To lay claim to the principles of honesty and integrity, it is incumbent on anyone aspiring to those virtues to tell it like it is.

And I have to give credit for creativity and clever positioning to an organization adamantly opposed to livestock production.

The company is called the Compassion Company, and their self-described positioning states that the company is “Animal rights activist owned and operated, [providing] shirts that allow people to announce their cruelty free lifestyle to the world.”

Fair enough. In this political season, ma whole lot of people are sporting buttons, lawn signs and bumper stickers proclaiming their preferences to the world. Nothing wrong with that.

The company’s messaging further claims that, “We believe that the best way to affect social change is to lead by setting a positive example and creating opportunities for conversations with others.”

Oh, if only that were true. I would LOVE to have a conversation with an animal activist about affecting social change.

Hasn’t happened yet. All I ever get when trying to engage with activists is criticism and condemnation, if not outright hatred and intimidation.

But let’s give credit to the Compassion Company’s marketing. Their line of t-shirts features some striking artwork with slogans such as, “Humane Meat Does Not Exist,” with a drawing of a unicorn.

Not bad.

Or a shirt proclaiming “Plant Eater,” with a close-up of an angry rhinoceros (although, has anyone ever seen a happy rhino?) Clever.

An alternative message

It’s always tempting to point out that these holier-than-thou vegans only have the option to give up animal foods because of the very science and technology they excoriate when it’s applied to livestock breeding, genetic engineering or food processing.

Especially processed food manufactured by big corporations, which virtually every veggie I’ve ever met condemns with a passion. Yet the vast majority of the shamburgers, cashew cheez and the year-round supply of fresh produce activists insist should be everyone’s daily diet are produced by big, multinational corporations in high-tech processing plants and marketed through the same distribution channels that generate the same greenhouse gas emissions that are labeled as the handiwork of Satan when they originate with animal agriculture.

Hypocrisy, anyone?

Look, there are plenty of otherwise intelligent, educated people who embrace the vegan message without bothering to think through its origins or to recognize the implications for the global food supply if all livestock were banished from the Earth.

They buy into the positioning that vegetarian foods are “natural,” and thus superior as the basis of human nutrition. It’s time to take back that meme.

Raising food animals and incorporating animal foods in the diet is what’s “normal.” There is no denying 100,000 years of human history, as every culture on every continent in every era of history evolved and developed through the use of animals for work, companionship and food.

Not mention the symbiotic relationship between the bovines who transform inedible plants (grass) into human food, the top-of-the-food-chain predators who hunt, kill and eat them, and the ecological health of the prairies, savannas and rangelands around the world that are ill-suited to the cultivation of the row crops veggies believe should be our primary source of nutrition.

The majority of the world lives on bowls of rice and cornmeal mush — but not because they want to, because they have to!

Personally, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for the introduction of t-shirts saying, “Environmentalist,” with a drawing of some Native Americans butchering a dead bison with a dozen arrows sticking out of his hide.

But a guy can dream, can’t he? 

Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator