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The Animal Person Minute: On the Only Thing More Controversial Than Abolition


This is one of the many, quite large brown spots on my lawn. We’ve been having a drought and were subject to phase three water restrictions, which meant exactly one day of watering the lawn, for no more than twelve minutes per zone. Naturally, I’m the only one in the neighborhood who actually paid attention to the phase three restrictions, and I’m the only one whose lawn doesn’t look like it belongs in Hawaii.

Today’s topic is the only thing more controversial than abolition: religion. I guess I was a bit ambitious in my initial plan for the pamphlet/leaflet thing I’m going to put together. I didn’t want to speak about any religion specifically. My intention was to get people thinking.

Here’s the thing: for me, what you eat is the same as what political party you associate with or what your religion is in that it warrants questioning. Why do you eat meat? Why do you vote Democrat? Why do you believe that birth control is immoral? (Why don’t you eat meat, why do you vote Republican and why do you believe that birth control isn’t immoral? you get the point.)

If there’s anything I want people to get from this blog that I’ve written in every day since May 22, 2006, it’s that nothing is sacred. No information is sacred. No belief, no idea, no person, no newspaper should go unquestioned. That’s what I got from my liberal arts education at the City University of New York at Queens College (and no, I didn’t know Jerry Seinfeld). And that’s what I got from my doctoral study at New York University where we asked questions like: what is learning? What is teaching? What is education? What is schooling? Why do we think learning and schooling should look like "x" or it’s really not learning and schooling? Everything from desks in rows to the usage of textbooks to separating subjects into different "periods" or "modules" was questioned. Why was writing only pertinent in English class rather than across the curriculum, we wondered? And later, why were questions the purview of Philosophy class, which tragically was always an elective.

It makes sense, then, that when approaching veganism or abolition or animal rights, I (me, Mary Martin, Animal Person) would contextualize it rather than decontextualize it and treat it as if it can be dealt with in the narrow sphere of food and animals. Instead, I’d broaden my treatment to include the universe of topics that are similar in any way or that inform veganism, abolition, or animal rights. I’d get the whole messy picture and try to work my way through it.

Ah, but that’s not a good plan for a short marketing piece if my goal for that piece is to get people to go vegan. I agree with most people who have e-mailed and commented. Probably the only thing most people are more attached to than their eating habits is their religion. And to try to deconstruct and challenge both of those notions in one pamphlet has got to be a really bad idea.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sean B #

    I think leaving religion out is a wise idea Mary, there is a lot of stuff to cover and I don't think religious arguments are the best use of space. I think the Why Vegan? pamphlets from Vegan Outreach are pretty effective, though obviously they are not abolitionist. I think thats a good format though, ask a question and then answer it.

    August 22, 2007
  2. Ellie #

    As it happens, I'm an agnostic who likes to talk about religion. I think all religions are speciesist, even Jainism. The bible actually states "God gave us dominion over animals"– so it's no surprise that many people feel divinely entitled to exploit non-human beings.


    August 24, 2007

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