A Plea To Vegetarians (and other animal loving people)
As a former “ethical” vegetarian, I didn’t want to participate in the killing of animals for food. If you are a vegetarian and you think you’re doing it for ethical reasons, please listen to me when I tell you that it is not an ethical position.
Vegetarianism still involves directly participating in exploiting and killing animals for food. The egg and dairy industries actually involve much more prolonged suffering for the animals prior to their premature deaths than the meat industry. Obviously, vegetarianism also still includes directly participating in the killing of animals for clothing and other products.
I used to think that being a vegetarian was “my choice,” and that what other people did was up to them. It didn’t worry me when others ate animal flesh/body parts around me, and thinking back, why would it? I was just as complicit as these others were with my continued consumption and use of different types of animal products.
What I realise now, what was explained to me, is that I wasn’t ever truly considering the victims. Sure, I thought I was doing much better than most and the best I could without being some “extremist fanatic.” I was at least allowing animals to live (or so I incorrectly thought).
I was indoctrinated into the social paradigm that animals are ours to use and that that was just the way it is. Some are food and some are our pets; we love some and others are born to be eaten, but all are brought into existence to be used by humans. I spent time on a dairy farm as a child, as well as caring for a calf of my own so she could be presented at the school show; I won awards for how nice she looked. The disconnect was pervasive and ingrained. I always knew that one day I’d be a vegetarian because I didn’t think we should kill animals; I thought that killing was wrong, and I did mistakenly think that being vegetarian was the solution.
I see now that I was ignorant: completely uneducated on the topic and blinded by the social paradigm of normative animal use, which was absolutely reinforced by every single person I knew.
I now know all of the processes involved in breeding and turning a living sentient being into a “product” of food or clothing. I’m horrified; indeed it is a horrifying process, even in the so called “best” circumstances. But much more than this, what I learnt is that all sentient beings have the inherent moral right not to be used as a resource. Thinking about it objectively, what right do I have to use another sentient being as a “thing” to own and do with what I want? And what right do I have to pay someone else to do the “dirty work” for me (“dirty” doesn’t even come close; let’s be clear here, we’re talking about torture and murder)?
Now that I recognise this inherent right that we all have as sentient beings–not to be used as someone else’s resource–I can see that the problem is actually all of us in society who continue to uphold the norm without due consideration. We’re all so entrenched in the paradigm of using nonhuman animals, that when someone actually stands up and does the right thing–by stopping their use of these other sentient beings–they’re considered by the majority to be “extremists,” when what they are really doing is taking a position of justice for vulnerable victims.
The real kicker in my re-education was the undeniable fact that we don’t *need* to use animals for food, clothing or entertainment at all. None of it is necessary. Eggs and dairy weren’t *necessary* for me to consume and I consumed more of them in my short time as a vegetarian than I most likely did my entire life previously (as a side note, sending myself to an earlier grave in the process). Leather and wool were not *necessary*, but I was lead to believe, as a child living in a country ‘Down Under,’ that wool was the only option. And as a Harley-riding, supposed “ethical” vegetarian, I purchased more leather (skin of a sentient being) than ever before without giving it a second thought.
It almost destroys me now to know that none of the animal products that I used, that we all use, are necessary. Purchasing *any* animal products, using animals on any level, is participating in their completely unnecessary exploitation. It’s a positive vote for the continuation of enslaving these individual sentient beings who, just like us, experience fear, feel pain, and want to live. Because these animals who we use for food, clothing and entertainment are all sentient individual beings who value their own lives, we have no right to use them as our property or as a resource on any level.
And the following is also what I wish someone had told me a long time ago:
The best place you can and must start if you care about or have concern for nonhuman animals, the only truly ethical position, is to avoid using all animals in any way and go vegan. It’s not “extremist,” it makes logical and ethical sense, it’s easy and most importantly it’s the morally right thing to do.