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Vegan People
Respecting All Animals
Jane Goodall on Animal Rights Extremists 
14th-Nov-2009 12:19 pm
On the Daily Show on Thursday, there was a brief moment when Jane Goodall started talking about animal rights extremists (fundamentalists as she called them). Jon Stewart said something like "I hear that you are okay with the fact that I eat the occasional cheeseburger" and then some conversation ensued.


This is a subject often brought up in the veg*n community. She is basically saying that we should focus on trying to live in harmony with ourselves and with nature and that does not always mean being fundamental about veganism and animal rights. Thoughts?
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14th-Nov-2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
i'm kind of on the same level here :).
14th-Nov-2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
Fundamentalist =/= asshole.

Also I can't view the video because I'm at work. But my thoughts...

I want everyone to be vegan. Not for me, but for the animals. This "personal choice" crap does not fly with me. Yes, it's a personal choice for someone to eat the flesh of enslaved, tortured and slaughtered animals. But it's not the right choice and I don't support them for it. I won't randomly go up to people eating cheeseburgers and call them murdering assholes, but if somebody asks me about veganism I'll tell them my reasons and hope it plants a seed of thought.

15th-Nov-2009 03:05 am (UTC)
I agree.

I hate the apologist "personal choice" argument, too, and whenever I've asked people (vegans who make that argument) about it, they either aren't able to explain themselves clearly and keep flip-flopping about what their position is, or have really flawed arguments that do't hold up to scrutiny.

For example, how the fuck do the arguments from sustainability hold true for me but not for other people? Do cows fart less methane in their alternate universe? Nope.
14th-Nov-2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
I didn't see the show (I'm at work right now too) byt a collegue mentioned this to me. Said that this Goodall lady was described as sort-of vegan (??). I basically went off on a rant about there being no such thing as a sort-of vegan and that I don't condone drinking milk however "happy" the animal was. It's total bull IMO, and if you call yourself a vegan but still eat/drink "happy" animal products you have missed the point of veganism entirely.

Of course, I've not seen the show, so I may have this all wrong! Oh well!!

Still.. eating/using/etc. animals & animal products = exploitation. No ifs or buts.
14th-Nov-2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
I don't think she calls herself a vegan at all. She seems to think that vegans who are black and white about everything are hurting the overall animal rights movement more than they are helping.

She mentioned that animal rights people attacked her for having candles on a birthday cake because they probably contain beeswax. Jon then said "So wait, they got mad because some animal product may have melted onto your otherwise non animal product cake" and she said "the cake probably had butter in it. It's a cake." So I don't think she is or even calls herself vegan. She does believe in trying to live in harmony with other animals and causing less harm to nature.
14th-Nov-2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
I saw that last night and my impression was that she was supporting the vegan community in addition to being at peace with nature. I think she's against fundamental animal rights and veganism, which I interpreted as extremists, such as A.L.F. and the like. I'll admit that I wasn't paying too close attention, so I'll watch the clip later and see.
14th-Nov-2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
I've seen other interviews with Jane Goodall & I share your impression. Perhaps it is just me, but I interpret fundamentalist to mean groups like A.L.F. & the often in your face style of PETA.

Considering her background & experience with studying Chimpanzees, I would imagine she would have a very pragmatic view of living with & respecting nature.
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14th-Nov-2009 03:31 pm (UTC) - I agree
I mean yes, ideally I would like everyone to be vegan. It surprises my friends/coworkers if they ask the right questions to get that answer, because I'm not at all pushy about it. Think for a moment about other fundamental type groups you don't agree with and then think about how that makes you feel. Mostly that just turns me off, even if there might be something in there I might agree with.

I can't take credit for other people becoming vegans (well, maybe my husband, but it's still his choice), but I can say I know at least 3 people who were in part inspired by me to be vegan (hubby included), and 4 other people who became near vegetarian or near vegan, and almost all of my friends have learned to buy a good portion of animal free snacks for parties, because hey, everyone can eat them. And since I'm a harm reductionist by nature, I can see the good that comes from that, even if it's not ideal.

I can tell you without a doubt that if I had tried to push my agenda on these relatively new friends of mine, I wouldn't have new friends, some of them (most likely) wouldn't have questioned their own ethics, and their parties would have far more animal products.
15th-Nov-2009 03:20 am (UTC) - Re: I agree
What do you mean by "fundamental type groups"?
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14th-Nov-2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
Her cake comment bugged the shit out of me though. It's like notion of a cake made without animal products just blew her mind. Going out of your way a tiny, tiny bit to make a vegan cake isn't fundamentalist, it's fucking common sense if you care about animals.

I always am torn about this, but I think I've reached some sort of conclusion for myself where I fully expect people who know about animal suffering (i.e. Jane Goodall) to make a concerned effort in all aspects of their lives, while I expect less and a more willing to embrace small victories with the rest of the world. That said, even if you're ok with killing animals for their flesh like Stewart apparently is, eating a cheeseburger without checking the conditions the animal was raised in and the type of feed it was given, is massively irresponsible from a public health, sustainability, and global warming standpoint.
14th-Nov-2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
Well, she didn't do a lot to help the respect of vegans, did she?

That's unfortunate.

Because vegans are viewed by so many as being radical, I think it is important we keep a line of communication open between us and non-vegans. When a person comes across as being judgmental, it sometimes will result in the other side wanting to run farther away, or they may become more aggressive. This works both ways.

I can never imagine myself telling anyone that I am okay with them eating a hamburger or any other animal. Although, I don't think I have ever criticized someone while they were doing so. When it comes to my family, I will often tell them how I feel about animal products during regular conversation. But I try not to be condescending.

Obviously Ms. Goodall is not vegan. She has, however, done quite a bit of good when it comes to the understanding of non-human animals. Certainly, she is deserving of respect, despite the differences she may have with vegans.

Not on the topic, I want to comment on how beautiful I find her to be. She's a striking seventy-something year old woman; a natural beauty.

Edited at 2009-11-15 04:10 pm (UTC)
14th-Nov-2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised when anybody who knows animal issues on a deep level like her isn't at the very least vegetarian.

And the environmental atrocities committed by factory farming should be protested by any educated human being, despite if you give a damn about animals or not.
14th-Nov-2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
A lot of wildlife biologists/ ethologists (Goodall, Corwin...) feel that eating animals is natural, so it's okay. Although these individuals are highly educated, and do care about animals, at least biodiversity- they are still victims of Moore's Naturalistic Fallacy. In this situation I would tell them that just because something is "natural", it doesn't make it inherently good. They think that just because a lion would eat them, it's okay for them to eat other animals- but other animals don't have as great a moral capacity as us humans do. Rape, stealing, cheating, and murder are all natural, but that doesn't make those acts okay.
14th-Nov-2009 10:20 pm (UTC) - Hrm...
I heard her speak on MPR recently and when asked be a caller if she was vegetarian, she said yes.

I've always though she was vegetarian and she speaks out against factory farming in a gentle, rational, intelligent way. She's a really lovely human being. Do I wish she were vegan and "on our team"... yes, of course. But I still respect her a whole lot even if we differ on this point.

It's like how I wish Dawkins was a vegetarian. He's so smart and, intellectually, he knows eating animals is wrong but he's having issues converting. He's friends with Peter Singer, though, so I think he'll eventually come around.

It's hard to not judge those we find to be extraordinary people when they don't fit our ideals of what a compassionate, thinking person ought to be doing in regards to diet. :/
15th-Nov-2009 01:40 am (UTC)
just because homegirl likes apes a lot doesn't put her on my team.
17th-Nov-2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
15th-Nov-2009 05:59 am (UTC)
I was similarly disappointed by some of Starhawk's comments about veg*nism.
17th-Nov-2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
Well, Starhawk for all her environmentalism and spiritual activism (for which I highly respect her) is not even vegetarian, nor have I ever heard her particularly argue for animal rights.

Though, I agree with you... it is always somewhat disappointing when people that I otherwise admire just don't get it.
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23rd-Nov-2009 08:55 am (UTC)
wut? ¬____¬()

Jane Goodall has done more for animals than any other person can hope to do. I'm not going to write her off because she undoubtedly realizes that most people in the world will never consider being vegan or vegetarian, let alone have the means to be. I understand how she, and other people, interprets AR groups criticizing her for having bees' wax in their birthday cake candles as extreme. Or, if not extreme, at least unproductive.

And Jon Stewart is very much still funny and topical, okay.
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