I’ve been noticing lately that on Facebook, a lot of vegans post about animal use and abuse in Asia. They post about tiger fetus wine, the use of tiger penises in Asian “medicine”, bear bile farms, turtles and other small creatures in keychains, dolphin slaughter, Asian demand for ivory, Koreans boiling dogs alive and a plethora of other outrages perpetrated by Asian people against animals.
Invariably, when I scroll through the comments on these posted items, I see a lot of hatred directed toward Asian people, with commenters saying things like “we should blow them off the planet” and “damn chinks will eat anything that moves” and a lot of other negative, racist comments.
I’d like to remind people that Asians are not the only people who use and abuse animals. They have not cornered the market on animal cruelty.
I’d also like to point out that a lot of those people making angry, racist comments are not vegans (not that being vegan is a license to be racist—it’s not). They are people who are willing and active participants in cruelty to animals.
People who eat cows, pigs and chickens and drink milk and eat eggs have absolutely no right whatsoever to condemn other people for exploiting and abusing animals, regardless of species.
Someone who eats a cow is no better than someone who eats a dolphin. Someone who wears leather has no right to condemn someone who raises bears on farms to harvest their bile. What people do to animals in other countries is no better and no worse than what we do to them here in North America, and we’d all do well to remember that.
It’s all too easy to unleash a torrent of hateful words against Asians—much of what we see them doing to animals is, indeed, brutal. But Asian fur farms that skin raccoon dogs alive are not in any way different from European and North American fur farms that anally electrocute animals or gas them, often skinning the animals alive. The things we see occurring in Asia happen here.
We are them; they are us. We are all human, and we all exploit non-human animals. There is no “better” or “worse” way to do this.
If we care about animals and want to stop the horrible things that happen to non-human animals every day all around the world, we need to start with ourselves. We need to look at how our own actions impact animals. We need to judge ourselves by the same criteria that we use to judge others. We need to admit that what WE are doing is wrong, and we must take the necessary steps to remediate it.
Each of us must become vegan, accept animals as moral persons and reject all violence against them. We cannot hope to stop the ongoing holocaust if we lay the blame on others instead of examining how we, ourselves, contribute to it.
Racism has no place in any discussion about animal rights. Veganism and animal rights are about social justice, which must necessarily include justice for all, humans of all races included. How can we ever expect to live in a peaceful world, one in which all violence has been rejected, if we insist on screaming racial epithets at one another and focusing on the transgressions of others but not our own?