Recently former Smiths singer Morrissey cancelled a concert because the venue wasn’t willing to stop serving meat while he performed. With a blog called “The Appropriate Omnivore”, I obviously don’t agree with Morrissey’s decision. But my major issue at hand isn’t what you’re probably thinking. Sure replacing meat with heavily processed soy and grains isn’t good for anyone’s health or for agriculture. And yes, I think faux meat tastes like newspaper. My main beef (no pun intended) is that this is the wrong way to get your message across.
Morrissey’s concerts are about his music. By and large, people attend his shows to hear songs such as “How Soon Is Now?” and “Every Day Is Like Sunday”, not see him get up on his soap (made from 100% vegetable oil) box. It’s a different story when an animal rights conference asks a convention center to not serve any meat, eggs, or dairy.
These types of extremes can hurt any type of food movement. As much as Morrissey would like to see people abstain from eating animal products, I’d like to see people stop consuming factory farmed meat. But I wouldn’t be in favor of an artist demanding while he performs that the arena can only serve pastured meats. Trying to get everyone to convert at your doorstep can go in the wrong direction and turn people away. This type of dogmatism makes movements look like cults.
This wasn’t Morrissey’s first attempt to have an animal product free concert. He’s succeeded with his request to other concert locales. And what did he accomplish by that? Did anyone go vegan or vegetarian after attending these shows? Doubt it.
Similarly, as much as I’d like believe that when a place only serves pastured meats, people that attend will want to start avoiding eating animals from feedlots. But I know that it’s not that simple. Chanlee Sutoyo, Cute Vegetables blogger and Weston A. Price Pasadena Chapter co-leader, says “You can’t force people to change, especially without educating them first. Even then, they have to be in a place in their lives where they are open to change.”
With all of this ranting, I can’t help but think if there’s any more viable
solution. After pondering it over and asking my real food colleagues, I see that there is one. And there are people that are using less proselytizing methods. Chanlee Sutoyo added “Just having a special menu option at an event may be enough to spark curiosity and conversation.” When she mentioned this, former NFL player Will Witherspoon came to my mind.
Will Witherspoon was a linebacker for various teams and is now a sideline announcer for the St. Louis Rams radio network. While he was playing football, he was also vocal about his passion for animals to be raised on pastures and not fed hormones or antibitiocs. But he didn’t require the football teams that he played for to only serve grass fed meats at their stadiums. Instead, he purchased Shire Gate Farm, which raises pastured livestock.
And Will Witherspoon’s non-hardline approach has paid off. Last fall, Edward Jones Dome, where the St. Louis Rams play, began serving hot dogs and hamburgers from Shire Gate Farm. This doesn’t mean that only grass fed burgers and franks are sold there, but people have the option. Witherspoon has said he’d like to expand his products to other stadiums. With his approach, this sound very feasible.
Regardless of what type of food is being offered, it sounds like Will Witherspoon’s gentler manner is more effective than Morrissey’s all-or-nothing plan of attack.