Adventures in (Ir)Rationality

We humans claim to have some sort of “special” characteristic that justifies our exploitation of nonhumans. One such supposed characteristic is that we are supposedly rational and they supposedly are not. When we consider that it is humans who build nuclear weapons and who destroy the very environment necessary to sustain life, including our lives—just to identify two irrational human behaviors—the rationality claim rings rather hollow. But every now and then, particular examples of what a strange species we are really hits me. I want to share a recent experience with you.

Selling Breast Cancer Bracelets and Selling Breast Cancer

I now have no choice but to buy my organic veggies at Whole Foods because my local health food store, which is literally located between two Whole Foods stores on the same road, has closed. The other day, I was in Whole Foods getting some kale and chard, and at the check-out, there was a display reminding shoppers that October was National Breast Cancer Month. Shoppers were encouraged to buy pink bracelets so that they can support the “cure.” Whole Foods is contributing a portion of proceeds from the sale of Pink United products to support research and awareness about breast cancer, and is sponsoring seminars about breast health.

This is a store—a chain of stores—that sells tons of meat and dairy products. Sure, sure, Whole Foods sells “happy” meat, dairy, and eggs, supported by leading animal advocates, but, as far as I am aware, there is nothing to indicate that “happy” animal products are not linked to cancer, including breast cancer, as well as many other diseases that are celebrated in other months.

The woman in front of me in the checkout line had a shopping cart absolutely full of meat and various dairy products, including Stonyfield yogurt, given the stamp of approval by none other than animal champion Jane Goodall. She purchased one of the pink bracelets.

But we are rational; they are not.

Gary L. Francione
© 2007 Gary L. Francione