Animal Rights Q&A
This section includes general information about animal rights. Lots of frequently-asked questions and frequently-made comments are addressed.
There are also Q&A pages on the following specific areas:
But to kick things off, here's some general Q&A about animal rights.
Paying someone to kill makes you as culpable as those doing the killing. Remember, people who work in industries that kill animals do it because it's their job. A job they get paid for due to the purchases of consumers. So purchasing products that involve the killing of animals means you're paying someone else to kill for you, which makes you as liable as if you did the deed yourself.
It's like you're a mafia boss ordering someone else to commit a murder - even if you’re not wielding the knife yourself, there's still blood on your hands. If that's distasteful to you, then stop supporting the killing of animals. Stop buying the products of their death. How? By going vegan.
Sorry, but you’re dead wrong. Not eating cage eggs doesn’t mean you’re not hurting animals.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter whether the eggs are laid in a battery cage, or a bigger-than-battery cage, or a huge barn…the hens laying those eggs are being abused. And the hens who survive the mutilations, the starvation, and unnatural rate of egg-laying, get sent directly to the slaughterhouse the moment their egg production is no longer profitable.
Rejecting cage eggs is a meaningless gesture. If you’re serious about not hurting animals, go vegan.
I once thought that too. But I wasn’t seeing the whole picture.
Yes, force-feeding geese and ducks to disease their livers is a disgusting practice. But when you look at the big picture, you’ll see that all that’s done to farmed animals boils down to one thing: abuse. Animal farming is just a smorgasbord of violence. Some practices will be more physically painful than others (like the mutilations), and others will be psychologically painful (like perpetual confinement, and the final trip to the slaughterhouse). But, no matter the exact details, they all involve inflicting some type of violence upon animals. And, any way you put it, violence is abuse.
So don’t kid yourself: foie gras is no worse than any type of flesh, or any type of milk product, or any type of egg. Picking and choosing which types of violence is most convenient to reject (as I once did) is the coward’s path. If you really want to reject violence towards animals, reject it all: go vegan.
That’s a comment I often hear. In fact, in my pre-vegan days I used to hear that same comment coming out of my own mouth! It was utter crap, although I didn’t know it at the time.
The fact of the matter is that not eating veal most definitely does NOT mean you’re not hurting animals. You might not be hurting the animals reared for veal, but that’s about all you’re doing.
For the longest time I too thought that I was doing all the right things by not wearing fur, not using animal-tested cosmetics, and being against animals in circuses. I honestly thought that I wasn’t hurting animals. And I was wrong. Very wrong.
The fact was I was abusing animals, albeit unwittingly and through ignorance rather than malice. But I finally realised this, and I went vegan. Unlike before, now I truly don’t hurt animals.
Hmmm…should we regulate torture and killing rather than try to stop it? I say no. I say that no torture and killing is the thing to aim for, not regulated torture and killing.
But let’s forget about animals for a moment and talk about the question in terms of child abuse. If we were talking about child abuse, the question “isn’t it better to regulate child abuse rather than try to stop it?” would never even be asked. And if it were, the asker of the question would be considered an absolute lunatic for even suggesting it.
However, because we’re talking about animal use, and animal use is currently considered to be a totally normal thing, the question seems like a valid one to many people.
Did you know, though, that the very same question was posed back when the movement to abolish human slavery was in full swing in the USA? It’s shocking now to think that anyone would even entertain the question, but back then human slavery was a normal and acceptable part of society. And a great many people thought it was a valid question to pose, just as a great many people believe it’s a valid question to pose now about animal slavery.
Back to the original question, though. The short answer to it is that regulating torture and killing is not a meaningful moral stance in the least. If we are to take a moral stance with regard to animals and say we should do the right thing by them, regulating their torture and killing is hardly doing the right thing. Leaving them alone to live in peace is.
A lot of people think that the way to make the world a better place for animals is for us to change the laws.
Unfortunately, changing laws won't make a bit of difference unless people change the way they feel about using animals.
So let's say a legal ban was put on certain animal products but the majority of people still wanted to use animal products, the result would simply be a black market for the banned products...and that would clearly not mean a better world for animals by any stretch of the imagination.
Veganism - that is, no use (and therefore no abuse) of animals - is what will make a difference to animals, not more stringent laws about how to abuse them.
Because it’s socially acceptable to abuse animals.
“Whaaaaaat??!!!” I hear you scream. “How can you say such a thing???”
Let me explain: eating animals, wearing animals, or using them in any way is a direct result of abusing animals Which means that people who eat, wear, and use animals are, through their actions, deeming animal abuse acceptable. And because those who eat, wear, and use animals (ie. non-vegans) make up most of the human population, it follows that society as a whole finds abusing animals acceptable. Hence my initial comment: it’s socially acceptable to abuse animals.
But when a dog or cat is abused and the abuser goes free, people (quite rightly) freak out. They ask “Why is there no justice?”.
The answer to that question lies in most people’s homes. Open the fridge door and you’ll find dismembered animals inside; open the wardrobe and you’ll see the skins of animals in there. The fact is that most people’s homes are essentially morgues for animals. So, considering that, is it surprising that there’s no justice for animals when their death is accepted so easily by so many? As things stand, I’d say that it would be more surprising if justice was actually served in cases of animal abuse.
Therefore the question really isn’t “Why is there no justice?” but rather “Why would there be justice?”.
There could never be justice for animals in a predominantly non-vegan world. Animal abusers will never get adequately punished (or punished at all) while animal abuse is such a natural part of most people’s lives. Legal justice will follow only when most individuals (and, following from that, society as a whole) personally embrace justice for animals in the choices they make each and every day.
Organisations such as Animals Australia don't promote veganism (nor do they even use the word “vegan” in their literature), because they feel it would alienate the majority of their supporters who aren't vegan.
If they tell people the truth - which is that the most effective way to bring about change for animals is to become vegan - many will stop hitting the donate button.
So it's actually in their best financial interests not to promote veganism. And that’s why Animals Australia (and most other animal organisations) don’t.
No, of course it won’t. Why would it?
To begin with, if you were to create an honest and complete list of people who’ve harmed animals, you’d have to put almost every human being on that list. You’d have to include everyone who hasn't been vegan since birth on the list, because anyone who hasn’t been vegan all their lives has harmed animals.
“But no!” I hear you say, “An animal offenders list would only include those who’ve harmed animals with their own hands.” Ah, okay then. In that case, it would have to include not just those who’ve abuse companion animals, but also vivisectionists, slaughterhouse workers, farmers, and those who indulge in certain types of animal-based so-called ‘entertainment’ like fishing, hunting, rodeos, horseracing, dogracing, etc.
“No, no, no!” I hear you cry, “The register would only include those who’ve harmed animals in non-society-endorsed situations.” Righto then. In which case the register would only include those who’ve abused companion animals. In other words, the list would just include people who’ve abused dogs and cats (and sometimes rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters…but mainly dogs and cats).
And that is neither an honest nor a complete list of people who’ve harmed animals. It’s simply a list that perpetuates and compounds speciesism, which is favouritism towards specific species. Such a list may help dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters somewhat, but that’s about it. In other words, only a small handful of animals would be helped by such a list, making the list almost useless in helping to stop animal abuse.
Also, think about this: even Michael Vick, who had almost the entire human population up in arms about the way he tortured and killed dogs, is once more allowed to ‘own’ (for lack of a better word) dogs. In other words, society’s overall lack of care about animals - glaringly obvious in most people's total acceptance of institutionalised animal abuse in laboratories, farms, slaughterhouses, and for so-called ‘entertainment’ - will even allow convicted animal abusers to come back into contact with animals at some stage. And that would make the aforementioned speciesist list go from being almost useless to completely useless.
So, all in all, such a list would be a colossal waste of time.
What wouldn’t be a waste of time, however, is more and more people going vegan, staying vegan, and advocating for veganism. That would create something of a revolution, and result in a world filled with people who truly care about all forms of life.
For many years I was a self-professed 'animal-lover' who directly supported the abuse of animals.
I honestly thought I was doing all the right things, because I didn't support animals in circuses, I didn't use animal-tested cosmetics or wear fur, and I didn't eat veal, foie gras, or caged eggs. I had seen campaigns against the above, and thought that if I didn't do those things I wouldn’t be harming animals.
In reality I was abusing animals, because I was eating their bodies and secretions, and wearing their skins.
My change in attitude towards animals started to evolve in 2000, after the adoption of my dogs Jake (RIP), Jordan (RIP), and, later, Jasmin. It was my love for my dogs that made me start to question my actions (but, unfortunately, only question - not act!).
My journey continued when in 2004 I started writing children’s articles about wild animals. In researching my work, it occurred to me more and more that the animals I was reading about were not so different to the dogs I loved so deeply and dearly; it would follow, I reasoned, that farmed animals - the animals whose bodyparts I had in my fridge - would also not be so different to my dogs either.
So why, I wondered, did I think it was acceptable to love certain animals while eating the bodies of others? And I didn’t really have a good answer.
Surely, I thought, all species of animal deserved the same consideration as my dogs. It was this realisation that eventually led me to becoming vegan, but it was a long journey (too long, I might add) from that initial connection to the actual decision to be vegan. The thing was that even though I realised my paradoxical morality, I felt that I couldn’t possibly give up eating animal flesh: surely I needed it…didn’t I?
Anyway, I kept thinking about my hypocrisy but (I’m embarrassed to admit) still doing absolutely nothing about it.
Then one day I came across a photo of rabbits in stocks about to be blinded for cosmetic testing. For some reason it was that photo that snapped me wide awake. Strange that it was a photo of a particular type of animal abuse I was already not participating in that finally pushed me to stop eating animal flesh but, for whatever reason, that’s what did it. That was in 2006, and in going vegetarian I felt I’d finally made a decision that meant I’d no longer be complicit in animal abuse.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
A few months after I went vegetarian, someone gave me a book that explained how the dairy, egg, and honey industries were also abusive. I was horrified, but didn’t think I could eat vegan: with my sweet tooth I didn’t think I could pull it off, so I thought I’d compromise, and simply make as many vegan food choices as I possibly could. A few months later that I realised I was eating totally vegan without a problem...all that was left to do was make a commitment to it. And so I did.
Meanwhile, I had stopped buying clothes, shoes, accessories, and furniture made from animals, and sourced cleaning and bodycare products tested on animals, so the picture was (finally!) complete.
A long journey indeed, and I’m sure if I had been educated about veganism earlier, I would have become vegan earlier. Still, I finally made it, and here I am, vegan for life!
Being vegan is about as difficult as putting on a hat. In other words, not difficult at all.
Yes, you do have to change some habits and you might initially have cravings for certain foods, but you easily get used to the new habits and quickly get over the cravings. Plus, it’s really no sacrifice when you consider the reason behind the decision to be vegan. I mean, I became vegan so that I would no longer harm animals, so how could it possibly be a sacrifice for me to stop harming animals? It’s as much of a sacrifice as not harming a dog or cat I might pass by in the street - that is, not a sacrifice in the least.
Now while most people go vegan for the animals, some do it to help alleviate human poverty, or for the environment, or for health reasons. But whichever the reason, the level of difficulty and sacrifice is the same: zero.
How could it be when you think about what’s at stake by not being vegan? How could the animals not be worth it? How could other human beings not be worth it? How could the environment - our planet, our home - not be worth it? How could your own wellbeing not be worth it?
Changing a lifetime of habits does take a degree of effort, but whether you’re vegan for animals, people, the environment, or your health, it’s hardly what you’d call difficult. Especially when the benefits to all are so great.
No, veganism is not for everyone. It's only for people who care about animals, their health, saving the environment, and reducing human poverty.
Animal welfare believes that animals can be used in any way humans see fit, as long as they're treated in a so-called 'humane' way.
Animal rights believes that animals should be left alone: that we should not eat animals or their secretions, wear their skins, experiment on them, use them for so-called 'entertainment', or abuse them in any way. The animal rights stance is that there's no such thing as 'humane' treatment because using animals is inherently abusive in and of itself.
I stand on the side of animal rights, and unequivocally believe that animals should not be used in any way for any reason.
"Humans are superior" is a consistent argument given as the reason for the many abuses of animals.
But seeing as humans have managed to single-handedly near-destroy the planet we live on within a very short space of time, I'd say that the argument is rubbish.
So we've proven our lack of superiority right then and there by destroying our own home. All other animals can live in harmony with nature. Meanwhile, we humans ruin it.
Naturalist and explorer John Muir put it well when he said: “The world, we are told was made especially for man - a presumption not supported by all the facts…Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation?”
And, you know, let's say I'm wrong and humans are actually superior to all other beings, that doesn't give us the right to abuse them. In fact, it gives us a responsibility as the supposed 'superior' ones: a responsibility which includes affording animals the basic right to live in peace.
It's great to treat your family dogs well. But if you feed your children dead animals and clothe them in animal skins, how is that teaching them to respect animals?
What you’re actually teaching them is it's okay to love one species of animal but to eat and wear other types of animals. And that’s not teaching respect. That’s teaching a paradoxical morality.
So basically your philosophy is that as long as an animal isn’t part of your family, they simply don’t matter? I’ve got to say, that’s a pretty self-centred attitude to hold.
And I must ask a question: does this attitude to animal abuse spill over to child abuse? I mean, if a child in the next street is being beaten does it not matter to you because that child isn't yours?
If you feel I’m being unfair by comparing caring about animals to caring about children, then you’re labouring under the speciesist (and false) assumption that humans are more important than all other animals. I, however, hold the assumption that beings of all species (both human and non-human) are important, and that none should be abused - whether you know them personally or not.
Is that so?
Then ask yourself this: do firefighters ever go into a house to rescue the potplants?
You know as well as I do that they don't. And they don’t because plants are do NOT feel pain. They don’t have a nervous system, they don’t have pain receptors. That’s why you don’t hear any screaming when you mow the lawn.
How could it be?
Cults and religions are based on superstition and riddled with contradictions. Veganism is based on reality and takes a coherent stand against violence. Cults and religions are based on fear and desire - fear of punishment and desire of reward. Veganism is based on information and education - information about how animals are being abused, and education about what we can do about it.
Veganism a cult or religion? Not even close.
You might not be hunting animals, but you’re definitely paying someone else to kill animals for you. Committing an immoral act yourself and funding someone else to do it for you ultimately amounts to exactly the same thing.
I used to think that I was avoiding the worst animal abuses by not using animal-tested products, not eating foie gras or veal, not wearing fur, and not supporting events such as bullfights and rodeos.
Meanwhile, I ate meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. I wore leather, suede, wool, sheepskin, feathers, and silk. I visited zoos and aquariums, and put a dollar or two in the office sweeps for the yearly Melbourne Cup horserace.
In other words, I was a hypocrite - although I didn’t realise it at the time.
I didn’t realise that I was being influenced by the campaigns run by animal organisations which imply (by their very nature) that certain abuses are worse than others. But I was wrong to believe such rubbish. Many years - too many years - later, and with just a little bit of research I discovered that, in fact, all uses of animals are as abusive as each other.
Yes, the exact details of how each industry abuses animals are different. And, yes, some abuses could certainly be deemed worse than others if one were to waste their time creating a sliding scale of the ‘worst’ abuse to the ‘best’ abuse. But measuring and grading abuse levels is both a futile and worthless endeavour. I mean, why bother? Abuse is abuse. Violence is violence. Should we start measuring and grading child abuse as well? That would be ridiculous, don’t you agree? Just as ridiculous as measuring and grading animal abuse.
If you compare any one use of animals to any other use of animals you'll come to the same conclusion every time: the details are different but, when all is said and done, it’s all abuse.
In conclusion, the idea that one can avoid the ‘worse’ animal abuses makes no sense. If you really are against animal abuse, make it simple: avoid all animal abuse by being vegan.
You might not work in a slaughterhouse, but that doesn’t keep you as pure as you might think.
You’re still responsible for the killing: by consuming the product that results from the slaughterhouse worker’s action, your hand is essentially guiding their hand as they kill. Leaving the dirty work to others might physically remove you from the process, but you’re still entangled morally.
Palm oil is a vegan product, and therefore doesn't require boycotting. So, by boycotting it, you’re not helping animals at all.
The fact is that if the demand for palm oil dropped to zero overnight, the deforestation would continue because the real reason for the logging is to make paper - only a fraction of the forest destroyed is used for palm oil.
But even if that weren’t the case and it was palm oil that was causing all the destruction, it’s not any more immoral to produce palm oil than it is to produce other types of oil. Here in Australia, for example, the production of olive oil results in the death of tens of thousands of parrots each year. Should we therefore boycott olive oil too?
Given the above facts, you might wonder why there’s so much hysteria about palm oil from vegans and non-vegans alike. The answer is, because of speciesism: in particular, favouritism towards orangutans. Now, don’t get me wrong: of course orangutans deserve protection - but not any more than any other animal to the point that we single out palm oil to boycott.
The truth is that almost all the products we grow are in some way connected to deforestation or landclearing, as well as the killing of animals. So if it’s reasonable to boycott palm oil to save orangutans, then it follows that, for example, we here in Australia should boycott olive oil, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and anything made of wheat, because these products involve the annihilation of native parrots and kangaroos by the tens of thousands every single year.
In other words, if we followed the palm oil boycott to its logical conclusion we’d have to boycott almost every vegan food available, and that would be…well, it would be insane.
If you’re truly concerned about the forests, the best action to take is to go vegan because animal agriculture is the number one cause of environmental damage in the world. The answer to the problem of environmental destruction is to make a vegan world, not to boycott vegan products.
You love animals. Really? You mean the animals you pay others to torture and kill so that you can eat their dismembered bodies and secretions, and wear their skins? Those animals?
Well, if that's a show of love, I'd hate to see what you'd do to an animal who you don't love.
If you think you love animals but aren't vegan, it's time to rethink your understanding of the word "love", because love doesn't involve abuse.
So on the one hand you PRAY for animals to not be abused, and on the other hand you PAY for animals to be abused.
Let me ask this: on what planet does that make any sense at all? You can't pray for one thing and pay for another, and pretend there's any logic in that.
It's either one or the other: either you want animals to be safe or you want them to be hurt. Being vegan means you are not harming animals, and not being vegan means you are. It's as simple as that, and you can't have it both ways.
Respect for animals means veganism. No less. You can’t claim to respect animals while at the same time torturing them. You can’t have it both ways.
Maybe so, but you're not morally consistent in your actions. You might say that you care about animals, but your actions (paying others to abuse and kill animals) tell an entirely different story.
Actually, no, you're not.
In fact, you can't be. You can't be against animal abuse and at the same time support animal abuse. You can't have it both ways.
Just as you can't turn left and turn right at the same time, you can't be against animal abuse and support it at the same time. You simply can't do two opposite things at once.
It's quite straightforward: either you're against animal abuse and you retract your support of it by living vegan, or you support animal abuse by not being vegan. Simple as that.
You could say that killing animals by hunting and fishing are primitive acts. You could also label them as ‘uncivilised’. You could also conclude that by not killing animals through hunting or fishing you’re more ‘civilised’.
But what you can’t say is that getting others to kill for you makes you more moral. You’re still part of the killing, even when you’re physically removed from the act.
It’s true that hunters and fishers are killers, but so are you if you’re getting others to do the killing for you.
How can you be?
A vegan is someone who REJECTS violence towards animals. A non-vegan is someone who PARTICIPATES in violence towards animals. They’re not even close to the same thing. In fact, you could say that they’re exactly the opposite thing.
Not vegan but on the same page as vegans? Not possible.
You might not kill animals for a living, but as a non-vegan you certainly keep slaughterhouse workers employed.
Don’t think that pointing the finger at those who kill for a living makes you innocent of the violence they inflict upon animals. Sure they’re the ones doing the dirty work, but paying for the dirty work to be done makes you just as culpable for the violence as they are, if not more: after all, if it weren’t for consumer demand (your demand) for animal products there would be no supply.
Buying animal products means you’re paying people to kill animals. If you don’t want their blood on your hands, go vegan.
Since when did animals not have personalities?
That kind of statement could only be made by someone who has never spent any time with animals. Anyone with experience around animals knows that they certainly do have their own personalities.
So while this idea that animals don’t have personalities is null and void, let’s go to Imagination Land for a moment and pretend that it’s true and that animals don’t have personalities. Even so, how could that possibly lead to the conclusion that it’s okay to do whatever we want with them? What if it were true that certain human beings didn’t have personalities - would it then be okay to eat their flesh, wear their skin, and experiment on them? No it wouldn’t, and it’s not okay to do those things to non-humans either.
Two points to sum up. One, animals do have personalities. Two, even if they lacked personalities it’s absurd to say that that gives us the right to do whatever we want to them.
Let me get this straight: you couldn't hurt animals yourself but you're willing to pay others to hurt them?
That tells me one thing: that you know there's something wrong with hurting animals. Anything we can't bring ourselves to do is something that, at our core, we find reprehensible.
If you know that you could never bring yourself to hurt these innocent animals, take that aversion to heart. Realise what it means. Understand that your aversion means that in your heart of hearts you find hurting animals to be immoral.
And then what? Well, it's quite simple. You stop paying others to hurt animals. You go vegan.
That’s right, it’s not.
But unless you’re really going to spend your time scraping the cats, dogs, and wild animals who are hit by cars off the road so that you can skin, chop, cook, and eat them, then it doesn’t matter that eating so-called ‘roadkill’ is not animal abuse, does it?
That kind of sweeping statement can only ever be untrue. Humans are better at other animals when it comes to some things, and not so good when it comes to other things - it all depends on what area of aptitude we’re talking about.
We’ll never be able to swing from tree to tree like a monkey, we’ll never be able to run as fast as a cheetah, and we’ll never be able to fly like a bird. Does that make us inferior to those animals? No. It simply makes us not a monkey, not a cheetah, and not a bird.
When humans judge themselves against the abilities of other animals, we often fall short - and it works the other way around too. It’s irrational to compare ourselves to monkeys, cheetahs, and birds, and equally irrational to judge other animals according to humans standards. Judging animals by human standards means they’ll often fail - not because they’re inferior to us, but because they’re different to us.
This self-important “humans are the best” thinking is not only flawed, but has led us to deep trouble with regards to the future of the planet and, with it, the future of all living beings including ourselves. As a species, we have to stop being so conceited. We need to stop seeing ourselves as separate and superior to all other life, and start viewing ourselves as part of the community of life on Earth.
You don’t have to look at them. You just have to stop paying people to do the awful things you’re seeing in those images. And you can do that by going vegan.
But what if you don’t want to go vegan? What if you want to continue as you are, but you simply don’t want to see images of animal abuse? The thing is, if you’re directly funding animal abuse it’s your obligation to view what you’re supporting. Have the decency to see with your eyes what the animals endure because of you. Have the guts to see what you’re paying to put them through.
So, yes, you could turn your head when you see images of animals suffering. But if you truly can’t stand seeing what’s in those pictures, then the only logical step to take is to stop being part of it.
Just because you don’t witness something with your own eyes, doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur.
For example, if you saw a news item about a woman beaten up inside her home, would you respond by saying, “That couldn’t possibly have happened because I didn’t see it”? Most likely not. You would, like most adults, understand that things can and do happen even if you didn’t see them. In fact, like most adults, you accept as plausible the notion that almost all the things that happen in the world happen without you seeing them occur.
Yet you refuse to accept that someone telling you about animal abuse could possibly be telling the truth because you didn’t see it with your own eyes? So suddenly, when it comes to animal abuse, you accuse people of being liars?
The question is: what in the world do vegans have to gain by lying? Also, why would all the vegans in the world be telling the exactly the same lie? And what exactly is the purpose of this massive conspiracy you’re claiming?
If, despite proof (images, videos, and first-hand accounts) you insist that what vegans say can’t be true because you didn’t see it in person, the only one lying is you… to yourself. Insisting that something is not the case when the evidence is gruesomely clear is insisting on living in ignorance. And ignorance is anything but blissful.
Having an animal head on your wall is no more (or less) insane than having animal legs or wings in your fridge.
I can see why you might think that it’s different. A hunter does the killing herself, and that can seem worse than having someone else do it for you. But is it truly worse?
Is a hitman pulling the trigger truly worse than the person who pays the hitman to pull the trigger? No, not really. In fact, the law recognises them as the same - after all, if no one pays the hitman, no murder would occur.
And it’s exactly the same with animals: no one would kill animals in a slaughterhouse if it weren’t for people requesting their flesh. So while you might not do the killing yourself as hunters do, paying others to kill puts blood on your hands.
Take a good look at the body parts in your fridge, and then answer with total honesty whether, when all is said and done, those animal corpses are truly any different to the ones hunters hang on their walls.
Since when is it not your place as a parent to instil ethics in your own children?
I’m sure you have no trouble telling your child, “It’s wrong to steal” or “It’s wrong to cheat”. So why is that any different to telling a child “It’s wrong to abuse animals”?
People bring up their children according to their system of ethics all the time. That’s a parents’ job. No one blinks if someone brings up a child to be a certain religion (despite the inherent lack of morality that often brings), so why the hysteria over bringing up a child to reject the torture and killing of animals?
Saying “We don’t believe it’s ethical to hurt animals, so this family is vegan” is no different to saying “We don’t believe it’s ethical to lie, so in this family we tell the truth”. It’s an ethical standpoint that the parents hold and is therefore something that should naturally be passed on to the children.
That’s what I thought of myself too. But it wasn’t true of me, and it’s not true of you.
You just have to remind yourself that ALL animal-based products involve terrible abuse and violence, and if you don’t want to be part of that, you must live vegan.
Animal use = animal abuse, and the only way to not be part of that equation is to be vegan. Simple as that.
Good. You should hate this terrible violence. But don’t stop at being sad - DO something about it! If you really think it’s horrible that trillions of land and sea animals are killed annually, then go vegan.
Saying that the killing of animals makes you sad but at the same time funding it is absurd; and condemning something while supporting just makes you a hypocrite. If you really hate violence towards animals, the logical step is for you to go vegan.
Maybe not, but paying others to harm animals for you is fundamentally the same thing.
The reality is that if you're not vegan you pay others to torture and kill animals for you all the time. Remember, the animals don't die of natural causes nor do they commit suicide - they're killed by people employed to kill, the wages of whom are paid by the non-vegan consumer who buys the animal-based products they create.
If you’ve never contemplated this paradigm then it’s time to think honestly about it right now.
Think…and go vegan.
No, that's not true.
Not eating meat but using other animal-based products means you are harming animals, because all types of animal products cause harm to animals.
Not eating the actual flesh of the animal corpse doesn't mean you're not consuming animal corpses: all animal products are essentially animal corpses because they all ultimately end up in the death of the animal.
So many people say "I don't want to be political".
In fact, I used to say that. What I didn't realise at the time is that anything a person does and anything a person doesn't do is a political statement.In other words, our every move is both meaningful and political: when you buy something you are endorsing that particular product and whatever it stands for, and when you refuse to buy something you are rejecting that particular product and whatever it stands for.
And that's why I'm vegan.
Once I woke the hell up to the harm I was doing to innocent animals I decided that I was no longer going to support it. Instead I chose to reject all animal products and thereby make the political statement that torturing and killing animals is NOT okay.
So the question is: what political statement are YOU making about animal torture? Are you supporting and therefore endorsing it? Or are you unequivocally rejecting this terrible violence by living vegan?
Yes, we do.
Most vegans I know share their homes with rescued animals, and so at times we're called upon to make the decision to euthanise when one of these family members is unwell or dying, and their suffering can no longer be alleviated.
In the second instance, I'll just speak for myself and my partner, John, because I've not spoken about this matter much to other vegans. When we come across a wild animal who's mortally wounded, and we simply cannot save them (for example, a snail who's partially crushed), then we'll do a mercy killing. (Note, though, that in cases of wounded wild animals who can be taken to a vet - eg. rats, mice, birds - we will taken them straight there. I'm talking about tiny creatures like beetles, slugs, and snails who no vet would be able to treat even if they wanted to.)
You can help animals by going vegan, staying vegan, and encouraging others to do the same. That will help animals more than any petition, protest, or law change.
Going vegan (and remaining vegan) is the most important step a person can take to help animals, and second in importance is promoting veganism. You yourself can save many animals by going vegan, but the number of animals you save doubles with every person you inspire to go vegan. You can promote veganism in many different ways: by handing out leaflets, wearing shirts with vegan messages, using vegan bumper stickers, writing letters to the editor, posting on Facebook, Tweeting, or simply chatting to people about veganism.
Last, but not least, you can help individuals in need, which means to adopt homeless animals. If you can't adopt, then foster. And if you're not in a position to do either, volunteer your time at a shelter or rescue organisation. If none of that is possible, then make a donation. And don’t forget that while you can’t adopt or foster sanctuary animals you can donate money to the sanctuary or volunteer your time if one is local to you.
But first and foremost, go vegan.
No, being vegetarian and being vegan are totally different things.
A vegan is a person who does not participate in any violence towards animals at all. Therefore:
A vegetarian, on the other hand, is simply a person who doesn't eat animal flesh. On the odd occasion you'll come across a vegetarian who does extend to some other areas beyond not eating flesh, but most of the time a vegetarian just doesn't eat meat and that's it.
In summary, vegetarianism is merely abstaining from eating flesh but still engaging in other violence towards animals. Veganism is the rejection of all types of violence towards sentient beings.
Why in the world would it be child abuse to bring a child up vegan?
Being vegan is an ethical decision, and parents passing on their ethics to a child is a completely normal thing for parents to do. In fact, parents who don’t teach their kids to live ethically should be criticised - not parents who do.
Nobody accuses parents of child abuse when they bring the child up with values based around a certain religion (which often have damaging and even dangerous tenets), so why the hysteria over parents who bring up a child vegan based on values based of non-violence? In such a violent world, such parents should be commended, rather than condemned (as they often are) for bringing up their child vegan.
Bringing a child up vegan means the parents are bringing that child up to do no harm to animals, and to see animals as sentient beings to be respected - not mere things to be exploited and used. And, as a huge bonus, the child is being taught to live in a way that does the least amount of harm to the environment, helps to ease human poverty, and is extremely healthy for them too. So how could any of that amount to something that even resembles child abuse?
There are a zillion ways to celebrate that don't involve fireworks! And if you truly can't think of any way to celebrate without using fireworks you're suffering from a serious deficit of imagination.
Vegans hate fireworks because they’re a horror show for animals. And all people need to do to avoid this horror show is use their brains to figure out ways of celebrating in a way that doesn’t scare other living beings. Celebrating events in life while scaring others half to death is no way to celebrate.
In short, someone is speciesist when they only have moral concern about certain species of animals. The classic way speciesism manifests is this: the speciesist person will typically say "I love animals", but in reality they only care about a select few species. The beloved species are usually those generally considered 'pets' (eg. dogs and cats), and a select few wild animals (eg. lions and whales).
The speciesist mindest is something I'm very familiar with because I was just like that for most of my life: I ranted about how awful it was that people abuse dogs and cats, and raved about how sick it was for people to hunt wild animals...meanwhile, there were body parts of other animals (pigs, cows, chicken, fish) in my own refrigerator!
Speciesism can be summarised as "love one, but eat the other", and almost everyone is brought up to think in this paradoxical way. To break out of this paradigm involves seeing speciesism for what it is: morally inconsistent. If someone wants to be morally consistent in what they say (eg. 'I love animals") and what they do, they must stop hurting ALL animals (ie. be vegan).
I'm vegan because I'm against animal abuse.
Animals are abused and killed in their BILLIONS each and every year for food, clothing, vivisection, and so-called 'entertainment'. Once I awoke to the truth that I was personally supporting this terrible violence by not living vegan, I went vegan.
Due to the mind-boggling numbers of animals being abused and killed, it will take more than just me being vegan or the current small percentage of the world's population being vegan to stop this horror show. It'll take a predominantly vegan world to make a real difference to animals. And to create such a world, it'll take a whole lot more people taking a stand against animal abuse by going vegan.
Being vegan is not difficult. Sure, you have to make some changes, but ultimately it's about choosing non-violence and morality over habit and convenience. And it's really a simple choice if you're against animal abuse.
Because they cater to everyone, and involve almost no exertion.
On the first point: the animals these petitions claim to help tend to be ones even non-vegans want to protect, despite the fact that they themselves directly contribute to abusing other species of animals on a daily basis. On the second point: it takes almost no effort to create such a petition, and even less effort make the token gesture of signing it.
And those are the reasons - speciesism and convenience - why so many such petitions abound.
Because while animals are being TORTURED, I’m not going to mince words. I'm going to speak clearly and frankly about it.
Because 97 percent of the world doesn’t consider animals to be worthy of tough punishments for abusing them.
You might wonder how I can be so sure about the exact percentage of people who don’t care about animals. It’s because approximately 97 percent of people in the world are not vegan, and therefore routinely abuse animals (by eating them, wearing their skin, and using products tested on them) every day of the week.
So, given that, why be surprised that the law reflects society’s overall lack of respect for animal life? In a world where most people don’t value animals, is it really a wonder that the law doesn’t protect them from harm?
Because on the one hand you've got someone (the vegan) who lives vegan so that they don't hurt animals, and on the other hand you've got someone (the non-vegan) who lives in a way that does hurt animals. In other words, you've got two people interacting with each other who are operating on fundamentally different levels.
The vegan person tends to feel a level of disappointment in the non-vegan's apparent lack of concern about animals, and the non-vegan tends to feel unsettled by the mere fact that the vegan is taking a moral stance against violence towards animals.
I guess it's like someone who's pro-war interacting with someone who's anti-war, or someone who's pro-smacking children interacting with someone who's anti-smacking children. It's not like such people can't possibly be friends, but there is tension when it comes discussing these topics.
Because it's not like someone who likes the colour blue while the other likes the colour green, or someone who prefers reading and another who prefers watching films. The topics above, including veganism, are about moral issues (and specifically violence) which means that they can (and sometimes do) make or break a friendship.
I’m open to hearing arguments that oppose opinions I hold on any subject. But I really can’t imagine an argument which could persuade me that abusing animals is tolerable. So unless someone can convince me that animal abuse is morally acceptable, I’m vegan for life!
Do you plan to live in a cave on a mountain? No? I thought not. Then stop wasting time asking inane questions about hypothetical scenarios that are never going to happen, and start concerning yourself with reality and what you’re doing in the here and now.
“Bit” is the operative word, because by doing Meat-Free Mondays you’re doing just that: a bit. A teeny tiny bit. So teeny and so tiny that it’s meaningless. Meat-Free Mondays is nothing more than an empty gesture. If you really want to do something for animals, go vegan.
That’s what I used to think too.
Fooled by the long-standing and much-publicised anti-fur campaign into thinking that fur was the worst of all animal abuses, I thought that if I didn’t wear fur I’d be doing right by animals. So for many years I vehemently opposed fur, but had no qualms about wearing leather, suede, wool, sheepskin, feathers, and silk. And I didn’t question this for a second.
But finally I started asking questions, and when I did, I quickly realised that I’d got it all wrong. I discovered what is now so obvious: that all animal-based clothing involves animal abuse. Certainly the details of how each type of clothing is made are different, but the fact is that fur is no worse than leather, suede, wool, sheepskin, feathers, and silk.
So if you want to reject violence towards animals, don’t just make the token gesture of rejecting one type of animal product - reject them all!
To be vegan, you don’t need to love animals. You don’t even need to like animals. In fact, you can dislike animals and still be vegan. Being vegan means making a decision to not harm animals - so being vegan isn’t about loving or liking animals, but simply about not harming them.
Some argue that it amounts to the same thing; that you need to feel warmly towards animals to a certain degree in order to decide not to hurt them. Not true at all. Let me give you a human example to illustrate my point. I don’t like some of my neighbours. Some of them I seriously dislike…but I don’t hurt them. This is because I have made the moral decision to not hurt other people (even those I don’t like).
Similarly, you don’t have to love or like animals to not hurt them. No matter how you feel about them, you can make the moral decision stop harming them by living vegan.
Let’s be real about this: any animal products involve the exploitation, torture, and killing of animals. So any use of any animal products - no matter how little use there is - directly funds that exploitation, torture, and killing. After all, even the smallest amount of animal abuse is still animal abuse.
Therefore if you are truly against animal abuse it’s essential to live vegan. Otherwise you’re just being a hypocrite by claiming one thing (being against animal abuse) but doing exactly the opposite (funding animal abuse). Live in keeping with your belief that animal abuse is wrong: go vegan.
Many things - eg. bicycle tyres, road surfaces, the glue that holds various parts of a computer together - contain animal products.
So while it's currently impossible for me to live in this world and not ever come into contact with animal products, that doesn't then mean that it makes no difference whether or not I'm vegan. I have no control over the type of glue used in computers, but there are many areas where I have control - eg. what I eat and wear, the cleaning and bodycare products I buy, etc - and I should certainly be vegan in those areas.
What about the fact that the production of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes results in some harm to animals like birds, rodents and insects? And what about if I walk on grass and hurt or kill the unseen insects hidden in the dirt under the grass?
Clearly, even in the choices I make as an ethical vegan I will do some harm to animals. But the harm I do is inadvertent, incidental, and unintentional. And that's very different from directly funding the intentional abuse and killing of animals by not living vegan. On top of that, the number of animals killed in the production of crops and my walking on grass is a tiny sliver compared to the staggering amount of animals abused and killed for food, clothes, vivisection, and so-called 'entertainment'.
Eating animals and their secretions, wearing animal skins, using products tested on animals, and supporting animal-based so-called 'entertainment' inflicts intentional violence upon animals. Not doing those things - ie. living vegan - means that you purposely retract your support of violence towards animals.
So, sure, you can't be absolutely perfect. But just because you can't be perfect, it doesn't mean you shouldn't do everything in your power to not abuse animals. And being vegan is doing just that.
People were also living in caves in ancient times...does that mean we should do that now because they did that then? I don't think so.
What happened in ancient times is irrelevant to what's happening now, so it's time to stop concerning yourself with what people were doing then and start focussing on what's happening now.
It's time to move on, time to evolve. It's time, my friend, to go vegan.
The majority of people doing something doesn't necessarily make that thing right.
Once upon a time, the majority considered women to be the property of men and that human slavery was okay. Neither of those two opinions is considered remotely correct now: quite the contrary, they are rejected by the majority as being completely incorrect.
So majority thinking isn't necessarily right thinking: one has to look at the moral content of that thinking to judge whether it's right or wrong.
In the case of animal abuse, it’s wrong. And just because the majority don't yet recognise that (evident in the fact that the majority of people are not vegan), doesn't mean it's not the case.
It's true that rescuing is a way to help animals. So, yes, you should definitely adopt and foster animals, but as long as you're not also vegan you're still directly funding the abuse of other animals. Remember, this is not a judgement, it's a fact: if you pay for an animal product, you're paying someone to abuse and kill that animal for you. Rescuing is important, but it doesn't erase the harm you do to other animals by not being vegan.
What if all of a human’s body is used and none goes to waste?
We could eat the person’s flesh, use their skin to make handbags and belts, use the bones to make interesting-looking jewellery and trinkets. Would it then be okay to kill people, as long as we used the entire body? I don’t think so, and I hope you don’t think so either.
The point I'm making is not how thoroughly an animal corpse is used, but that creating an animal corpse for use is wrong to begin with.
No, being vegan isn't extreme in the least.
I'll tell you what is extreme, though:
On the other hand, living vegan means:
Veganism is non-violence. It's living in a way that does not harm other beings. And there's nothing extreme about that.
Veganism is not a religion, nor is it like a religion.
To start with, consider the following quote by American novelist, Craig Burton: "Religion asks followers to believe things nobody can see, while animal rights advocates ask people to see things nobody wants to believe."
The other difference is this that if someone is not religious, no one else gets hurt; but when someone is not vegan, lots of others get hurt. So while religions try to convert people in order to gain another member of the faith they believe to be The One, veganism encourages people to live vegan in order to save the lives of other sentient beings.
On top of saving animal lives, veganism causes the least amount of harm to the Earth and eating vegan is extremely healthful for the individual. In other words, veganism saves lives, preserves the planet, and keeps us healthy; religion does none of the above.
The animals who vegans are concerned about don’t just die. They’re killed. An animal killed is not the same as an animal dying.
And, yes, all living beings die, but slaughtering billions upon billions of animals every year for human greed is hardly the same as you or me or any other living creature dying naturally.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with compassion. In fact, everything’s right with compassion. But not as a reason for going vegan.
Compassion (or mercy or kindness) as a reason to not abuse animals makes as little sense as compassion (or mercy or kindness) as a reason to not rape children. Not raping children and not abusing animals is not about compassion: it's about morality. You don't rape kids and you don’t abuse animals it because it's wrong to perpetrate violence upon another sentient being - not because you're trying to be nice.
Imagine an anti-domestic violence campaign that said, “Be kind. Don’t beat your spouse. It’s just not nice.” That would never happen because it’s ludicrous. Such campaigns unequivocally say that it’s wrong to beat your spouse. Why? Because it is wrong. And the same goes for all other types of violence towards all other beings, including animals.
Non-violence towards animals is what we owe them - it’s not an act of charity.
Because organisations like Sea Shepherd help perpetuate and compound the speciesist attitude that most people hold: that some types of animals are worth saving while others are not.
Sea Shepherd do save a selected few species of sea creature, which is, of course, a good thing. However, this focus on saving animals that most people (even most non-vegans) are already interested in saving does little to encourage a change of heart about all species of animal.
Supporters of Sea Shepherd often celebrate their ‘victories’ by pointing out how many deaths were prevented by Sea Shepherd’s actions. True as that may be, imagine the deaths Sea Shepherd would prevent if it put all its time, money, and resources into vegan advocacy. That would truly change the world for the better.
Meanwhile, all Sea Shepherd currently do is reinforce the speciesist notion that a few select species of sea-dwelling animals are worthy of being saved, while other animals aren’t. And that's why some vegans (like me) refuse to support such organisations.
Let me start by saying: *sigh*.
I’ve heard this argument (if you could call it that) on a number of occasions and, no matter the details, the reason behind it is always the same: it’s all about a non-vegan wanting to defend his or her choice to live in a way that harms animals by pointing out the fact (and, yes, it’s a fact) that in the world we live in a person cannot be absolutely 100 percent vegan.
It’s impossible to realistically quantify but, for the sake of ease, let’s say that the best one can do is be 95% vegan. An example of a non-vegan aspect of my life is that when I walk across grass I might unintentionally kill unseen insects. Another is that my car's tyres have bits of animal in them (as do all tyres).
However, unless I find a way to levitate across grass there is always the possibility that I will sometimes unintentionally kill unseen insects when I walk across it. As far as the bits of animal in my car’s tyres, that’s something I can do nothing about right now. And taking public transport won’t make a difference because bus tyres are exactly the same as car tyres in this respect. The reality is that the use of animals is so overwhelming in our society that it’s currently unavoidable. Not only are bits of animals found in the tyres of all vehicles, they are also found in many everyday products like computers and telephones. In other words it's impossible to be vegan to the point of perfect avoidance of animal use.
So while there’s no chance of me defying physics to levitate across grass, as more and more products become vegan it will become possible to use vegan versions of more and more products that are currently unavailable. And as that happens I will switch over to each of those products, one by one, as they are developed.
Meanwhile, though, there are many many ways one can avoid animal use, and in all those ways I do avoid it. And the fact that it’s impossible to reach complete 100 percent veganism is no reason to not be vegan in every other way possible. Because, remember, we’re not talking about being vegan up to the point of convenience or desire. For example, it’s not about buying a woollen hat because it’s more expedient to do so, or about eating a bit of non-vegan cake because it’s put in front of you and you’re in the mood for something sweet. We’re talking about being vegan up until the point where it’s actually unable to be done because the products in question are simply not currently found in vegan form.
So someone being as vegan as possible (ie. up until the point where animal use is totally unavoidable) and therefore harming animals as little as possible is radically different to someone choosing to not be vegan and therefore harming animals a great deal. So my not being able to levitate and my car's tyres having bits of animal in them does not make me just the same as a non-vegan. How could it? My ability to only achieve the hypothetical 95 percent veganism is simply not the same as a non-vegan living in a way that causes harm to animals a hypothetical 95 percent of the time.
Here I should reiterate that, yes, I realise that the way I'm using percentages is simplistic. I haven't done extensive research to measure the precise amount of animal use the average vegan and the average non-vegan makes - I'm merely using 5 and 95 percent in order to make my point in as succinct and simple a manner as possible.
But, back to the point at hand…
Remember, nowhere in the definition of veganism does perfection come into the equation. It just means doing the very best one can to not ever harm any other being, and it’s pretty clear that choosing to be vegan and reducing one's harming of animals to a hypothetical 5 percent is vastly different to consciously deciding to not be vegan and therefore harming animals 95 percent of the time.
So, frankly, there’s no logic behind saying “since you drive a car and that’s not vegan, I may as well cause harm to animals in all other ways as well”. It’s clutching at straws to justify involvement and support of animals abuse. After all, there's a tremendous difference between willful exploitation, abuse, and killing, and situations that can never be helped (like walking on grass and unintentionally harming insects) and products that are not yet available (like vegan car tyres).
Saying “You drive a car so you’re therefore not vegan and a hypocrite” is, if I’m being generous, a thoroughly flawed argument. If I’m being less generous and more realistic, though, I’d say it’s a blatant attempt to try to level the playing field with a lame excuse to justify the deliberate decision to live in a way that directly supports the abuse of animals.
It’s a kneejerk reaction some people have when confronted with the uncomfortable realisation that they're involved in terrible abuse due to the choices they make. So in order to feel better about the terrible violence they perpetrate upon other sentient beings, they try to defend their deliberate support of animal abuse by pointing out the obvious fact that it’s impossible to be 100 percent vegan.
What they conveniently forget is that vegans are very aware of any harm they might do to animals. Very aware. In fact, it's this awareness that led them to becoming vegan in the first place, and what leads them to continue to strive to do as little harm as possible in every single way possible. That’s hardly the same as shrugging your shoulders and not caring enough to even live vegan to the hypothetical 95 percent.
It’s correct to say that vegans are against killing (or using) animals. However, if an animal is painfully ill and dying then the belief is that euthanasia is the kindest thing to do.
And while I can’t speak for other vegans, I can speak for myself when I say that I’m also in favour of euthanasia for humans who are terribly ill and dying too.
Here’s a point-form summary of vegan thinking on the subject of ‘pets’:
If the animals aren’t killed, then what do you think happens?
How do you think that the body parts of animals get to your dinner table? How do you think the skin or fur of the animal get into your wardrobe? Do you think the animals committed suicide? And how do you think so much meat and animal-based apparel is available - do you think all those animals died spontaneously in vast numbers?
No one could be so gullible as to think any of those things. The only rational answer is that the animals end up dead because they’re killed - whether you saw the killing with your own eyes or not.Hideously clear evidence in the form of photos and video footage is easily found on the Internet, as are quotations from slaughterhouses workers describing precisely what they do. If that’s not enough for you, visit a slaughterhouse. If you must see for yourself to believe, then go see for yourself. I’m sure you’ll be unpleasantly surprised.
Well, no. Why wouldn’t animal use exist just because it’s wrong?
If things didn’t or couldn’t exist simply because they’re wrong everything in existence would good. And while that be wonderful, it’s hardly the reality of the situation. Not even close.
History shows this over and again with the many things that have existed which have been utterly wrong: human slavery and women being the property of men are just two examples. And, sadly, many wrongs still exist despite the fact that they’re immoral. Animal use is but one of them.
Furthermore, rather than looking at the situation in terms of the existence of animal use somehow ‘proving’ that it must be okay, think about this: if what is done to animals is not completely horrifying, why do the industries that use animals go to such lengths to hide what they do - why is there so much secrecy?
Why don't slaughterhouses have tours for children? Why don't laboratories have glass walls so that the public can peer in at any time and see the experiments being done on animals? Why don't circuses allow people to see the training techniques they use?
Why does it take hidden cameras to get photos and footage of what goes on in industries that use animals? If animal use was all okey-dokey as the animal industries claim, they would happily take the photos and footage themselves. But they don’t, and it takes hidden cameras to uncover what goes on.
So what does all this secrecy tell us? One thing: that there's something terribly wrong. And the hidden cameras have shown time and time again that when the shroud is lifted what is revealed is horrible abuse and horrifying violence.
Bottom line: assuming that the existence of animal use automatically indicates that it’s ethically okay means you’re not asking the right questions (or possibly any questions at all!). Because once you do scratch the surface and ask those questions, it’s easy to see that it’s not the case at all.
Please don’t be a part of this horror show. These innocent creatures deserve to live in peace as much as you or I do. Go vegan.
The idea that human problems are "more important" is such an elitist way of thinking.
In fact, this notion that we're superior (and therefore so are all of our issues) is the reason we've got so many problems in the first place. It's our egotistical attitude that has landed us in the self-created mess we're in; and while our minds remain solely on ourselves as the self-proclaimed most important beings on the planet, our problems will persist.
However, the moment we shift our mindset to realising that we're just one small part of the greater picture is when we'll start to solve our problems. And vegans have realised this. They've opened their eyes to the fact that there's more to this world than just us, us, us, me, me, me, and mine, mine, mine.
And in doing so, they're actually helping solve some of the world's greatest problems: violence, the environmental crisis, and poverty.
Veganism is non-violence towards all sentient beings, and the mentality of non-harming is one that is sorely needed in our persistently violent society. Each vegan reduces the total violence in the world.
Veganism uses the least amount of natural resources and does the least amount of damage to the planet. That animal agriculture is the single most destructive force to the Earth is becoming increasingly accepted as fact. And the more vegans there are, the less environmental damage there is, and the more chance that there will be an inhabitable Earth in the future.
Veganism helps to alleviate poverty. The enormous amount of grain that is fed to animals to fatten them up for slaughter is more than enough to feed the world. But that food is not being used to feed the hungry: instead, huge amounts of plant material is being funnelled into animals in order to get a comparatively tiny amount of flesh in return.
Professor David Pimentel (of Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) says: "If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million." This terrible waste of resources will never lead to a world free of poverty. As things stand, people living next to fields of plant material destined to fatten up animals in rich countries are going to bed hungry. Being vegan does not support this nonsensical state of affairs.
People go vegan for a variety of reasons including health, environment, and poverty. However, the most common reason people go vegan is to stop supporting violence towards animals. Still, whatever is behind someone going vegan, the fact is that they do a lot to help alleviate human problems by simple virtue of being vegan.
So whether they intend to or not, vegans do help with the human problems of violence, environment, and poverty. Meanwhile, not being vegan does exactly the opposite: it helps to compound them. In other words, if you're concerned about the supposedly more-important-than-anything human problems, the logical choice is for you to go vegan.
Or maybe non-vegans think too little.
The thing is, veganism is not so much about thinking but about caring: in a world where most people couldn’t care less about animals, vegans couldn’t care more.
An absurd comparison. Fireworks are human-made and one hundred percent under our control. Thunder and lightning are one hundred percent NOT under our control.
(I know this question is preposterous, therefore making the answer obvious to the point of insulting your intelligence, but it was - like all other questions on this page - a question actually put to me.)
Precisely what self-righteousness are we talking about here? The self-righteousness of being against animal abuse? The self-righteousness of being against violence?
My question is: would someone be labelled self-righteous if they were against child abuse or against violence towards women? The answer is, of course, no.
It’s apparently okay to be unequivocally against abuse and violence with regard to humans, and never considered self-righteous. Moreover, it’s considered absolutely normal to feel that way (and rightly so!). On the other hand, unequivocal vegans are considered self-righteous because we also care about beings who are "just animals".
So, really, whether a vegan is considered self-righteous or not depends on perspective. Those who don’t care about animals tend to consider those who do (ie. vegans) self-righteous. And those who do care about animals (ie. vegans) consider fellow vegans to be normal.
Vegans get hot and bothered about fireworks because they TERRIFY animals.
The large number of dogs that break out of their yards and end up getting killed on the roads due to fear of fireworks each and every new year's eve is appalling. Not to mention the wild animals - imagine how many little baby birds drop dead from fear due to the sound of fireworks!
The average vegan is against fireworks because they see no reason why people should value colourful lights in the sky above the wellbeing of our animal friends.
Because owning another sentient being (for any reason) is wrong.
So does this mean that vegans think we should just kill all the companion animals? No, of course not!
Vegans are in support of caring for any and all existing animals…but we maintain that no more should be bred. And when I say “no more” I don’t mean “some more” or “a few more”. I mean NO MORE. This is because the vegan stance on companion animals is, in essence, the same for all animals: that we should just leave them alone.
Too many times I've seen vegans accused of not caring about humans, due to the mere fact that they're animal rights activists.
This is a ridiculous accusation.
Just because a person has chosen to fight for a particular cause doesn't automatically mean they're disinterested in or care nothing for other causes.
Let's say someone decides to devote their time to educating people about obesity-related diseases and advocates for people to exercise daily. This doesn't automatically mean that they don't care about stopping child abuse. Speaking about a particular issue simply doesn't mean lack of care about other issues.
Making that assumption is like saying that because I'm wearing the colour blue it necessarily means that I hate all other colours. That's a huge leap to take and an illogical assumption to make.
The fact is that we each only have a finite amount of time in a day and the way we choose to spend our time is up to all of us as individuals. And some vegans make the choice of devoting their time to animal rights. (The fact is that some vegans also advocate for non-animal causes too. But, for the purposes of this article, I'll be talking about vegans - like myself - who concentrate on animal rights advocacy.)
Now, I always ask my accusers this question: "You're obviously concerned about humans. What exactly are you doing to help people in need?"
The answer tends to be either nothing at all or a donation at Xmas.
Now, not all non-vegans are like this. Of course not: some do a lot to help humans in need. But, in my experience, the accusers definitely are in the category of those who merely pay lip service to caring about humans but do little or nothing to help. So, ironically, while they're accusing me and other vegans of not caring about people, they themselves are doing nothing to help anyone - human or non-human!
And what the accusers are completely (and conveniently) ignoring is the fact that being vegan means you're not only helping animals but also helping the environment and people who live in poverty.
Just a tiny bit of research will show you that animal agriculture involves the consumption of massive amounts of water and grain, the use of damaging chemical fertilisers, the emission of enormous amounts of greenhouse gases, extensive deforestation, an extraordinary amount of soil erosion, and a great reduction of species diversity.
All the grain that is fed to animals to fatten them up for slaughter is more than enough to feed the world. And all that destruction to the environment is ruining the planet for future generations. So being vegan ticks all the boxes: it helps animals, humans, and the planet.
Meanwhile, not being vegan does exactly the opposite: it directly funds the torture and killing of animals, it finances the single most destructive force to the environment (animal agriculture), and it directly contributes to human poverty.
Hmmm...it looks like vegans are doing a heck of a lot to help humans simply by virtue of being vegan, doesn't it?
So while non-vegans hurt animals, the environment, and people in poverty by the mere fact that they're not vegan, they're ironically comfortable about accusing vegans (who ARE helping animals, the environment, and other people) of not caring about humans.
This leads me to wonder why the 'vegans-don't-care-about-humans' accusers are so angry at vegans. I could guess at a number of reasons, but I won't bother for fear of attracting more unfounded, irrational accusations!
But whatever the reason, the facts still remain: not being vegan means complicity in the torture and killing of animals, the destruction of the environment, and human poverty. So maybe, instead of feigning concern for humans while doing nothing about it, it's time for the accusers to actually help the humans they claim to be so concerned about by going vegan.
Vegans are often accused of not having a sense of humour.
Usually the accusation comes from someone who has just made a 'joke' (if you could call it that) about animal abuse. And because the vegan doesn't find the so-called 'joke' funny, the other person decides that the vegan in question has no sense of humour.
But the reality is that vegans do have a sense of humour - of course they do! Vegans love to laugh just like everyone else. But you see they never, ever, EVER find humour in animal torture. A vegan doesn't find animal abuse funny any more than they find humour in a woman being raped or a child being beaten.
Why? Because none of the above is funny. Ever.
So the problem is not with the vegan who doesn't find animal torture hilarious, but with the person who does - the person who made the so-called 'joke' in the first place - because it's their moral compass that's broken, NOT the vegan's funny bone.
Yes it's true that there are vegans out there advocating for animals by yelling and swearing. And while the yelling vegans might seem like the majority, that's only because yelling has the effect of making it seem that there are a lot of them. I assure you that they are definitely a minority.
Most vegans advocate peacefully. Some take a subtle approach, some have a more straightforward manner, but vegan animal rights advocates as a whole are not aggressive. So, let's put the yelling vegans aside and focus on the vegan message itself.
The vegan animal rights message is essentially that it's wrong to torture and kill animals. That, in and of itself, is not aggressive in the least. In fact, it's quite the opposite: it's a message of non-violence.
In my experience, those who complain that the vegan message is aggressive are, for the most part, those who don't want to hear it. They don't like what they're hearing (ie. that torturing and killing animals is wrong) and they respond by accusing those saying it of being aggressive. They are "shooting the messenger" as it were.
I guess it's like activist Gloria Steinem said: "The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off". Some non-vegans just don't want to hear that torturing and killing animals is wrong, and it pisses them off when they do hear it.
Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said: "All truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as self-evident."
The idea that slavery should be abolished in the USA was once ridiculed and violently opposed. So was the notion of Apartheid ending in South Africa. Same with women having the right to vote.
With regards to animal rights, we're now experiencing a mixture of the first two stages: ridicule and violent opposition. The good news is that things are changing. Every other day I hear about another person going vegan. So, one by one, people are seeing the light and choosing non-violence by choosing veganism.
I tell those who criticise vegans that they need to stop worrying about which words vegans choose to use to get their message across, and worry instead about their own actions and how they impact on other sentient beings.
Because vegan animal rights advocates will continue to speak out, whether anyone else likes it or not. They'll speak on behalf of the suffering animals until every cage is empty, until every farm is a sanctuary, until every slaughterhouse is nothing but a vacant building, until every vivisection lab is closed down, until every chain has been cut, and every animal is living free and in peace.
'Pet' lovers complain about vegans when vegans point out to them that their status as a self-proclaimed animal lover is not accurate.
Here's a typical conversation to put you in the picture:
'Pet' lover: I love animals.
(Note: I have used phrase "pet lover" for clarity and ease of communication; however, for a variety of reasons, I prefer the term "companion animal" and so have put the word "pet" in inverted commas.)
In my experience, the average 'pet' lover, on finding out that I'm vegan, will tell me, "I'm on the same page as you - I love animals too!"
Now, hang on a second: the term "pet lover" describes a person who cares about certain species of domesticated animals - mainly dogs and cats. Meanwhile, they engage in all manner of violence towards other species of animals by eating their bodies, consuming their secretions, buying products made from their skin, using products tested on them, and supporting so-called 'entertainment' that uses animals. And all the while claiming that they love animals and have moral concern for them.
Hmmm...that doesn't sound anything like being "on the same page" as me because, as a vegan, I outright reject ALL violence towards ALL animals. I don't eat animal bodies, I don't consume animal secretions, I don't wear animals (or buy accessories or furniture made from them), I don't use products tested on animals, and I don't support any so-called 'entertainment' that uses animals.
In other words, I'm not on the same page as a 'pet' lover who does do all those things. In fact, I'm not even reading the same book, let alone being on the same page as them! And that, friends, is why vegans get frustrated with (and often complain about) 'pet' lovers.
(Note: I have used phrase "pet lover" for clarity and ease of communication; however, for a variety of reasons, I prefer the term "companion animal" and so have put the word "pet" in inverted commas.)
In my experience, there are three main reasons for conflict among vegans.
The first is caused differences in methodology.
Like any social movement, there are different ideas about how to achieve success. So for example, the ultimate goal of veganism is to stop violence towards animals, but not everyone agrees on how to get there. Within veganism, there are welfarists and there are abolitionists. The welfarists believe animal liberation can be achieved via welfare reform - that is, making changes to the way animals are abused. The abolitionists, on the other hand, believe that animal liberation can only be achieved when individuals choose to stop abusing animals altogether - that is, through choosing to live vegan. Consequently, some conflict occurs due to this difference in opinion. (Oh, and if you're wondering, I'm an abolitionist.)
The second reason for conflict is angry vegans.
There are a few perpetually furious vegans, who try to advocate by yelling at and insulting others. When other vegans try to calm them down, they'll typically turn their anger on them, and therefore conflict occurs. (I have to say that I understand the rage of the angry vegan. It's upsetting knowing that animals are being tortured by the billions, and frustrating to see how little most people care. But, while I understand how maddening this is, I don't think that hurling abuse at others is helpful.)
The third reason for conflict is vegans who think everyone should be a clone of them.
This is a strange phenomenon where vegans insist that everyone should only talk about veganism using very specific language. I've had it happen to me on Facebook. For example, I once got criticised for starting a sentence with "Why not..." because apparently that somehow puts people off veganism. (Don't ask me to explain, I still don't understand what that was all about.) I've also been repeatedly reprimanded for writing "Go vegan!" in some of my posts. Apparently that's incredibly aggressive, and I shouldn't be telling people what to do (meanwhile, it's evidently okay for them to tell me what words I can and can't use). When the above has occurred I've tried explaining that, seeing as I don't yell at or insult others, the precise wording I use to talk about veganism shouldn't be an issue. But apparently the notion of me communicating in a manner in which I'm comfortable is an abomination to them, so my words fall on deaf ears.
I hope that explains the reasons for conflicts among vegans. It's unfortunate, seeing as we're all meant to be striving for the same thing, but that's the reality of humanity: we're all individuals, so conflict is sometimes bound to occur.
Vegans generally complain about three separate things with regard to vegetarianism. The first is about the moral inconsistency of being vegetarian; the second is about vegetarians who claim to be "on the same page" as vegans; and the third is about the refusal of vegetarians to see that animal abuse goes beyond the meat industry.
Many vegetarians say they stopped eating meat for ethical reasons. However, there's nothing ethical about not eating meat but engaging in all manner of other violence towards animals by: eating dairy, eggs, and honey; wearing animals and buying furniture made of them; using makeup, bodycare, and cleaning products tested on animals; and supporting so-called 'entertainment' which uses animals.
But isn't being vegetarian at least doing something to help animals? Well, if merely not eating meat is doing something to help animals, then so is no longer wearing wool. In other words, no. Considering the bigger picture, not eating meat is just a token gesture, making vegetarianism morally inconsistent. (And, yes, the occasional vegetarian does extend to some other areas beyond not eating flesh, but most of the time a vegetarian just doesn't eat meat and that's it.)
Now to the second point. Vegetarians will often say that they're "on the same page" as vegans, ethically. But seeing as being vegetarian is merely abstaining from eating flesh but still engaging in other violence towards animals, how could that possibly be the case? Being vegan is the rejection of ALL types of violence towards animals, not just one type of violence. Being told that you're "on the same page" as someone who simply doesn't eat flesh but accepts all other violence towards animals is not just incorrect, but also very annoying.
On the last point, vegansfeel a great deal of frustration about vegetarians who, no matter how you explain it to them, won't open their eyes to the abuses beyond the meat industry. You describe the abuses of dairy, eggs, etc, and point out that they're just as bad as those of the meat industry, but they outright refuse to recognise this.
So there's a sense of bewilderment that vegans have about vegetarians: vegetarians claim to be morally concerned about animals but insist on directly funding their abuse, and close their eyes and ears to the truth about the abuse of all other industries beyond the meat industry. Obviously this is not true of all vegetarians. Some, when made aware of the facts, will go vegan. But, unfortunately, the majority persist on remaining in denial.
I've come across many vegetarians who complain that omnivores don't "get it" when it comes to eating meat. They grumble that about the fact that omnivores don't care about animals because they consume animal flesh.
Meanwhile, they (the vegetarians) are not "getting it" with regards to other types of animal abuse beyond the consumption of flesh. And they don't like it when vegans point this out to them; therefore they complain about vegans.
It's bizarre really: vegetarians gripe about omnivores being blind to the truth and in denial and act in exactly the same manner when it comes to all animal-based products besides flesh. It's a serious case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Now, clearly not all vegetarians are like this. Some are honestly unaware of the abuse beyond the meat industry, and when made aware they will go vegan. But way too many vegetarians are of the ilk described before: as much in denial as omnivores, just with regards to different products...and complaining bitterly that vegans try to explain this to them.
Vegans aren't against humans. Vegans are for animal rights. And being for animal rights means you're against human wrongs - not against the humans themselves, just their wrong action.
I will answer that question with another question: why would anyone want another to live and let live if that person is inflicting terrible violence upon others? Because that’s what non-vegan consumerism is - the inflicting of terrible violence towards animals.
The fact is that no one would dare to spout live and let live as an excuse for abuse when it comes to violence towards humans - they only say it with regard to non-humans. I mean, imagine if someone said to you, “You shouldn’t be telling paedophiles that it’s wrong to rape children. I think you should live and let live”. I’m sure you’d be shocked and appalled at hearing such a thing. I’m sure your reply would run along the lines of, “Live and let live when such terrible harm is being done to a child? I don’t think so!”
Well, vegans feel the same way about harm towards animals - and that they are a different species matters to us not one bit. Vegans are as against violence towards animals as they are against violence towards children. Violence is violence no matter who the victim is.
Whenever someone gives me the live and let live routine regarding their supposed 'right' to abuse animals I tell them: "Not quite. Live and let live AS LONG AS it doesn't harm others". Because the idea behind live and let live isn’t wrong, it’s merely incomplete. Living as you please is just fine - as long as other beings aren’t harmed by the way you live.
Torture and killing is what non-vegan products are all about, so “respect my right to not be vegan” in real world terms means “respect my right to support the torture and killing of animals”.
So when you think about in the harsh light of reality, why should anyone in their right minds respect the so-called ‘right’ to torture and kill other beings?
Well, they don’t. Not at all.
In fact, that’s why they’re vegan in the first place: because they don’t see others as being below them. They don’t see non-human animals as less important or inferior simply because they are non-human. And they don’t see non-humans as mere things to be used and abused by humans.
In fact, let’s get real here: if anyone has a superiority complex, it’s those who think that abusing other animals and taking their lives is justifiable because they believe that it’s their right as humans to do so. That’s what I call thinking you’re above everyone else. Not veganism, which is based on the exact opposite thinking - that we are no better than any other being.
Caring about animals is not the only reason to go vegan.
Caring about your health is a good reason to go vegan. Results of a great many studies very clearly conclude that eating a plant-based (vegan) diet is much better for your health than consuming animal products. In fact, not only is eating animal products not as good as eating plant foods, it’s absolutely clear that animal products are detrimental to the human body.
Caring about the environment is a good reason to go vegan. Animal agriculture is one of the most destructive forces upon the environment - more to blame for environmental devastation than all the cars, motorbikes, planes, and trains put together. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that animal agriculture is an ecological disaster.
Caring about human poverty is a good reason to go vegan. Because producing meat, dairy, and eggs takes a huge amount of resources, it’s far more practical to grow plant-based foods. In fact, plant-based eating could realistically feed the entire world. Here's a quotation by David Pimentel (professor of ecology in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) to blow your mind: "If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million."
Caring about your children’s future is a good reason to go vegan. First, for the sake of your health and longevity: you presumably want to be around as long as possible for your kids and in as good health as possible too. And, second, for the sake of the planet: so that your children (and their children, and their children’s children, etc) actually have a planet to live on in the future.
Being a feminist is a good reason to go vegan. Any use of animals (whether for food, clothes, experimentation, or so-called ‘entertainment’) involves a degradation of the feminine. The female animals are treated as nothing more than baby-making machines who are disposed of (ie. killed) once they are no longer profitable. Part of feminism is rejecting the abuse of females, and veganism is the rejection of the abuse of ALL species of females. Going vegan is therefore putting all-inclusive feminism into practice.
Being spiritual is a good reason to go vegan. Directly funding in the torture of other sentient beings for any reason whatsoever can’t possibly be good for your spirit. Turning your back on the institutionalised torture of animals by living vegan is a way of embracing and expressing the spiritual interconnectedness of all beings.
Being religious is a good reason to go vegan. Honouring god’s creatures and causing those same creatures such terrible suffering are mutually exclusive. There is no way god approves of humans torturing and killing his beautiful non-human creations. And supporting that torture and killing does little good for your immortal soul.
So, as you can see, caring about animals is not the only reason to go vegan.
If you care about your health, veganism is for you. If you care about the environment, veganism is for you. If you care about reducing poverty, veganism is for you. If you are a parent, veganism is for you. If you are a feminist, veganism is for you. If you are spiritual, veganism is for you. If you are religious, veganism is for you.
Now, of course, if you care nothing about your health, care nothing for the environment, care nothing for the starving millions, care nothing for your children’s future, if you have no respect for the feminine, are not concerned about your spirit or your soul…then you truly have no reason to go vegan. (And if I were you, I’d find something to give a crap about because it seems that you care for nothing at all.)
A lot of people wonder why so many vegans advocate so passionately and relentlessly for veganism. They wonder: what’s in it for them? The answer is, for most vegans: absolutely nothing. Well, nothing besides a more peaceful world. But insofar as worldly gain, advocacy offers none for the average vegan.
I’ve had the misfortune of encountering a particular brand of vegan who has ego-based motives for their advocacy. They are attention-seeking narcissists who use advocacy to constantly draw the spotlight onto themselves. A rather sad state of affairs, but you get those types everywhere - not just among vegans.
Then there are some vegans who have vegan-based businesses, and who gain financially from more people becoming vegan. However, they’re just making a living like everyone else, so you can’t fault them for that. Besides which, all the vegan business owners I know really care about animals (that’s why they began a vegan business in the first place!).
But the average vegan who tirelessly advocates for animal liberation seeks neither to feed their ego nor to expand their business. They just do it because they don’t want animals to be harmed They’re against killing, they’re against abuse, and they want it to stop. That’s about the size of it for most of us. We do it because we care.
I'm vegan because it's the only thing that makes sense.
Let me explain:
If you say you're against animal abuse but are not vegan, you're abusing animals. And that makes no sense because what you're saying is the opposite of what you're doing. If a person is against animal abuse, the only thing that makes sense is for them to live vegan.
So that's why I'm vegan: I'm against animal abuse and therefore the only logical choice is for me is to not harm animals.
I'm for animal rights because I'm against human wrongs. What we do to animals is a disgrace. But the tide is turning, and eventually animal slavery will be considered as immoral as human slavery is. The question is: which side of history will YOU be on? Will you be on the side that defends animal slavery? Or will you be someone who defends animal rights? I urge you to be on the right side of history: go VEGAN!
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SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!
Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.
Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.
Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.
Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.
Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.
If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.
All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.