Sunday, January 4, 2015

#Farm365 Teaches Us the Power of Words - Use Them Wisely

"Words have the power to create and destroy." A fitting interpretation of scripture today in church, with a reference even made to social media and how we use words today in our lives, which are increasingly online. Are we creating or are we taking away from people's lives with our words?

It took no less than 2 days for a great initiative to showcase daily life on an Ontario dairy farm to turn into an all-out brawl between animal rights activists and farmers on Twitter. My emotions are mixed. I have utter respect and admiration for the patience and tolerance of farmers like Andrew Campbell @freshairfarmer and Julaine Treur @creeksidedairy who answer question after question without judgement or harsh words. Their ability to show respect for differing opinions and choice of words set an example for which all of us can learn. It's classy.  

They choose words which create a conversation. They are open and transparent and leave opinions to those who listen to decide on their own. They do not attempt to destroy the integrity of an individual or pass judgement on those who might disagree. Can you say the same for your social interactions? 

There could be any number of reasons people choose to be vegan. Those who do not fundamentally believe in the practice of animal agriculture will not be swayed or reasoned with, because there is no common ground between us. This group might be loud, but they are a minority. They don't represent the majority of the 98% of Canadians who don't live on a farm. (They don't even represent the majority of vegans, I suspect.) They represent a small number of outspoken, extremists. We find it ironic they demand respect and compassion yet seem incapable of showing the same to people. For them, they likely find our observation likewise ridiculous.  

This divide is immense, and the more we demonize each other (and I mean that both ways), the greater it becomes. As much as these activists judge us, we are also judging them. When we do this, we stigmatize everything vegan-related, and this makes me sad. I have friends who have introduced me to vegan foods, and they have been damn good. I like good food. I also think we could probably learn a lot about incorporating some healthy protein alternatives into our diets, if there wasn't a stigma attached to vegan. 

Then, what about the rest of consumers who don't share the extremist view? What do they think? They might not be engaging as ferociously, but they're listening. Are your words creating a positive and encouraging image of agriculture? Not just of what you do, but who you are? A few bad apples will spoil the bunch. Don't let the extremists spoil you. Choose your words wisely and if need be, choose to say nothing at all. 


  1. Hi Jen, First I must say I love the idea of this initiative, and am excited to follow along. I feel inclined to point out that many people who follow a vegan diet may not hold, or agree with, the often extreme views that have been expressed by some individuals on twitter. In the spirit of keeping as many people as possible engaged and 'at the table' I think there might be some value in refraining from generalizing vegans. Framing a debate (or 'battle' as it has been referred to) between vegan and animal agriculture may be alienating to some members of the public, even those who do not strictly adhere to a specific diet. After all - enjoying good food is some common ground, isn't it?

  2. Hi there, and I completely agree with you. I didn't go into reasons people may choose a vegan diet and I probably should've been more clear in the 3rd paragraph that not all are extremist. I apologize if I came across as generalizing as that is exactly what I was trying not to do. Unfortunately, those extremists also stereotype all vegans and that's unfortunate, because as you say, the value is in a conversation about food and you are so right, who doesn't like good food!
    Thank you for comment and great message!

    1. I edited to hopefully clarify this better. Thanks again! :)

    2. Thanks, it is certainly a unique challenge to openly engage in conversation with mainstream consumers when the twitter feed is full of posts from activists who are promoting specific views. I suppose this is why some entities have had to move conversation to private platforms. It is frustrating to see content which is neither representative or friendly for younger classrooms! I hope that meaningful conversations will prevail despite this. All the best.

  3. I take issue with using the word "extreme" or "extremist" when describing vegan advocacy.

    "Ethical Veganism is Not Extreme. What is extreme is pretending to embrace peace while we make violence, suffering, torture and death a daily part of our lives." ~Gary L. Francione

    "No, Ethical Veganism is Not Extreme. What is extreme is that we encourage our children to love animals at the same time that we teach them those that they love can also be those whom they harm. We teach our children that love is consistent with commodification. That is truly extreme - and very sad." ~Gary L. Francione

    "Standing up for children is expected, it is morally the right thing to do. Advocating for dogs, cats and wild life is accepted, it is justifiable to quite a few. So why is speaking out for farm animals extreme, why is it pushing a 'point of view?' Maybe it is time to change this perspective because their lives matter too!" ~One Voice for Animal Rights

    "Being vegan isn't extreme...supporting an industry that slaughters millions of sentient beings is!" ~Avril Simms

    Unless you consider non-violence and justice to be "extreme," veganism is not extreme.

  4. Thank you for your comment. Given the latest events around the globe, I agree with you that this might be an exaggerated descriptor. Obviously, we have different positions on this issue, and I find it offensive to be called a murderer or a rapist. There is a difference between humans and animals. For me, providing the utmost, highest quality of care for our animals while they are on this planet is the most important. I also believe that better care leads to a higher quality product in the end, which should be a greater focus than producing more, and cheaper. That is my position. Thank you for sharing yours!

  5. You said:

    "I also believe that better care leads to a higher quality product in the end"

    Non-human animals are not products. One can not put a price tag on a sentient being. When you think of someone as if they are merely going to become an object, it is no wonder people begin treating them as though they are those objects while living, which explains the rampant across-the-board animal abuse discovered by undercover investigators every single time they investigate. It explains the mutilations. It explains the tagged ears. The word "Live STOCK" if the being is nothing more than a living money ball waiting to be sliced into dollar bills. Abuse is the norm, not the exception, when one treats another as if their bodies belong to someone other than that being.

    Like human animals, they are SomeONEs, Hes and Shes, not its, not things...and thus can not be property. The very world animal denotes "animation". To change someone into an inanimate object--is to go against who that animal is from the moment of conception. It simply can never be humane to kill someone for one's profit or pleasure. How can it ever be humane to kill someone who didn't want to die? They live for their own reasons--they feel pain, joy, and pleasure, like us. In fact, neuroscientists have declared non-human animal consciousness to be so similar to human animal consciousness that they're nearly indistinguishable. Google the last sentence and you'll find it.

    This raises the question why someone would choose to unnecessarily inflict harm on someone, particularly for a meal that kills them. And why would God give humans a "food" that kills them? We maintain that animals are friends, not food--guests we share this blue and green planet with. Because, "Atherosclerosis is a disease only of herbivores. And, since humans get atherosclerosis, humans too must be herbivores." ~Dr. William Roberts, MD. If God wanted one to eat animals, why would He/She create in them the capacity to feel fear and pain? What kind of a sadistic individual would that make Him/Her? And if Satan is supposed to be the opposite of God, and God is supposed to be the most compassionate, most loving, most peaceful, yet gives approval for this unnecessary violence, then how would Satan's treatment of animals differ?

    Gary Yourofsky debunks the idea of "Humane Slaughter" in under a minute:

    His MI lecture is well worth the watch. You won't regret it.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. Genesis 9:1–3




      And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, q“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 rThe fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3 sEvery moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And tas I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

    3. So it's okay with you if non-human animals are killed by other non-human animals in the wild for food, and yet it's not okay for human animals to kill other animals for food as well? Even when those animals, despite the "mutilations" and your perception that animals are viewed as "objects", not sentient beings, actually live far better lives and get better care than most humans?

      It also makes me wonder what the basis of your claim about the "rampant across-the-board animal abuse" comes from? Other vegans and vegetarians, perhaps? Watching too many videos from animal rights organizations like PeTA, MFA, ALF and others, maybe? Have you actually visited a farm before, one like Savvy Farmgirl's or anything similar and really seen how animals are treated and cared for?

      Misanthropy is a common thing among those of your views. Animals are not humans, they do not behave like humans, act like humans nor think like humans. Of course they feel pain, pleasure, joy and fear, any person who has worked with or around animals can agree with that. An animal will certainly tell you what they're feeling at the moment, though some is not nearly as obvious as how you or more or others would express such, rather, emotions. But they do not fear death. They do not have feelings which enable them to predict the future or live in the past. They are not afraid to die, and nor do they know they're going to die until the moment it's upon them.

      There are many examples in the Bible of God's people eating and sacrificing animals in the Old Testament. Even His Son did not shy away from eating fish (clearly an animal) on a regular basis. The compassion was in raising and treating animals with respect as they are, not treating them as humans or as "friends." Try making "friends" with a bear and he will decide to eat you. And don't expect a bull to not decide to charge you and pummel you into the ground just because you are trying to be "friends" with him.

      And I wonder why so many people have issues with their pets today? Because they treat them like four legged furry humans, not actual dogs or cats. Or even horses, or cows, or pigs.

  6. "I also think we could probably learn a lot about incorporating some healthy protein alternatives into our diets, if there wasn't a stigma attached to vegan."

    I get why you word it that way. Besides the carnist culture you were brought up in, this sentence that is meant to sound "classy" honestly gets under the skin of those who are even remotely educated in nutrition because it denotes a willful ignorance on the topic you are attempting to speak about, when you don't even use proper grammar with the word "Vegan" here--as if you can afford to not be truly compassionate and research about what protein is, how it's in every food (as well as containing all of the essential amino acid building blocks to make protein), and how you literally can't keep from getting protein unless you're starving yourself. It's like air: as long as you have access to it around you and you breathe it in deeply enough, you're getting enough air.

    Any educated nutritionist would take issue with the terms "protein alternatives" in reference to actual food, which is what grows from mother earth--as if animal flesh has the corner market on how humans' bodies create protein, or how our bodies are designed to consume protein. Do you realize that animal protein is recycled plant protein? And that most Americans consume far more protein than is ever needed--in fact, there are many more diseases associated with excess protein, and there are ZERO specialists for protein-deficiency in modern nations. The medical term for protein deficiency is unheard of in modern nations--those kids in Africa with the swollen bellies and stick figure arms have true protein deficiency, which is called Kwashiorkor's, and that's because they are eating only either one type of food (rice), or nothing at all.

    100 Scientific Reasons to Not Eat Meat:

    I'm just going to leave this well-sourced article on protein here, explaining how our bodies make protein: from amino acids. Every single fruit, vegetable, and complex carbohydrate has a complete amino acid profile. Debunking the "not all fruits and vegetables have protein" myth, and the "if you're eating as a Raw Vegan, you must carefully combine plants" myth:

    Also, what is underlying the idea that we can use others as slaves at all, is a feeling or taught belief of so-called "Human Superiority". This excellent documentary debunks the most commonly held myths that people use in attempts to place themselves higher over another, so they can exploit them. It ought to be required viewing by all.

    "The Superior Human?":

  7. There is nothing "peaceful" about eating any sort of diet, even a vegan one. Millions of animals are killed or maimed in the fields where these crops are grown, field mice parents getting crushed by a combine harvester while their babies lay in wait for food, eventually starving to death because they have no parents to feed them. Baby deer getting ran over by tractors and haying or silaging equipment because their moms told them to stay there and they instinctually did, to their own demise. And what about the countless number of animals poisoned by bait left out for them to eat as a means to protect the very crops and plants which you eat? Those animals would die slow and painful deaths of hemorrhaging and internal bleeding from ingesting warfarin. I could go on. I've seen ravens and hawks sitting in the trees when a swather or combine harvester goes by just waiting to feast on the carnage left behind, all so people like you can eat. And you still think your diet is peaceful, that vegans are "living and let living?"

    What about the fact that you actually contribute to the animal agriculture industry simply by eating and buying food at the grocery store. Food doesn't come straight from the field right to the store, it gets sorted and graded before hitting supermarket shelves. The stuff that gets culled is either wasted or used as food for animals. Anything with soybean oil or even tofu that you buy or eat encourages the current supply to feed livestock.

    I hear the claim that soybeans are only produced to feed animals, but really soybeans are primarily used and processed for the edible oils and biodiesel, the soybean meal is more second fiddle compared to the oil market. Wear or use anything with cotton? Then you still support the raising of livestock and the "horrors" that beset such animals in the emotional way you described. Even living in a home that uses insulation that has been made with animal blood to ensure it lasts much longer than it would without it, paint that contains gelatin, even the computer, tablet or phone you use has some form of animal product in it.

    I hate to judge, but your responses are the reason that there is such a negative stigma attached to "veganism." Thanks to Savvy Farmgirl's post, you make it quite obvious.

  8. Thank you for your comment, Wildrosebeef and I apologize for the delay posting it. Sadly, the earlier comments on here forced me to change my comment settings so I can review them all before posting. Unfortunately, with a busy full-time job, it's been a little difficult the past few weeks to spend as much time on my blog as I'd like and I missed these. You clearly put a lot of time into these responses and I can't express my gratitude enough. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I believe everyone is also entitled to respect of each other and respect of animals. But you are right, animals are not humans. They deserve the greatest care we can give them while they are on this planet.

  9. SF, you don't deserve to get such nonsensical and rude comments like those coming from "aerialrose". Much of what she says has no basis except that repeated over and over again from other vegan sources, and for her to use Gary Yourofsky as a "source" for her rhetoric is an insult to both of us. Yourofsky is a domestic terrorist and condones truly horrific acts that sets him very far apart from Jesus, Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr. I think Aerialrose should check out this link ( first before she tries to use him as a source for her arguments against humane slaughter again.

    And yes, your welcome. I can understand you have a busy schedule, and definitely why you'd change your comment settings. But take this as an opportunity to not be afraid to fight back and give back a bit of what people like Aerial like to dish out. I've been doing it for a while now, so it's easy for me to come up with some very good arguments against those like Aerial has tried to "convince" you with.

    Farmers like you and I (me, a while ago, hope to again in the future, God willing) are all about the animals. IMHO, folks like Aerial, not so much. :)

    Take care!