This wonderful life

Image by Jo-Anne McArthur / Djurattsalliansen

So often, I see fanciful claims that in causing our victims to exist by our self-interested contrivance and our brutal violation of their reproductive systems, we are generously bestowing a gift on them that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to enjoy; giving them the chance of a life.

This sometimes stems from utterly mistaken idea that their reproduction is a natural process and our use of their bodies is some kind of fire-fighting that’s needed to keep down numbers and prevent the human population from being overwhelmed, but let’s just be clear about this. The reproduction of our victims, like every other aspect of their existence, is very tightly controlled. Unless specifically required for ‘breeding’, and even if they are to die at a young age, males of most species are castrated (without anaesthetic); most insemination is a violent, terrifying and intrusive process inflicted artificially by humans, and at no time are males and females permitted to be together unless they are required to copulate to produce a new generation of commercial resources for the industry.

The practice we know as ‘farming’ and are encouraged to think of as benign and bucolic, is in fact the creating and maintaining of a massive population of defenceless individuals for the purpose of using them to death and/or selling their corpses and body parts. It takes place because shoppers demand breast-milk, eggs and body parts.

When I hear fantasies about how a meagre existence as a resource is some wonderful gift that our victims would otherwise not enjoy, I think of the 75 billions each year of innocent young individuals whose violent, slaughterhouse deaths are timed to meet consumer demand for their corpses, for their breast milk, for their eggs, skins and body parts. Reduced to commodities, without rights or respect, nameless and unloved, they are regarded as no more than cogs in a wheel, the measured moments of their existence commercially calculated, financially optimised well in advance of the reproductive violation that conceives them.

This is not life. 

We impose an existence to be endured for our self interest, but it is not ‘life’ or any kind of ‘gift’.

For ourselves we all know that life is so much more than the measure of time, the breath moving in our lungs and a clock ticking down until we die.

Think of it, this one precious life that each of us has, its length unknown, into which we must fit all of our experiences, our achievements, our times of happiness and joy, our bonds with family and friends, the loves of our lives and the griefs of parting and loss. We each cling to life, desperate not to miss a single moment, grieving when our close ones can no longer walk alongside us on our path, hoarding our glittering memories of the good times, so that we may take them out and remember them once again in times of solitude or sadness. It is impossible to place a value on how much our lives mean to us. Each life is beyond price, beyond measurement. It means everything to each of us, as too, do the lives of our children, our partners, our friends. Without life, we have nothing.

We are not unique, this is part of our sentience, of our self awareness, of the way we relate to the world through our senses and our relationships with others. Each one of us is the same, and when a life is taken that we have no need or reason to take, we have no word that expresses the enormity of our outrage.

Yet every nonvegan choice is a decision to take life from another individual who values that life every bit as much as we each do. We do it casually through our choices as consumers, while claiming that we care for our helpless victims to shield us from the truth of our brutality. We excuse ourselves with a smile and a shrug. They’re not like us. It’s okay. Everyone does it. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.

But we are lying to ourselves. We all know that difference alone is no justification for needless harm.  And it IS needless. We can thrive without doing it, a fact we stubbornly refuse to acknowledge.

To truly value and respect life is to refuse to continue using the lives and bodies of defenceless mothers, fathers, infants, friends of other species. The ONLY way we can recognise and respect their right to life as we understand it, is to be vegan.

Why not start today?

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6 Responses to This wonderful life

  1. Pingback: Veganism; ‘strict’ or ‘simple’ – a matter of perspective | There's an Elephant in the Room blog

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