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The sign is down, so you can forget about the violence underneath it.

The sign is down, so you can forget about the violence underneath it. (By Kelly)

About a month ago, the Whole Foods stores in Lafayette, California, put up a sign over the dismembered body parts of victims of institutionalized speciesist violence that read: "A hearty helping of Animal Compassion with every order." PETA set up a petition to have the sign taken down and contacted the company. Though the bodies remain, the misleading sign above them was taken down, and the following is what the animal-killers said to the petitioners.

Dear Customers,

Thank you for contacting Whole Foods Market regarding signage in our meat departments. We were contacted by PETA about this and acted immediately on the same day as we agree with PETA. The signage was limited to four stores in the Northern California region who opted to use that language several years ago, and we agree the language was not appropriate. It has already been updated and we appreciate PETA for calling it to our attention.

We sell the largest variety of vegan and meat alternatives across the country, and we proudly promote those products. And like all other supermarkets, we also sell meat. However, we believe there are significant differences in the way animals are raised for food in the United States and that Whole Foods Market will continue to sell and promote animal foods that we believe have been raised with less pain and suffering than factory farm meats.  PETA worked with us for several years to develop the standards that we are currently using to source our products.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns about this matter.

Sincerely,

Customer Communications Team, Whole Foods Market Global Headquarters

550 Bowie Street, Austin, TX 78703

My mind is swimming with the number, complexity and magnitude of problems in this letter, but I'll try to strip and simplify those thoughts for the purpose of this brief blog post:

1) "... regarding signage in our meat departments." The dismembered dead bodies of beings who did not want to die are not "meat" -- what's still in that same part of the store is actually innocent animals, victims of violence, artifacts of discrimination, and bodies of the oppressed.

2) "... we agree the language was not appropriate." Great. What about the violence that the sign referred to, that made it's language inappropriate?

3) "We sell the largest variety of vegan and meat alternatives..." Insert expletives. The animals don't care about people eating plants, they care about their lives and families and freedom. Hell, the cow next in line on the kill floor doesn't even care if you eat someone else, she just doesn't want you to enslave and kill her and her loved ones. The tempeh sitting on a shelf near the flesh of a baby pig did absolutely nothing for that infant, so stop trying to distract compassionate people from the nonhuman rights violations that you continue to commit on an unfathomably immense scale. Until there isn't one single body of an exploited being up for sale in your store, the tofu sitting beside it would be better positioned up wherever Whole Foods pushes it's vile exploitative excrement out of.

4) "... will continue to sell and promote animal foods that..." First and foremost, since animals aren't food, there's no such thing. Stop reducing my cousins to objects. But secondly: DO ANIMAL "RIGHTS" ACTIVISTS NOT SEE A PROBLEM WITH THE STATEMENT THAT THEY WILL CONTINUE TO NOT ONLY SELL, BUT PROMOTE PRODUCTS OF VIOLENCE? Is this not the real problem? Humanewashing sign or no, the violence has to go.

5) "... with less pain and suffering..." What about life? Compared to animals exploited on factory farms, do they have more or less of that when they are killed?

6) "PETA worked with us..." No comment necessary. But perhaps a quote: "No compromise with slavery; no union with slaveholders" (WLG).

Forget consumerism. And stop compromising. Speak up against injustice.

Challenging Our Own Status Quo

Challenging Our Own Status Quo

Speciesism is the underlying disease of which all human exploitation of nonhumans is a symptom. If our goal as liberationists is to dissolve speciesism, to bring about a robust cultural change that will ensure lasting change for the animals, then the perspective of the "animal rights" movement and its advocates needs to shift:

Right now the dominant perspective, goal and message is about limiting the number of future animals brought into the world. ("Go vegan" and "this company kills animals but we'll ignore that and praise it for the plant-based option they offer on the chance that someone who is not yet ethically aligned with the idea that violence against animals is wrong might purchase it instead of a violent option, thereby slightly reducing the demand for more future violence."*)

We need to shift that to a focus on how the rights of the trapped animals who are suffering and crying and being forced onto a kill floor at this very moment are being violated. The goal here is to get people to realize that the violence is wrong and that these animals are in a state of emergency and need to be fought for. These stakes are much higher, which makes this framing much more compelling. Not only will the currently popular goal of reducing the demand for exploited animals be achieved through this pushing of anti-speciesist, anti-violent ideology anyways, but this is how we will actively combat the disease of speciesism, instead of just pumping drugs into the system to relieve a few symptoms.

•Kelly
*Just to be brutally redundant with this: No one who has decided to stop eating animals and products of their exploitation is going to buy a burrito with someone's flesh in it, and no one is going to decide to stop eating animals because they ate a single plant-based burrito. People don't need convenient access to nonviolent food options, they need motivation to not by violence-based products. What they need (and what the animals need from them, in the interest of a cultural shift in how humans perceive nonhumans) is to become ethically aligned with anti-speciesism. And even if one's goal is "more individual humans eating plants instead of animal products" then making anti-speciesists out of them is their most compelling reason to do that.