Letter writer: Let Live Coalition responds

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As a volunteer with the Let Live Coalition, I appreciate this opportunity to provide accurate details about the campaign and to clear up some misunderstandings. I’ll begin by restating our explicit stance against any and all aggressive communication, which we unequivocally oppose and condemn in the highest terms.

From start to finish, our posts have urged “respectful” and “polite” communications. Not only are we dedicated to the principles of peaceful protest, but hostile communication from people claiming to be our supporters distracts from and undermines our message.

Despite claims to the contrary, we only listed the contact information publicly available on Wild Abundance’s and Meredith Leigh’s business websites. We did not post the personal number that Wild Abundance owner Natalie Bogwalker sent to us directly. We also did not list addresses or go into their personal space.

We did, however, attempt to cut the campaign short, even offering to reimburse the travel expenses for their out-of-town registrants. They vilify us and frame themselves as victims and martyrs, even using Natalie’s infant to garner sympathy and outrage, but they chose escalation, and they killed an additional sheep.

Ironically, our partner’s [One Protest’s] bear-hunt protests are highly regarded. But what does that work look like? Encouraging phone calls and emails to organizers, online posts, petitions, literature, signs and media. This is precisely what our short-term, by-the-book campaign entailed. Activism for the protection of bears is applauded, while the same activism for the protection of sheep is denounced and derided.

Natalie frames her do-it-yourself slaughter classes as “sacred” ways to “honor the animals.” Her photos show healthy, happy animals, but not the reality of “after.” We want people to understand the reality: that defenseless, gentle creatures are pinned to the ground as an instructor demonstrates how to slit their throats [so that they are] “humanely relieved of their blood,” to use one of Meredith’s chilling euphemisms. This is the reality. If the victim were a dog, it would be a felony.

Proponents claim their killing is ethical because they use all the body parts and because it’s not factory farming. Our message is that it is still not ethical. Slaughter is not a natural “cycle of life” or a poetic “dance.” It normalizes violence against those who are less powerful, and it reinforces the use and abuse of animals.

We hope that if people sympathize with the demise of one helpless sheep and recognize, that he or she didn’t deserve to be “harvested” and “processed,” that this will carry over to compassion for other animals.

We also hope that Wild Abundance, and those who thrive on sensationalism and favoritism, will not continue to misdirect the attention of those who care about the well-being of animals. We encourage readers to find out more about sustainable alternatives to small-scale animal farming and slaughter at our website, www.Let-Live.org.

— Dawn Moncrief
Volunteer, Let Live Coalition
Washington, D.C.

Editor’s note: This letter is a response to the letter “Wild Abundance Looks Forward to Apology” in this issue.

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28 thoughts on “Letter writer: Let Live Coalition responds

  1. Dawn Moncrief

    I am disappointed that Mountain XPress has chosen to publish a drastically shortened and poorly edited version of my 900 word Letter to the Editor on behalf of Let Live Coalition. The editors have done so despite allowing both Meredith Leigh and Lee Warren more than more than 900 words each for their respective Letters to the Editor on this same issue, and despite my pointing out this discrepancy and asking for equal consideration. This choice demonstrates a serious bias that reflects poorly on the Mountain XPress. Below please find the entire text of my original letter composed on behalf of Let Live Coalition:

    “As a representative of the Let Live Coalition, I appreciate this opportunity to provide accurate details about the campaign and to clear up some misunderstandings. I’ll begin by addressing the issue getting the most attention, and state once again that we unequivocally oppose and condemn in the highest terms aggressive communication.

    From start to finish, our posts explicitly urged “respectful” and “polite” communications. Not only are we dedicated to peaceful protest activities on principle and as an extension of our commitment to nonviolence, but hostile communication from people claiming to be our supporters distracts from and undermines our message.

    Also, despite claims to the contrary, we ONLY listed the contact information publicly available on Wild Abundance’s and Meredith Leigh’s business websites. There was no indication on their sites that these were personal numbers, and we did not post the personal number that Wild Abundance owner Natalie Bogwalker sent to us after the campaign launched. We used this unposted personal number for direct communication with her on multiple occasions. We also did not list any addresses or ever go into their personal space.

    Early on, we attempted to have constructive dialogue hoping to scale back the campaign, but instead Natalie emailed this message: “By the way, enrollment for our humane slaughtering class has gone up (maybe thanks to you, honestly) and we will be taking the life of an additional sheep to make sure that all our students get enough hands on experience. We will now be humanely slaughtering at least 2 sheep.”

    The only reason to mention killing an additional sheep was to gloat and punish us. How is that honorable or ethical?

    Publicly, they vilify us as bullies, and frame themselves as victims and martyrs while continuously using Natalie’s infant to garner sympathy and outrage. But when communicating with us directly, Natalie sent us their address, offering
    to let us protest at Wild Abundance, and to have tea and vegan cookies. Since her boyfriend had just texted us taunting “we might kill 3,” we still don’t know their motivation, but either way these messages do not reflect concern about a “mob mentality.”

    Nonetheless, as a gesture of goodwill, we confirmed to Natalie that we planned to hold a silent vigil in town and would not be near their property. We posted details online, informed the media, and even invited some of her supporters.

    Ironically, in personal emails to us, Natalie commended some of our partners’ campaigns against bear and lion hunting. But what does that work look like? Encouraging phone calls and emails to hunt organizers, online posts, petitions, literature, signs, and media. This is precisely what our campaign entailed — about two weeks’ worth of standard, peaceful activism — which Natalie applauds for the protection of bears and lions, but denounces for the protection of sheep. Or at least the sheep she plans to kill — an excellent example of social justice NIMBY-ism.

    While Natalie denies a profit motive, her classes bring in thousands of dollars. And in an interview about her move from veganism to butchery, Meredith stated, “I almost feel that it was a business decision to add meat.” These slaughter instructors frame slitting animals’ throats as an “ethical,” “humane,” and “sacred” way to “honor” them. They show photos of healthy, happy animals, but not the reality of “after.” We want people to understand the full reality.

    As Natalie explained on a recent news segment: the sheep are tethered outside as workshop participants pray around them and “wait for the moment that feels right” to take each animal’s life. She left out that these defenseless, gentle creatures are probably confused and scared, and that they will be pinned to the ground as the instructor demonstrates how to sever their throats so as to “humanely relieve them of their blood,” to use one of Meredith’s chilling euphemisms.

    This is the reality. If the victim were a dog, it would be a felony. Proponents claim this is ethical because they use all the body parts and because it’s not factory farming. Our message is that it is still not ethical. Breeding animals into existence in order to kill them for unnecessary reasons is not a natural “cycle of life.” For animals being killed against their will, this is not “conscious dying”— it is nonconsensual death.

    Finally, do-it-yourself slaughter is not some sublime, ethical blending of Temple Grandin and Mary Oliver that results in a serene, poetic “dance” of death. It normalizes violence against those who are less powerful and reinforces the unnecessary use and abuse of animals. And while it’s easy to succumb to statistical overload when considering that more than a million land-based animals are killed for food every hour in the U.S. alone, we believe that if people can sympathize with the suffering and helplessness of one sheep, and recognize that he or she doesn’t deserve to be “harvested” and “processed,” this will carry over to compassion for other animals as well.

    We also hope that Wild Abundance, and those who thrive on sensationalism and favoritism, will not continue to misdirect the attention of those who care about the wellbeing of animals. We encourage readers to visit our website (let-live.org) to learn more about our campaign, to better understand the ways in which small-scale slaughter perpetuates factory farm atrocities, and to explore our recommendations for sustainable alternatives that better serve people, animals, and the planet.”

    • dyfed

      Maybe next time you’ll think twice before singling out an ethical small business farming educator. All you’ve done here is humiliate your own cause and drum up support for the opposition. Truly a ridiculous and incompetent display.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        So true. I really don’t care enough about veganism to comment. However, when they start acting like VegaNazis., that changes everything.

      • LeAnne Johnson

        Those who rise up in support of do-it-yourself slaughter are not the audience we are trying to connect with. Many in the silent majority won’t speak up here.

        There is a much broader audience of people who care about one or two animals, or who have uncomfortable feelings about eating animals already, or who are caring about these things but have never really thought about it in this way.

        Now those people who do care are thinking/feeling about it, they have resources to learn more, and hopefully they will make choices that better align with their own values.

        • dyfed

          The majority is silent because they, point blank, do not believe that animal life has sapience, and as much as they might care about a pet or two, they don’t believe animal lives are as important as human lives, with good reason.

          You are operating under the assumption that you made a bad impression on some unrepentant meat-eaters and farming supporters and a good impression on most people. But what happened was you made a bad impression on most people, virtually all of whom are unrepentant omnivores.

  2. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    “This is the reality. If the victim were a dog, it would be a felony.”

    The ONLY reason killing dogs is a felony is because of the emotional attachment people have to them as pets (as contrasted with Chinese culture that eats dogs). Laws have been framed to protect this emotional relationship. That is all there is to it.

    • LeAnne Johnson

      You don’t sound like a social justice warrior. You write in ways that aggressively support those who are more powerful abusing those who are powerfuless.

      And it doesn’t seem like you care about eating/killing dogs either. Social justice advocates don’t dismiss injustice because it’s legal or because of the actions of other cultures.

      • The Real World

        FYI….you didn’t read his name correctly. And you didn’t understand the point he was making.

  3. Native

    Seriously??? Your going to get all riled up over one sheep. Why don’t you go protest a slaughter house for Pete’s sake!? That would at least make some sense…bless your heart. All you’ve done is proven the stereotype that vegans are a self righteous, illogical, misinformed and pompous group of a holes.

    • LeAnne Johnson

      We did protest a slaughterhouse, it was just a small one. A key difference is that this slaughterhouse preaches feeling good about their killing. They say they are “honoring the animals.” They pat each other on the back feeling good about themselves for making the world a better place through killing.

      Their supporters want to believe them and are angry at us for challenging the core principle and increasing visibility to the ways in which the unnecessary killing of even one animal is still unethical.

      They are popular in part because it’s nice to be told that you can not only kill animals and be an ethical person, but that killing animals actually makes you a good person.

      This mindset reinforces the beliefs and habits that perpetuate meat-eating more generally and support those large slaughterhouses (which most people haven’t seen, but most of our members have).

      Our members have actually protested the large slaughterhouses. If we do something extravagant like stand in front of a truck full of pigs to block it and get arrested in the process, we may get a little media. But nobody pays attention because nothing personal to them is being challenged in a significant way. It’s a way for animal activists to know our place, behave well, and not make people really think.

      These types of criticisms about the size of the slaughterhouse or the number of animals are meant to deflect from the real issues of unnecessary animal abuse/slaughter.

      What most vocal critics don’t understand is that you are not the audience for our message. There is a much broader audience of people who do care about one animal, or who have uncomfortable feelings about eating meat already, or who are caring but have never really thought about it — and now those people who do care are thinking about it, they have resources to learn more, and hopefully they will make choices that better align with their own values.

  4. Uisdean

    I stumbled onto this reading “Ray’s Weather” & clicking on the Express ad.
    This is fascinating: a D.C. lobbiest protesting a local business!
    Best is this comment,
    “Slaughter is not a natural “cycle of life” or a poetic “dance.” It normalizes violence against those who are less powerful, and it reinforces the use and abuse of animals.”
    Tell that to the wolves, panthers, lions & gators. Tell it to my cuddly dog & kitty cat.
    God does tell us in Isaiah that the lion will eat hay & a little child will lead the predators. But the violence we see today is nstural; a result of Sin.

    I think your lobby group would be more productive working to stop human vs. human violenve. …But some of my conservative friends would want you to keep it up, you’ll drive more people to their side !!!

  5. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    “Slaughter is not a natural “cycle of life””

    Is this really the kind of clueless people we are dealing with? Violence and slaughter ARE the natural cycle of life. Domesticated farm animals are given a window to live a life that they would not normally have due to predators.

    • LeAnne Johnson

      Glad that you agree it is violence. That is one of the points.

      • dyfed

        It’s violence. And cutting down plants in the prime of their lives is violence, too. It’s just not meaningful violence. It’s violence the same way gunning down a bunch of sprites in a video game is violence.

    • LeAnne Johnson

      It is framed as a natural part of life by people who want to perpetuate the violence and abuse as natural so they can continue to consume animals

      But it’s not a predator/prey situation. Animals raised for food and bred for food. It’s sickening to act like humans do animals a favor by farming and then killing them.

      • Native

        You see…this is your problem. No one said raising animals to eat is doing them a favor. We farm animals to eat because meat is awesome and delicious. We don’t feel bad about that …and a bunch of preening hippies throwing hissy fits isn’t going to change that. I hope you enjoy your tofu turkey on Christmas….I know us “violent animal abusers” will be having the real deal.

        • boatrocker

          Not to mention throughout humans’ evolutionary history, the human brain could not have evolved to be as proportionally big as compared to other animals without a calorie rich diet including meat. This is scientific fact, unless the Leakey family are now considered ‘murderers’.

          Whales, dolphins, humans, chimps- what do they all have in common A higher degree of intelligence, a proportionally larger brain than other mammals annnnnnnnd they are all omnivores.

          When I hear someone joke in a restaurant that the Mtn X has been re named The Vegan X, well, we know which side of their bread is clarified soy product buttered on. But hey, controversy for its own sake =increased readership.

          Vegans are like religious fundies and I wash my hands of them.

          Hunting? In my world, it’s cool only if you eat what you kill. That’s the real circle of life. Those who go on African safaris (and I do like me some Hemingway) are lame-os.

          Finally, I’d ask vegans how they would plan to bring quality (and affordable!) vegan food choices to low income ‘food desert’ areas. Telling a poor person meat is wrong when you can feed the kids on a cheap (icky but affordable) fast food burger will not help your cause. Food deserts are real, and maybe one exists 5 minutes from your home. I don’t see a poor family that can’t make rent buying over priced yuppie new age health food store soy products on a budget.

          But hey, your church knows best.

      • The Real World

        LeAnne – I’m curious about something and have only read one other vegan’s viewpoint on the matter.

        What is your stance on abortion (when there are no mitigating factors involved like rape, incest, health of the mother)?

        Also, if anyone reading is a trained nutritionist or, perhaps, pediatrician — I’m curious how child development might be impacted by a vegan diet? Could a child grow up as a vegan without detrimental effect to physical or mental health?

      • The Real World

        LeAnne – I wanted to make sure you saw my question below from yesterday. Thanks.

  6. John Penley

    This whole back and forth has brought much attention and discussion to Veganism and Meat eating. That is good. I, for one, think that we need to consider our food consumption. I also think that the meat counters at large supermarkets might have been a better target and suggest the Coalition make fliers and hand them out at Ingles and others.

    • The Real World

      Yes, I’m sure Ingles, EarthFare, Harris Teeter, ETC. would be thrilled to have sermonizing food preachers outside their stores informing their customers of how evil they are. Not a good plan on many levels. And it wouldn’t succeed in ‘converting’ anyone.

    • boatrocker

      Yeah, that’s going to go over pretty well. Especially on private property. Maybe the vegans can just stand on public sidewalks and shout spiteful and cruel insults at people through a megaphone like the crazy Bele Chere street preachers used to be able to (legally-sigh) do. Both groups have about the same amount of credibility.

      • The Real World

        By golly, Boatrocker — you and I are in common agreement on vegan and religion matters. (Same thing, often times)

        • boatrocker

          The difference is I accuse the political right and left of demonstrating the same tactics, and you seem to have some sort of acquired blind spot to
          the right doing it and will not acknowledge them.

          Don’t act like your’e Goose to my Maverick, as your posts make you appear more the Gilbert Lowe.

          • The Real World

            Work on your reading comprehension. This is not a thread about politics.

            Yeeessh, still feeling bitter about getting electorally crushed? Time to put on your big boy pants and get over it.

          • boatrocker

            Uh, yeah, this isn’t about politics- sure thing. Laughing.

            I’m very happy about the election results, Goose. Voltaire did say we get the government that we deserve, and the Drumpf
            years should be fun to watch America crash land. I guessed this one right and kind of secretly hoped for it just so GOP will be synonymous with Trump in future text books, as they drifted from the Party of Lincoln long before either of us were born.

            I will be cheering for it, as I love when vapid Americans only consider private property, taxes and their bank accounts to be important and ignore the rest of the problems of the world.

            Be prepared for those other problems to come a knockin quite soon on our collective doors.

          • The Real World

            And the thread is still not about politics. Help is available….perhaps call Mission.

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