You against me, me against you, us versus them. All of these positions seem to be the way of the world these days. But I sit here puzzled, perplexed almost, none of this makes sense. Regardless of the issue; peace in the Middle East, Controversy in American Politics, or Animal Rights, idealism does not seem to get us any closer to solving our planets greatest challenges, it just seems to widen the divide. So why all the rage?
In the beginning
3 years ago, when Dillon and I decided to start a meat company we knew what we were getting in to. Setting up shop in an industry ripe with controversy, deceit and secrecy we were very aware of what was in store for us. However, no one can be fully prepared. To this day, we are shocked at some of the strategies, violence and anger we come across on a weekly basis. Items ranging from ignorant animal cruelty all the way to activist anger and abuse towards allies in the same fight. In the past 4 years, we have been targets of anger and accusation by conventional farmers, stiff armed out of conventional storage facilities as well as implicitly and explicitly called murderers, Satanists and a handful of other 4 letter friend getters by the activist community. Talk about being stuck in the middle. What we did not know, however, is how all of these situations and experiences would shape our views on the world and conflict resolution. Especially when it came to our own business and values. These realizations have helped mold our business in to one of strong morals, guiding beliefs and unwavering quality and process standards.
Where we are now
To paint a bit of a picture for you, I am sitting at my dinning room table writing this blog post on my lap-top, a vegetarian dinner to my left and a copy of Richard Oppenlander’s Food Choice and Sustainability on my right, while receiving various messages from the animal rights community making claims against my ethics, morality and overall judgement as a human-being. It would appear from my present situation, that I seem to have more in common with a vegan than I do a conventional meat eater or company. I am concerned about the care and treatment of animals, I believe the world needs to drastically reduce its consumption of meat, I too believe that our modern diet is making us sick, and finally I care about the planet and what it looks like for our children’s children… Are we not trying to fight the same fight? Do we not uphold many of the same values?
I have spent the last year familiarizing myself with the vegan argument. I have read novels from Richard Oppenlander, watched Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives as well as spoken with various vegans and vegetarians, many of which are friends and family. I won’t lie to you, many of their arguments are valid. I do not agree with every one of them, but they do know their stuff and I respect them with all of my heart. What I find interesting is that, when it comes to ethics and sustainability we desire the same outcomes. We want animals to enjoy their lives, live how they have evolved to live, eat how they have evolved to eat and express themselves as the amazing creatures that they are. It truly is beautiful to share these feelings and emotions with so many amazing people. But as you are well aware, there are some major differences beyond these similarities where we cannot find common ground.
The great divide
It is not all unicorns and rainbows when it comes down to this controversial topic. Where we do not seem to find any common ground is on the topic of health and consumption. Therein lies our true battle, the battle of “my” diet vs. “yours”. With diets these days, there seems to be a common thread that one diet suits all. This is not a realistic argument though, this statement cannot be made between; alkaline and paleo, high carb and low carb, or even between vegan and meat eater. What works for one doesn’t always work for the other, there are too many variables at play. Some humans have a genetic predisposition to eat a plant based diet and can excel in that lifestyle. Some of my favorite examples are Rich Roll and Kendrick Farris, but these humans are the exception, not the rule. Whether it is problems with protein synthesis, sensitivity to legumes or supplementation, anemia or a host of other characteristics of our individual metabolism, a “one diet suits all” position is not the answer. So how do we deal with this issue? If someone is eating animal protein and their health is failing because of it, stop eating animal protein. If you are on a vegan or vegetarian diet, and your health is failing stop doing it. If you choose to avoid meat for ethical reasons, that is your choice. You have the power to choose and we totally respect and encourage that. In adding to this, if your health improves and there aren’t any effects on your quality of life, great! This is a win-win situation. But before pushing it on others, remember not everyone is the same.
So where does this take me? It is quite simple actually, maybe it’s just that WE NEED BOTH. Instead of us vs. them maybe we should highlight the benefits of both arguments. Maybe our goal should be to bring thought leaders and educated people from both sides together to educate, empower and support the mainstream consumer. Giving them the power to make informed conscious decisions that help both us, and the planet. Maybe instead of this “me vs. you” strategy, the current playing field should be one of collaboration, not competition. The facts are simple, there are currently 7.5 billion humans living on earth. In the next 33 years, this number is expected to reach upwards of 9.7 billion. It would appear to me that on a global scale we have a population and consumption problem. Mindless consumption spanning across all industries (Food, Fossil Fuels, Apparel etc..) is leading to a lack of consumer knowledge and transparency, therefore there is no incentive for companies to avoid being deceitful. Why you might ask? Because plain and simply most of the population is too busy, are not specialists, are fed numerous bouts of marketing mumbo jumbo, or simply aren’t paying attention. But can you really blame them, when getting truthful, valuable information is so hard to come by? I don’t know about you, but I think it is time to inform, educate and bring people together to make the right decisions. Decisions that bring us closer together, not pull us apart. Decisions that solve problems, not exacerbate them. Think about how strong we are together, think about how much energy could be put towards achieving a common goal, instead of keeping a narrow focus on one that is fragmented and bias. Maybe it is a dream, but dreams have to start somewhere don’t they…
A true understanding
Honestly when it comes to the Vegan, Vegetarian or Pastured meat debate, Dillon, myself and The Barons respect everyone’s values, opinions and expressions. They keep us grounded and vigilant in our own practice. I am grateful for the Animal Rights activists for keeping me on the ball, making me second guess my decisions and bring passion, love and sincerity to a roughneck industry that has become a product of it’s immense growth and influence. It is only through this passion, love and sincerity that we will rally as informed buyers and demand change. Change that will bring us closer to achieving our goals of sustainable practices, reducing methane and carbon emissions, drastically reducing the number of animals slaughtered every year, cutting down on land and water use, saving our oceans and improving the health of each and every one of you. Those are some pretty lofty goals, doesn’t it seem more effective to put all of our energy towards those things, instead of driving it into cyber attacks, rallies, defensive strategies, public relations plans, ignorance and hate for one another? As one of few meat company’s world wide that advertises to “eat less meat” as well as actively advocates for more expensive protein, we say let’s collaborate. Let’s beat this thing together, not bury the real problems under hate, ignorance and bias. We truly believe that together we could achieve so much more. This world is full of beautiful, amazing, smart and talented humans, there isn’t anything we can’t achieve when we come together. So… let’s get to work!
Our thoughts and opinions,
Cam and Dillon
Please reach out to us personally if you would like to talk more, we would love to hear your views ideas.