Oh, here’s a wonderful article from a non-vegan to a vegan, posted by a “friend” on Facebook recently. Predictably, within the first 100 words, this comes up: “I understand why you force your beliefs upon me”. It’s quickly followed by this: “Because yes, although I am a farmer, I too believe there are many practices farmers can undertake that would show more compassion for animals, significantly improve the sustainability of our earth, reduce carbon emissions, and leave a brighter future for following generations.”
The author claims to understand the vegan viewpoint but then says “But then you begin to throw words at me. Words like cruel, savage, uneducated, unintelligent, closed-minded. You say that I need to wake up to your perspective, which you believe to be the one absolute truth, and anybody who is not following this truth is unenlightened”.
Jesus H. Christ tap dancing on a cracker—where to even begin with this steaming pile of crap?
And then, for the win: “Because you preach compassion for all living creatures, yet refuse to treat a fellow human with respect and kindness when they exercise their freedom in a way that differs from yours.”
I can’t even with this drivel, but I’m going to try. I will try to have patience to explain all the ways this is just so stupid and wrong.
Let’s start with what veganism is. It’s not a religion, the way the quoted blog entry is making it out to be. It’s not about “beliefs”, at least not the way the author views beliefs. There are some things in this world, albeit not many, that ARE truth. It’s not about belief, or opinion—it’s just true. For example, most of us accept as true that human life has an inherent worth. A human life has value not for what it can do for someone else, but because it has value to the person whose life it is. Your life may not be worth a single thing to me, and I may not benefit from it in any way, but it has value to you because you are the one living it and it means everything to you.
I hope it’s clear that it’s a truth that human life has inherent worth. It means something to the person whose life it is. I think we’d all agree on that.
But somehow when the subject of a life is a non-human, that “belief” goes out the window. All of a sudden, we start talking about intelligence, or ability to recognize oneself in a mirror, or ability to use tools, or whatever, and we argue that non-humans do not value their own lives. We argue that their lives have no meaning to them, and what matters is not that we use them but how we treat them. We argue that it doesn’t really matter that we kill them, and that there is no inherent harm in killing them—what truly matters is how we treat them while we are using them.
In other words, we distort the truth to suit ourselves. We take something that we accept completely as truth for humans and discard it when it becomes inconvenient and threatens our use of non-humans.
Fundamentally, veganism is about justice for non-humans and recognizes that they value their own lives in the same way we value ours. However they experience the world, and whatever shape their lives take, they value their lives and want to continue living. And we have no right to use them to suit our own purposes.
This is a vegan’s truth. And when we talk about it with non-vegans, we are not “forcing beliefs” on them. Most non-vegans already believe this truth, particularly any who have spent time around other species of animals. If you’ve lived with a dog or a cat, or looked into the soulful eyes of a cow or a horse, or watched the antics of a pig, you know—you KNOW—that they are sentient beings who enjoy their lives and want to keep living. Vegans are not “forcing” anything. We are reminding non-vegans of what they already know to be true.
Vegans use words like “cruel” and “closed-minded” because they are apt. It IS cruel to understand another being’s sentience and their desire to continue living, but to ignore that and exploit, torture, abuse and ultimately kill that being because you profit from it, or you enjoy how their flesh tastes, or because you enjoy riding them or keeping them as pets.
What other words can we use to describe non-vegans? “Cruel” is correct—that is why vegans use it. As is “closed-minded”, as non-vegans very rarely just listen to what a vegan has to say. They are too busy arguing, rationalizing and defending their cruel behaviour to listen, hear and make the simple adjustments required to longer be cruel and closed-minded!
The quoted blog entry goes on to talk about how vegans don’t treat non-vegans “with kindness”, whatever that means, and states the usual “I would have been vegan if it weren’t for the nasty, mean vegans who were mean to me and hurt my feelings!”
Here’s my issue with this bullshit rhetoric: injustice is injustice, regardless of who is talking about it and how they are talking about it. It should not matter how the message is delivered—and my experience has been that no matter how “nice” a vegan is about veganism, non-vegans get angry and defensive with no provocation beyond hearing the word “vegan”.
I’ve been nice. I’ve been the silent vegan who sat at the table with non-vegan “friends” and family who eat dead animals in front of me, not once caring about how that makes me feel. And I sit there quietly, not saying a word, because if I do, I get shit on. I get called “militant”, “negative”, “joyless”, and “angry”. The ONLY way a vegan can be liked by non-vegans is if he or she sits there silently, or better yet, says things like “veganism is a personal choice that may not be for you. It is totally OK with me that you are sitting here in front of me eating meat.” This would be lying. It is definitely not OK, but as a vegan, you must remain silent or be disliked.
“Nice” means never challenging anyone on their thinking patterns. It means never questioning anything. It means not “making” people feel guilty for their shitty choices. Being nice means being what everyone else wants you to be. Being nice means not being true to yourself and your commitment to veganism.
I’m not “nice” anymore. I should not have to change who I am to suit others, particularly when they are participating in something horrible and completely and utterly immoral.
You can accuse me of “callous disrespect”, as the author of the quoted blog calls vegans, but you’d be wrong. “Callous disrespect” is refusing to understand that in every way that matters, a cow, pig or chicken is exactly like the dog or cat you love so much and would never dream of harming. The non-vegan’s disrespect for those beings’ desire to live is so far beyond callous it makes me want to scream.
But vegans are “callous” for hurting the non-vegans’ feelings.
Give me a goddamned break.
If you don’t want to be thought of as ignorant and uneducated, then stop being those things, non-vegans. Open your eyes and take a good long look at the incredible devastation your shitty, selfish choices are creating all around you. For once, look beyond yourself, your taste buds and your fashion preferences. There are MORE IMPORTANT things at play here! Educate yourself. Learn something. Read a fucking book. DO. SOMETHING.
One final thing for non-vegans to consider—vegans were not always vegan. We used to like eating meat, and cheese, and all the other shit you still eat. Like you, we were ignorant about the harm we were causing. We didn’t understand, until some vegans told us what dumb shits we were being.
Yes, that is right. Some vegans were mean and nasty to us! But instead of writing long-winded, cry-baby rants about the big bad vegans, we LISTENED to what the vegans were saying and realized what utter hypocrites and assholes we were being. And instead of defending our shitty behaviours in badly written, selfish blog posts, we changed what we were doing. We realized quickly how easy it was, and we fucking DID IT.
If we did, so can you. And you know what? Despite your ongoing dipshittery, we STILL fucking believe you can change. THAT is why we keep talking about veganism—we KNOW you can do better. We were once just like you, and there is nothing magical about us. We are just everyday, plain folks who woke the fuck up and realized what we were doing was wrong. We took responsibility for our actions and attitudes, and we changed them. You can too. So forgive us for having faith in the better parts of you.
Edited because I forgot to address this garbage: “Because you preach compassion for all living creatures, yet refuse to treat a fellow human with respect and kindness when they exercise their freedom in a way that differs from yours”.
It is not “freedom” to victimize other sentient beings. It’s not “personal choice” to eat meat, eggs or dairy or otherwise use other species for your own purposes. You remove the “personal” when you exploit another. And other species cannot consent, so yeah–NOT PERSONAL CHOICE. Can we just stop saying that, please, non-vegans?