Saturday, January 22, 2011

on the article

In regards to The Guardian article: I did not intent to aggitate so many people. For that, I apologize. I could have easily added the sentence: If you are a vegetarian such as I was, and have no moral issues with eating meat but feel consuming it is aiding an unethical industry: have I got an alternative for you... and then went on to explain my fervent support of pasture-based meats.

I removed the post from the blog not because I was ashamed of what I wrote, or because I changed my opinion, but because the conversation was quickly changing from "Why do you eat meat" to just plain mean. One person even suggested I only wrote it as a publicity stunt. I have a pretty thick skin, but I'm not a masochist. It is saved in my post log, as are all the comments. They were all read. Some really hurt. I agree to disagree, with respect to those who were upset.

What was most unsettling about the whole fray wasn't the argument for or against vegetarianism, but the fact that so many people earnestly dedicated to animal welfare were fighting amongst themselves over which was "correct", including myself. I got defensive of my choice of farming, and my personal choices when it came to diet. It shouldn't be the grass farmers vs. vegans. It shouldn't be tofu vs. free-range eggs. It should be all of us working together to support better agricultural practices for the environment, human beings, and all other animals. If all people who act compassionately towards their eating choices—be it bacon or berries—joined forces for a better system we could move mountains, and Monsanto.


Blogger Heather said...

Amen- well put. Regardless of the sentiment it generated, as a fellow writer, I want to say it was extremely well-written Jenna, and if you did not sell it to the Guardian, I can think of a couple of consumer mags that might pay you for your apparently "controversial" opinion. Send me an email if you'd like a couple of ideas. :)

January 22, 2011 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Gail said...


January 22, 2011 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I didn't see the article, but I wanted to make a quick comment of support.
It's certainly a controversial topic, one I'd not want to put myself in the middle of!
But, I wanted you to know that I am in the exact same position as you. I was vegetarian for a year, but decided to return to eating meat. I'm now very particular about what I buy, and it has led us towards having a farm one day.

Everyone has their own path, and their own feelings on what is right. It's unfortunate that this can lead to so much grief.

January 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'm sorry that such a well written and heartfelt piece that could have been a stepping stone for small agriculture was taking & ripped apart :(

January 22, 2011 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

People get hurtful when they get passionate. I read the article and declined to comment because it was already getting mean. I wish it could have been a calm and meaningful discussion where people agree to disagree as you put it.

I respect people and their choices and I respect everyones right to modify their choices and change their mind. Respect doesn't mean agreeing. I can still have my opinion... No matter how passionate you are about something it isn't right to railroad other people and their beliefs.

On a personal note: I agree with your choices completely and can't wait to get a pig and eat some of my bunnies. :)

January 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

It isn't just religion and politics that cause the sparks to fly. I've seen similar "fights" break out over homeschooling vs. public school, homemade dog food vs. commercial kibble, and animal rights (PETA) vs. animal welfare.

Even when no judgment is intended, the opposing view automatically assumes it is and they get defensive. Unfortunately.

I thought it was a wonderful article. And you're right, shouldn't we be united in the common purpose of putting Monsanto and CAFOs out of business?

January 22, 2011 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

yep. folks get mean and i'm sorry it got so nasty for you. but you did a great job with the article. and you are just right, we are all in this together. hang in there, baby

January 22, 2011 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Dahlia ChanTang said...

Hear! Hear!
I didn't actually see the article, but I just wanted to say, I'm a vegetarian who fully supports farmers who raise animals ethically. How and what one eats is a very personal choice, and as long as one is conscious of the choices made, everyone else should respect said choice.
Jenna, the love and respect you show your animals is clearly genuine. Anyone with a modicum of common sense could see that. It makes sense that, as a budding farmer, you would eat what you produce.

January 22, 2011 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger luckybunny said...

I didn't read the article either, missed it I guess, but I think what you wrote here was very well written, as always, and it's unfortunate people do get so nasty about these things - that's one reason why we make such limited progress, I've found this before, people find it hard to work together and often would rather just say they are right and you are wrong. I was also a vegetarian for 15 years, and now eat meat. I support both sides, my only concern is that animals live a good life before hand, and that should really just be everyones concern, veggie,or meat eater. I'm glad you speak about such things I think it's a good thing to do, and I'm sorry people got mean, that's not fair and I don't believe this is the place for people to act like that. Keep writing as you do.

January 22, 2011 at 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed the article, but I agree at the very least with your rebuttal. No reason to out "ethic" each other when it comes to how we eat, especially among those already doing so much more than almost everyone else (I'm looking at you, guy in the Mickey D's drive thru line). Of course, I'm a fellow grass farmer myself so I'm prone to agree with you!

January 22, 2011 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I once wrote and article for Newsweek about the differences in educational funding received by my autistic son and my high-IQ daughter. Wow - the comments. It got nasty really fast. I had to stop reading after awhile, which is too bad, because I really enjoy a good discussion. But a discussion needs boundaries.

If you have peace in your heart about what you wrote, let it stand.

January 22, 2011 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

It is a good thing when people are passionate about a subject. I would imagine that's why most of us read your blog. Your passion for the life you are carving out of your farm is so apparent in your writing and it's infectious. As a life-long vegetarian (yes, we exist!) I have often witnessed the black or white thinking that emerged in the comments on your Guardian article. There are those on either end of the belief spectrum who say any killing of animals for food is wrong and those who believe that animals exist solely for that purpose. What I hear you promoting is a middle way of thinking - acknowledging that many humans want to eat meat but that how they do it matters. I routinely tell my meat-eating friends where they can purchase meat from local farmers who employ good animal husbandry and encourage them to do so. I recognize vegetarianism is not for everyone but what IS for everyone is to care about what you eat (meat or mushrooms), where it comes from, and who raised or produced the food. I hear this as your message loud and clear but I think many people got lost in the details.I can say that meat-eating is not right for me but that those who do can change the way meat is produced just as I can have a say in how corn or carrots are grown. As different as people can be from one another, we all have to eat so let's try to make a positive difference in the way all food makes its way to our plates. Don't let anybody get you down, Jenna! Your thoughtful commentary on such important issues gets people talking and that's how change begins.

January 22, 2011 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You really did a wonderful job on the article so I am sorry you had to contend with angry people. So uncalled for. I am glad you are handling it so well my friend.

January 22, 2011 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger City Sister said...

Why must people be you said instead move mountains that you can agree on?

January 22, 2011 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger April said...

I read the article, and found it thoughtful and well written. It's funny, I didn't at all expect it to be so controversial in the comments - but as you said, people can get the most emotional with those they agree with mostly over just one point of difference. To be honest, it seemed that many of the comments had little to do with the article itself - which was about your personal choice and what led you to it. i hope it doesn't stop you from writing more - most of us that enjoyed your article did not leave comments.

January 22, 2011 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger jkizmann said...

I couldn't agree more. I missed out on the comment war, but I find that it's always a heated subject, which I try my best to avoid.

I respect anyone who makes thoughtful, healthy decisions in their food consumption. However, personally, I tend to side with your views.

January 22, 2011 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

I didn't see the Guardian issue, but I agree with your followers here that say this post was well-written.
I agree that it makes more sense to open a dialogue about how we can all work together in all aspects of life, for practices that lessen the impact on the environment and are humane to animals while they are alive.
Keep writing as you filter on your honest way of living.

January 22, 2011 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

It's easy to see why people get so divided politically, huh/

I kind of like the idea of banding together to fight Monsanto- now there's a cause around which we can all rally!! (Except for anyone actually working for Monsanto, of course.....)

January 22, 2011 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger b winegar said...

I've actually been thinking about that post for the past several days. In the meantime, I also watched the movie "Black Gold" about coffee growers in Ethiopia. I had similar thoughts to my coffee consumption as your article presented regarding your meat eating: if one's goal is to change the process, one must engage the process.

I enjoy reading your posts. I don't know that I will ever have the gumption to live a similar lifestyle. So far I'm sticking to growing a garden and eating meat raised by someone else's blood sweat, and tears!

January 22, 2011 at 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good writer will hit a nerve occasionally, even if unintentionally. Otherwise you settle for easy or complacent. Good job.

January 22, 2011 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

The problem is the age we live in, people sit behind Facebook, twitter, and blogs, and think the fact they don't have to look people in the eye means they can say the meanest, most hateful things without repercussion. We have basically turned into a society of jerks.

On this point I agree with comedian Greg Fitzsimmons, who makes the point that in the old days, people got called on the horses**t behavior, and we really need some folks who job in society is to punch oblivious, hateful morons in the face.

If nothing else it would be damn entertaining eh?

It was a good article. If they are mad at you, your doing something right.

January 22, 2011 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

It really is a shame people got so hateful and personally attacked you, Jenna. I mean, this is your blog afterall. You're more than welcome to talk about anything you like (hope that doesn't sound like I'm giving you and if people don't like it they don't have to read it!

January 22, 2011 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Heck with MOVING Montsanto, let's try & put 'em outta business.

Dunno if you've heard of or belong to OCA--Organic Consumers Assn., but for a small donation, they'll send you a "Millions Against Monsanto" sticker for your bumper. Wear it with pride!

January 22, 2011 at 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved the article myself. Have you read "The Vegetarian Myth" by Lierre Keith? I think you would really like it.

January 22, 2011 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger JeanineH said...

Had to go look up the article, it can of course still be found :P
Wonderful part of the internet, you put something on it and that's it, the internet is forever.

Very well written article, I applaud the standing. I raised pigs and cattle here this year, a heritage breed for both of them that are rather low population, without the demand for them we could well get stuck with just the current commercial breeds.

I like the security of knowing I have food that was raised humanely available to me for the desire, no pressure to go to the grocery store for some of that product, like chicken where the farmer was paid something like $1 a bird for 'em yet they cost $12 at the grocer, yay for the middle-man eh? How about I redirect my money to a farmer raising them humanely. Oh right, I am. Got a group of chickens being raised right now, and loving it.

January 22, 2011 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Jenna, I am afraid I will have to be one of the readers to say goodbye. I am a 60 year old woman who loves seeing younger folks like yourself making some of the same life decisions my husband and our family have made over the last 40 years......I bought 2 copies of your first book, one for me, and another for my son's girlfriend. The problem as I see it is not that people disagree about a controversial subject, but the tone and feeling I got was that you had finally figured out the right way to eat, but the rest of us vegetarians had somehow not come to understand that right way. Personally, I read many blogs in the homesteading world, written by folks who raise and butcher their own meat, and they don't preach against vegetarianism......"Pile of O'Melays" come to mind. Many of the mean-spirited comments came from you, and I don't blame you for deleting them. Good luck with your dream.

January 22, 2011 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

My comments got defensive, but weren't mean spirited. When I was asked why I wasn't okay with slavery and rape, but was okay with eating meat, I got riled up. No one wants to hear their life's dream (becoming a grass-based meat farmer) compared to slavery and rape.

I should have ignored the comments, but instead I fought back. When I realized how upset the whole thing was, I removed it. No one needs that kind of drama over dinner, and certainly not when we all are trying to improve the situation.

January 22, 2011 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Lara Katherine Mountain Colley said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the fallout from the article. When I read it, I agreed wholeheartedly with everything you said, I thought it was wonderful and brave, and I also thought that a huge uproar would follow. Being a pasture-raised meat and wild game eater in a community of many, many passionate vegetarians, I know how this can go. I can't tell you all the times I've started to go on and on about the great elk roast I cooked the other night to some vegetarian friends before I notice the look of horror on their faces and stop. What I have noticed is the more I have conversations about why I eat meat with folks who don't eat meat, I feel like an understanding is created that will move things in a more sustainable direction for the world. Keep up what you're doing. It's important work.

January 22, 2011 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger ThiftedBliss said...

Jenna, I have not read the article yet but I am sure it is as thoughtful as the writing you share with us here. It is sad that there are so many angry people out there. Try not to take it to heart. Thank you for sharing all that you do with us. I agree with Maggie-we should all band together, veggi heads and meat eaters and put Monsanto out of business. I have my bumper sticker! Karen from CT

January 22, 2011 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger M.B.Walker said...

I was wondering if you've ever seen the movie about Temple Grandin? what I found the most interesting is that she eats only yogurt and jello but has made a career out of building better feedlots and slaughter houses. In the movie she talks a lot about how if people didn't eat cows they wouldn't be around and so it's our duty to make sure that we respect them. If you haven't seen it, I should warn you- it'll make you cry. It made me cry- not that that means anything, I'm an easy crier.
I read your article and the comments others posted. It seems like eating and what people chose to eat has become as heated as religion or politics or child-rearing- and I find that personally annoying. I also really hated how others seemed to attack you for your choices, when you were just sharing your very personal decisions. Seriously, WTF? Don't sweat it, really. What you're doing and the choices you've made are yours. ONLY. Eff those jerks.

January 22, 2011 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Dre said...


January 22, 2011 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jenna - I think you were wise to remove the post, although I am disappointed in your readers that you had to do so. The article, your post, and the intial comments were thoughtful and a sharing of an alternate way of looking at things.

Apparently I did not check back later after the comments became so nasty. You do not need that. It's too bad you could not be you, but other bloggers have had issues with comments getting nasty.

It's too bad. Kudos to you for hanging in there.

January 22, 2011 at 11:27 PM  
Blogger Rhonda B. said...

Jenna~ this is my first time reading your blog and am enjoying your writing. I didn't read the article you mention, however, I am completely in support of people eating meat from animals that are raised humanely. Thank goodness for role models such as Joel Salatin. What an inspiring person. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

January 23, 2011 at 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people tend to forget that the issue with the written word is that the tone and voice you are reading the piece in normally has more to do with the reader's own subconscious than it does the writer's meaning.

I read your article, and I read a lot of the comments. I think the issue stems from others not being as dedicated to their own lifestyle and somehow feeling ashamed enough to take it out on others.

You are a Blessed Writer and a wonderful human being by living by your heart, and not their minds.

Keep it up!

January 23, 2011 at 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not surprising, given that you published in the Guardian. Stridency and animal rights advocacy seem to go hand-in-hand for some reason.

Wish I could read the comments now, can't find them. Can you post a link?

January 23, 2011 at 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Jenna, I'm so sorry.

I honestly think that two things are going on nowadays: 1. civility is simply gone. and 2. people do not understand the importance of animals to sustainable agriculture.

I admire your stance; I too was vegetarian for a number of years. I eat little meat now, but I never gave it up for political reasons -- it was just cheaper to eat more beans, and it still is.

January 23, 2011 at 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
— Abraham Lincoln

January 23, 2011 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Damn The Broccoli said...

Jenna, I thought the article was spot on. I fully agree with everything you said and I personally know several vegetarians who agree with you and are questioning there own reasons for being vegetarian at the moment.

For my part I only eat ethical meat now, even going so far as to sponsor a pig at a local farm.

January 24, 2011 at 3:55 AM  
Blogger Rae said...

I read your article, and I enjoyed it. I also read the comments. I don't see how you need to apologize for other people's lifestyles, or their false conclusions, or their hurt feelings and outrage that you don't see things exactly the way they do.

Unfortunately, article comments sections have become places for people to get nasty. They can stir the pot and name call to their rotten heart's content, and all from the anonymous safety of their computer. I'm all for a good debate, value other's rights to their own opinions, and enjoy learning why people feel strongly about some things. I may not always agree, and may think they came to their beliefs through bad info and false assumptions, but that's all part of the debate, and part of what makes debates engaging and enjoyable.. When people start name calling, though, it becomes simply something to ignore. Slavery and rape? Seriously? Ridiculous.

Your article was well written. Most of the comments were too, including many that proposed a different point of view or lifestyle. Others were just plain nasty and pointless, and should be ignored. Absorb that which strengthens, enlightens, and engages you. Discard the rest and keep up the good work!

January 24, 2011 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Leiflet said...

Hmmm... shoot. I was curious to see what other people thought as well.

Sorry if i was the first one to fire a shot. You know that i'm your Number 6 fan, at least. :) I just like to hear a good debate sometimes.

January 24, 2011 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger stellalune said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 25, 2011 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger stellalune said...

I loved your article and shared it with friends & family. It was written thoughtfully and respectfully, reminding me again that Cold Antler Farm is one of my favorite blogs ever!

January 25, 2011 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Good for you Jenna. I believe that what you eat is a personal choice and not up for debate by your readers. For heaven's sakes, it's not like you choose to eat meat to be cruel. It's just that you choose to eat meat...period. Your reasons why are just that...your reasons. Millions of people do...and without remorse. Perhaps, in this over-opinionated and self-rightous world...people ought to mind their own business or at the very least...respect someone elses.
Stick to your guns...and NEVER apologize for your at least...use the common sense that God gave you. **Tami

January 25, 2011 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Susanna said...

I missed the hullabaloo. But here's a suggestion/question. Why not just NOT reply to the comments/replies?
You're free to write what you want in articles and blogs, and the audience is given the forum to respond. No reason it can't end right there. No need to retort. Move on to the next day, the next post. No need to circle back around. Let it be and let it go.

January 25, 2011 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger Richard Vankoningsveld said...

Just discovered your blog through 'the article'. You have voiced absolutely what I'm sure a good few people, myself included, think about eating meat. Good on you!

Also, you are awesome if only because you enjoy the work of Joel Salatin - he is also one of my personal heroes :)

January 27, 2011 at 1:32 AM  

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