By Kristen Johnson
Word on the street is that there is a petition circulating that asks In-N-Out Burger to start serving a meatless burger. There have already been about 30,000 signers to the petition. (nbcnewssandiego.com).
Ever since reading Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser, I can’t go into fast food restaurants for moral reasons. (The human rights abuses in slaughterhouses, farms, and in the restaurants are disgusting to say nothing of the horrific abuses to the environment for the raising of cows and chickens.) But I would like to support vegetarian options in fast food restaurants for those who wish to partake, because at least it’s better for the environment and obviously better for animals.
Workers have been fighting for a very long time for decent living wages, benefits, and the opportunity to unionize in these restaurants. It seems that In-N-Out may be marginally better than some in this regard. They offer part-time workers an opt-in for dental coverage, basic life and AD&D, free meals on workdays, 401k and 3 paid holidays. (In-N-Out.com.) To compare, Burger King (who incidentally offers a veggie burger option) only provides management bonuses, a “pension scheme” (whatever that is?) and free uniforms and meals during shifts (http://www.bkcareers.co.uk/benefits.aspx).
Regardless of benefits for workers, the abuses really start with the abuse of animals and the abuses of the people who work in slaughterhouses. According to the Food Empowerment Project, workers in slaughterhouses are predominantly people of color who live in low-income areas. They are often illegal immigrants who live under threat of deportation. Conditions for workers are so miserable that the turnover rate is often 100%. Slaughterhouses are extremely dangerous and workers work long hours with lots of repetitive stress injuries. Unions are discouraged, injuries are under-reported, workers live at or near poverty levels, and sexual harassment is common. (Food Empowerment Project.)
Voting with our wallets means choosing what we will support when we buy something. It’s a good idea to think about what we are supporting when we choose to eat meat. The idea that the public would like a non-meat option at In-N-Out is a tiny step in the right direction. Choosing to protect workers and the environment is clearly a step in the right direction.
Ecclesiastes 3:19 (NRSV): For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity.
Choose plants over animals.
Serve all with love.
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