Vegans Face Off Against Omnivores
November 30, 2009. It was the first protest Morgan City – population 3,200, incorporated in the great state of Utah in 1868 – had ever seen.
About 20 vegans swathed in synthetic clothing arrived to protest the livelihood of farmers in a county where the livestock outnumber people by 100 to 1. After spending the day before yelling at shoppers in Park City, a town awash in leather, fine furs and shearlings, the vegans were a bit hoarse.
Signs supporting farming popped up at the Texaco, Jubilee Foods and other shops. The Farm Bureau hung a banner proudly proclaiming “MORGAN COUNTY CELEBRATES ANIMAL AGRICULTURE”, and a spontaneous counter-protest formed in front of the Chicken Hut. The cattlemen donated beef patties and a BBQ was set up. The smoke drifted past the vegans who cringed at the scent of freshly charred burgers, but the omnivores in town happily dug in.
And so the vegans faced off against the omnivores in Morgan City, two days after almost 50 million turkeys were enjoyed over Thanksgiving. In a country where just a tiny 2% of the population, such as those living around Morgan, produce all the country’s food and fiber, it’s easy to thank the Almighty and forget the farmer.
The crowd supporting agriculture swelled into a sea of cowboy hats. Men with rough, worn hands, who make their livings out of doors, studied the vegans who get by on tips serving soy lattes in Salt Lake City, begging donations to “save” animals in California, or distributing eco-anarchy zines and T-shirts on the Internet.
The vegans marched, banging drums (made from animal skins?) and waving signs featuring tortured Bible verses. Convicted felon Peter Young (who carries with him an uncollected restitution order for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages inflicted on farmers’ property) led the group while holding a sign stating “GOD HATES FUR”. Odd, since, after all, God was the first furrier, wrapping us in animal skins on our way to the world outside Eden. (1)
One male, who had covered his face with a mask, held a sign with the image of an AK-47 under the words “NO COMPROMISE”. The owner of an orchard took offense at the threats and a shoving match ensued. The Sheriff’s deputies stepped in and broke it up – the only physical confrontation of the day lasted less than 10 seconds.
Another sign read “40 dead animals, one fur coat”. This just begged the counter “40 plastic liter bottles, one synthetic jacket”.(2)
Most of the vegans wore hats and clothes made from synthetics produced from cute little acrylics and baby polymers that had been skinned alive after spending their lives in cages seven stories high.
But several confused souls wore Doc Martin leather boots made from the outsides of the animals raised for burgers, animals that had ultimately ended up as mink feed after the first round of food and fiber had been produced, creating the ultimate fiber used in cold weather clothing, natural fiber mink. It just goes to show you that sometimes the best is last.
By the time the vegan protesters gathered in front of a fur farm, the group supporting farming had swelled to over 100. Neighbors strolled down the street and joined them. No one joined the vegans on their side of the street. Separating the groups were 15 feet of blacktop on the country road and a handful of deputies.
Closets were emptied and farming kids donned mink coats and hats. They engaged with signs and strong opinions. Girls who love their horses (exploitation in the eyes of the vegans) gave as good as they got. Young men held coyote pelts out the window of 2-ton pick up trucks as they cruised the protests, honking their support for farming. They wrapped pelts around their shoulders over suede and leather jackets worn with jeans, cowboy boots and hats.
On the other side of the street, dressed primarily in synthetics made from oil and recycled plastic, the vegans sported a decidedly goth look. After years of soybeans and veggies, many looked gaunt. Others, however, perhaps surviving on a diet of tofu “cheese burgers”, fries and beer, were decidedly Santa-esque in stature.
A case study in culture shock, the two sides made noise until late afternoon. Then the vegans, escorted by the local police, disbursed to their tiny cars to make the trip back to the city for soy lattes and soybean burgers.
The farmers climbed into working men’s trucks, vehicles that can easily haul tons of feed and equipment. They spent the remainder of the day checking their horses, cattle and mink, then settled down with the family pets in the kitchen.
That evening, over leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, the farmers gave thanks that peace, once again, reigned over a valley that was silent under a thick blanket of snow. And Utah mink farmers, along with all the mink farmers in the U.S., send thanks to all their good neighbors who helped make the Ag Celebration Day in Morgan such a success.
(2) See Plastic bags on our backs. FCUSA commentary. (Mar. 14, 2008)