Can Animals Save Us? YES! [the magazine]

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Can Animals Save Us? [cover from YES! magazine]

Tonight, after wrapping up yet another interesting phone interview for the radio show, I came across this nicely designed magazine called YES! The theme this quarter happens to be, Can Animals Save Us? It is meant to be a debate of sorts, and I have only read one article so far. Of course I know which side of the debate I’m already on. One side will support “happy, sustainable, and humane” meat, and the other side will advocate veganism and animals as sentient beings that we shouldn’t be eating for their good—or ours.

I don’t know if I’ll learn anything earth shattering, but I appreciate the effort that went into bringing this group of writers together. And I’ll be reading all of the articles to keep tabs on both sides of the debate. Many of my favorite authors have contributed, including Robert Sapolsky, Marc Bekoff, and Jane Goodall. And of course I’m familiar with Joel Salatin and Temple Grandin (of whom Madeline Ostrander writes). There are several names that are new to me as well.

One article I have already read in the “Should We Eat Animals?” section says “No.”

“Going Vegan. My disability gives me a unique view of what’s wrong with eating meat” by Sunaura Taylor is a well thought out argument for not eating animals. A few excerpts:

My perspective as a disabled person and as a disability scholar profoundly influence my views on animals. The field of disability studies raises questions that are equally valid in the animal-rights discussion. What is the best way to protect the rights of those who are not physically autonomous but are vulnerable and interdependent? How can society protect the rights of those who cannot protect their own, or those who can’t understand the concept of a right?

Nature is one of the most common justifications for animal exploitation. The arguments range from romantic declarations about the cycles of nature to the nuanced discussions of sustainable farming. But the assertion that something is “natural” (or “unnatural”) has long been used to rationalize terrible things.

As a disabled person I find arguments based on what’s “natural” highly problematic. Throughout history and all over the world, I would have, at worst, been killed at birth or, at best, culturally marginalized—and nature would have been a leading justification. Disability is often seen as a personal tragedy that naturally leads to marginalization, rather than as a political and civil rights issue. Many people now reject using “nature” to justify things like sexism, white supremacy, and homophobia but still accept is as a rationale for animal exploitation and disability discrimination.

Sunaura Taylor rationally criticizes well publicized opinions of Nicolette Hahn Niman (whom she recently debated), Michael Pollan, and other conscientious omnivores and proponents of sustainable animal farming. This article and magazine is well worth investing your time in.

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