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Posts Tagged ‘Animal Exploitation’

Have you seen the terror on the face of a child lost in a crowded store? Have you seen the heartache on the face of a gorilla or lioness or elephant whose baby has died? Have you seen the fear or bewilderment on the face of an injured monkey or squirrel or pigeon or a lost or abandoned dog or cat or a cow or pig or chicken being transported for slaughter? Have you seen the mother whale repeatedly lifting their dead calf to the surface in hope of revival? Have you empathized with any of these people and other animals? I’m sure you have in some way at some time.

And since you have, you already possess the capacity to understand an individual’s desire to live a peaceful life and to avoid taking advantage of others in any way whatsoever. You should know how urgent and important and good it is to care for others. And so it follows, that we all have a moral obligation to be Vegan in our lives to the greatest possible extent. It’s not just a “diet”. Being Vegan is a rejection of violence, an embrace of justice, and a representation of caring. Please, for the peace of the planet, commit to living a life of peace by becoming Vegan. And explain it to others.

 

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***** No graphic content *****

I can’t help getting irritated when I see the term Vegetarian, especially used to describe a person, business, menu item, recipe, etc. because there is always the implied suggestion that being “meatless” is all that is required to “be healthier” or to “help animals”… as if that is somehow morally acceptable.

I don’t mean to sound accusing by any means because it’s a misunderstanding most Vegetarians make and live with by what they eat, wear, and use in their lives. But sadly, these actions very negatively impact billions of innocent nonhuman animals, including fish, every year. I too, at one time, was just as ignorant of the injustice and horrific misery involved in using animals for their secretions. And I wasted ten long years in that condition. When I finally awoke to Veganism, and through Professor Gary L. Francione to Abolitionist Veganism, my entire world view changed completely and forever. I encourage you to read Professor Francione’s work, which may be found in his books, searchable essays, audio, and video content at http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/

And if by chance you’ve been of the understanding there is a “humane” way to produce food and other products from animals or their secretions, I can assure you after much research, there is not! I strongly encourage you to read the related post (and its associated links) from Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, entitled “The Faces of ‘Free Range’ Farming.” They are, so far as I am aware, the *only* farm animal sanctuary who also serves effectively as a preeminent source of Vegan education.

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I dreamt a most vivid and sad dream. A light overcast sky. A vast, clear, open, green grassland and on the far side, a hill running the width of the horizon. Sitting quietly, confidently in the middle of the distant hill, a gigantic obscure figure, an animal resembling a bull or a bear possibly, I could not tell. And sitting beside this mysterious being, way down near the ground, a fraction of the size, I am zoomed in like tunnel vision on my little Michael peacefully washing his face, stopping briefly to look around his immediate space. I am filled with an overwhelming sadness for he does not see me and I cannot speak to him. And then I am zoomed away. And he is left in the far distance. And I cry.

I had this dream a few weeks after little Michael passed away last January. I have relived it numerous times in my waking hours since, including today. Coincidentally, I just realized at this writing, today is the first anniversary of his diagnosis of Lymphoma. He was a dear loving little heart and I miss him terribly.

This is the first post in my “Pets as Refugees” Category. Over time there will be others illustrating the connection between the Institution of Pets, an apt term borrowed from Professor Gary L. Francione, and animal exploitation. Briefly, due to our manipulation of animals we refer to as “Pets”, we have caused to come into existence totally unnatural, completely dependent beings that are bought and sold like slaves. Millions of these innocent creatures end up on the streets of urban centres around the world where they are subject to disease, abuse, uncontrolled reproduction and live short, difficult, incredibly sad lives. Many more millions are dumped in shelters where they are routinely killed for lack of adoptive guardians or institutional monetary means of support. A relatively small number are lucky to find loving homes to live out there lives in “peace”. Michael’s tragic demise was the culmination of almost fourteen years of relative peace after approximately two years of life as a “stray”. We humans owe all existing “companion animals” our diligent care while at the same time not encouraging any more. They do not deserve such a tenuous path.

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I was raised an omnivore. When I went Vegetarian I, like most other Vegetarians I observe today, thought I was “doing my part” to help animals – lots more than anyone else I knew. I figured I don’t eat meat anymore, I’m making a real statement! But without a second thought I continued to eat eggs, not too often though. They’re very high in cholesterol – not very healthy, right?. And I loved pizza with cheese. I knew it was loaded with saturated fat but hey, it tasted so good. Once in a while can’t be all that bad eh? I went happily about my life wearing leather shoes and using products made with and routinely tested on animals in horrific ways. I was raised ignorant and I continued to be blissfully ignorant. But my conscience was clear. Now, I was helping animals because I didn’t eat them. I was saving animal lives! It made me feel kinda good.

Well during that whole period I knew no other Vegetarians. I was not an animal rights activist by any stretch of the imagination. My initial motivations after all, probably had more to do with reducing saturated fat in my diet than any real awareness of the ethical issues. And without the internet, I had no familiarity with the horrors associated with eggs or dairy or the products made with them and so “understandably” I really didn’t give morality a second thought.

But then I came into contact with someone who said they were Vegan. I’d never heard the term before. A decent seeming person, though their grilling of waiters or waitresses over whether their meals had eggs or dairy in them appeared a little excessive at the time. And I remember their non-leather shoes were not particularly fashionable and though they didn’t have a problem with foot odour, I always imagined their shoes were hot and sweaty because only leather could “breathe”, right? (Of course today, there are all kinds of fashionable, breathable, non-leather products available to consumers.) But my most vivid recollection of this person’s Veganism was that to me and others, they were very subdued about it. Maybe they just didn’t want to “push too hard” or come off as “preachy”. But there was never any discussion about animal exploitation or cruelty or whether animals can feel pain, or shifting paradigms… nothing. They probably had never heard the term “Abolition”. Coincidentally, I do recall they made donations to a group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I thought that was probably good of them to support an organization that was looking out for animals’ welfare because surely no one should be going around hurting cats or dogs, right? I mean they’re so cute! [Of course I now suspect this person was probably lulled into that false sense of security that Peta and other Welfarist orgs are so good at dishing up to their supporters in their almost endless stream of direct mailed, funding raising literature – “Send us money – for this or that cause of the month – and we’ll make sure animals aren’t abused”.]

And so went my (Vegetarian) ignorance… for another 10 years! No one helped me to understand that much like my Omnivore lifestyle, my Vegetarianism was still responsible for phenomenal pain and suffering. Or that in fact egg and dairy production involves even more prolonged suffering than that associated with the eating of meat alone! It would be another 10 long years until my light bulb moment and the flood of personal research that followed quickly, the details of which are irrelevant to my point here. That point being, if someone… anyone!… had the courage of conviction to speak to me more illustratively, more passionately about Veganism and especially about its relative Abolitionist theory I feel sure, knowing what I have learned up to today, that I would have embraced Veganism and Abolitionism much, much sooner! And the double benefit is I would probably have passed on that knowledge and influence to many others in the interim.

And so, I see it somewhat differently than some “quiet” Vegans. I don’t think flattery, forgiving, or tolerance has anything to do with a Vegan message. I do feel Vegetarians, like anyone else including nonhuman animals by the way, deserve respect! But since I have lived the life of an uninformed, disconnected Vegetarian, I feel the most urgent and important duty of a Vegan is to inform… politely, yes, but clearly and consistently inform. We do ALL animals a grave injustice when, given any reasonable opportunity, we do not at least make sure a Vegetarian is fully informed about how much more they could be doing to eliminate animal suffering… and how easy it is. We are not here to force anyone to walk in our foot steps. We should be here to beat down the path whenever and wherever we can.

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The term Vegetarian by its popular & commonly accepted meaning is one who does not eat meat, but who also does not avoid dairy & eggs.

People who become Vegetarian do so for their own reasons, which may include health and/or ethical reasons. Each of these reasons are severely problematic for one who is Vegetarian. One would be hard pressed to find anyone in modern medicine or the alternative health community who does not agree eggs and dairy consumption are related to a whole host of disease. And since it is a fact that billions of nonhuman animals continue to suffer producing eggs and dairy, there is no ethical justification to be Vegetarian. A lack of clear understanding, therefore, still exists for Vegetarians.

It is my strongly held opinion now, since embracing the Vegan ethic, that if one truly feels animal exploitation is wrong (and unhealthy), they should NOT EVER suggest that being Vegetarian is a morally acceptable behaviour nor “a good step”.

Bottom line: It is up to the individual to make the decisions that affect their behaviour. The best I, or anyone else, can do as a Vegan is present the facts and encourage Veganism as the right behaviour. It would go against my entire belief system (which is basically the Vegan ethic), to do anything otherwise.

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