When Industry Representatives Mislead

Holly. A wonderful soul whose life was cut drastically short due to the speciesist belief that pigs should be used for food.

It’s been a busy few weeks for Australian Farm Institute Executive Director Mick Keogh.

First, he published his thoughts about speciesism and attempted to refute Katrina Fox’s piece on the subject that appeared on The Drum

Then he directed another opinion piece at the recent decision by the ACT parliament to ban intensive farmed products. If he had have done a little bit more research on it, he could have really hit the mark. Except by trying to look like he knew what he was talking about with a few pretty graphs, he embarrassingly missed the target.

His latest piece is about how advocates of the coming meat free week are preaching a misleading message where he once again misses the mark.

Whilst it is understandable that Mr Keogh needs to be out there fighting the good fight for his members, I personally believe he needs to stop for a minute and think about at whose expense his comments are made.

For example, whilst Mr Keogh is happy to stick it to those uneducated misguided anti-meat people he is doing at the expense of Australian fruit and veg farmers. Remember that once we stop consuming animal products, we usually increase the amount of other produce that we eat.

During his attempt to accuse the promoters of meat free week of misleading the public about the reasons why we should go meat free for a week, (health, environment and animal welfare) he has mislead his readers as well.

He talks up the CSIRO as some authority on all things health related. Except he seems to have forgotten that their ground breaking diet book was sponsored by Dairy Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia. So we can’t  really rely on anything they put out to be impartial? Also on the page that he links to the CSIRO says “consumption of animal fat should be reduced overall.”

When Mr Keogh says that “Exactly why those who prefer a vegetarian diet feel the need to evangelise so ardently to their fellow omnivores about the merits of going meatless is unclear”, he is probably blinkered to the fact that those of us who do not consume animal products are constantly bombarded on a daily basis with advertising that says we MUST eat meat. Not only to survive, we need to do it to fulfill our patriotic duty, and to continue our evolutionary development. Such is the case with the annual MLA sponsored Sam Kekovich campaigns, or those that featured Sam Neil, or even the Devondale Soy Aftertaste Face ads.

Saying that a little bit of red meat here and there, when combined with regular exercise isn’t too harmful for you may be fine and dandy for him. Though what about the rest of the country? Especially when you take into account that only 43% of Australians report a moderate or high level of exercise, and that 63% of us are obese.

Granted he is right when he says that a week away from animal products isn’t likely to do much for a person’s health, the environment or even animal welfare. What we should be doing is avoiding all animal products for the rest of our lives. That way there will be a marked improvement in health, the environment and animal welfare.

His claim that we can help the animals, the environment and our health by eating Australian killed animals doesn’t really ring true either. How many exposes were there regarding Australian slaughterhouses’ mistreatment of animals in 2012 and 13?

Mr Keogh continues to mislead his readers when he says that a greater number of animal cruelty complaints are related to domestic animals. Has he ever thought that this is because those animals that are used for food aren’t covered in any Animal Care and Protection Acts? Instead, they are usually referred to in an unenforceable optional code of practice.

The RSPCA is usually that stretched for resources that they may not necessarily have the staff to oversee every farm to ensure that no offenses are being committed. It is probably due to this staffing concern that the RSPCA choose to educate over prosecute, only doing so in the most extreme of cases. Having a look at the 2012-2013 annual report of the RSPCA Nationally, there were only 244 Routine Inspections carried out for the whole of Australia.

That is 244 ‘inspections’ of all the abattoirs, Aquariums, Breeding establishments, Circuses, Feedlots, Guard dog firms,Hobby farms, Intensive farms, Kennels, Livestock vessels, Markets, Pet shops, Poultry farms, Pounds, Riding schools, Rodeos, Saleyards, Scientific establishments, Shelters, Shows,Tourist parks and Zoos Australia wide.

I would also like Mr Keogh to have a read of my piece titled “The Truth About Cats and Dogs” as I have actually said that maybe would shouldn’t be owning pets, and that we only do so out of our own selfish reasons.

He next deceives his audience when talking about Speciesism, and shows how little he actually does understand about it when he says.

For example, if speciesism is a valid concept and no species have rights to exploit other species, then it is not just humans but in fact every other species on the planet that is guilty of speciesism. The lion that kills and eats an antelope is just as guilty as the dolphin that eats another fish, or the herbivore that consumes a plant or the bird that eats an insect.

Once I picked myself up off the floor from laughing at his suggestion that eating a plant is speciesism, I think for future reference, Mr Keogh should try to understand the following.

[GARD]The human race, unlike the lion, or the dolphin, or even the bird, has decided which species of animal are worthy of protection as ‘pets’, which ones can be designated as ‘food’ and which ones shall be used as ‘entertainment’.

These animals kill the animals that they do for survival. We do it purely for taste. If the lion chases after the wrong antelope they either go hungry because the antelope has outrun them or, the lion could be injured due to the antelope literally fighting for their life.

Plus, seeing as we are talking about lions, dolphins and birds, all of these animals are capable of catching and killing their own food. Whereas all we do is wander down to the local supermarket and pick out what we are going to eat based on taste and what sort of meal we are going to prepare.

Hardly the same life and death situation that faces animals in the wild.

If we as humans weren’t speciesist then these designations for food, pets, and entertainment would be planet wide, not based on geography or ‘religion’.

It would be interesting to find out if Mr Keogh has any ‘pets’ at home, and if he does, is he fattening them up to eat them? If he isn’t, then that is just another indication that speciesism actually does exist and isn’t some concept dreamt up by deranged extremists.

It may be easy for Mr Koegh to preach to the choir and say that speciesism and sentience are just concepts that unless the industry engages in debates on these issues, at all levels, they will gain traction and become widely accepted within the community. The truth of the matter is that unlike Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, though just like sexism and racism, speciesism DOES exist.

As for sentience. If Mr Keogh is claiming that other animals aren’t sentient, then I guess he hasn’t spent that much time around animals at all.

I only hope for the sake of those farmers that grow traditional crops that he is a little more convincing or knowledgeable when talking about those areas.

What are your thoughts?