Letter: Proud to join fellow vegans in protest

Write to Mountain Xpress
Graphic by Lori Deaton

I am a responsible, mature (73) vegan. I am one of those protesting Wild Abundance. If I had any aggressive friends threatening Mr. [Frank] Salzano I would, as he suggested, try to calm them down [“Stop Threats Against Local Sustainability School,” Oct. 18, Xpress]. Not only do I personally feel it is wrong, it reflects badly on the vegan movement.

But I don’t know any, and I do not believe the threats came from local activists. While there are outliers in any movement — violence in the anti-abortion movement is an example — I find it odd that Mr. Salzano is receiving so much attention from one. Is it possible he has angered someone else? … Who is using vegans as a cover to harass Mr. Salzano?

Mr. Salzano’s phone records would have the number from which the calls were made. Has he filed a complaint with the police so they can follow up? If not, why? Do we know anything about the phone calls other than what Mr. Salzano has told us?

Much of Mr. Salzano’s letter reads like an advertisement for his $500-per-enrollee business. Perhaps Mr. Salzano’s real concern is bad publicity, not threats to his family.

The local vegans have nothing to gain personally from their protest. In fact, as they pay for supplies out of their own pockets, it costs them money. I’m proud to be associated with them.

— Lynda Cozart
Asheville

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Salzano about several points raised in the above letter. His response:

Wow, your letter hurts. I am sorry that you could imagine a reality where the needs of our safety is less of a concern to us than misdirected “bad publicity.”

Please understand, this is not “bad publicity.” It’s scary. Like last year, the silver lining in the cloud of vegan harassment is that the WNC community across a wide spectrum has been very supportive and protective of us. Activists, local old-timers, vegetarians, indigenous folk, local media, former students and random strangers have all been vocal and caring. Thank you!

Yes, like last year, we have contacted the police and are considering contacting the FBI because animal rights extremists are considered “domestic terrorists.” …

Please accept that the class will happen. The price is actually a sliding scale; we offer scholarships for our programs, and all the profit from this class will be donated to the nonprofit Earthjustice.

Please leave us alone and shift your energy to attacking large corporations, not a respectable local school and family.

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13 thoughts on “Letter: Proud to join fellow vegans in protest

  1. SpareChange

    “Movement, activist, protest, veganISM”… these are not the words of a group of people who simply decide to make certain food choices which they believe are appropriate and ethical for themselves. Rather this is the language of a confrontational, direct action political ideology.

    At the core of this particular conflict is the fact that among vegans (who according to several sources constitute about 1/2 of 1% of the population — veganbits .com), there is an even smaller number who view their life style choices as part of a belief system, or “-ism” focused on transforming the rest of society. Some vegan activists then pit themselves against most everyone else (99.5+% of the population) who view what they eat as mainly a matter of personal choice. Most of that huge majority are perfectly fine with “letting vegans be vegans.” What they would like, however, is some reciprocity, and the space to make their own personal and ethical choices without derision and threats.

    In order for that to happen, vegans of good will (like the letter writer) would do well to drop the language of conflict, and adopt the language of education and persuasion. They should also clearly distance themselves from those who engage in most direct action tactics, and when they do witness or hear reports of direct action against those who are not vegan, stop reaching so far to find excuses for the more extreme elements of their endeavor, and stop blaming the victims when those who are not vegan are systematically harassed and even threatened with violence.

  2. Don

    I am a big supporter of the vegan diet/movement…. and was myself vegan for well over 20 years. With that said…. there should be ZERO tolerance for threats or threatening behavior towards anyone person or entity that does not align precisely with the vegan view of the world. Period.

  3. Karin

    There is nothing ‘humane’ about slitting the throat of a sentient animal in order to satisfy the humane palette pleasure. There is no biological need for humans to eat animal flesh and secretions and for this group and many other local food groups to keep spreading ‘the humane lie’ is unacceptable. No matter how it’s done, taking the life of an animal is violent and unethical. If we want to work towards a non violent world, we have to stop making excuses to kill others and animals are the most innocent and undeserving of this treatment.

    • SpareChange

      …and yet, not a word of condemnation aimed at those who are relentlessly harassing and threatening other people and their families. Seems a rather selective system of ethics.

        • SpareChange

          Exactly! And isn’t that the whole point that some militant vegans might do well to absorb? A tiny fraction of the populace can certainly try to raise awareness, persuade people, etc., but the intimidation tactics not only violate other people’s prerogatives, but when taken to some of the extremes described, clearly contradicts their own professed values of non-violent peace and harmony.

          • Huhsure

            No, not “exactly.” You can’t just say to a counter to your argument “exactly.” It doesn’t work like that.

            I meant nothing of what you said. They have no obligation to fit in your mold of what a good protester should be. Nor should they feel in any way obliged.

      • Karin

        I advocate for people and animals…I can do both at the same time. We are feeding grain to animals that could be fed to people. We produce enough food to feed the world but feed almost half of what we grow to people. Please watch #Cowspiracy on Netflix. Veganism is a philosophy of living non-violently and non exploitatively to all beings.

        • SpareChange

          Your “advocacy” for people apparently does not extend so far as to encompass those, and to speak up on behalf of those, who are being harassed and threatened by other “non-violent” and “non-exploitive” vegans.

    • SpareChange

      “…the humane palette pleasure.” A benevolent paint board?

      Humane = showing compassion or benevolence.
      Human = relating to or characteristic of people.
      Palette = the flat board an artist mixes paint on or a range of colors.
      Palate = the roof of your mouth or your sense of taste.

  4. Huhsure

    “Please leave us alone and shift your energy to attacking large corporations, not a respectable local school and family.”

    I was willing to give Mr Salzano the benefit of the doubt, until he confirmed his callousness by willfully throwing under the bus the workers and families of those who work in corporate slaughterhouses.

    Those are the words of someone who is trying to avoid responsibility for and scrutiny of his actions, not someone who is owning them.

      • Huhsure

        I don’t think so, Luther. He personalized it, and brings it down to the employee level, when he compares corporations not to his own business, but to a “respectable local school and family.”

        He’s making the case that his personal behavior in some way is qualitatively different than that of workers in corporate farms, thus we should direct our ire elsewhere.

        It is not different. And mass killing at a more leisurely pace, with a Rockwell patina, doesn’t extricate him from the moral thicket he finds himself in.

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