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What should we do when animals are treated unfairly?

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Guest post by Peggy Warren

A disturbing incident occurred a few days ago not far from my home. Motorists spotted a man walking down the road dragging a dead raccoon behind him on a 15-foot rope. He was intending to use the raccoon for crab bait. According to the news story, “They thought the raccoon was a dog,” and “they were very incensed that he was dragging this dead dog down the road.” Two vehicles stopped, an argument ensued and the man was shot twice in the leg, and then run over by the departing vehicle.

What a sad and disconcerting story. Fortunately the injured man will recover, but the cognitive dissonance exhibited here is stunning. How often have we seen people express outrage, even violence, when a dog, cat, pony, or some other favored animal is abused or killed? And how often do we see the animal “abuser” being viewed as low-life scum who doesn’t deserve to share our air?

We should be outraged when violence befalls a sentient being for no good reason, but shooting someone over it is not the answer. I’d bet my socks that the people who were “incensed” about the animal they presumed to be a dog will think nothing of it the next time they eat, wear or otherwise use an animal they believe they’re entitled to use. If they had known the animal was a soon-to-be bait raccoon, perhaps they would have dismissed the man entirely, because for them, raccoons and crabs don’t rate high on the “warm and cuddly” scale. Who cares about those animals, right?

What if the man had been dragging a dead dog? Would he have “deserved” to be shot? Speciesism and violence can be found everywhere and vegans are not immune. We can’t use speciesism and violence to solve the problem when speciesism and violence is the problem. That is why single-issue campaigns, demonizing women who wear fur, vilifying people who eat dogs, etc., have no place in vegan advocacy. So what should we do when animals are treated unfairly?

Gary Francione says that “Most people really do care about animals. That’s why the animal welfare approach resonates. It tells them that they can care and that they can continue to exploit. We should focus on their caring and be honest with them: caring means going vegan; caring means no more exploitation.”

Most of us care; the problem is we don’t act like it. It makes no sense to direct vitriol toward animal “abusers” who drag dogs, wear fur, or eat foie gras by promoting violence against humans and continuing to exploit animals we think are “meant” to be used. Buying cage-free eggs, crate-free pork and free-range beef does not fulfill our moral obligation and we are deluding ourselves to think it does. We can’t exploit others compassionately; all animal use is abuse. If we care about animals in any meaningful way, then we must stop using animals like they are objects existing for our pleasure. It’s impossible to treat someone like a thing without violating them. If we care about animals, we need to act like it and that means going vegan.

If going vegan sounds impractical or difficult to you, think of is this way: how would you like it if another human could use you as a food, clothing or amusement source just because they felt like it and could dominate you? You wouldn’t! So why continue eating, wearing and using animals? Because they taste good? It’s convenient? You’ve been doing it for years?

We need abolish the perception that animal use is necessary. To stop harming animals we need to live vegan and advocate for veganism. Taste, convenience, and habit do not qualify as good reasons to exploit and kill. It is well established we don’t need to consume animal products for any nutritional reason and we know that plants can provide everything we need to lead healthy, vigorous lives. So please, “Stop making excuses, there are no good ones to make. Go vegan.” (Gary L. Francione)

Going vegan is easy, start here.

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