Choices, choices

cowAs this is a vegan page, I’m assuming that you have concern for animals. I also expect that you do not like to think of them suffering and that you would like to do something to alleviate any suffering they may experience. So far, I hope I’ve not lost anyone.

Imagine that you are given a number of choices.

  1. Sign petitions against the use of fur/ the killing of dolphins/ the consumption of animals that you consider to be ‘pets’, in countries other than your own;
  2. Write to national TV stations explaining why they should not air cooking shows promoting veal/ foie gras;
  3. Send emails to protest against battery farming of chickens/ factory farming/ live transport conditions;
  4. Write letters of opposition to planning applications by companies proposing to build facilities to breed animals for chemical and drug testing;
  5. Write to politicians to demand that they support bans on fox hunting/ badger/ wolf/ seal culling;
  6. Spend an hour each day signing petitions against individuals and organisations calling for punishment for ‘animal abuse’;
  7. Share numerous petitions, asking all friends and acquaintances to help out by signing and sharing;
  8. Donate to organisations that profess to have concern for ‘animal welfare’ and need your money to make more videos showing ‘cruelty’;
  9. Participate in ‘meat-free Mondays’;
  10. Eat a vegetarian diet.

I expect some readers are going through the list, mentally ticking and adding new points….

Please let me tell you a bit about me. For as long as I can remember, I have had ‘concern for animals’. No one who has ever known me would ever deny my outspoken criticism of ‘cruelty to animals’; my misery and despair at the outrages that were perpetrated without justification upon them.

So would you like to guess which one(s) I chose? Yes, you’re right, I chose them allliving it 24/7,  racking my brains to come up with eloquent and effective ways to communicate my condemnation.

A wake-up call

Then, one day, I came across a site on newly-discovered ‘Facebook’ that spelled out the truth about the dairy and egg ‘industries’. This site declared that there was no moral difference between one type of unnecessary use of other sentient individuals and any other type of unnecessary use, that all caused suffering and death. This site gave me a new choice.

So first of all, how did I know it was the truth? I think we all know the truth when we encounter it, even when it is unpleasant and not what we want to know. It was a slap in the face, a bucket of cold water and a wake up call for me. I had thought myself so ethical, so clever, so enlightened and moral. But all of that was swept away in an instant, and I felt all the more of a fool for having had such a high opinion of myself.  And what was the new choice?  It was:

  1. Be vegan and educate others about veganism.

Just one choice. It was on its own. There was no lengthy list of alternatives.


Laid out before me in the harsh spotlight of a new understanding were all the ‘actions’ I had taken, all the moral high ground I had thought I was occupying. As I sat there in my leather boots, wearing my woollen sweater and silk scarf, with my fridge packed with free range, welfare approved, organic, dismembered carcasses which now seemed to me to be more akin to corpses, cadavers, than the euphemisms I had been taught. That same fridge now recognised as harbouring eggs and dairy products that reeked of uncounted deaths that in my ignorance I had told myself were not part of the production process.

And I wept. And when I stopped, I became vegan and I shall always be vegan.


Anyone who is vegan will have their own version of this tale, but the general outline will probably be quite similar. My awakening occurred in 2012 and not a day has passed since then, that I have not thought back to it, and resolved anew to do everything I can think of to encourage others not to make the same mistakes I made.

The general view of society is that it is:

  • necessary to use and consume the bodies of other sentient individuals;
  • our right to ‘own’ the lives of other sentient individuals, bringing them into the world solely to be used as our resources, ingredients and commodities;
  • our entitlement as some kind of ‘superior beings’ to put our own convenience first and disregard the harm done to satisfy our indulgence.

The key thing, the one that that causes me the most distress, is that although the list of actions at the start of this post is long and varied, the sum total of their lasting effect on the view of animals as property, a view shared by most of our society, was zero.

On the other hand, it was undeniably clear to me that becoming vegan instantly aligned my actions with the person that I had thought I was all along – but obviously wasn’t. Suddenly there were no more ‘necessary evils’ to be glossed over, there was only being true to myself.

Why did it take me so long?

If veganism was ever mentioned by groups seeking donations, it was at the end of the list of ‘things you can do’, or else it was in the small print as an optional extra. I didn’t notice it at the time and have since gone back to look.  Human nature being what it is – and this is not criticism, it’s simply casting my memory back – when presented with a list of options, we all tend to choose the ones that will cause us least inconvenience.  This is particularly true when the list is offered in a way that suggests that any or all of the options would be a great help, would be ‘doing something useful’.

What these other ‘actions’ that I undertook so diligently actually did, in my own case and in the case of almost everyone I have discussed the matter with, was to make me feel that I was ‘involved in activism’. In short, participating in these actions reassured me that I was being effective and ethical.  But more dangerously, by keeping me focused on how humanity’s victims were being treated, they fed my complacency and actually prevented me from taking the necessary step back and asking  the more honest question which is why we had victims in the first place.

I still find it incredible that I actually thought that I was doing the right thing, pointing a finger of blame in so many directions while failing to recognise the trail of blood I was leaving in my own wake, but this memory is why I no longer support or promote single issue campaigns or petitions.

There is only one course of action really tackles the roots of our speciesism. Only one course of action challenges the myths we were taught as infants about ”needing’ to eat animals, ‘and-while-we’re-doing-that-we-may-as-well-use-their-body-parts-because-it’s-not-respectful-to-waste-them”. There is only one action that works – not to regulate the torture that we inflict on those who cannot defend themselves against our brutality – but to end their torture altogether.

That course of action is to become vegan and educate others about veganism. If you are not vegan, find out about veganism here:

Be vegan


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8 Responses to Choices, choices

  1. Pingback: Choices, Choices | Our Compass

  2. Meera says:

    Beautifully written


  3. lisainaz says:

    This is wonderful and I agree with you completely. In fact I just wrote a post called “Noone says it better than Gary Francione”. Keep these excellent posts coming!


  4. Thank you all for the great feedback, and for sharing this post so widely. We have a huge battle on our hands, albeit a nonviolent one, but with honesty and truth on our side we are making progress. As we must. So many billions of lives are depending on us all.


  5. Keith Berger says:

    Another wonderfully eloquent, insightful and persuasive message about the ineffectiveness and counter-productivity of welfarism and single-issue campaigns. Thank you for all that you do!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jonathan Martin says:

    Thank-you, Elephant, for another insightful discussion. Your blogs seem to serendipitously appear just when the weight of the non-Vegan world (including SICs) is becoming hard to bear. What seems to us (in hindsight!) so obvious, so ridiculously clear, is surprisingly difficult to grasp, in no small part due to the calculated deceptions of animal welfarists… I believe a wise person once said that “there is Veganism and there is animal exploitation; there is no third choice”.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Spunky Bunny says:

    Wonderful post! Promoting veganism is the only way to help ALL animals. My favorite part of your post is when you said, “…our entitlement as some kind of ‘superior beings’ to put our own convenience first and disregard the harm done to satisfy our indulgence.” Superior beings would not enslave, torture, exploit, and murder trillions of other innocent, living, sentient beings. The human race is insane…. and evil.

    Liked by 1 person

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