Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

Once a week I make my way to a magazine store downtown. Typically I make a beeline for the foodie mags, then the political rags, and finish with a few thumb-throughs of the international fashion books, far superior to their colonial counterparts. You know, the three-pounders that are two-thirds advertising. In passing, I noticed the face of Lady Gaga peering out from the cover of a Japanese Vogue, frocked in what appeared to be… meat. 

Before I get going, I should admit that despite my grounding in punk rock, I love a good, smart pop artist. Despite much of her output being a mélange of tried-and-true melody that doesn’t do much in terms of broadening Top 40 aesthetic, the woman categorically wails. I’ve known a few uncompromising indie stalwarts, the sort that run indie labels or work in college radio who “just LOVE” her, men and women alike. 

Music aside, I rather love her garish binge-and-purge of the inanity of mass culture. She’s a cartoon character of big money popular music, yet she arguably serves it up better and brighter than another Italian-American bleached blonde whose gargantuan shoulders she undoubtedly stands upon. 

This past Sunday’s big ticket TV show was the MTV Video Music Awards, where Gaga, up for thousands of awards apparently, graces the red carpet flanked by a handful of gay veterans of the US Armed Forces. (For those not up on their Gaga lore, she’s a fierce ally for LGBT rights, most recently campaign to rescind the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the American military). Wearing an outré little number by Argentinean designer, Franc Fernandez, rendered in… dead cow. With boots to match, obviously.

The blogosphere erupted. The V-chips placed in the media department staffers at PETA started chirping. #MeatDress is still in the Top 10 trending topics on Twitter. I could practically hear Carol J. Adams setting upon her keyboard. Ellen DeGeneres presented her with a kale bikini in quiet protest. Drama! Intrigue! 

Me? I was torn. In a statement made on Ellen, she stated she wore the meaty little number in protest of the US military’s anti-gay praxis: "If we don't stand up for what we believe in and don't stand up for our rights pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones." 

Um, what? 

I love big, kooky political statements as much as the next (wo)man, but I felt this analogy was a bit of a stretch, though I agree with the sentiment behind it. That said, donning a meat dress to illustrate the plight of gays in the military industrial complex is akin to the person selling you your wedding dress remarking on its suitability for cocktail parties as you balk at the price -- you both know she’s calculating her commission from the sale, though seeming well intentioned. At the end of the day however, we usually end up buying the dress. 

As for the meat itself, I was as grossed out as I was when people wear fur: it’s irresponsible and cruel. (Fun fact: I am as against festooning oneself in dead cow as I am in eating it.) My haughty artsy side found it… interesting, thought perhaps a little boring – it seems like every third or fourth installment of performance art I see usually ends up in somebody wearing meat. It’s like ponytails on dudes in jazz ensembles: there’s always at least one. 

Conclusion: Dear Gaga, Love ya babe, but run a line edit on the grammar of fashionista/political affirmations. Next time, keep it cruelty-free, sister, and uh, applicable? Also, what exactly is a disco stick? 

Questions, hate mail and steak sauce samples can be sent to Lindsay at 'mslindsayhutton' at 'gmail' dot com.