Yesterday, I tweeted a comment in support of the farmers using #farm365. I had not heard of the hashtag before, but later in the day I learned that it was started as a photo diary of each day of 2015 by Canadian dairy farmer and ag communicator Andrew Campbell, who owns Fresh Air Media and gives a no-holds-barred look at agricultural issues for RealAgriculture.com. A cool project, it began with the first calf of 2015, born at 1:15 a.m.
Activists for veganism
were attempting to take over the hashtag and Andrew was receiving nasty comments. Scrolling through the #farm365 tweets, I noticed one that said the hashtag was about getting rid of farmers because that is better for animals, and I tweeted:
From that statement came the following exchange with several different tweeters. I will be using text, as it won’t take up as much space as embedding all of the tweets. The only changes I made were to take out Twitter handles and replace them with letters A-G. I made no changes to spelling or grammar. Some behind-the-scenes info is in italics. If you’d like to see the tweets themselves, visit my profile on Twitter.
First conversation in response to my initial tweet:
A: true, & we support organic farmers who grow veg. We get the flak from those who raise animals. Me: Glad to hear it! I wanted to respond to those who were saying that the was a campaign against farmers.
A: We are not campaigning against farmers. We advocate the abolition of animals as property. No need to eat animals Me: Thank you for clarifying.
Second conversation stemming from my initial tweet:
B: Torturing animals for profit is not what I consider agriculture to be.
E (has a profile picture of a calf about to be butchered): no sh**
Me (to E):
I was responding to a tweet that said #farm365
was against farmers and farming. I understand more what the campaign is now.
is about ‘connecting’ animals as food. Well I’m alive and I live on fruits, veggies and grains.
Me: Thanks for the further clarification of what it’s all about!
Me (back to B): What does agriculture mean to you?
B: The process of growing things from the earth.
D: humanity shame
I believe animals were designed for a purpose, and I believe in treating them kindly. It is possible to practice both. #farm365
B: Seriously Elsie – you think they were designed for our convenience? I don’t believe in speciesism. (Note: Elsie.)
Yes, because nature made us evolve so badly that the human species is apparently dependent on cows. #wtf #farm365
B: If we could live healthy happy lives without harming others why wouldn’t we?
D (in reply to tweet about practicing both): FALSE
I don’t believe in speciesism either. I believe in good stewardship. We are codependent w/ all animals. #farm365
C: Then you’ve got the wrong idea of Speciesism – if you didn’t believe in it, you wouldn’t kill animals
C: Being against Speciesism means you would allow a cow to do to you as you do to a cow. Rape? Murder? Really? Would you
B: If you are taking the lives of fellow earthlings who wanted to live as much as you do then you are a speciesist.
Re: codependence, I was picturing the entire ecosystem: bees, wildlife. I respect veganism works for some #farm365 (From here on out, the tweets began flying so fast there were often two, three or four tweets to my one.)
C: The codependence doesn’t involve using them for farming methods/food. It exists without human interference.
C: Veganism works for all. Have you ever tried researching how to live without meat/dairy? Or just never bothered/ (Perhaps this is the point where I should have told them I was fasting that day for health reasons and that the first thing I wanted to eat when I was done the next morning were some grapes.)
I have experimented w/ dif. diet options and found I best function w/ variety, incl. meat and milk. #farm365 (Problems with acid reflux, which is hereditary in my family, and more led me to reevaluate what I eat. I tried to go without meat for a while, don’t remember why, maybe something to do with needing to eat lighter meals, but after a couple days, I needed a cheeseburger. Animal products provide high levels of zinc, iron and protein. I understand other food, such as nuts, can as well. However, I’ve been having problems with peanuts and don’t like nuts that much, unless in form of cashew butter or almond butter. [And I really don’t like tofu.])
C: Is there any other animal designed to eat two completely different diets? It’s not realistic – our diet helps animals
B: Animal products are so unnecessary and detrimental to human health. There is a better way.
B: I encourage you to join us and turn your farm into a sanctuary where animals may live out their lives in peace.
No, I was saying what animal is there where half take on one diet, the rest take on another. #none
E: Humans are not. Our digestive tract and structure are herbivorous. See ‘comparative anatomy of eating’.
Me: Could you point me to a specific link? That’ll help me picture it.
Me (mostly in reply to C):
Aha! I see, thanks. That’s the beauty of free will and being able to choose how we live and eat : ) #farm365
H: while you steel, torture, rape and mutilate others. Nice! No free will until you give it
D: no beauty in animal agriculture. Killing yourselves,the planet & animals on a mass scale
There certainly are problems, but we are working to research and fix them. #farm365
C: Are you really though? Where do you try and stop suffering?
Yes, we are. Ag universities study env. impact of livestock, promote good conservation of land #farm365
D: all 100% bias. It’s all about the $$
C: No, I mean apart from your farming do you sign petitions and join groups actively doing things. Not career
Yes, there are several ag organizations that promote good practices and conservation, such as @animalag
I am in local sheep association. #farm365
We advocate for raising sheep in the best way possible. #farm365
C: Is the best way to kill them short of their natural lifespan?
Least thats something. Now just the rest of the world to go – or are we doing that for you (Ouch.)
Farmers and other agriculturists raise food the world over. We’re a community as well. #farm365
A community that kills when you have the option not to
We all make our choices, and we have our reasons and beliefs. Life and death is part of world #farm365
D: death in nature is. Nothing natural about animal ag!
F: NOT causing death. Not natural
C: Enlighten me on why trying to save animals is bad?
Who put you in charge of Mother Nature? You’re not killing to be ‘part of this world’, you want dinner
I don’t recall saying I was, nor do I believe I am. Yes, part of my dinner does include meat. #farm365
C: And when do you let the animals decide?
C: You’re given two options of diet and take the one with killing and torture – I genuinely want to know why
Me: I raise sheep, cattle and horses, and we grow hay. We take care of our animals and do not torture them. I trust… (I meant to continue the next tweet to say, I trust other farmers to do the same, but the reply came fast and went in another direction.)
C: Stop saying ‘care’ as if you don’t kill them at the end of it. I don’t ‘care’ about you if I’m gonna shoot you after.
C: You CHOOSE to eat meat, and we have PROVED you don’t need to. That’s not ‘care’, that’s intentional harm to be selfish
I encourage you to contact someone who raises livestock and arrange a farm visit. You’ll see care. #farm365
B: But we both now how it ends don’t we? 😦
C: It’s not just about family farms Elise! It’s FACTORY farms and animal torture etc.
Me (in response to B):
Yes. I cry when my lambs die. The circle of life is hard. #farm365
B: No thanks – I won’t be going to a slaughter house anytime soon either.
You’re saddened by your lambs dying yet you choose to eat them anyway? I just said you had a choice
C: Again, 92yr old vegan (takes no supplements) ran half marathon. Proof you don’t need to kill to thrive.
C: These statistics are only for US. In Europe it’s bloody awful. China as well.
Farmers are out in all kinds of weather and sometimes endanger themselves for the animals. #farm365
C: ‘Endangering’ themselves doesn’t make them sound better when they kill them in the end.
G: Enlighten me why I should care what you think about any of this or why I would bother 1/2
G: to try to reason with someone whs position won’t change no matter what. No interest in trolls
C: Because veganism is about the planet you live on and its people too.
Thx 4 convo. Chore time here, so off to feed dogs & enjoy fresh air & beaut sunset on our farm #farm365
C: Good talking to you! Enjoy your evening
A few more tweets received after second conversation:
That tweet was retweeted today and favorited three times.
In response to C’s tweet about being dependent on cows:
H: lmfao I guess I will die soon? Why didn’t anyone tell me vegan was a death sentence?!
C: Of course you’re going to die. #vegan Carl Lewis is already on his death bed, no? #ontag #farm365
(#ontag is the hashtag for Ontario Agriculture. Ontario is where #farm365 started.)
There are several ways in which an analysis of this conversation could go. For this post, I’ll focus on my beliefs as a livestock producer. Later, I’ll take a closer look at specific comments and how the overall discussion went.
My philosophy on raising animals connects multiple areas of my life: faith, animal science, animal husbandry, health, diet, emotion. Here is the overall creed I was attempting to explain:
I believe man is made in the image of God, and animals are not. At the very beginning, we were given stewardship over all land and animals. Therefore, we need to take care of the environment around us to the best of our ability. Animals were given as food. We feed them, they feed us. I do not believe animals have the same capacity as humans to reason or feel emotion, although I do believe they feel in different ways and we need to be cognizant of that. I do not believe all dogs go to heaven, nor that animals have a concept of time. I do not believe in speciesism because I do not believe animals and humans to be equal. However, I still believe in treating them with kindness and compassion. In short, my beliefs start with stewardship and the need to care for our home for the short amount of time we are here.
I had a difficult time conveying all of that in less than 140 characters, especially the seeming contradiction between being a livestock producer and not being a speciesist.
I respect that different people have different beliefs about food. There are many cultures and food systems out there, as well as limits to what various body types can handle. I eat meat without reservation or a questioning conscience. That is my choice. Please respect it.
That’s plenty for today. I have more thoughts on the nature of the discussion itself, but will save them for later.
More views on the debate: