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Gray Matter: Whole Foods

If John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, weren’t a vegan, I’m not sure this would be such a Gray Matter for me. But he is someone who has evolved, over time, to the realization that he shouldn’t be eating animals. To create a place where consumers can go to feel better about killing animals to eat them, seems entirely contradictory.

The Internet, and the blogosphere in particular, is rife with debates over whether John Mackey should act as a vegan in addition to a CEO, and whether the vegan community should hold him to his personal beliefs. I used to think we shouldn’t, but after further review, I am extremely skeptical that the net result of people feeling better about killing animals is going to ever lead to the long-term goal of Animal People: abolition.

If your goal is to reduce suffering while continuing to believe that we are entitled to use animals for whatever purposes we’d like, I imagine Whole Foods doesn’t present a quandary. But if you don’t think we have a right to create them for the purposes of treating them however we wish to maximize our profits and satiate and fashion desires, Whole Foods is a significant issue. It perpetuates the illusion that there is such a think as humane slaughter. Meanwhile, humane slaughter is an oxymoron.

Check out the debate at vegan freaks, satya magazine, and a broader set of debates at vegan porn.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Hi Mary, I'm excited to have run across your blog (because of the Smithfield post) and I look forward to reading it in the future. (This is my last post for today, don't worry!)

    Have you heard about the book Capers in the Churchyard: Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Terror by Lee Hall? It addresses the themes of welfare vs. abolition and militancy that I've seen you discuss here. It has a timely analysis of the animal rights movement that I really think you would appreciate.

    I wanted to direct your attention to Friends of Animals, the group that initially protested rather than celebrated Whole Foods' new way to market animal products. Check out these resources:

    Whole Foods Promotes "Responsible" and "Compassionate" Flesh Foods
    FoA's press release about the protests

    Correspondence between Priscilla Feral and John Mackey regarding the protests

    Whole Foods Market and the Artifice of Compassion, Act'ionLine Summer 2005

    FoA's actions are what caused Peter Singer to organize that letter reprinted in Satya, which he admitted was a middle finger to abolitionists.

    January 29, 2007

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