4 min read

The Vegan Take On Locavores

Typically, vegans don't care much for locavores. The gist of their discontent is a largely correct sense that locavores---who, you gotta agree, have invested themselves in what's become little more than a marketing slogan---use food miles to obscure animal and environmental ethics. It's as if "the local" launders taste onto selfish palates to spite the ecosystem, much less basic ethics.

I was reminded of this relationship after a reporter called (well, technically, I called him so he could record me) to discuss the pros and, more so, cons of making a fetish of the local. As I spoke, it occurred to me that, nine years after writing a book challenging the "go local" food ethic, I was never more vehement in my opposition to the local food movement. For a while, I'll admit, I thought maybe I'd overreached with my initial argument. Now I wish I'd hit harder.

What fuels my fire is all the "I'm eating the head of a local pig so all is cool and awesome" attitude that pervades this remarkably thoughtless movement. Ink yourself to into oblivion, grow your beard to a caveman chic density, rent in an gentrifying area, spout some Pollanesque anti-industrial bromide, move to Austin, and you, carnivore, are exonerated from taking the time to consider the severe ethical implications of killing an animal who, in Tom Regan's terms, "is a subject of a life." Probably more so than you are aware of you own subjectivity, you jerk.

So, yeah. I got fired up after the interview, recognizing as I did how casually we dismiss the interests of sentient creatures under the guise of our own self-declared noble choice. What needs to be acknowledged in this moral delusion is this: it does not matter where your animal's ethically unjustified death happened. Your ethically unjustified animal death remains ethically unjustified if it happened half a world away or in your own backyard. It's still unjustified. An animal does not care where it's slaughtered. It cares about being slaughtered.

So, to demand what I'be been demanding meat eaters for almost a decade: justify it.