Hope Bohanec watched the chainsaw massacre happening to the ancient forest around her. The hammock she was sitting in was tied between four redwood trees 80 feet in the air. She couldn’t save all the trees, but she sure as hell was going to do her part.
Hope’s tree-hugging days are now a distant memory, but her passion for protecting our planet and all living beings hasn’t faded in the least. It’s present in the simple question underlying all three sections of her book The Ultimate Betrayal.
“Is there happy meat?”
Her thoroughly researched answer is unwavering:
“The idea that you can humanely kill an animal is completely absurd. The more humanely an animal is treated, the greater is the bond of trust, and the greater the bond of trust, the more severe the crime of betrayal.”
In one sense, The Ultimate Betrayal differs from other excellent books devoted to the meat and dairy industry’s impact on animals, our planet and our health. Its focus is on the ways we’re manipulated into believing meat can be humanely produced.
The list of “alternative” meat growers’ marketing terms is a long one:
These labels play on consumers’ empathy by hiding ugly truths. In explaining one overlooked — but extremely unpleasant — fact about organic dairy farming, Bohanec shows how calculating they can be:
“Mastitis is a painful infection of the udder that causes tender, swollen teats and opens sores. Mastitis is usually treated with antibiotics; however, these medications are forbidden in organic dairies, and cows with mastitis must suffer numerous agonizing milkings every day with no relief.”
But what if we treated every cow, pig, chicken, sheep, rabbit or other livestock as well as our most beloved pets? Wouldn’t raising our lovelies with so much tender loving and care be the greatest act of betrayal, if we did it with the intention of grilling them to perfection?
Or can we find a happy “meatium?” Raising animals neither too compassionately nor too harshly? And either way, haven’t humans evolved to eat meat?
Bohanec does a brilliant job of debunking that idea:
“Most meat-eating animals chomp the meat raw, bloody body whole: eyes, brains, organs, genitals, and all. We seem to be repulsed by eating a dead animal! Then there is the disturbing fact that there is fecal matter on almost every piece of meat, including 92 percent of chicken carcasses, and pus present in nearly all dairy products.”
In The Ultimate Betrayal’s final chapter, Hope challenges us with the idea that at every meal, we can make a choice — for the animals, for the Earth and for our health:
“We have that power. A coyote can’t control his instinct to kill for food; a lion can’t restrain his need to hunt for sustenance. For them, eating involves neither morality nor ethics. But we can make the conscious choice to not kill animals for our food, and we can actually be healthier as a result.”