Turns out my previous posts on a bumper sticker claiming "Vegetarianism is an Affordable Health Plan" and the Whole Foods Markets CEO op-ed denouncing universal healthcare that has prompted calls for a boycott are more related then I first realized. In the op-ed, as if taking his cue from the bumper sticker itself, John Mackey writes:
Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.
Like the bumper sticker, Mackey thinks a vegetarian diet is a valid substitute for universal comprehensive healthcare. Also, just as I had predicted in my post — unbeknownst to me, the op-ed was actually published the day before — Mackey is using this very bumper sticker logic to promote privatization.
So, yes, it's true that consuming what is produced from other animals' bodies can make us ill. Whole Foods should know, last year it sold the ground remains of cows contaminated with deadly E. coli for over two months — resulting in known illnesses in multiple states — before calling for a recall. This should lead anyone to wonder: why does Whole Foods Market continue to sell customers products derived from other animals when the corporation knows, through "scientific and medical evidence" as Mackey asserts, that those products will make its customers ill and contribute to shortened life expectancies?
Well, as Mackey had previously admitted to The Wall Street Journal: "Basically, we used to think it was enough just to sell healthy food, but we know it is not enough. We sell all kinds of candy. We sell a bunch of junk."
Support Universal Comprehensive Healthcare
The fact remains, a whole-foods, plant-based diet is no guarantee of good health or a long life. By opposing universal access not only for healthcare, but also the very "whole foods" he calls an "alternative" to care, Mackey is really advocating for the further perpetuation of an oppressive "health" system. This system is intertwined with other forms of oppression resulting in increasing disparities and shrinking accessibility with regard to race, class, citizenship status, gender identity, sex, ability, age and environment.
Mackey's so-called "whole foods alternative" will not help communities of color and low-income communities that, because of redlining by supermarkets and/or for lack of adequate income, don't even have sufficient access to a plant-based, whole foods diet. Nor will it help the im/migrants who pick the produce and slaughter the animals sold at Whole Foods. Nor will it meet the unique health needs of trandgender people. Nor will it meet the reproductive health needs of women. Nor will it meet the various physical and mental health needs of people with physical or mental disabilities, respectively. Nor will it help anyone lucky enough to grow old. Nor will it help anyone unfortunate enough to live or work in an area with contaminated air, water or land.
For all these reasons and more, we need universally guaranteed, comprehensive healthcare. People must come before profits — that is, public health before private wealth. Mobilize for universal access to healthcare! Resist privatization! Boycott Whole Foods!