As the New Year bells continue to sound the death knell for so many billions of sweet and gentle individuals whom we would have loved if only we had known them, let’s spare a few moments to look at where we’ve been and at the road that lies ahead.
We all make resolutions as the new year approaches – some with more commitment than others. We may decide to eat less, exercise more, stop smoking or stop drinking, be less wasteful; mostly, New Year resolutions concern things we know we should have been doing already, and we resolve to try a bit harder and not give in to the tendency we all have to take the easy way out, to cheat, to resist change, to indulge ourselves.
So here’s a thing. Almost every one of us claims to care about animals, and when we are not vegan, we know very well – or at least we strongly suspect – that our actions cause them harm. This feeling of discomfort, which we prefer should remain as vague as possible, is why the industries that sell the lives and bodies of our victims, and their powerful allies who claim to promote animal ‘welfare’, have been able to create their lucrative webs of deceit. This deception, reinforced by almost ceaseless media coverage, promotes the ludicrous idea that there are ‘acceptable’, ‘compassionate’ ways to take the lives of those who desperately want to live, and this façade of industrial concern is sufficient to assuage the feelings of discomfort that – let’s be honest – none of us is too eager to examine in detail.
These myths about ‘humane exploitation’ are targeted squarely at the caring consumer, and are highly profitable only because so few of us actually want to cause harm. In fact the reverse is true; we will actively seek ways to mitigate what we have been taught to view as a ‘necessary evil’. However, once we realise that using the lives and bodies of others for any reason is completely unnecessary, we must surely ask ourselves what our ‘necessary evil’ has become?
It might be thought that a vegan New Year resolution is different from most, in that at first glance it doesn’t seem to be about us at all, but rather is targeted at benefiting our nonhuman kin. Well, as I mentioned earlier, resolutions are mostly about things we know we should have been doing all along and the decision to be vegan is simply making our words and thoughts real by living in line with them. In other words, the decision to be vegan is doing what we know we should have been doing all along. Indeed even many of us who are not vegan sincerely believe that we already do live our lives that way and are quick to declare that we would not wish to cause harm to the helpless.
However when we say we care for individuals of other species, when we say we respect their lives, when we say we don’t believe in causing unnecessary harm to the vulnerable but are not vegan, these are simply nice-sounding but ultimately empty and meaningless words.
So as the old year draws to a close, let’s be mindful of the many billions of powerless, gentle individuals who have sobbed, whimpered and begged in vain for their unique and precious lives in farms and slaughterhouses across the world and those others who are doing so at this very moment of writing. Let’s not forget that every nonvegan consumer choice is an active decision to harm someone who is powerless to prevent our use of their body and our theft of their life.
In the coming year, I would ask anyone who is not vegan to check out the wealth of links and information they will find elsewhere on this blog, then follow it up with research of your own. Resolve to make this the last year that your own consumer choices support and participate in the orgy of violence that is an inherent part of using helpless and innocent individuals as resources and commodities.
And in the new year, if we are already vegan, let’s all resolve to take heart from the knowledge that we are not alone even although it can sometimes feel that way. In a pitiless and violent world it is comforting to realise that there are many others who share our commitment to justice and nonviolence, and it is encouraging to know that our numbers are growing each day.
As we move into this new year with its symbolic opportunities for renewal, a fresh start, let’s resolve anew to speak out about veganism with honesty and sincerity at every opportunity. Let’s use whatever talents and skills we can muster to spread the vegan message. Let’s commit ourselves to keep advocating veganism and absolutely nothing less.
Humanity’s billions of victims are looking to us to speak on their behalf. They are utterly dependent on our clear and unequivocal message. If we don’t fight for them – who will?
Have a very vegan new year.