Vick, Speciesism, and Healthy School Lunches

Michael Vick is back. He has signed up with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the deal is estimated to be worth as much as $6.8 million.

So a ruthless dog killer gets back to life as usual, with little more than a rap on his knuckles for what most of us would agree was one of the most gut-wrenching, horrific crimes against animals seen in recent times. Before we know, Vick will once again be the huge sports star he was before April 2007, in a position to be a role model to thousands of children, and his sickening past will be all but forgotten by most.

I am all for second chances and rehabilitating criminals. I am not for glorifying them. If Vick had done this to human beings, would we be so ready and willing to forgive him? Of course not.

Here’s what I don’t understand. A dog who bites instinctively gets labeled “vicious” and is put down almost immediately. But when someone like Vick kills several dogs in a premeditated fashion and in the cruelest of ways imaginable, he gets away with the lightest of sentences. Are we saying that a dog is smarter — and therefore we are holding it to a higher standard– than Vick? Must be, because we are punishing the animal more harshly for a smaller crime than we are a human being for a much, much bigger one.

Or is it, as some animal rights advocates like Peter Singer have called it, just speciesism– the act of discriminating against animals because we consider them lower species whose pain and suffering is simply not important?

Vick got away because the lives of animals have little value in our world. Every day we ignore animal abuse as if it were an unchangeable fact of life when the power to change it actually lies within each of us. Why else do we take our kids to zoos and circuses as if they are places of wonder and joy instead of animal suffering and abuse, which they are. Why do we eat animal-based foods, and then profess to love our dogs and cats? Why do we get shocked that people in other parts of the world eat dogs and horses, then turn to our plates and gobble down steaks and nuggets made from equally sentient cows and chickens?

Let’s think about it.

Now here’s another story that appeared this week in my hometown newspaper, The Washington Post. The Obama camp is criticizing posters put up by the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine in Washington’s Union Station because they show a little girl, who happens to be a vegetarian, with a thought bubble rising from her that says, “President Obama’s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?”

The outcry is over the fact that the president’s daughters are mentioned and according to all the pundits that the Post spoke to, the president’s children have always been off limits.

Frankly, I don’t see what the brouhaha is about. The president’s daughters are not mentioned by name, nor are their pictures on the ad, and what’s wrong with making a great point very relevant to our changing times: that children who go to public schools should have healthy vegetarian and vegan options, just like children who go to private schools do?

Childhood obesity is at a record high. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if children could choose from fresh fruits and vegetables and wholegrain foods at school instead of the meaty, cheesy, unhealthy stuff cafeterias mostly offer now?

Do you have a child in public school? If yes, do you think your kids should have vegetarian and vegan options at their schools? Now is the time to let your local Congressman know, because Congress takes up the Child Nutrition Act for reauthorization in October. What they decide will determine what your kids eat at school. It’s important, and it’s personal.

You can also sign a petition for healthy school lunches at PCRM’s Web site right here.

Have a great weekend, all!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

12 thoughts on “Vick, Speciesism, and Healthy School Lunches

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    BangaloreBaker

    August 14, 2009 at 9:44pm

    Very nice post Vaishali. When I read it, I remembered survival of the fittest. Human race is doing everything and anything just because they are the fittest over other creatures of this universe. When I meant strongest, I meant intellect wise which has let us invent so many things to sort of control other species’. Having said that humans lack a lot in the department of “Conscience”. When that is lacking, no matter what wrong we do, we are not affected. I am a vegetarian (milk, honey is allowed but not cheese due to how they are made) and my kid will start school next year. To be honest, I don’t care what they provide or not, but I want the environment to be open to other foods. Peer pressure is too much in this place when you are a kid. My kid saw other kids eating pepperoni pizza in preschool one day and it took me 2 weeks to explain her why we don’t eat it or other meat dishes. And my SIL’s daughter who is skinny brought complaints from her teachers saying she needs to eat meat. How funny is that. Sorry if long.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Stephanie

    August 15, 2009 at 2:05am

    You make some very important points. As a mom of three children, I will say that as vegetarians they have never had any healthy options available at public school lunches or the private school that two of them attended for a few years. We are almost always excluded whenever anything food related is happening and learned long ago to plan for ourselves.Our diet is so much healthier than a lot of what we see around us. My kids have to put up with a lot of questions, hopefully they help educate some of their peers!!
    Peace, Stephanie

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Alka

    August 15, 2009 at 5:26am

    Hmm A very thought provoking article..I am yet to follow Vick Case, but I can surely say that nowadays when life of Human beings(read lower class) hardly hold any meaning for the so called Politicians , hoping that Animal rights issue will be of any importance to them, is expecting bit too much.Yeah if it has some scope to gain popularity or if it something to do with Elections, things are different.
    Regarding School meals, then again I have not much to rant , coz thankfully we do not have this School meal culture here(And am clueless about Residential schools).Kids generally eat what their Moms pack for them and though cafeteria is there in school, kids are not handed any money to sneak in there and munch on unhealthy stuff.
    And as far as I know, Meat is not allowed here in schools(Eggs are acceptable though) and parents are requested by school authorities not to send anything “Meaty” for lunchboxes
    But Municipal schools and esp. Girls schools are provided Food , just to lure parents (Below poverty line ones)to send their Girl child to school.But as far as I know thru media footage, the food served is not as per quality standards and consists of just khichdee or dal rice.Have to dig in more news to be able to comment on this more sensibly :-)

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    ambrosia

    August 15, 2009 at 7:28am

    Very well expressed Vaishali! I hate the way the collective consciousness of this society has built a notion of human superiority over all other living creatures inhabiting the earth! This collective consciousness has given humans the moral license to use and abuse every speck of life which is non-human. Very, very sadly the market and the media who seem to be holding the reins of this collective consciousness fuel the negative passions of people and heinous criminals like Michael Vick get restored as a “hero” in society with contracts worth $6.8 million!! How sick na!! In desperate situations I wonder how and if ever people who respect every other form of life that is non-human can enter this collective consciousness and influence the moral codes. In less desperate moments, I feel thankful for the internet, for the blogs, for people like you who write such blogs!! More power to you!!!!

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    DJ Karma

    August 15, 2009 at 12:01pm

    I am sure that most anyone faced with killing for their own food would choose not to eat meat (at least not as much). Even those who make fun of vegans, like Chef Gordon Ramsey and Anthony Bourdain have shown their compassionate side (although often buried), when attempting to shoot or slaughter an animal for their meal. Ramsey and his kids even named his pigs and turkeys before sending them to slaughter – how scarring is that? Unfortunately, a lot of people still live in denial about this because it’s easier to make cruelty a norm, or look the other way.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    August 15, 2009 at 6:36pm

    Dear Vaishali
    Your articles are really though provoking. But I have realized these non-vegetarians will never improve with their eating habits and mentality but definitely with making fun of vegetarians and vegans.

    By the way, whoever copied your recipe without giving u a credit, that person looks really cheap

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Mints!

    August 15, 2009 at 10:06pm

    Good post Vaishali. It made me sick when I read about Vick’s deal. Same thing happened with Kobe and Barry Bonds cases, even though it was not related to animal rights, the whole thing put me off from watching any pro games. Similar thing with cricket years ago. I just feel the ‘Moral’ bar is getting lower and lower and it makes me sick.

    We never used to have labels on any of the cafeteria food in our office. I used to ask the person behind the counter whats in it. As the crowd grew larger I suppose lot of people started asking same things, these days we do see labels. I live in california and it is easy to get vegan/vegetarian food around here. But I suffered on the trip to smokies recently. When will these people understand importance of vegetarian/vegan food?

    On a side note, if you have not seen documentaries called King Corn, Future of Food and Supersize Me, please do so. It was a big eyeopener for me to see how bio-tech companies are playing with our food.

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Susan

    August 17, 2009 at 10:50am

    I saw this coming when he was first jailed. So much for the theory that sports builds character.

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Ann

    August 17, 2009 at 1:37pm

    hmm.what all contradictions from the so called rulers ..!! Shameful and why dont they stress on the real need..

    Vaishali,thats a thought provoking thought..

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    A_and_N

    August 18, 2009 at 10:43pm

    OMG, I thought of the same line when I heard about Vick. In fact, A asked me and I said it in more or less the same words!

    A very thoughtful post.

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