I am starting to get tired of other people calling me “militant” for adhering to vegan principles. I’m not a member of the Animal Liberation Front or PETA, I’m just a normal, average person who doesn’t think it’s cool to use animals for whatever I feel like just because I can. It’s just that simple. There is nothing “militant” about that.
I recently posted on Facebook a quote from Meatonomics, a book I am currently reading (check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/Meatonomics-Economics-Consume-Much–Smarter/dp/1573246204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394145839&sr=8-1&keywords=meatonomics), and my point was that if we are truly concerned about our destruction of the environment, then we need to examine our eating habits and worry less about riding bicycles everywhere and worry more about the devastating effects of animal agriculture. Pretty straightforward.
All of the sudden, a friend of mine starts going on about how I’m negative and that we should always be gentle and positive when encouraging others to “go vegan”. I was called “militant” numerous times.
Problem is, this person’s idea of veganism is limited to diet, and even that isn’t actually vegan–she consumes honey, because she likes it and thinks it has wonderful health benefits. She does not see veganism as a response to a matter of social injustice, which is the unnecessary exploitation of billions of animals every single year. She defends her husband’s “occasional” eating of cheese, as though that makes any difference to the cows who are forcibly impregnated and have their babies stolen away hours after birth to become “veal” or to perpetuate the cycle of forced impregnation! Well, his cheese eating habits only result in some suffering and death, and less is better!…..please.
They both look at veganism as being centred on them: their diet, their health, their well-being, their convenience, their comfort. They don’t see animal exploitation, in general, as the injustice that it is. If they did, they could not participate in it in any way or make excuses or allowances to do so, for them or anyone else.
Why should I be gentle and dainty about other people’s feelings when their choices have such tragic effects? Do I really need to concern myself with someone’s delicate ego when pointing out the truths of what they are doing?
Generally, I am pretty kind about things, to the point where, in the past, I’ve actually buried my own principles to accommodate someone else’s feelings. Someone I know bought a puppy from a breeder, knowing my stance on that. But this person asked me for validation, anyway. In trying to be nice about things and assure them that they had to do what was right for them, I compromised my own values, and it felt shitty.
I am tired of compromising my principles, values and morals because other people are frightened of them and get defensive. Too many times in my early vegan-hood, I did something un-vegan simply to avoid embarrassing someone else or hurting someone else’s feelings. And that is not okay.
When you understand the injustice of using non-human animals for any purpose, you understand that there is no justifiable reason for humans to do what we do to them. Not a single one. And when you understand that, you also understand that you must stop participating in all animal exploitation.
If you do not, your beliefs are not being reflected in your actions. If you choose to continue to be part of their exploitation, your actions indicate that you believe that non-human animals are mere things that we can use and dispose of as we please, because we are human and they are not.
That is the same justification white people used to enslave blacks not so long ago: we are white, they are black. They are not like us; therefore, we can do what we want to them. Would you accept this kind of thinking in others?
That is the same justification Nazis used to commit genocide: we are German, they are Jewish. They are not like us; therefore, we can do what we want to them. Would you accept this kind of thinking in others?
That is the same justification that those who hate gays use: we are straight, they are not. They are not like us; therefore, we can do what we want to them. Would you accept this kind of thinking from others? If not, then why would you accept it as it relates to non-human animals? What is the difference?
Those who see veganism as a “personal choice” are wrong. A choice cannot be personal when there is a victim. Is rape a “personal choice”? Is child molestation a “personal choice”? No, because there is a victim. In animal exploitation, there are over 50 billion victims, not including fish, EVERY SINGLE YEAR. It is NOT a “personal choice” to exploit animals. Veganism is not a “personal journey”—it’s a moral obligation. I know that “personal journey” is a softer sell, but it’s not true. I refuse to compromise my honesty. Veganism is a moral obligation, and that is the honest truth.
We cannot encourage others to take “baby steps”. To do so allows them to put their own comfort and privilege above the very lives of those they kill and consume. This is not okay. Your comfort and privilege, your convenience, your palate pleasure, should never come before another’s right to live.
I don’t know why some people insist on seeing me as “militant” or as an angry person. I am not mean about anything, but I am firm. I am unequivocal. I have taken a stance on a matter of justice, and I will not accept anything less than what I know we are all capable of.
Just as I don’t accept racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism or ageism, I don’t accept speciesism. We discriminate against others based on things that are completely arbitrary, like skin color, sexual orientation, gender, and SPECIES, and to do so is wrong. Like, every kind of wrong.
Applauding people who go “vegetarian” is not okay. They need to understand that by continuing to consume any animal products, they are continuing to participate in a brutal and oppressive system of violence against non-humans. We don’t need eggs, milk, dairy—in fact, there is so much evidence that shows that stuff is killing us. Vegetarians are people who, for whatever reason, will not take a stand for animals but want to feel “better” about consuming them. And what about those “vegetarians” who wear leather, silk, wool, and otherwise use animals…? They are trying to have it both ways, and they can’t. I am not being mean in pointing that out—I am being honest.
You cannot claim to not be racist while cracking racist jokes. Am I mean in saying that?
You cannot claim to care about the environment while refusing to examine how your own eating habits are contributing to the destruction of the very thing you claim to care about. Is this just me being mean? No, it isn’t. It’s me challenging others to THINK, just as I was challenged when I became vegan, and I’ve continued to challenge my own thinking since then. It’s ongoing.
People cannot make changes when they don’t even understand their own thinking—most people already feel it is wrong to make animals suffer without justification, and the logical conclusion of that is veganism. Congratulating them on half-assed efforts—like vegetarianism—rather than challenging them to go further, to be better, does not serve anyone. Being unequivocal in advocating veganism is the only way.
People get angry and defensive because they realize that what I say is true, and they don’t like it. They automatically assume I am somehow judging them and finding them to be awful people, despite the fact that I have NEVER ONCE ACTUALLY SAID THAT TO ANYONE EVER.
There have been times where I have not said anything other than “I am vegan”, and I’ve been viciously attacked by someone who got angry and defensive just from hearing the word “vegan”.
It seems to me that vegans act as mirrors, reflecting to non-vegans the ugly truth about their “choices” that most of them don’t want to see and get very defensive about. They see me eating my plant food, not sick or anemic or whatever other stereotype they’ve imagined, and they are reminded that their food was once a living being who wanted to keep living. Instead of internalizing their guilt, anger or other negative feelings that they have about themselves, they fling it at the vegan at the table to make themselves feel better about what they are doing. Vegans get put down an awful lot, and it seems to me there’s a reason for that, beyond that we are supposedly “militant”. That is just a red herring.
The truly funny thing is that if I am judging others at all, I am judging them to be intelligent and capable of understanding sound reasoning and to be caring and honest enough to examine how their own habits might not be aligning with what they actually believe.
Gosh, I am so darn judgmental!
Sorry to be so long-winded, but I am getting seriously tired of being labelled as “militant” and all other manner of negative crap just because I refuse to compromise and make others feel better about their ongoing use of animals.