I went to the newsstand this morning to get the daily paper (Gazeta Wyborcza, as I recently re-located from New Jersey to my beloved home town, which is Warsaw, Poland), and what I saw gave me a serious pause, so for a moment I stood there, trying to make sense of what I was looking at, not quite understanding from a distance – for a split second wondering what in the world happened to cause the front page of one of the top newspapers in the country present a black front page to the world?! Was it some tragedy? Did someone super-important die a violent death? Did another boat with refugees from North Africa capsize drowning hundreds? Was there a natural disaster – earthquake or tsunami — that killed hundreds or thousands…?
Was it in memory of September 11 victims; marking another anniversary of tragic events at the World Trade Center?
In any of these cases, the black color on the cover would have been completely understandable, expected even, but no, it was not it. It was not the ON front page, but instead – the entire whole paper has been wrapped in a big advertisement of … McDonalds – make-your-own-burger campaign.
(The text says something like: “Did you ever dream of your own of taste of burger? Did you ever imagine that you’re eating the exact burger that you crave? Did you ever thought that it’d be possible?”)
Now, as a vegan I hear it often that we’re imposing our views on others, that we are ostentatious, obnoxious, fascist-like even (yes, I’ve heard someone say that about their vegan friend after she invited him to a vegan restaurant where there was “nothing to eat”), and overly in-your-face.
Well, it doesn’t really get any more in-your-face than that!
Times must be tough for the daily papers to allow advertising to cover front pages like that!
So, I do understand that printed newspapers are in trouble these days and in need of as much income from advertising as they can get – and it usually doesn’t bother me as much, and it probably didn’t bother most of the people looking at this (and obviously it didn’t bother the editorial crew at Gazeta)– unless, of course, they are vegan – but this one did upset me, probably because I expect more from one of the top papers in the country – and it just frustrates me to see the ad so blatantly promoting consumption of animal flesh and secretions on the front pages of a paper that considers itself to be a thought leader – and most of all …
…it makes me realize that we really still have such a LOOOONG way to go!
Not that I didn’t realize that, mind you, I’m fully aware of this fact, but sometimes I get so caught up and wrapped up in my vegan world — vegan books, vegan Facebook groups, vegan recipes — that I somehow ASSUME that the whole world is moving in the same direction, i.e., more compassion, more awareness, more plant foods…
Well, here is the news flash… and it’s not pretty…because the fact is …
When you look at a typical newsstand – where there are dozens of newspapers and magazines, with hundreds and hundreds of articles, editorials, letters, photos, and advertisements in them on any conceivable topic – if you can think it, you can probably find it there; GOOD LUCK FINDING ANY MEANINGFUL DISCUSSION ABOUT OUR TREATMENT OF ANIMALS, our crimes against animals, or animal rights – unless of course there is a vegan magazine somewhere among them; and even then – good luck finding it, as it’s usually hidden in the third or fourth row, never taking the most prominent first row so you need the eyes of an eagle to even spot it.
From time to time, an article about some extreme case of animal abuse will find its way to the mainstream media – such as perhaps the story of Cecil the Lion, or a story of a guy who put cats in washing machines or convection ovens just for the fun of it, to get entertained, amused, i.e., for his own sick pleasure– in which case the perpetrators are publicly condemned for the in-humanity of their actions – and – to add insult to injury – often referred to as being or acting like savages or animals; but there is no reflection on the simple fact that — since we don’t need to consume animal flesh to live, to get adequate clothing, or to be entertained — then we’re all condemning billions of animals each year to life of suffering and violent death — precisely for the same reason — our own pleasure and amusement.
One of the arguments against veganism is, of course, that everybody should be FREE to make their own choices; that we should generally mind our own business; and stop getting emotional about what other people have (or don’t have) on their plates – as if whether or not someone consumes animal products is a matter of personal choice, a neutral lifestyle decision, as countless others that we make as a matter of course each day.
Of course, I don’t need to tell you – if you are vegan – that choosing whether or not to consume animal flesh — is NOT about your personal freedom, or economic freedom, or any other freedom.
Personal choice is when you choose the paint color for your room or whether to spend your next vacation going to the tropics or staying home to paint your house, but NOT when there is deliberate exploitation, immense suffering, and ultimately – killing of living, breathing, and feeling beings.
Unfortunately – because it’s still commonly accepted and permitted by law to exploit, enslave, torment, and slaughter – it’s up to us vegans, to keep spreading this message, to keep writing to the newspapers, magazines, and politicians; spreading the information online and posting to the social media; repeating this message, even if it seems that no one cares and no one is listening.
If not now, then when? If not us, then who?
Let’s change this world together, sooner rather than later.
PS. You may be interested to learn that McDonald’s Is Closing More Restaurants Than It Opens. For the first time in decades, McDonald’s is struggling and has to close more restaurants than it opens after worldwide drops in sales. According to an Associated Press review of McDonald’s regulatory filings, this hasn’t happened since 1970. Earlier this year the fast food giant announced the closing of 350 underperforming locations, but recently admitted it had to close an additional 350 restaurants in the U.S., Japan, and China. The closings include both franchises and company-owned locations.