07 Jul Militant Field Mouse Activist Dishes Up A Serve (minus the peas)
The Financial-Legal-Military-Industrial-Meat-Medical-Pharmaceutical-Media Complex
Militant Field-Mouse-Activist Matthew Evans gave well-meaning vegans some solid schooling last week when he broke down the stats, number crunched the figures and served up a plethora of inconvenient truths guaranteed to leave a bad taste in every plant-eater’s mouth. There was simply no escaping exposure to the meandering 9min read taking up valuable, prime real estate in the weekend edition of The Australian (suffer it for yourself here). Social media saw to that, as the article gained serious traction on all the major platforms.
“So you’re a vegan… but are you, really?” screamed the title, to the delight of defensive meat eaters the length and breadth of the country. ‘The Australian’ readers were about to read A LOT of what they wanted to hear, presumably over their bacon and eggs on a Saturday morning.
From the sub-title, Evans creates divisions where there aren’t any. “The number of animals that die each and every day to produce vegan food is astonishing”. Vegan Food. By ‘Vegan Food’ he actually means pastas, wheat and cereals – the foods he goes on to condemn, completely ignoring the fact that well over 90% of the consumers eating ‘vegan food’ (i.e. plants) are meat eaters. Forget that: the blame must lie with the 1-2% of Australians who identify as ‘vegan’.
Let’s get back to basics (and it’s mildly embarrassing that we should have to remind Evans, a food writer and farmer, what the term ‘vegan’ actually means):
“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”. The Vegan Society.
The operative words being ‘possible and practicable’. Vegans concur that this way of living is nuanced as we live in a society where animal exploitation is endemic. In a world that moulds animal products into car tyres and melts slaughterhouse offcuts into glues and paints and building materials, avoiding every animal product is simply not possible. What would Evans have us do to earn the title ‘Vegan’? Are we to stop using phones? Stop going to the footy because, at the moment, the ball is unfortunately made of leather? A commitment to doing one’s best is the key to living a true vegan lifestyle, and vegans agree that this looks different according to personal circumstances. Evans wilfully misunderstands the definition and concept of living vegan because he can’t argue against it. However he can argue against his own concept of a vegan: the self-righteous, field mouse murderers that they are.
Without a doubt, the statistics are shocking. According to Evans, Collydean farm in Northern Tasmania produces 400 tonnes of peas a season, but not without killing 150 deer, 800-1000 possums and 500 wallabies. Evans repeats: “The number of animals that die to produce vegan food is astonishing”.
These are horrific numbers and nobody would be comfortable with these statistics, however rest easy, we have our 1-2% of society to blame as peas are firmly slotted into the ‘vegan food’ category. Who knew that meat eaters have ethical restrictions of their own, where peas and pasta are evil but roast suckling pig scores moral points?
The amount of animals killed on Collydean farm is truly shocking and heartbreaking and … completely unverifiable. On Evan’s own admission, the farm hasn’t been given its real name. We’re provided with an unhelpful, vague region of ‘Northern Tasmania’ and an overview of their mixed activities (interestingly, including the enslavement and exploitation of cattle and sheep), but nothing tangible from which to verify this information. But who cares about validating a source when you are reading what you want to hear?
The article really doesn’t get any more credible, citing a report from 2005 and coming to the conclusion that ‘if we didn’t kill mice the cost of food would rise drastically’. Thrown into the mix is a 2013 unnamed case study in which rice farmers (somewhere) killed 200,000 native ducks to protect their fields. And then there’s the insect killing carnage happening on Evan’s own doorstep, ‘Fat Pig Farm’:
“The most animals that die on… our property are the snails and slugs that would destroy our garden if left unchecked. We kill close to 5000 moths, slugs and snails each year to grow vegetables”.
Close to 5000! It’s amazing how Evans can be so incredibly accurate, given that we are talking about beings smaller than the loose change in our pocket. Is someone on the farm counting insect casualties? But of course not: Evans is a shrewd user of large, unverifiable numbers to take the focus off the real issue of the unnecessary torturing and killing of 2 billion sentient land individuals and plenty more aquatic beings worldwide EVERY WEEK for food and products we don’t need. If Evans is such a fan of high numbers, we have got plenty for him.
Undeterred, the article plods on through some dodgy rhetoric on honeybee pollination and the illusion of vegan wine (which is, apparently, full of mice and lizards) and degenerates into a sound condemnation of peanut butter and raisins, which are reduced to insect graveyards. “Your Brazillian soy beans and Californian almonds” are responsible for some serious carbon emissions. Bad, bad vegans. Let’s ignore the fact that 90% of the soy grown in the world is used to feed livestock and that land equivalent in size to 46 rugby fields has been cleared across QLD every single hour for the past 30 years for grazing. Those facts have no place in this article.
There’s a similarly unverifiable factoid appearing in pub trivia quizzes worldwide in which humans eat a certain number of insects in our sleep. By Evan’s definition of veganism, only chronic insomniacs stand a chance of being bestowed with the mythical, mystical virtue of Veganism.
“When you eat, you’re never truly vegan” – Matthew Evans, 2019. Matthew, please read the definition of veganism. We’ll wait.
You’d think a writer so concerned with the collateral damage animals suffer from crop production would at least explore practical alternatives to these unconscionable massacres. A topic vegans and meat eaters alike would be interested in. However it is never alluded to.
Don’t worry though, our clever writer has the answer to this ethical nightmare, and it’s not peanut butter. It’s a call for a “nuanced, sensible debate about meat consumption… in which condemnation, aggression and intolerance should play no part”.
An archetype was conspicuously missing from this article, but thankfully Evans provides at the conclusion. Enter the Angry Vegan. Evans may be clueless in his definition of veganism, but he would at least be smart enough to know a vegan’s position on meat consumption IS one of condemnation. That unnecessary consumption of a sentient being is not tolerated. Of course, this does not mean that the defender of veganism approaches a debate in an aggressive manner, but with a valuable stereotype to uphold in the interest of his business and world view, Evans would be crazy not to wheel it out.
Getting through this painful 9min read of posturing is a test of patience – something vegans have in spades. Negotiating daily life in a world intent on harming our most vulnerable while most of our friends and relatives remain unaware or, worse still, don’t care, relies on us vegans to practice patience more than most. Our reward for enduring this rambling …. Is the footnote:
“Edited extract from On Eating Meat by Matthew Evans (Murdoch Books, $32.99), out Monday”.
Less a searing expose of the hypocrisy of field mouse murderers, and more a plug for a pro-meat book coming to a bookstore near you on Monday. With veganism thrown decisively under the bus for good measure.