I’m sure we’ve all heard – or maybe even used at some time – the tired old assertion about ‘my personal choice’? My first hearing was when it was actually snarled at me through gritted teeth by a former work colleague on learning I had become vegan about a decade ago. It got old quickly after that, but it’s still doing the rounds and I’m sure some who use it, still imagine it’s original.
Yet every single one of us is very well aware that nothing is a ‘personal choice’ when a victim is involved – I’d be surprised if anyone says otherwise. However all our lives we’ve been surrounded by lies, deceptions, and media fabrications that leave us mostly oblivious to the reality that our eating, clothing, toiletry, entertainment and other ‘choices’ are annually creating trillions of innocent victims out of thinking, feeling individuals whose lives matter to them.
We’re oblivious to the reality, that is, until someone points it out to us.
And NOT ONE of us is pleased to be given the information because our sense of entitlement runs deep. The vegan message is always an unpopular one because our own personal victims are so invisible to us that it’s as if they have never existed; as if their terror, their misery and their agony are just figments dreamed up by those whom the animal-use-industry-controlled media portray as ‘extremists’ who somehow refuse to stop talking about it. When we mention animal rights, many of our audience get aggressive and regurgitate all the childhood myths that kept them – and us – from asking questions in the past, but a few listeners become distraught as the penny drops and awareness dawns about their complicity in the breath-taking atrocity that is nonveganism.
However in these days of crisis and collapse when zoonotic disease is rampaging through humanity, ecosystems are crumbling, species extinction is gathering pace, and daily reports call for a profound change in the dietary and other exploitative habits of our species, ‘my personal choice’ has acquired a new edge that every human should now be considering with a great deal of care. Because no longer are the ‘personal choice’ people dismissing ‘only’ the annual 80+ billion land dwellers, 2.7 trillion water dwellers, 7+ billions of newly hatched chicks, millions of bees, silk worms, and all the others whose lives are trashed by our smug belief in our own ‘superiority’, whose right to live unmolested has been the subject of animal rights advocacy for decades.
Consumer demand for breast milk, for eggs and for dead flesh is driving ‘animal agriculture’, now recognised almost universally as one of the most significant causes of the climate disaster that is swiftly overwhelming us.
So now ‘personal choice’ has got extremely personal for everyone – vegan and nonvegan alike. Now this assertion of ‘personal choice’ is a declaration that future generations of our own species and every other one besides, have no right to expect a habitable planet on which to look forward to a future. It’s an assertion that not only are their own innocent victims irrelevant to their all-consuming ‘choice’ but so is every single living entity on planet Earth. That’s one hell of a ‘choice’. It’s hubris on a scale never seen before.
So, let’s end on a point to ponder. We are already too late to avoid increasing levels of climate collapse that will manifest in fires, floods, storms, food shortages and other disasters; calamities that will affect each of us personally in ways we have never imagined. A slim chance remains that the worst conceivable outcome for current life on Earth may be averted but it will take all the collective efforts of every single one of us.
I know many vegans keep their heads down, hoping not to be noticed, trying not to seem like one of ‘those vegans‘ so that their nonvegan acquaintances will approve of them. This is not the time to try to cling to a false sense of popularity. Because it IS false. By being silent, vegans are not remaining popular, they’re keeping nonvegans comfortable; enabling them to refuse to confront the devastation that they cause.
We don’t all have to know all the science, all the philosophy, all the statistics behind why we need to stop using our fellow creatures. But we can at least share links to the most credible information we can find; we can all plant seeds. We can point our audience in the direction of the truth and then what they do with that truth is up to the kind of people they are. It’s the least we can do.
We’re running out of time. Now, the response to the question ‘What have we got to lose?’, is ‘EVERYTHING’.