Human Exceptionalism

PolitiFact Half Right About PETA’s “Half True” Veganism Claim

PETA claims that Bill Clinton’s newly found veganism saves 200 animals a year from slaughter.  That’s a dumb number, since even a man with the former president’s appetite couldn’t eat 200 animals a year–unless they were all chickens or shrimp.  So PolitiFact checked it out and found the animal rights group’s claim to be “Half True.”  From PolitiFact:

Chris Hurt, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, said this sounds like a reasonable approach and could provide an accurate average. But he still thinks the number is misleading the way PETA used it. The USDA estimates the average American eats about 85 pounds of chicken, 58 pounds of beef, 46 pounds of pork, 16 pounds of turkey, 1 1/2 pounds of veal and 1 pound of lamb each year. Hurt estimated — and he stressed estimated — this would equal about 28 chickens, one turkey, and a fraction of a cow, pig, and lamb per person annually. This comes to about 30 animals per year, well short of PETA’s 200 number.

Hurt, however, did not include sea creatures in his estimate. The majority of the animals killed would have to be small sea creatures for PETA’s estimate to stand, Hurt said. “Perhaps the misinterpretation is that these are farm animals we’re talking about,” he said. “That’s a little misleading.”

PETA’s middle name is Misleading.  So out of an apparent generous spirit, to get the claim of 200 animals killed, PolitFact included sea food, including shell fish. And even that doesn’t do it.  So, I am puzzled by the “half true” designation.

But here’s something PolitiFact–and PETA–left out.  Plant agriculture causes mass slaughter of mice, rats, snakes, birds, and other animals of the field.  Moreover, many of these animals are doomed to be cut to shreds by harvesting combines, burned in post harvest fires, killed slowly by poison in silos, and otherwise forced to suffer that we might eat vegetation.  And, there are no animal welfare laws of which I am aware to govern such practices–unlike in the slaughter of food animals.

So, PETA’s claim is not only wrong, it omits all the facts.  I don’t blame PolitiFact for not noticing, but perhaps a study should be done about the number of field animals potentially killed by vegan diets.  Oh right, one already was–and I covered it in a little NRO piece called, “Veganism is Murder.”And here’s a fact that PolitiFact would have to award a “True:” Animals die that you might eat–regardless of your diet.


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