Life itself is considered by many – if not most – humans to be the greatest gift there is, referred to as such by poets and writers throughout history. Even those of us who have no religious beliefs, consider that being alive to greet each new day, living life with all its joys and sorrows, with friends, family, and the limitless potential that it offers us, is absolutely wonderful and each of us values that life beyond words. The flip side is that we also consider premature death, whether by illness, by accident or by some other method of killing, to be an utter tragedy. As long as we’re talking about humans, that is.
For those who are not human, well, it’s a completely different story.
Despite the fact that those whom we persecute are sentient and so in every relevant respect are exactly like ourselves, we have been raised in a society where myths of superiority as well as flawed and mistaken tales of entitlement and necessity are fed to us from earliest childhood. By the time we reach adulthood, our learned behaviour has rendered our victims all but invisible to us, despite often repeated – and sincerely believed – claims to ‘love animals’. Our ‘love’ however, whilst we treat certain species as ‘pets’, stops abruptly short of those members of other species whom we use; those helpless, blameless, powerless ones who are our victims.
What do we want? When do we want it?
If we are completely honest, and if we consider them at all, we look upon the lives of our victims, not as a joyful expression of individual potential, but rather as an inconvenient preliminary to the main events that interest us.
What we really require is for our victims to be sufficiently mature to reproduce so that we may take for ourselves as a resource, the physical consequences of our manipulation of their helpless bodies; their milk, their eggs, even their adored babies themselves.
What we really require is for them to be dead so that we may flay them and devour their pitiful remains as recipe ingredients; so that we can use their skins, their fur, wool and feathers to ornament ourselves, our furnishings, our homes.
What we really require is for them to be well hidden from our sight and hearing so that we are not inconvenienced by their screams of agony, by their mute pleas and helpless terror while they die piece by piece, caged and pinioned in our laboratories and testing establishments for our toiletries and chemicals.
What we really require is for the substances and services derived from these processes to be cheap, plentiful and delivered in a sanitised way that does not confront or challenge our awareness.
Need I go on? It sounds shocking in those terms but nonetheless it is true. To these ends, as nonvegan consumers, we endorse and support the selective breeding that shortens inconvenient preliminaries as far as is possible, or that favours whichever physical attributes most suit our intended use. We are content to call it ‘farming‘. It’s a good, sound, socially acceptable word that we don’t examine critically.
Love and hurt
Nevertheless, as we have been taught to believe that our actions constitute ‘loving animals’, we reassure ourselves and each other that we all oppose ‘cruelty’ and we bandy about the word ‘humane’ like a talisman that grants a free pass into the ‘animal lover’ club. In fact, few of us have the stomach to look into the facts of the animal use that our consumer demands necessitate, and those who do are forever changed by the knowledge.
However – and here’s a thing that really needs to be said. As long as the fundamental brutality of our repeated manipulation of their reproductive processes, as long the obscenity of inflicting premature death on uncounted billions every year, continue to be the main events that our consumer choices demand, a way will continue to be found to justify any and every atrocity that is committed on our victims while they are awaiting that event.
Why is this? Because for humans, as I have mentioned, we consider death to be the ultimate tragedy. If, therefore, we have so compartmentalised other species that we consider it perfectly acceptable to inflict this on gentle, innocent, blameless young individuals for absolutely no valid reason, then there is no way that we will ever consider that any other of our actions leading to this, are equally serious and deserving of censorship. In fact, one argument in favour of exploitation even goes so far as to claim that by causing our victims to be born, we are somehow conferring on them the gift of life and thus doing them a kindness. It’s hard to know where to start with that.
What makes life worth living?
For our victims, every single one exists on death row from the day they are born. Their lives, while they await execution for the crime of not being human, are so far from the lives of potential that we expect for ourselves that it defies belief. And as all our use of other individuals is unnecessary, any concern we claim, bears no critical scrutiny while we continue to participate in the very behaviours that are causing the horrors that we claim to wish to alleviate.
Only veganism recognises the right of every individual to own their life and to live it as the gift of limitless potential that it should be, that it deserves to be. We have no right, no need and no justification to deny this gift to any other individual. Realising this, and becoming vegan are one and the same thing.
After a lifetime of cultural conditioning, being honest with ourselves is not an easy thing, but the rewards are beyond what we could ever expect. Our entire view of life shifts on its axis, and we forever view the world through a different lens. Each of us discovers this on the day we become vegan. Be vegan. Be vegan today.