Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 16, 2001 / 23 Nissan, 5761

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

In defense of PETA -- LET me say a word or two in defense of PETA, a group under increasing assault these days. Just to be clear: I am referring to the folks I like to call, People who Eat Tasty Animals and not the more publicity-hungry People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Tasty-animal eating is falling out of favor in many parts of the world these days and, though understandable, I think that's a shame. The precipitous decline is concentrated in Europe, thanks to a series of livestock disasters.

Britain's decade-long bout of mad cow disease has spread to France and perhaps elsewhere in Europe. Also, Britain has been walloped by a foot-and-mouth epidemic, horrifying much of the world with gruesome pictures of thousands of slaughtered sheep and cows. As a result, meat eating is plummeting across the Old World. Beef sales are down 75 percent in Italy and almost 50 percent in France. Meat is disappearing from European menus everywhere.

For example, a fellow named Alain Passard, head chef at the trendy Paris restaurant L'Arpege, has received international attention. Passard told Newsweek that the troubles afflicting livestock foreshadow a new stage of "evolution" requiring humanity to "explore a new domain called 'The Vegetable.'"

Passard told Newsweek that no "real" (translation: "French") chef has succeeded in creating a truly vegetarian cuisine since the 1650s, but he will succeed where others have failed with "the simple onion, the simple carrot, even a turnip."

There's a reason why no one has come up with an all-vegetarian cuisine (outside India, of course) for three and half centuries. Most of us want to eat meat. Indeed, it's only because France has been exceptionally good at cooking the cuter animals - rabbits, ducks, veal - that we've kept France around at all. And now the French want to be completely useless. Alas, Passard believes they have no choice. He says vegetarianism is a matter of "nutritional security," or sÚcuritÚ alimentaire.

The real powerhouse behind the push for diets composed entirely of side dishes has been the (ital) other (end ital) PETA. Across Europe they've been handing out vegetarian "starter kits" and running huge publicity campaigns dedicated to hammering home that the current troubles are, in their words, "Modern-Day Plagues Sweeping Europe."

How successful they've been is hard to say, since the media has surely helped foment the meat backlash. But vegetarianism is clearly gaining. In Germany, it has doubled since the onset of mad cow disease, to more than 6 million vegetarians. In Britain, the land where the term "beefeater" was coined (because the royal guards were once paid in beef), 5 percent of Her Majesty's subjects say they're vegetarians.

Now, there's nothing wrong with some people choosing to reduce their meat intake. But this is carnophobia. Foot-and-mouth disease poses no threat to humans. You could eat an infected animal raw (though that might result in a different kind of mad cow) and you'd be fine.

This is what's so outrageous about the slaughter in Britain; it's being done for bureaucrats, not for the public health. Since foot-and-mouth infected animals can't be exported, the government is overcompensating to protect the cattle industry by killing hundreds of thousands of animals, many uninfected.

And while mad cow disease is a horrifying and tragic disease, it is extremely rare and is not transmitted in muscle tissue, i.e. steak. Mad chicken disease has yet to be documented. Let's be honest, the meat industry often has less-than-humane regard for the well-being of cattle. The Washington Post recently reported how some cows are butchered while they're still alive. And lax standards were responsible for the 88 confirmed cases of mad cow disease in the first place. But this is an argument for more humane industry and government standards, not vegetarianism.

PETA and its defenders earnestly believe, in the words of its founder, Ingrid Newkirk, "When it comes to feelings, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights." This is a profoundly dumb thing to say as a matter of fact and philosophy - humans feel hope, rage, love, sympathy, joy, etc., and rats do not.

Sure, PETA believes factory farming is the equivalent to the Holocaust. Newkirk has said, "6 million Jews died in concentration camps, but 6 billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses." But for the rest of us, if you don't think it's murder to kill one cow, you can't think it's genocide to kill a million.

The fact is that humans were meant to eat meat. If G-d didn't want us to eat cows, he wouldn't have made them out of steak. Animals don't have rights because they aren't human, while humans have obligations because we are (when chickens give to charity, I will stop eating them). One of our obligations is to treat animals humanely, and that's possible to do without living on tofu.

To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.


04/11/01: Decrying hoopla over diversity in newsrooms
04/06/01: Dan Rather tries to dodge the liberal-bias bullet
03/30/01: No time to clown around with cloning
03/28/01: Cast a negative ballot for Internet voting
03/23/01: Hollywood's high on action films, for global market success
03/21/01: Republicans should be cautious of 'compassionate conservatism'
03/19/01: "Traffic" moves propaganda into drug-policy debate
03/15/01: Appeal of 'Sopranos' lies in strict code of honor
03/09/01: Organic claims are cleverly written fiction
03/07/01: Snow job: There the media go again
03/02/01: It's a vision thing
02/28/01: SAT is best measure of general aptitude
02/26/01: Easing the estate tax
02/23/01: Clinton defenders finally admit to his power abuses
02/21/01: Failed dot-coms missed rules of the marketplace
02/15/01: Clinton heeds my Harlem advice
02/12/01: Harlem could be Bill's best move yet
02/06/01: Lying, betrayal essential parts of journalism
01/18/01: How to polarize candidates
01/15/01: Dems never tire of using 'race card'
01/11/01: Taking the celebrity out of politics
01/08/01: Unfairly 'borking' Ashcroft
01/04/01: Want to be more efficient? Increase number of politicians
01/02/01: Whole lotta exploitin' goin' on
12/28/00: Hypocrisy police pounce on Clinton book deal
12/26/00: Sometimes, it's good to be a Grinch
12/21/00: Though symbolic, Bush's diversity sends a message
12/19/00: Gore concedes --- but why did it take so long?
12/14/00: Is 'Queer as Folk' what we asked for?
12/11/00: Election mess hardly a 'civics lesson'
12/07/00: Clinton's tacky legacy
12/05/00: Marriage civilizes the manly beast
11/30/00: Gore's speech more pompous posturing
11/28/00: Rabble-rousing Dems act irresponsibly
11/27/00: Duking it out with democracy
11/16/00: Issues irrelevant to most voters
11/14/00: Gore's us-vs.-them campaign
11/10/00: Dot-com disasters missing brand-name success
11/06/00: Conventional wisdom turns with the polls
11/03/00: Clinton photo, appropriately, hits below the belt
11/01/00: Electoral college ensures democracy
10/30/00: New Yorkers, media letting Hillary off the hook
10/23/00: Gore needs to put first things first
10/20/00: Treatment of Farrakhan glosses over odd issues
10/16/00: Secrets of election can be found in 'Star Trek'
10/12/00: Arafat hardly 'provoked' into violence
10/10/00: Undecided voters may be ignorant, not discriminating
10/06/00: The importance of character isn't debatable
10/03/00: Conservatives are the true friends of science You know why?
09/29/00: Symbolic 'born alive' vote makes sense
09/25/00: Conservatives adopt abandoned liberalism
09/21/00: Ventura's media backpedaling makes fiction of his new book
09/18/00: Tough questions target Hillary Clinton's elitism
09/14/00: Hollywood morality to blame
09/11/00: Specifically, AlGore's detailed plan is meaningless
09/07/00: Time-honored tradition: Insult the press
09/05/00: Scouting out justice
08/30/00: The ADL's historical revisionism
08/28/00: Sitcoms will survive, post-"Survivor"
08/24/00: Candidates' choice of movies shows refreshing honesty
08/21/00: An AlGore victory? Only if dead birds fly
08/17/00: AlGore is doomed, but Dems ignore warning signs
08/15/00: Proud and true: He's a Jew
08/10/00: Exploiting religion would be tragic mistake
08/08/00: Cheney serves up tempting appetizer
08/03/00: Republicans now 'nice,' media still nasty
08/01/00: Presidential campaign could use some anti-metric mania
07/27/00: Government shouldn't subsidize Reform Party
07/25/00: Campaign finance 'reform' gives too much power to liberal media
07/20/00: Hillary slur speaks volumes
07/18/00: AlGore's McCarthyism
07/11/00: 'Survivor' shows hypocrisy of animal rights groups
07/05/00: McDonald's deserves a break today
07/03/00: On July Fourth, time to reflect on America's founding
06/28/00: America bashing becomes international pastime
06/23/00: If Fonda is sorry, let her say so
06/06/00: NAPSTER exposes artists' hypocrisy
04/18/00: Not much difference between TV journalists, TV actors

© 2000, TMS