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Please stop attempting to express love through animal exploitation

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We’re just a few hours away from being swallowed up by pink and red everything. Yes, Valentine’s Day is upon us! And while I’m a huge sucker for the sweet stuff, I can’t escape the seasonal dread of seeing lovers carelessly link up gestures of romance with animal exploitation.

You know what I’m talking about; prix fix dinner menus with dairy and meat featured in all fourteen courses, oversized heart-shaped boxes with an assortment of pus and secretion stuffed truffles, and more misnomers for “wuv” on more stuffed bears than a bowl of candy hearts can stomach. Alright, the stuffed animals aren’t non-vegan but I can’t help but cringe when even a cotton cow, pig or rabbit gets snuggled by a non-vegan mindlessly. I’m referring to the idea that you can achieve love through violence.

Is the greeting card industry to blame? What about rom-coms, Harlequin novels, or those choo-choo-choose you notes we’re forced to exchange in school? It’s no different than any other marketing ploys that aim to distance us from the evil that lurks in the shadows of production to create the goods and services we are convinced we need to consume. It gets the same heartthrobs to believe their sweetie won’t appreciate them if they’re empty handed on February 14th, and that the love that exists between two human beings is somehow more valuable than the relationships that exist in the non-human animal kingdom.

Seriously think about this for second; when we give our partners an edible bouquet flocked with milk chocolate covered strawberries, we are proclaiming that our love is more important than the love between a cow and it’s child. This act, like so many others that ignore the victims of our preferences, reinforces unjustly that we believe we are the superior species and that the suffering of others is not only justifiable (it’s not) but in this case, is labelled valuable.

Our participation in an out dated tradition becomes more valuable than lives. A short-lived attempt to spark intimacy between us relies on the stripping of the same love, connection, touch, and belonging that the animals we exploit strive for. I can’t think of anything further from love than the violence and selfishness that non-veganism requires of us. 

In this way, Valentine’s is just another day. It’s no more frivolous to use animals for a fluffy consumeristic holiday than it is for lunch. It just makes somewhat of a spectacle of the moral confusion to me, as if the pierce of Cupid’s bow has mistakenly found our temples instead of our hearts. Like the love we’re blind to is not the profile photos we so easily swipe left to, but the infinite amount of animals we’ve robbed of the experience of love. Does everyone forget what love is?

Veganism is not an act of love, though. It’s an act of non-violence and respect, and the embodiment of the understanding that all sentient beings are deserving of freedom from use. We cannot keep teaching others that love is consistent with commodification, or we risk a future where love is never truly understood. Or are we already there?

So you’re probably wondering how this vegan will celebrate the “big day.” I’ll be in the company of my vegan partner, enjoying a vegan dinner together as we do each day. And when we turn down for the night, I’ll sleep easy knowing that we are able to express our love for each other (likely in the form of silly, handmade cards) without infringing on the rights of others.  To the hopeless romantics of the world, I urge you to consider how your actions tomorrow and every day contribute to the unnecessary suffering of others. Use your head, your heart, and every other part of you to make the imperative change to go vegan.

And if someone wants to start cupid-ing around with arrows that make people go vegan, that would be great, too.

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