Recently I saw a number of articles, images and videos that I found deeply moving.
• A dairy cow with severe head trauma had been thrown into a dumpster to die. She was standing, face bloodied, hunched in agony, looking at the camera.
• A cow of a breed commonly used for their dead flesh had escaped to live with a herd of wild bison. She had died of stress on being recaptured to be taken to a slaughterhouse to be killed.
• A pig adopted as a pet from an organisation that had rescued and nursed her back to health, was killed and eaten by her adopters, rather than being returned to the rescue organisation for rehoming.
• 48 roosters were handed over to an SPCA, defenceless individuals for whom places had been found with rescuers. Instead of releasing these 48 roosters to the homes that were ready and waiting for them, the SPCA had every one of them killed.
Now each of these stories provoked fury in the media and online. If asked to explain why these actions provoke such outrage, such anger and howls for vengeance, the majority of those people would say that they were distressed and furious because the acts were so completely pointless; they were so absolutely unnecessary; they were such blatant ‘cruelty’ to innocent and vulnerable individuals who were powerless to defend themselves. And they’d be absolutely correct, I can’t find much to dispute about that sentiment.
But the thing that is most significant in all of this outpouring of shock and grief and vitriol is that the vast majority of those expressing it weren’t vegan. So how is this relevant?
We’re talking about cows, a pig and some roosters.
They were needing to be rescued from people who consider themselves to be ordinary, decent and ethical. In fact, these tragic individuals who won hearts and minds wherever their pitiful tales were told, were in those situations where they were broken, and injured, and unwanted; positions of needing to be rescued, from the very same people who were expressing outrage and fury about what had happened to them. Their demand as shoppers were why their victims were in these vulnerable situations. There’s a desperate (and circular) irony here where the same ones who cause a problem, complain about the problem and howl for punishment to be done to those who are causing the problem.
ALL of our use of the lives, bodies and reproductive systems of others, like the acts in the tales at the top of the page, is absolutely unnecessary. Because it’s unnecessary it’s the deepest injustice imaginable, committed against innocent and vulnerable individuals who are powerless to defend themselves.
When we are not vegan, WE are the ones whose demands as consumers are directly responsible for each of these tragic tales. We probably think of ourselves as ordinary, decent and ethical – quite different from those we point fingers at and think of as ‘monsters’. But what we do need to do, is make the connection between those desperate creatures whose stories we hear, whose plight moves us to stand strong in their defence; and those whose systematic, normalised, horrific but equally unnecessary torment is conducted behind closed doors to meet our demands at the checkouts for their body parts, breast milk and eggs.
If we are not vegan, it’s not ‘other people’ who are responsible for the horror. WE are the ones who are responsible. And the huge irony in all of this is that when we are confronted with the reality of what we are doing, we struggle to comprehend the truth because in our own minds, our fictional narrative has convinced us that we are the kind of people who would never cause deliberate harm.
Think about it. Join the dots. Becoming vegan means that no one ever needs to be rescued from us again. Be vegan.