The Case of Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat
By M. P. Cremer
“Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat: delicious dog, since 1981. Farm fresh,” the logo read. My eyes then followed the trail down to the website’s menu bar which had tabs for breeds, frequently asked questions, resources, a blog and contact information.
“Elwood’s is ahead of the pack. Set the table with man’s best meat,” the website continued, touting their dogs are free-range, local, organic, fresh, antibiotic free, humanely slaughtered and loved – sound familiar?
I scrolled down; the website then read, “Elwood’s organic pig meat. Does this make it better? If so, why do you feel one way about dogs and another way about pigs, an animal actually smarter than a dog? If you’re feeling discomfort or reaching for excuses as you read this – it’s totally normal. Most people don’t want to think about this at all.”
Cue my sarcastic slow clap. Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat is a social media brand and website used to sway meat-eaters to the vegan diet. I must admit, this is a creative, and most likely, effective way to push an agenda. Kudos to whoever had this idea.
On Facebook, Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat has 38,528 likes, meaning 38,528 people have seen and liked what they saw (pun intended).
So, let’s break this down; let’s go through the points Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat makes and how we as agriculturists can argue this.
Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat pulls on the heartstrings and is a well-thought-out example of ethical veganism.
I have said time and time again you can argue with fiction, you can even argue facts, but one thing you can’t argue is ethics. If someone has certain standards in place, it’s hard to sway their opinion.
Take for example my opinion on raising chickens for eating. I think it’s perfectly OK to eat chickens. I gain nothing financially from the production of poultry, in fact, I’d go on record saying I’ve spent more money on chicken nuggets than I’d like to admit.
Personally, I do not think there’s anything ethically or morally wrong with raising poultry for slaughter. But, there’re people out there who do, and there’s no way on earth anything I say or do is going to change their opinion on this; just as nothing they say or do could make me change my opinion. I am on the far end of the “I support animal ag” spectrum while some people are on the exact opposite end – and neither one of us can be swayed.
The bottom line with ethical veganism is this: petty arguments and hot-headed comments won’t get us anywhere. If you want to sway an ethical vegan, the only way is to trudge through the mud of disagreement, educate them on why agriculturists do what they do and hope they can understand the slaughter of animals is truly for the greater-good of humans.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) defines speciesism as “the human-held belief all other animal species are inferior. Speciesism thinking involves considering animals – who have their own desires, needs and complex lives – as means to human ends. This supremacist line of ‘reasoning’ is used to defend treating other living, feeling beings as property, objects or even ingredients. It’s a bias rooted in denying others their own agency, interests and self-worth, often for personal gain.”
Here’s my argument over speciesism: not all animals are created equal – it’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.
This is exemplified in dogs and cats. Certain breeds of dogs and cats are still wild in the U.S. while domesticated dogs and cats take up the majority. When you see a “wild” dog or cat, it’s somewhat easy for them to come around. This is incredibly different from livestock, such as cattle.
Take my husband for example: a few years ago, he and a friend found three orphaned kittens in our barn and took them home to domesticate them. Within days the kittens warmed up to their new owners. Heck, the first time I saw one of the kittens, she actually purred at me – this was four days after they’d been brought up to live on the back porch of my in-laws’ house; four days after they were found “in the wild.”
A counter example: my brother’s show heifer in 2011. Whether they’re used to you feeding them in a pasture or leading them by halter in a show ring, cattle usually warm up to people to some extent (levels of friendliness vary dependent on animal and the kind of human interaction they’re receiving).
As someone who showed cattle in junior high and high school, I can tell you from experience it would take a few weeks for my show heifers to truly warm up to me. I’d give them baths, brush them, scratch their heads, walk them around the house with a halter – within a solid month of working with them, they’d come around, not just to me, but to other people as well.
My brother, Evan, had a show heifer in 2011 who was an anti-social animal to the most extreme extent. She hated people, she would barely let you touch her with a 10-foot pole, and to this day I’m convinced she never, EVER, really warmed up to anyone. Heck, one time she got a friend of ours on the ground and repeatedly kicked her on the forehead, just for trying to feed her out of the palm of her hand. We called this heifer H.B., watch the movie Lonesome Dove for the reference on the name. She was NOT, by every definition of the word, “tame.”
Now, there are some outliers to this theory. I know a young girl back home who has a pet deer which acts like a dog. I have read stories of people with domesticated monkeys. I once had a show heifer you could lean up against like you were sitting on a couch. But at the end of the day, those species are wild, they’re not meant to sleep at the foot of your bed or ride shotgun in your pickup – and if they were, they would.
A 2015 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information reported data on a sample of 10,977 adults (age 19+ years) who were surveyed on their animal, dairy and plant protein intake.
According to the study “the percentages of total protein intake derived from animal, dairy and plant protein were 46 percent, 16 percent and 30 percent respectively; eight percent of intake could not be classified. Chicken and beef were the primary food sources of animal protein intake. Cheese, reduced-fat milk and ice cream/dairy desserts were primary sources of dairy protein intake. Yeast breads, rolls/buns and nuts/seeds were primary sources of plant protein intake.”
Based on this study 62 percent of the protein consumed comes from animals, and in turn, the production of animal agriculture.
Another statistic: According to Ipsos, a data supplier, nearly 3.25 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 15 identify as vegans.
This statistic, if accurate, leaves roughly 96.75 percent of U.S. adults ages 15 and older as meat eaters. This means every livestock producing farm and ranch is responsible for supplying 96.75 percent of the U.S. population with animal protein, something which is a part of their everyday diet – whether you like it or not.
I get it, vegans. I totally understand you’re upset about people eating animals and wish the U.S. would ban livestock production for consumption. It’s your opinion, it’s your way of life, it’s something you want to stand up for. As someone who gets just as put-out with those who wish to end animal agriculture as you get with someone like me, a meat-eating, outspoken livestock producer, I get your frustrations.
However, if you abolish animal agriculture, how will you supply 96.75 percent of the population with ample protein sources? Plant protein? There is not enough arable land (any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops) in the U.S. to produce enough plant protein for 329.5 million U.S. citizens to consume – furthermore, to feed growing animal populations pending your preferred ending of raising animals for slaughter. It can’t be done, and it’s an inarguable fact.
So, keep up your dog meat argument, I’m sure at first glance, it’s turned a few meat-eaters into vegans. However, don’t be surprised if this argument is blown away when consumers take the tiny step of googling the benefits of animal agriculture, because they will find this played-out argument is nothing more than a push for a wish impossible to grant.