We’re Already Vegan in Our Hearts and Minds

I am not an “animal person” – never was. But it doesn’t take a special kind of person to know that suffering and killing are wrong.

Spending so much time at a sanctuary, I find myself more invested in the stories of the individual animals.

The oldest potbelly pig Charlie has some digestive issues so he gets Metamucil everyday with his food, and Country Time Lemonade to watch it down!

Everyone has their own diet to meet their special needs. The folks in Animal Care work so hard to take amazing care of everyone.

Carmen the Barbados sheep is a natural sheep with no wool, who sheds excess fur. Yup, that’s right, thick “wool” that needs to be sheared is not natural, it’s the process of thousands of years of selective breeding. Carmen came to Animal Place a young lamb, very lucky to be alive at all. She was being raised on a small family farm in rural Nevada County when she broke her leg. For weeks she stumbled around on the farm as the leg became infected. The property owners did not provide any veterinary care, at which point a neighbour intervened and convinced the owners to sign custody over to Animal Place. They rushed her to the UC Davies veterinary centre, but they were unable to save the leg. She now hops around on 3 legs, and seems pretty happy. She’s a little shaky, probably because it’s hard work on her muscles to support herself. She’s certainly enjoying herself here!

Panda is a cow who was being raised at a school, as part of an FFA or 4-H program. Someone broke into the school at night, covered him in lighter fluid, and set him on fire. When he was found, the person raising him for slaughter wanted to save him – meaning save him so that he could sell him at auction to be killed later. A private donor stepped in and helped Animal Place save his life.

It’s easy to see a case like Panda’s as simply as aberration, but the fact is that this kind of extreme cruelty is the inevitable result of seeing beings as things. When animals are converted into things for our purposes and are legally owned, we can’t expect for them to be treated with any respect or dignity or justice. If they happen to be treated well, that’s great, but it’s just lucky. The harsher reality of their mistreatment is built into the consciousness that looks out at the world of other animals and sees things to use for our selfish purposes. The problem is use not treatment. We react to “cruelty” cases with repulsion whenever the cruelty at hand is not the institutionalized, business-as-usual cruelty inflicted on animals every single day. The basic moral principle that underlies our opposition to these individual cruelty cases is that it’s wrong to cause unnecessary suffering and death to sentient beings. So, since we don’t need to eat animals, any suffering or death inflicted on them for food production is precisely the unnecessary suffering and death we oppose in individual cases.

Most of us are already committed in principle to do no harm.
We’re already vegan in our hearts and minds.

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There Are No Magical Slaughterhouses

“There are no magical slaughterhouses where animals are fed their favorite meal, make a last phone call to a loved one and voluntarily hold their breath until they die. The act of slaughter is violent, vicious, bloody and hellish. The animals do not sacrifice themselves for your pleasure, tradition or greed. They are dragged in kicking and screaming until their last breath. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can eat meat, dairy and eggs and remain disconnected from this violence. The only way out is VEGAN.” – Gary Smith

We Know Better

“We owe the animals our profoundest apologies. Defenseless and unable to retaliate, they have suffered immense agonies under our domination that most of us have never witnessed or acknowledged. Now knowing better, we can act better, and acting better, we can live better, and give the animals, our children, and ourselves a true reason for hope and celebration.”
– Will Tuttle

Plant Rights? Or Another Sorry Excuse to Eat Animals?

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear another carnist bring up some version of “plant rights” in an attempt to justify consuming animals – and that’s the key point here, in an attempt to justify consuming animals.

People generally have no problem letting house plants die, stepping on grass and flowers, using chemicals on their lawns, letting fruits and vegetables rot in the fridge, cutting down a tree to make a wider driveway, growing a vegetable garden and apple picking – but mention that you’re vegan or advocate for animal rights and all of a sudden these acts are made equivalent to slitting an animal’s throat.

To be clear, I do believe that we drastically underestimate the complexity and interconnectedness of all life on earth. The world would be a much better place if we afforded plants even a fraction of the sensitivity and concern that we’re capable of affording human beings. But this is a far cry from equating them with animals so that one can feel better about eating pig flesh instead of lentils.

Simply put, while plants respond to stimuli, they lack subjective awareness, a nervous system, and pain receptors. It is imperative that we love and respect all life, but that doesn’t mean that there are not fundamentally different life forms that warrant different treatment. There is a reason why we don’t avoid stepping on grass but do avoid stepping on a dog’s tail. There is a reason why we take children to pick apples and not to slaughterhouses.

It is also worth noting that besides the sentience/subjectivity/pain part of the distinction, anyone who is genuinely concerned with protecting all life forms from death, as though they are equal, ought to be moved by the fact that it takes up to 15 pounds of plants to produce just 1 pound of meat. Consuming animal flesh and animal secretions requires far greater amounts of plants to be killed than if we eat the plants directly. In short, someone eating an omnivorous diet is responsible for far more death of every kind of life form than someone who consumes plants directly.

If anyone in your life is still not convinced that there is a fundamental difference between plants and animals, that the fact that plants are complex life forms does not justify killing animals, then propose the following to them: “I’ll make you a deal – you watch a series of ‘humane’ slaughter videos and I’ll watch a strawberry harvest.” Checkmate.