Okay. Last night I was struck with this concept. I know its hecka hokey, but actually, I have never made a "turkey shaped thing", that seems to be the classic dorky vegetarian thanksgiving entree. So I figured I could get away with it once, right? And plus, I thought that "turkey loaf" was a hil-ar-i-ous pun, and I also thought it was funny that traditional thanksgiving turkeys are protein stuffed with bread, but I was making bread stuffed with protein. Yes. I made this pretty much JUST for the punchline.
The baker of the so-called "stuffed turkey loaf" received numerous comments of praise. There was only one comment that questioned what was so funny about mocking a dead bird, particularly when "millions of turkeys are being killed in order to be eaten." I, too, think it's a little hard to find the humor in all this. And until I read the PPK thread on the "stuffed turkey loaf" I hadn't realized to what extent "mock meats" actually ridicule, not just imitate and mimic, the oppression of other animals, which makes "mock" a surprisingly apt term.
Others are also questioning this obsession with mock meats. Ken Hopes on the Brockway Hall blog, for instance, believes "mock meats" are better suited to the ghoulish holiday of Halloween, and that:
mock meat, by simply replacing actual meat, doesn't do anything to expand the diversity of minimally processed non-animal foods in people's diets, or to promote new ways of planning meals. And by representing simulated speciesism, I question if the marketing of simulated animal flesh perpetuates actual speciesist attitudes and the resulting violence, oppression, and commodification of animals.
And Philip Gelb, a vegan chef who maintains the food blogs of In the Mood for Food, also questioned mock meat on the mailing list of a vegetarian group, where he asks:
If you want to avoid eating animals, which obviously, i can certainly understand, why would you want to eat a fake dead animal? i find this baffling. What is the attraction of a fake bird or a fake cow, etc to someone who has the compassion to now want to consume the real animal?
Thus i do not understand the fake animal name and what seems to be a serious desire to consume it and use it proudly.
Mocking other animals' flesh as a way of feeding ourselves perpetuates speciesism, specifically dietary speciesism. As anti-speciesists and allies to other animals, it makes no sense for vegans to mock, in any sense of the word, the oppression experienced by other animals. After all, no self-respecting anti-racist ally would think it is funny to mock the oppression of people of color, say, by putting on blackface. So why is it that mocking the oppression of other animals is considered so "hil-ar-i-ous"?
That we can find humor in mocking the exploitation of other animals shows how deeply the structure of other animals' oppression is rooted in our lives. As humans, even vegans are privileged by this structure of human supremacy. However, even though we're privileged by human supremacy, as vegans, we had better challenge the human-supremacist system by being anti-speciesist allies to other animals. And being an anti-speciesist ally means challenging human supremacy, rather than recreating or otherwise mocking it. As along as we're mocking their oppression, we're also supporting the speciesism that bolsters human dominance over other animals. Like racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist and similar jokes, mocking nonhuman animals as "food" has got to go before we can have a society based on the vegan ideal of nonexploitation.