12 Dec You didn’t betray us Rich. You betrayed the animals.
When we commenced our section “Debunking Media PropAGanda”, we never dreamed we’d be directing an article at Rich Roll. Sure, he is sometimes flaky and almost apologetic when it comes to his stance on animal liberation, but it has always seemed he understood the fundamental basics of non-violence and anti-oppression. Sadly, his recent podcast with Apricot Lane (f)harmers Molly and John Chester demonstrated he unfortunately does not.
Is his heart in the right place? We think so. But when you have a platform as a vegan, the absolute worst, most horrific thing you can ever do for the planet, humans and other animals, is try to justify the violent and unnecessary slaughter of innocents, especially whilst using mainstream anti-vegan sentiment such as “keyboard warriors”, “but you kill ants”, “you support monocropping”, and so on as a way of defending the taking of an indefensible position.
Does that mean we think people including Rich should hate on Molly and John? No. Most vegans recognise they too were once not living by compassionate principles due to their indoctrination from birth.
Does that mean we don’t see what good they are doing by rebuilding topsoil, drawing down carbon, removing their personal use of harmful pesticides and chemical laden fertilizers? No.
Do vegans believe they do not have a negative impact simply by existing? No, and if they do they are obviously delusional.
Should vegans be doing all they can to reduce their negative impact by supporting holistic and chemical free plant-based food economies? Absolutely, wherever possible, which is not an easy task in our current food system, but no doubt many are trying.
Do vegans have the right to call out Rich Roll for his promotion of unnecessarily killing animals? Absolutely.
What Molly and John (and Rich) are doing is reinforcing carnism, human superiority and violence whilst asking vegans to practice empathy and accusing vegans of being “holier than thou” for challenging them.
Apricot Lane is what is being touted as a ‘regenerative farm’. In simplified terms, this is holistic land management farming principles that seek to rebuild healthy soil and promote biodiversity, do away with chemical pesticides and fertilizers and incorporate the use of animals in rotational systems that claim to make the soil most efficient at sequestering carbon. We have recently covered the fallacies claimed about using animals in these systems when publishing the Planetary Vegan article on the subject (read here) so won’t go into this further here. But we must add, it was a smashing-your-head-against-the-wall moment when during the interview John acknowledges deforestation as a major problem for the planet, whilst also promoting 100% grass-fed beef to an ever-growing human population.
Even if you buy into Molly and John’s regenerative farming principles that claim animals are essential to be used in a healthy and earth friendly farming practice, (interestingly both John and Rich admit they have never even bothered to research veganic regenerative farming), there is still absolutely no reason why
- Those animals cannot be rescues rather than bred into an already over-populated so-called farmed animal world, and
- Those animals need to be killed.
When Rich puts this to the couple, we receive an absolutely ludicrous spiel as to why they must slaughter the animals which doesn’t actually answer Rich Roll’s question. John explains that when his cows become geriatric, he would have to spend time carrying them to the water trough (!) rather than tending to his duties on the farm and then, doomsday, he and the whole system would fall apart.
He then deviates right off course and speaks of his dog who was rescued from a hoarding situation to basically claim that if we didn’t slaughter animals for food they’d all just be hoarded and suffering. John assumes we will all be ignorant to the fact that their farm has only been in existence for 8 years, yet cows and pigs live to approximately 20 years of age, and sheep 12 years of age. So how is he already supplying dead animal flesh to so many sellers? Frustratingly Rich does not question him on this fallacy.
Even if John and Molly were allowing the animals to live until painful arthritis potentially kicks in, they seem completely unaware that there is a compassionate thing called euthanasia which avoids the horrifying experience of being sent to a slaughterhouse to get a bolt gun to the head or be slowly gassed, bleed out and cut into pieces.
When it comes to animals we are always looking for excuses. Do we send granny off to be stabbed in the throat when she is unable to get around and then romanticise it as being resourceful by making use of her body?
Let’s face it. The animals at Apricot Lane are being killed because John and Molly are carnists. They acknowledge the importance of respecting the earth, her inhabitants and eco-systems, but like so many others, they draw a blind-spot when it comes to their human superiority over other animals they have been indoctrinated to see as food.
We are then forced to suffer through another Matthew Evans moment of “but vegans kill mice” (read our response to that nonsense here) and sadly Rich entertains this narrative, seemingly forgetting the section in the definition of vegan ‘as far as is possible and practicable.’ Rich is 100% correct to highlight that we all have an impact and blood on our hands by simply existing. So fuck it! Let’s just go on a blood-lusting rampage, shall we?
Rich is clearly impressed with the work of Molly and John and recognises, as we do, that what current farming practices, both animal and crop, are doing to the soil and eco-systems is disastrous. Promoting the need for this to be urgently addressed is admirable. However, we’re confident a hard-working couple from the regenerative veganic farming community could have been sourced. The core issue with Rich doing this interview in the first place and what he does through the interview, is he reinforces other animals to the position of less than, perpetuating the very problem that is the root cause of so many problems we face, being that humans remain more superior than others, as he irresponsibly justifies their right to cause unnecessary harm for no reason other than indoctrinated habit.
His use of the terms kindness, compassion and connection during the discussion in reference to a business that slaughters innocent animals for profits again mocks what those words stand for. These terms are being hijacked globally, as animal agriculture industries, both big and small, work to convince people that there is a kind way to kill someone and that we can be connected whilst unnecessarily taking someone’s life. There is no greater disconnect.
If we are to ever create a world of non-violence, respect, harmony and equality that Rich claims to strive for, there is never, ever, room for the intentional and unnecessary killing of individuals who do not want to die. And those in our movement who have a platform have an even greater responsibility to uphold that commitment.
Apparently, some have called for a Rich Roll boycott. That is of course their prerogative. We are not. Rich Roll often puts out very important discussions to the world which have positive impact, and we have absolutely no doubt his intentions are always good. However, we believe he has to take responsibility for the fact that he has basically given every listener who was considering becoming vegan an excuse to throw in the towel before they even get started.
For that we say this was a big fail on your part Rich. A big, fat, fail.
For more information on killing with kindness visit the ultimate betrayal.