved for those organisms who consume nothing but raw flesh and organs. Humans are opportunistic scavengers – physiologically designed as omnivores who can typically survive and even be healthy eating whatever is available. For a human to call him or herself a carnivore is to say that they eat almost no vegetation, and that they share the characteristics of other carnivores (short intestinal tract, biological hardware to take down and consume animals’ organs raw). And if there are those out there subsisting almost entirely on flesh and organs and secretions – bless the heart of anyone who has to tolerate the smell of the festering, curdling, rotten mass traveling through an intestinal tract that’s far too long to get rid of the mess before it becomes toxic, and sends a putridness out of every pore, in every drop of sweat (never mind the toll on general health) . The fact is that as omnivores, we can choose what to eat – and that’s where the controversy resides.
This raises the question: why aspire to the title of ‘carnivore‘? It is, in itself, a rejection of the vegetarian identity – and a response to what they perceive as moral superiority and self-righteousness. The pride emerges in meat-eating as if most of these people were part of the hunt, and many of them do hunt, but the majority of meat-eaters in the US do not hunt. Instead they purchase meat from masters of illusions – the supermarkets that hide the killing process within perfect, clean packages, and behind images of animals that want us to eat them. The closer they get to the carcass, the more they feel they’ve somehow participated in some proud act or tradition. With the context missing, it is of course pornographic – like being stimulated by an image. Devouring the body of a chicken doesn’t make you a hunter any more than devouring porn makes you experienced in sexual intercourse.
It certainly is more about the identity of being a man than anything else. As I pointed out in my recent letter to the New York Times, the limited, suffocating identity of manhood in this culture is inseparably tied to attaining and consuming meat. Thus abandoning meat-eating is abandoning manhood and pride itself. For more on this, read Total recall, and Men Like Sports & Men Like Sports II.
What’s happening today is that the process and effects of factory farming and other cruel methods of viewing and treating non-human animals as ‘production units’ and the rest of the non-human world as a stockpile of resources to be exploited and drained, are being exposed and scrutinized. From environmental concerns, to ethical concerns – there are signs of human beings emerging from the state of infantile self-gratification that is causing us to destroy our only home and torture our only known companions in the entire universe.
While it would be great to have someone else do all of our hard labor for no pay, the process and effects of slavery in America have been exposed and mostly rejected. Don’t be fooled in thinking that the path to equality over the last few hundred years wasn’t met by resistance. There wasn’t some sudden, mass enlightenment. People died fighting for and against it. Similar cases existed for Women’s Equality, Anti-Semitism, and Child Labor. These social norms weren’t participated in because individuals had less moral character in the past than they do now – they were participated in because they reinforced and maintained a certain status, hierarchy, and economic benefit to those doing the exploiting.
The emergence of this über meat-pride within the wider context of a dominant meat-pride culture is evidence that the truth and the reality of what happens to many animals exploited for their flesh and functions is being adressed. They are on the defensive, and for good reason: truth is difficult to evade.