Today I find myself reminiscing, mentally retracing paths of the clouded past, trying to find the point at which I lost the warm feeling of kinship with all other species of animal that so many of us experience in childhood. We are unaware that from our earliest years, our thoughts about other animals are distorted and manipulated by others. Our carers or parents who generally begin this indoctrination, no doubt have good intentions, repeating the lessons and the misinformation that they were taught in their own childhood days and as a parent, I’m ashamed to say that I can attest to the truth of this.
When we are children, we are encouraged to believe that we ‘love animals’ of every species, and most of us do care about them with an innocent admiration that is reflected in our favourite cuddly toys, in the children’s stories that we love to hear, the TV and films that we watch, and even in the cute images on our clothes and other possessions. This is true even to the extent that violence or antagonism towards other animals in any young person is regarded as suggesting that they may have psychological issues requiring further investigation.
Yet while we grow, usually without our knowledge and always without our full understanding, we are literally spoon-fed the dead flesh, the breast-milk and the eggs of these same beloved creatures whom we think of as our friends. We are given their skins to wear as clothing, are cleaned with substances containing body parts and fluids and were tested on agonised, terrified bodies; are taken to be ‘entertained’ in places where the once proud and beautiful are incarcerated, subjugated and humiliated. As children, we accept all this in trust, each of us looking to adults to guide us into appropriate behaviour.
As we mature, most of us retain our admiration for dogs and cats, sometimes one or two other species. However, the species that we have learned to use and consume, fade into a no-man’s land where consideration of them as the individuals they are, seldom if ever crosses our minds.
By the time we are adults we have become completely indoctrinated into the culturally accepted system of systematic violence, oppression and brutality that collectively represents nonveganism, and we no longer even consider questioning the source of the bodily remains that we buy, or the mechanisms by which those substances arrive in the shops to meet our demands as consumers. We learn to repeat words like ‘humane’ and ‘welfare’ but for most of us, they are only buzzwords and we have no knowledge at all of the reality behind them; have only the false images portrayed in the media by those who make money from harm and death, quietly profiting from our ignorance.
But I love animals
The tragedy of all this, is that almost every single one of us still claims to care about animals. Many of us sincerely believe, not only that we care, but also that our behaviour reflects that concern. We cling to this idea, oblivious (and very often determined to stay that way) to the reality of what we are demanding as consumers of torment and death. We carry on living in the child’s fantasy of our infant years where our victims are ‘happy’ and ‘willing’ or else that they are inanimate objects without minds or thoughts. What we almost never do, is acknowledge what science has proved;
- that our victims are sentient individuals who are just like ourselves in every way that matters, individuals whose lives matter to them and who most desperately do not want to die; and
- that our species has no nutritional or other need for the bloodbath that is occurring in our name.
Sometimes when challenged about our use of our victims, even as adults we take refuge in an imaginary and juvenile narrative in which humans are cast as kindly guardians, benevolently bestowing protection and sustenance in return for the ‘benefits’ that we consider to be our due; inventing fantasies involving imaginary victim consent in a land of make-believe where other animals ‘give’ their lives, their breast milk, their eggs and their services to humans in return for our ‘care’. Thus soothed, any prickle of conscience subsides, our thoughts drift elsewhere, and we generally fail to confront our self-serving fantasies.
These mythical tales are fuelled by the publicity machine that presents our defenceless victims as resources for human use and consumption. Those who ‘breed’, mutilate and incarcerate other individuals on our behalf are portrayed as devotedly carrying out a labour of love for their charges, rather than the hard-headed business people they are, maximising profits while minimising outlay; deliberately obscuring the details that the consumer would find upsetting or ‘distasteful’, rebuffing and ridiculing any criticism as being unrealistic and anthropomorphic.
Finding our way back to the way we began
For many of us, the first step towards realising the truth begins with the beloved companion dogs or cats that we think of as our friends, with their huge personalities and their innocent gaze that reflects their happiness, their devotion to their friends, and occasionally their fear or pain. It’s so easy to fall in love with a companion who doesn’t share our species but does share our home and our life.
One day – if we are lucky – our dearly loved companion may help us reconnect with a truth that we recognised as infants. One day we may look and really see the pitiful dismembered remains on our plate, the infant calf who was slaughtered so that we could drink his mother’s milk, that little fragile hen whose every bleak day was spent in hell for the eggs we consume. If our minds are open, we may catch a glimpse of the fact that each was an individual with same potential to think and feel, remember and respond to their life and their experiences as any other sentient individual; these faculties are what define the sentience that we share. When we open our minds to seeking the truth, we inevitably realise with a pang that nothing in their existence as a commercial resource gave rise to anything other than misery, fear and pain; they who are our innocent victims, bred specifically to ensure the maximum profit is derived from their life and their body for the least expense possible. Those who tell us otherwise, do so only though lack of knowledge or else a vested interest that following the money will reveal.
If we had only looked into the innocent eyes of those whose pitiful existence and whose inevitable slaughter we insisted upon at the supermarket check-outs; if we had seen that pleading, frightened gaze in the clanging horror of our slaughterhouse, we would swiftly have lost our appetite for the ‘products’ of suffering and death that once seemed so harmless and appealing. If we had heard their screams and whimpers of agony, smelled the blood that their panicking hearts were pumping onto killing floors, our time in the land of make-believe would surely have come to an end.
On that day that we are finally honest with ourselves and face the inevitable consequences of the nightmare that takes place in our name, being vegan is the only thing that makes sense.
Why not leave the land of make-believe today? Be vegan.