Complaints Dept.: Denver Diners Hoof, PETA and Vegans Scream Foul

Andra Zeppelin
Eater Denver
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Hoofin' It LoDo [Photo: Kyle Dill]

Last night, some 90 dining enthusiasts trekked to four dining destinations in LoDo as part of the second night of Hoofin' It. The four night culinary tour, brainchild of chef Jensen Cummings, brings together diners, chefs, and ranchers and focuses on one individual hoofed animal each evening. Here's how it works: bison, sheep, cow, and pig are the featured animals. Four restaurants in each of the four neighborhoods/evenings prepare one course each and host the touring group for a taste and discussion. Guests walk from place to place, a rancher is the guest of honor, and the sponsors of the events are: Imbibe Denver, Heroes Like Us, the Mile High Business Alliance, and the Humane Society.

That is where the rubber meets the road: PETA freaks out mostly because the Humane Society is a sponsor. Not just PETA but also Vine Sanctuary News, United Poultry Concerns, Go Vegan Radio, SF Weekly, and more. A website called All Creatures held a virtual vigil to the hoofed animals. It all boils down to this: there is no such thing as humane meat, so the Humane Society should not promote, support, or endorse it.

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Hoofin' It Night 2 [Photo: Kyle Dill]

The purpose of the event, from the perspective of organizer and Heroes Like Us founder Jensen Cummings, is to facilitate a discussion about responsible and sustainable ranching, through eating with good company. "As restaurant owners we are committed to serving food that's responsibly sourced from humane ranchers," Cummings says. "Hoofin It supports local businesses and allows attendees to explore a new culinary experience in the city they call home."

PETA views ranching in general as animal slavery and takes offense to the idea that such an event brands itself as respectful of the animal killed and served for dinner.

Just as disturbing as the event's concept is its theme: "Respect Your Dinner."

The organizers of the event are happily hitching their wagons to the meat industry's newest marketing buzzwords: "humane meat." But as PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk explains, "There is nothing humane about the flesh of animals who have had one or two or perhaps three improvements made in their absolutely singularly rotten lives …."

Here's what All Creatures says of the event and the sponsorship by the Humane Society:

If it's bad enough knowing what the institutions and entities that we expect to hurt animals are doing to them, there is added despair involved in knowing what is being done to animals by organizations calling themselves "humane," "anticruelty" and the like. It is monstrous seeing our language of care and respect degraded into completely opposite meanings. A perfect example is this:

Get to Hoofin it: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
"We support farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals, and act in accordance with the basic ethic of compassion to sentient creatures."
– The Humane Society of the United States
[...]

How can anyone claiming to respect animals promote a view of them as "dinner"?

The Humane Society (HSUS) has traditionally approached animal activism from a welfare perspective, focusing efforts to improve the conditions and quality of life of the animals. In a statement, the group said this, among other things:

The HSUS pursues the reduction of animal suffering in the raising, housing, care, transportation, and slaughter of animals raised or caught for food. Furthermore, we seek to ensure that animal production systems are humane, sustainable, and environmentally sensitive. The HSUS supports those farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals, act in accordance with the basic ethic of compassion to sentient creatures under their control, and practice and promote humane and environmentally sustainable agriculture.

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Mary Kay and Clint Buckner and their children [Photo: Kyle Dill]

At last night's event, Angela Huffman from the Humane Society explained to those present that the mission of the Humane Society is to ensure that animals are raised with care and respect and slaughtered in conditions that do not abuse the animals. Huffman introduced guests to Mary Kay and Clint Buckner, the guest of honor ranchers. The couple's family-owned business focuses on lamb and provides meat to restaurants like Frasca Food and Wine, the Squeaky Bean, and Colterra. Tonight, the tour continues with visits to the LoHi neighhorhood and a focus on pig. Tomorrow, the journey takes participants to Ballpark where the hoofed animal featured is cow. Several tickets for the events are still available.

· Heroes Like Us Presents Hoofin It, a Culinary Tour [EDen]
· Farm Animals and Eating with Conscience [Humane Society]
· How Denver's 'Hoofin' It' Is Hurting Animal Rights [PETA]
· HSUS Supporters Need To Know... [Boulder Vegan MeetUp]
· Vigil - Lambs and Sheep [All Creatures]
· Our Vigil - Bison [All Creatures]
· James McWilliams' Hard-Hitting, Smart Response to "Hoofin It." [Choosing Raw]