I’ve written before about how Israeli Meat Consumption runs counter to the Green-washing that positions Israel as the “First Vegan Country” and with updated data from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) that narrative seems even more strange. With data updated to 2014, Israel remains among the heaviest consumers of meat per capita in the world, and can now claim the title of the largest consumers of chicken in the world (per capita).
Israel’s vegan population is still having a negligible effect on meat consumption and providing little to no real systemic or societal benefits for animals. The propaganda element that this narrative provides is real however, as a Country wherein 90% of the population supported the last brutal offensive in Gaza continues to paint itself as a world leader in compassion towards other animals. Large multi national animal advocacy non profits based in the United States have also repeated this narrative, against any hard data, in a twilight zone scenario where we praise how “vegan” a country is that consumes massive amounts of animals and engages in brutal occupation and apartheid. The claims of the “vegan revolution” within Israel by Zionist groups like 269life, and by long discredited U.S. animal activists like Gary Yourofsky, are at best serious exaggerations, and at worst willful and intentional manipulation that erases the real suffering of animals AND Palestinians.
Perhaps the most troubling outcome of this is that the legitimate efforts of Palestinians to advocate for animals and against apartheid are going unnoticed and under supported by animal advocates outside of the region. The Palestinian animal advocacy movement is growing and calls to ban the export of attack dogs to Israeli Forces certainly disrupt this notion that Israel is a nation of animal lovers.
Although with the latest OECD data Israel could be considered a world leader in meat consumption (*fish consumption is not factored in), the fact that they are world leaders in chicken consumption is notable to animal advocates who know about the slaughter industry. Chickens suffer immensely and in hard numbers they are slaughtered in the greatest numbers. There are advocates who have longed called on meat eaters to immediately reduce chicken consumption if they wish to have the greatest impact on the greatest number of animals.
Thankfully, not everyone has bought this latest trend of Israeli Green- washing and many vegan Israeli’s are not comfortable with tying their stand against animal exploitation with nationalism, occupation or Zionism. NPR recently featured a story on Israeli Veganism that included two dissenting voices that animal advocates should remember when presented with the idea that veganism is a moralizing force in Israel,
Haggai Matar, a vegan and a journalist in Tel Aviv, spent two years in prison as punishment for refusing the draft in 2002. He said he did not understand vegans who participated in what he sees as Israel’s abuse of Palestinian rights.
“It’s absurd that combat soldiers can feel very bad about hurting animals, but they have no problem to drop bombs on Gaza and kill hundreds of people,” he says.
Matar, 31, says military prison had few vegan options, but his parents brought him soy chocolate milk, and he and other vegan prisoners were often allowed access to the prison kitchen.
Law professor Aeyal Gross of Tel Aviv University warned in 2013, in the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, against “veganwashing,” or using Israel’s vegan-friendly face as a mask to cover up what he sees as human rights violations.