Users and losers – looking at ‘exploitation’

unnamed (1)Originally published 1 September 2015, updated 22 January 2019

The word ‘exploitation’ is frequently used in connection with our behaviour towards other animal species. Like many others, ‘exploitation’ is a word we seem to save specially for this circumstance, perhaps without truly considering its meaning. However almost every one of us is familiar with the word ‘user’ which is more commonly used but means the same.

User: – A person who uses something or someone selfishly or unethically. A person who exploits others.

How many of us have personal and unforgettable experience of being ‘used’ in some way or another? Quite a few, I expect. Even more of us have sympathised with, comforted or supported other people who have experienced a using at the hands of others. Few of us are in any doubt that this word describes behaviour that is beneath contempt; as the using frequently involves a betrayal of trust, with subsequent humiliation and degradation.

Is it harmful to use someone?

So would we always consider using someone to be unacceptable, or are there possible exceptions?  For example, how about if we think someone is less intelligent than we are, or if they look different from us, or if we can physically overpower them – would it be okay then? What about if they are too innocent to realise what is being done, or maybe they don’t speak the same language as us? What about if we were to claim we don’t know what they want, or if we pretend they don’t mind being used?

Our instinct is most likely to say a very shocked ‘no’ to all of the above when we consider a human in the role of ‘someone’. We’d all think any of those were despicable. To use someone is to put our own interests before theirs, whatever the physical, emotional or spiritual cost to them may be. If anything, we all tend to look on using as even worse if the individual being used is young, innocent, vulnerable and defenceless.

Change the species

Now go back and think about the previous paragraph from the perspective of one of our victims; a cow or a sheep, a hen or a duck or a pig.  What does it say about us if, when we substitute an individual of another species in the role of ‘someone’, our responses change?  This is, in fact, a clear illustration of our own speciesism and it is not an admirable quality.

It is a science-based fact that human animals have no need to consume or use in any way the bodies, the reproductive processes or the lives of other animal species. Every single use that we make of others puts our own interests before theirs, whatever the physical, emotional or spiritual cost to them may be. Perpetrated on thinking, feeling creatures who value their lives, our using is as inherently brutal as it is unnecessary.

However, when we’re not vegan, we are undoubtedly ‘users’ in every one of the contexts described above.  And our innocent and defenceless victims are the losers. Every time. They lose absolutely everything, because we take it all.

In fact there are millions of them, trembling with fear and horror at this very moment, overwhelmed with desperation as they wait their turn in our slaughterhouses everywhere; millions bleeding to death in terror, out of the tens of billions who will take their place this year alone.

A frenzy of using

We use their dead flesh. We use their flayed skins and their shaved and plucked body coverings. We have selectively bred and genetically altered defenceless hens  into bodies that self destruct so we can use their eggs. Having selectively bred many species to produce unnatural quatities of breast milk, we take infants from their mothers so we can breast feed in their place. We use their labour.  We use their lives; their only, treasured and irreplaceable lives. We take from them every single thing that they value; the same things we consider valuable in our own lives; friends, family, the right not to be owned. And what’s more, we do it needlessly without any valid justification whatsoever.

Most of us were raised to be practised in the art of self-deception, accustomed to using members of other animal species for the flimsiest of fabricated reasons that we somehow never challenged, clinging to our frankly delusional fantasies of being ‘animal lovers’ as a front for the real slaughterhouse-tainted horror that goes on behind the scenes, day in, day out. We even go through elaborate pretences to try to claim that there are ‘humane’ ways that we can be users; making up all sorts of ludicrous rules and myths about how using our needless victims to death can be done ‘nicely’.

The day that we approach a mirror with honesty in our heart is not an easy day for any of us. None of us likes looking in a mirror and seeing a user looking back at them. However once we see that user, we realise that the only way we can live with ourselves is to stop being that person. Being vegan means we start to live in line with the values we have always claimed to hold; we stop harming and betraying, we stop making victims out of every other species; we stop being users.

Be vegan.

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11 Responses to Users and losers – looking at ‘exploitation’

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  7. cushpigsmum says:

    All of my family except two of my sons, who went vegan shortly after I did, are animal users. Being with them – brothers, mother, nieces – gets increasingly painful for me. Somehow they always manage to talk about food. Yesterday it was my Mum telling me the B&B my brothers stayed at in Southsea recently was run by a Muslim couple and so there was no bacon or pork sausages. Why would my mother feel that this was something her vegan daughter would like to hear about? She hurts me so much these days with these kinds of insensitive remarks. And yet she donates money to help abused donkeys and pet dogs and cats. She’s old and I don’t want to upset her, but it upsets me enormously to see cow’s milk in her fridge, cheese and eggs, and her freezer is a horrible sight – body parts everywhere. Makes me sick looking in there. Everyone on this planet except vegans are animal users of some kind, wilfully so, obstinately persistent in continuing to be.
    Even when we don’t mean to, vegans shame and guilt trip people because their consciences prick them about all of this and they dislike us for making them confront that.

    Thanks for writing this. I have shared it everywhere I can!


  8. Shannon says:

    I’m careful to select words in describing people’s action onto others, but ‘user’ is a good one. ‘One who exploits’ isn’t direct enough since it passes the buck to someone else (who does the exploiting or killing for us). If a person partakes in flesh/excretions unnecessarily, then he is, by definition, a user. Great post.


  9. It was not my intention to be confrontational, but rather to be simply honest. Being honest and truthful is the least any of us can do when speaking in defence of humanity’s victims. Thank you as always for the feedback and support.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Spunky Bunny says:

    Wonderful article! Most nonvegans will be offended though… as they can’t handle being told the truth about their behavior. They will point an angry finger and whine, “Stop judging me!”. To call them out on the fact that they are being “users” takes a lot of guts. Do it to their face and you may have made an enemy. They get upset with vegans for pointing out the suffering, rather than getting upset with themselves for causing it.

    Few people have the strength of character to admit when they are wrong. The people who do, become vegans. I am troubled by vegan activism that tiptoes around corpse-eaters in fear of offending them. This article tells the truth without mincing words. Keep up the good work! (I just hope articles like this are actually read by corpse-eaters and not just people who are already vegan…..)

    Liked by 1 person

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