The Animal Rights Discussion Briefly Explained
As I talk to people and try to share veganism with them we always get on the subject of animal liberation, and animal rights. This is a logical transition during these types of discussions. People eat meat and animal products for a few reasons, and a few reasons only. Reasons like taste, convenience, and upbringing/tradition. Once I explain to people that animal proteins are linked to multiple types of cancers, that milk leaches calcium from their bones, that the these types of food are the leading causes of heart disease, diabetes, and multiple other types of conditions, they start to put up walls. I then try to explain to them that all of the foods they love are emulated, in a vegan way, so that they really do not have to give up the things they have grown to love. When this doesn’t seem to work I try to explain to them that we are all conditioned to eat meat because of the way we were raised. We are conditioned for speciesism and we really do not even know it is happening. More on that later. So what can I do? If you explain to someone that the foods they are eating are causing disease and destroying our environment and they still do not seem to care, then I move on to what really matters most, the very thing I can never really start off with…
When I first became a vegan it was not for the animals, I could have cared less. For over 30 years of my life I had eaten whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. However, when a health problem caused me to start doing food research, it lead me to the truth. This is where animal liberation and animal rights comes to the forefront of the conversation. There is a reason why school field trips take kids to pick apples and not to a slaughter house. The truth is ugly. What goes on behind the walls of a slaughter house is very, very disturbing.
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” – Paul McCartney
Paul was right on, and that is why fast food companies and restaurants won’t show you a decapitated cows head sliding across a dirty slaughterhouse floor. However, being a vegetarian is not enough! Vegetarians still consume a lot of animal products, including dairy, which is an industry far worse than the meat industry. I digress… this subject always distracts me, always leads me down too many paths, paths of pain and suffering. Let me try to get back on point.
The phrase animal rights, or animal liberation usually raises a lot of questions. People immediately picture animals voting, or having equal employment opportunities. This is a complete waste of time. However, there was a point in time, in the not too distant past, that whites could OWN a black person and it was considered normal. Woman couldn’t vote, couldn’t work, didn’t have an opinion. Looking back on either of these concepts makes me embarrassed to be a human being. It took over 400 years to convince whites that owning a black person was wrong! How about the holocaust? Human beings were killed in unimaginable ways, as if they were never considered humans in the first place. One group of living beings anguished beneath the treatment of another group of beings. Sound familiar? These horrible facts of our past, and in some cases, our present time, are unacceptable. So when I say animal rights, or animal liberation, I am NOT talking about letting a cow vote! People need to understand what we are doing to thinking and feeling sentient beings. They deserve the right to live, the right to pursue happiness, the right to simply exist!
Flickr – Creative Commons – Image by James Wheeler
Animals love their babies, they feel pain, they feel fear, they understand the screams of their own kind, they want to live. They seek food, shelter, and companionship, just like us! Animals are intelligent beings, they are not stupid! Why should all of this pain and suffering, and destruction of our planet, hoarding of resources, and your health, go on just so you can have a cheeseburger? When there are hundreds of food options available to replace things that you are used to, and not to mention the hundreds of healthy foods you will discover during your journey to become a vegan, there is absolutely no excuse left for you not to do so. If there is, then you simply have not opened your mind, or your heart, you have not made a connection, and I strongly advise you to do more research.
It is my belief that speciesism is the first form of hatred that we are taught from birth, and that it leads to all other forms of hatred, such as sexism, and even racism. We are not born with these conditions. Veganism is the path to peace for this planet, and possibly the only thing that can save it. Consider this for a moment. If we cannot treat other non-human beings on this planet with any type of kindness, then how can we ever hope to treat our own kind with kindness? Human beings are all of equal worth, just as all animals, from insects to apes, are of equal worth. They are not broken, or less than us, they move finished and complete, and should not be judged by man. We are but one of many other types of beings on this planet, and perhaps the worst…
“Wherefore I say to all those who desire to be disciples, keep your hands from bloodshed and let no flesh meat enter your mouths, for the Lord is just and bountiful; who ordains that man shall live by the fruits and seeds of the earth alone.” –
“Veganism acknowledges the intrinsic legitimacy of all life. It recognizes no hierarchy of acceptable suffering among sentient creatures. It is no more acceptable to kill creatures with primitive nervous systems than those with highly developed nervous systems. The value of life to its possessor is the same, whether it’s the life of a clam, a crayfish, a carp, a cow, a chicken, or a child.” –
“In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” –
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