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From the ‘humane’ myth to saying meat is necessary for health, we are constantly bombarded with messages about why it’s normal (and healthy) to eat animals.
Robert Grillo understands this better than most: the former food marketing exec turned activist has written a book exposing how culture conditions us to consume other species.
Farm to Fable: The Fictions of Our Animal-Consuming Culture shares Grillo’s ‘behind the scenes’ insight on food marketing.
What we eat
Grillo is now the director of farmed animal protection organization Free From Harm.
He says: “We are what we eat, and yet we are largely unaware of the powerful forces that actually shape our food choices.
“The fact is, in any given day, we face a deluge of fictions fabricated by the multi-billion-dollar marketing and media empire which seeks to influence our purchasing decisions in every conceivable way. “
Writing for Female First Grillo outlines four of the myths perpetuated by marketers and the media that encourage people to eat animals.
One is evolution. He writes: “One popular evolutionary fiction is that farmed animals have been bred and used for food for so long that they have somehow evolved into this role of ‘consensual victimhood’.”
He also talks about the myth linking meat and ‘manhood’, writing: “Meat is used as a powerful metaphor to market all kinds of consumer products, concludes a number of studies, most notably a study published by the Journal of Consumer Research entitled Is Meat Male?.”
Marketers also play on ideas of health, according to Grillo who writes: “Debunk the myth that we need animal products to thrive or be healthy and the only valid reason for causing animals suffering for our food choices vanishes.
“We need only look at the many top performing athletes who are vegan to debunk the necessity myth.”
Finally, he dispels the humane myth, saying: “Putting a humane face on what is inherently violent and exploitative is a key tactic of brands that promise to satisfy our conscience as much as our appetite.
“Paying a premium for better treatment distracts our attention away from the fundamental issue of using, confining and killing animals against their will which is the inevitable result of raising them for food, regardless of how well we treat them during the short time they are allowed to stay alive.”