Part 1: The Second Indoctrination – Speciesist Vegans
Part 1 – The First Indoctrination
Vegans take the ethical position of avoiding causing harm to nonhuman sentient beings. That is, to the extent practicable, vegans do not use animals for food, clothing, entertainment or other reasons. Vegans avoid participating directly in the exploitation of sentient beings; it’s really quite a simple position to take. It’s both a logical and ethical stance that rejects the social norm—the exploitation of animals to use them as resources for humans.
In particular, our use of animals as a food resource is a problem so large that the numbers are really quite horribly unimaginable. We enslave, exploit and slaughter more than 64 billion land animals and over a trillion aquatic animals every single year. There is absolutely no good reason for doing this. As every vegan will attest, consuming a vegan suitable diet is not only equal to (in taste and variety) but most would say much better on every level than a diet which includes animal products. Of course veganism is not a diet; it’s a rejection of the violence and exploitation involved in commodifying and using these other sentient beings.
Every current vegan, by simply being vegan, proves that such harm to nonhuman sentient beings is not necessary. Most vegans will say that they wish they had seen or known about the problem sooner and had gone vegan sooner. Unfortunately for most people, we’re all born into societies which revolve around using sentient nonhuman beings as resources. It’s so pervasive you just can’t escape all uses of nonhumans. We put their body parts into things like roads, car tires and computers.
It’s not industry that is to blame for our continued use of animals as property. In fact, it’s us as consumers who vote for it to happen every single time we buy an animal product. The good news there, though, is that as individuals we can also stop the demand and thereby change the supply, by going vegan.
Our society indoctrinates us from the time we are born, into the paradigm of using animals as resources. When we are young, most of us are told lies about where our food comes from, because the truth would usually stop a young child cold from participating in the death and harm of any animal. We are taught that it’s okay to exploit some certain animals while we love certain others, although which ones will vary depending on what part of the world you are from. And love of property doesn’t necessarily translate into respect.
Vegans know that all sentient beings are equal when it comes to moral consideration. All sentient animals are individuals who experience fear, feel pain and have an interest in living.
Our school systems and governments buy into and support the marketing sleight-of-hand by industry. “Milk is good for us!” Well most vegans would strongly dispute that, but the one thing we do know is that it’s not good for the cow. It is just as much, if not more, a product of suffering and death as is meat. Eggs are the same; we’re told they have protein (which almost no one lacks unless they lack calories) but we forget about the tremendous amount of cholesterol. Again, what about the sentient being, the chicken who we reduce to nothing more than a thing, a resource for human use and who is inevitably killed (no one gets out alive) simply because of our taste habits?
All vegans know that eating a vegan-suitable diet is perfectly adequate for humans to thrive on. In fact it can be much healthier. All of the major dietetic association’s throughout the world agree that a healthy vegan diet is suitable for humans at all stages of life.
There’s no doubt that, from a moral perspective, being vegan and avoiding all use of other sentient beings as resources is certainly much better for our spirit. It’s a real change of thinking when someone goes vegan; they start to see that what they’ve been told about using animals is not necessarily the truth and in some cases the truth has been hidden (out of sight out of mind) or we have been told outright lies.
We were indoctrinated into a paradigm of animal use by every aspect of society: you must conform, and you must do this because everyone does. The excuses for continued participation in harming other sentient beings are almost endless. However none of them even come close to being legitimate reasons why someone can’t reject the social norm and go vegan.
For someone to go vegan usually requires that they re-educate themselves and reassess their current way of thinking: that they begin to consider things objectively and use critical thinking to break through the mindless messages which support a position of violence and exploitation. But most people, if not all, agree that causing unnecessary suffering and death of any sentient being is wrong and we should not participate in it, especially if we can avoid it. And we can avoid it. This is a light bulb moment for most people—an eye-opening revelation which causes them to break free from the indoctrinated social norm and stand up for justice for most vulnerable and innocent members of our moral community.
What sometimes happens next though—after people escape the first indoctrination and go vegan—can be viewed as a large step backwards and an instant betrayal of justice for animals. Many vegans seem to fall into the trap of indoctrinating themselves into the “animal movement”. This is a movement lead by large organisations whose primary focus is on donations from anyone. These groups claim to represent the interests of nonhumans but unfortunately the truth is that not only do they let these vulnerable beings down, they also participate in their harm.