Kate Beckinsale And The Normalisation Of Animal Exploitation
With one of my favourite films being 2001’s Serendipity (I know, don’t judge me – I’m a hopeless romantic) it’s safe to say that I’m generally a fan of Kate Beckinsale’s work. An article that surfaced recently in Body and Soul, however, has had me rolling my eyes and shaking my head.
As opposed to the usual warm and fuzzy feeling I get during the climax of Serendipity when Kate’s character (Sarah Thomas) reunites with John Cusack’s character (Jonathan Trager), Kate’s words in Body and Soul (taken from her recent contribution to Shape magazine) leave me with my usual feeling of “oh, god” whenever a celebrity opens their mouth regarding the consumption of animal products.
In Kate’s case, that’s the introduction of animal flesh back into her diet as part of her “health plan.” Not that she took animal interests seriously before – as a non-vegan she merely claims to have been “vegetarian for a really long time” on account of being “incredibly squeamish about meat.”
Whatever that means, it doesn’t change the fact that vegetarianism is morally indistinguishable from the position of any other non-vegan. Animals used for dairy and eggs are kept alive a lot longer, treated every bit as badly as their meat counterparts, and all end up in the same slaughterhouse. Indeed, in order for a vegetarian to consume animal products they first need to accept as legitimate the idea that animals are things; that they have no moral value and as such can be relegated to human property and used as replaceable resources. This is why – as a moral matter – vegetarians are subject to the same failure in moral reasoning as any other non-vegan. Animals are still viewed as objects of exploitation.
Despite Kate’s sole concern being health, she has been idolised by “advocates” for years now on account of her supposed embrace of animal ethics as a “vegetarian.” Once again, when we pedestalize celebrities and celebrate their bouts of faux-morality, we normalise those positions and put a stamp of approval on the exploitation that they condone. We promote animal exploitation.
Body and Soul don’t miss this opportunity to promote the consumption of animal products by maintaining that haem iron found in animal products is absorbed more efficiently than the non-haem iron found in vegetables. Aside from this being utter nonsense (great vegan iron sources include dark leafy greens, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds etc.) they fail to mention that while animal products provide iron they also provide a myriad of cancers, diseases and other severe health conditions.
Most importantly, when we are not vegan, we violate the fundamental rights of animals not to be used as resources and assume – despite what we say – that they have no moral value. Our celebrity-worship does nothing but contribute to the normalisation of animal exploitation by giving credence to their immoral positions.
If you’re reading this, Kate, veganism is a moral obligation if you believe animals to have any moral value at all. There is no necessity whatsoever in consuming or otherwise using animal products. We all claim to oppose “unnecessary suffering and death.” The logical extension of that is veganism and nothing less.