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From Cow to Clown
A journey through the social web of animal compassion, environmentalism and vegetarianism - Chapter 1


Cow to Clown - Introduction
you are here> Chapter 1 - Where is the Grass Greener?
Chapter 2 - In the Land of Friends or Follies
Chapter 3 - Terminology
Chapter 4 - Other Side Of The Fence
Cow to Clown - Epilogue

VeggieBite ...
THE number of animals killed for food worldwide in 1998 was 43.2 billion, according to the Food and Agriculture organization.
This included: *290 million cattle, buffalo and calves *1.1 billion pigs *802 million sheep and goats *41.1 billion chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese The figures exclude some small countries and 'non-slaughter' deaths that are not generally reported.
Source:
http://worldanimal.net

Where is the Grass Greener?
... (and where is it just expensive green linoleum?)

It's a sad fact that even in the 21st century, the concept of true vegetarianism / compassionate ethics is still sometimes considered by some to be associated with an almost cult-style existence, which is of course nonsense. However, it's because of this legacy of stereotyping vegetarians that real veggies, young and old might still feel obliged to play it safe by congregating into social pockets where they can feel welcomed and in harmony with the local community. That's why we still associate some areas in countries across the world with greener, more ethically inspired living. VeggieGlobal endeavours to inspire a person of any race, creed or society background with an ethical conscience - to make sure they can explore the concept of a meat-free diet without feeling stereotyped - wherever they are. That is ultimately the way forward, so that any suggestion of vegetarianism as being an odd-ball or cult-style activity is completely eliminated.
It's also important to remember that VeggieGlobal and Looking-Glass is the only vegetarian based organization which states the following as part of its mission statement:
"VeggieGlobal accepts and respects individuals and associated indigenous cultures their choice - and often necessity - to eat meat - that is, if he or she is prepared to kill the animal themselves."
In other words, that means those in more remote regions of the planet who aren't having this evening's dinner killed and prepared by slaughterhouses, butchers, meat-packers an supermarket shelf-fillers.
The "out-of-sight out-of-mind" process of eating a pre-killed and pre-packed dead animal is the ultimate conscience-degrading practice that's blinded our so-called developed world, creating an anaesthetized view of the treatment of animals for food. But in parts of the world where the relationship between animal and human is inextricably linked to a chain of natural survival, "vegetarianism" is (quite acceptably) an non-existing definition.
For example, Inuits or Eskimos (a race of people who live around the polar regions) have no choice but to eat the animals and fish that inhabit their icy environments where vegetation doesn't even grow. Such cultures, along with tribes in other remote parts the world, have historically harmonized with nature, which automatically retains the natural balance of the food chain and its associated ecology. They have evolved to respect the environment and therefore the animal population around them, only to kill and eat what they personally require, as part of the circle of day to day life for themselves and the fragile environment around them.
It is often only the interference of the developed world - and the destructive technology it brings - that destroys the natural balance of those almost-forgotten cultures and the delicate balance they have achieved between animal and man.

In Clapham or Manhattan? Islington or Glastonbury weekenders?
So, while we still live in a world where the relationship between modern humankind and animals creates such contention between one person and the next, it seems that this general guideline in vegetarian-based lifestyle may help you tread the path of moral ethics ... without too much hassle!
We start, in fact where the proverbial green grass on one particular path is of the plastic variety - It's the one were trendy, media-oriented city dwellers call themselves "vegetarian", but basically eat meat. These are the Pseudo-Organic-Veggies. (OK, some of them go almost the whole way, but boy, do we get to know about it !) You've probably heard this one before but Pseudo-Organic-Veggies. are usually townie-trendies who proudly announce to all their friends that they are veggies ... but eat fish (and often chicken) - It's a fashion statement if ever there was one! In fact, facing a leather sofa the right way in their minimalist living area is more important than the life of the animal it's made from. Unfortunately, such areas in trend-setting cities around the world is where you'll often find "Feng Shui" and "vegetarian" meeting in an arty-farty foray of holistic fakery.
Ironically, this kind of pseudo-veggie contrivence or posturing is perhaps good for the organic movement (but not for the fast-depleting fish-population of the world's oceans). Organic foods are what have to be seen in shopping trolleys of Pseudo-Organic-Veggies.. A greater benefit for the planet of course, but compassion towards animals and the environment is way off their agenda as they muscle out of the supermarket car park in a gas-guzzling four-wheel drive that's never seen a dirt track in its life.
So let's bite our tongues a while longer and hope that the organic trend doesn't die out before the prices drop to a level everyone can afford. Then the world in general can benefit from insecticide-free fruit and veg ... not just the pretentious PR person who mindlessly picks at an asparagus tip on a large plate with a drizzle of fishy pink sauce ... at 25 dollars at time!
In fact, there seems to be a slow but sure shift of social / ethical consciousness towards a more general spread of the western population ... well at least in the UK. "Fair Trade" is now the latest buzzword, and the Coop (a low priced suburban supermarket chain) is widely advertising not only Fair Trade, but also describing many of their products as low in salt, suger and free of artificial colourings and flavourings. One has to be cautiously optimistic about the Fair Trade programme though. If you buy Fair Trade and organic foods and goods, its worth looking into how the environment where the goods are produced is being affected. Are the growers / producers working harmoniously with the environment? For example, Brazil are reaping the benefits of Europe's demand for organic soya, in preference to the American GM stuff. The results are catastrophic as Looking-Glass News reports:

"The destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil is being dramatically accelerated due to massive plantations of soy. European consumers are inadvertently causing the effect due to a preference of non-genetically modified soy instead of the American GM equivalent.
Areas the size of Belgium in the Brazilian rainforest are being cleared annually by illegal loggers. The logged land is then used to plant non-GM soy beans. The Brazilians are making huge profits from this illegal activity by tapping into the public demand for GM free foods. Once the soy crops have been harvested, the land becomes useless and nothing is able to grow in these areas again. The Amazon contains one third of the world's plant and animal species. It's feared that with this added strain on the destruction of the world's most vital ecosystem, the forest will be completely lost in years rather than decades. On top of this, the Brazilian government are now allowing genetically modified soy beans to be planted in the south of the country. Until now, the country had banned the growing of GM crops."

The irony is that soy is a common food of vegetarians, many who will be horrified to know that their protein supplement - if bought from the wrong manufacturer - is causing devastating environmental damage to the rain forest and its animal life. If the United States reverted to non GM soy plantations then European soy product manufacturers would surely turn towards America as an environmentally acceptable alternative. In fact, research shows that the agricultural performance of GM crops is frequently worse than non-GM varieties. So why are millions of acres of GM crops being grown by the US anyway?

The longshot is that you are advised to check the source of the soy beans in the product before purchasing.
For example, Alpro, the manufacturers of soya based drinks and products based in Europe tell Looking-Glass and VeggieGlobal, "We source our soya beans from Brazil, China, Canada and parts of Southern Europe. The organic beans sourced from Brazil come from established soya bean farms in the Planalto region, south west of Sao Paulo. In all cases we only buy non-gmo soya beans which have full traceability".

In Brighton or Goa?
If you are a student, single, or just simply a compassionate natural veggie family, there can be (unfortunately) a location factor to consider. If you want to feel comfortable about sharing your compassionate outlook with the neighbours then the term "location, location, location", takes on an extra dimension.
There are havens around the UK for example which tend to attract some of the beautiful people, far enough away from redneck territories.
It's a sad fact that a kind of social segregation like this even still exists, created of course by the mentality of those who can't comprehend a greener or more compassionate world past the pork chops on their plate. But at least, if you make those veggie oriented havens your home-base, you know you're more likely to have a more pleasant social life with the neighbours.

NOTE: As veggieglobal grows (through your feedback) we will try and give you a proven listing of areas around the globe which aspire to vegetarian living. (Please contact us if you live in such an area so we can start building the list!)

In the Old School?
There are still many pockets of stereotypes, which some might associate with old-school vegetarianism. Such people are generally attached to a personal lifestyle rather than an outward cause, which could otherwise help guide a younger generation though the ethical maze - dramatic and fast changing as it may be.
Because the old school are somewhat inclined to form cosy county vegetarian (society) type cliques, they don't often play a relevant part in educating the dietary habits of new generations. It's a mixed bag however, as some do make efforts by staging local veggie events and promotions, whilst others live
out their days in a haughty haze of self-righteousness, looking down their noses at new generations of veggieheads with a slight air of antagonism.
However, all young veggies should take their hats off to some of the early crusaders who may have once pushed vegetarianism towards a far wider social awareness. They have paved the way for the commercial food sector to increasing consideration towards vegetarians through labelling - particularly in the UK where many foods are now labelled if suitable for veggies.
(See our popular NOVA labelling campaign)

In the Cottage by the River?
Those who live a solitary but animal inspired life can be the most pleasant people to interact with. (By the way we don't mean the kind with 50 cats pooing all over the house!)
The discussion of vegetarianism isn't even important with such placid souls. They don't talk about it, they just live it!
They don't spend their days constantly preening their bodies and digestive system with special veggie preparations. They live a normal but perhaps lonely life and usually outward giving. They may have lost a loved one or maybe even been too busy beavering away in the background of some animal sanctuary to have made room for a relationship. These kinds of "earthy" vegetarians are by far the most genuine.

In the Media?
Some lead the moral crusade on vegetarianism and animal welfare to feed their own ego - and it really shows when you get to know them. And as we have said, others seem natural-born, earth-rooted, genuine souls - and they don't need to make a song and dance about it.
Those rich (famous) enough to be able to exploit the media limelight can turn the whole animal / vegetarian thing into a charade. It's unfortunately predictable that their ego can get in the way of their passion.
So, on the theme of song and dance, many who preach vegetarianism through the entertainment business tend to be of a style and generation that's rather half way up the Himalayas than at current street level. Musical offerings put forward by these half-wizened individuals are almost always naff in musical context to say the least.
The subject and the sentiment is not in question here, but the musical product is. Over-angst rockstars riding an unstable, squeaky wheeled bandwagon of compassion is a rather sad affair. Instead of turning a new generation of music lovers towards absorbing the statement, we just laugh at it.
Clubbers with a conscience, need something to rekindle the counter-culture of vegetarianism. Music musings with a cool-conscious theme is is a vibe that works on all levels... "Peace to the animals and the earth" perhaps in the spirit of the music, but not literally in the lyrics. Yuk!...

In Kevin's Bedroom?
Talking of which.... If you are a teenager who's decided to make a statement and become veggie then check your conscience ... your deeper reasoning.
Are you just doing it on a brief whim?
The thousands of animals you will save by the end of your own long life will be those that truly count. Then your statement will be effective for very positive reasons... and rightfully transparent.
Don't become a momentary veggie just to impress your friends ... because it won't last. You'll be eating Big Macs again in a year.
If you are genuine about it then really make it a lasting commitment, others may be naturally inspired by your ethics and become vegetarians too.
So good on you.

In the Vicarage Garden?
One of the most disappointing post-active environments was found in the UK amongst the movements to ban live animal exports. On the active front we take our hats off to those from all walks of life who originally protested at the ports and generated enough fuss for changes to be slowly made.
But at discussion level, it has devolved into a social clique - Its highbrow self-importance leaves no room where a mainstream of young people can be encouraged to learn and interact with the cause. It has become an afternoon tea gathering for an old generation of elitist middle classes - A sense of stagnation looms within the forum (probably to the annoyance of its more younger spirited members)
Some of the people who hold the reigns of some of those organizations are simply arrogant snobs - and outrightly contemptuous towards any forward thinking party who may offer media capturing ideas or input at street level ... The place, ironically, where live animal export protests began - stirring the attention and concerns of a nation.
There are many aspects of animal transportation which need urgent review - most notably the global trade in exotic pets causing thousands of deaths daily. Even breeding and living conditions back on the farms, before animals are transported.
At VeggieGlobal we get reports in almost daily of farm animal atrocities happening world-wide.

There is a beacon of protest which needs rekindling by a hard shake up in the UK aimed at the supposed compassionate classes. TV advertising, Internet banner campaigns... where are they?

Country to Country?
Following on from the previous discussion, we look into what social environment in the UK triggers an animal welfare conscience.
Which social clique holds the real banner of power in the case of what is called animal rights?
Rich, retired middle English busy-bodies may well rule the roost in the ports of southern counties England. But there is a large hole within the main social classes of the UK, which nobody seems prepared to fill. Out of a possible 10,000 attendees at a world animal fair in central London recently it took no effort to count the number of ethnic minorities on just one hand. So who is campaigning to educating the working / inner-city classes and ethnic minorities about animal welfare? The fact that there is hardly anyone doing so is the reason why ignorant parents are still buying their McDonalds-mad kids a puppy for Christmas.
Who is brainstorming an animal compassionate marketing strategy - to be aimed at thoughtless business and media junkies, who don't butt an eyelid as they speed past a slatted lorry full live calves on the M25?
Where would the money come from you ask? In these early decades of a new millennium is it not a matter of smart, smooth marketing tactics? Wave the carrot-of-compassion in rhythm to the publics craving for the illusionary "something for nothing", then perhaps the mainstream might just take the bait.

In some respect, we can conclude that the bi-product of the UK's cosy obsession with animal welfare actually generates a positive effect somewhere in a far-off land where retired people have plenty of time at hand. However, the country needs a future plan which involves all areas and all ages amongst society.

Globally, there is a dramatic difference how humans relate and therefore treat their animals from one country to the next. The west, in general, are completely over-the-top in the way they pamper their pets, whilst a majority of those same people along with much of the population give very little thought about the natural wildlife around them, or the billions of mass-farmed "animals-for-food", which suffer through appalling mistreatment until (an often painful) death.
But there is a distorted view of the reality from all sides.
Some cultures as a whole, particularly the Far East, South America and South and Eastern Europe, show not the slightest compassion towards their urban strays, like cats and dogs (which the west considers as domestic animals) and show equal disrespect for farmed and wild animals.
But why does the west consider the maltreatment of domestic animals more shocking than farmed and wild animals? VeggieGlobal believes that all animal species are as important as each other and all sentient creatures, wild or tame deserve a happy and peaceful, full and long life.

The UK, for example displays a higher level of animal compassion than most countries, particularly through its media's interpretation. But animal cruelty is perhaps as rife in the UK as elsewhere. It's just that the UK prepares neat and tidy reports and statistics, which they can refer to. So, on the surface it appears that they are doing all they can. However, Britons are very good at posturing a sense of concern and compassion, either through TV programmes or flurries of demonstration. But under the facade of compassion there is an undercurrent of hypocrisy. (see Animal Nation at LGGN)
The burger, kebab and Sunday roast brigade - or the pasta-pundits for that matter may well go all dewy-eyed at fluffy lambs on TV, but what does that really mean? It's nothing more than a shallow sentiment ... it's displaced endearment. Those same people, who make up a large percentage of western culture, should think about using their individual initiative to make a difference to the way the world abuses animals - and the first step is to stop eating them.
It's not exactly rocket science is it?

next>> Chapter 2 - In the Land of Friends or Follies
Getting more involved with animal welfare and things to watch out for.

 

Index
Cow to Clown - Introduction
you are here> Chapter 1 - Where is the Grass Greener?
Chapter 2 - In the Land of Friends or Follies
Chapter 3 - Terminology
Chapter 4 - Other Side Of The Fence
Cow to Clown - Epilogue

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