Friday, December 4, 2009

Being vegan is more than just a personal choice

As far as some people are concerned, us “holier-than-thou” vegans can take our self-righteous and condescending views and stick them where the sun don’t shine (and while I’m tempted to say this attitude only comes from meat-eaters, I know a number of vegetarians who feel the same way).

What we put in our mouths is a personal choice, they argue, and if we don’t want to eat animal products then fine, but we have no business telling others what to do and are often accused of “ramming” our beliefs down other people’s throats.

Aside from the fact that we still live in a part of the world where we can freely offer our opinions without fear of persecution, and that stating an opinion isn’t the same as forcing someone to do something, most people really don’t “choose” to eat animal products at all.

Instead we’ve been conditioned to eat what we do, just as we’ve been conditioned to believe in one religion or another. In most cases it was our parents who trained us to eat animal products, literally shoving their own beliefs down our throats when we were young, which in turn had been shoved down their throats by their parents, and so on, just as religion has been passed on from one generation to the next. We teach what we know; it’s human nature to nurture.

Still, a lot of people defend their eating habits on the grounds of personal freedom, saying it’s their “right” to eat whatever they want. And while the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, expression, the press, peaceful assembly and association, it doesn’t guarantee the freedom to "eat whatever you feel like". Neither does the United States Constitution nor the Bill of Rights (I checked).

But in the end it doesn’t really matter. Let’s say meat-eating is a personal choice. So what? Rape and murder are personal choices too. Does that mean it's okay? So instead of defending one's choice to eat animal products, we need to ask ourselves, is it the right choice? Does it justify our claims of being a peace-loving and moralistic society? Is it a true reflection of our concepts of mercy and compassion?

We concluded long ago that the murder of other humans is morally unacceptable so laws were created to reinforce that position. Slavery, child labour and racial and sexual discrimination have also been outlawed (for the most part anyways). We don’t condone or encourage these activities even though they too are “personal choices”.

Killing animals for food (among other things) is still legal, but since there are other ways to maintain good health and nutrition, it's wrong because it causes unnecessary suffering and death and deprives other animals of their freedom and their desire to live.

Being vegan is more than just a personal choice. It’s a commitment to non-violence and a reverence for all sentient life. No one has the "right" or "freedom" to eat or do whatever they want if it causes injury, suffering and death to others.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I don't know where to start.

First off, vegans aren't righteous in any respect. They are regularl people who eat foods with dense nutritional value. We're all one, all innocent, all divine beings. Regardless of a persons beleifs, we are completely equal. You immidiately polarize humanity with your opening sentence. You instigate the perspectives of "them" and "us" which any self-claimed righteous being would certainly never do. - A righteous being would see the true unification in all of us.

Second, you compare the inculcation of food choices with the insidius spread of religion. As far as I know, I can live a long healthy life without religion but I can't live at all without food. No one is born hungry for religion my friend...

Your little anecdote about human rights is insulting. You claim humans have every right BUT the food choices they currently have. Monsanto is right on board with you my friend, patenting every seed with each genetic manipulation. You can't argue humans don't have the right to eat what ever they want just like Monsanto can't claim they own the right to a seed. You obvliously didn't realize the implications of using civil law and human rights as your argument for promoting veganism - considering your forgeting that the government's of the world are doing just what your trying to do with your article - take away out rights.

Furthermore, in one of your paragraphs you ask questions to demonstrate you point. - This is the weakest tatic a writer can use and makes omnivore's reading this article more tenacious to their diets.

Please stop writing articles or at least change your perspectives please...your making the rest of us clear minded plant based dieters look out to be fucking wacko.

Daniel K. Vegan said...

Dear Anonymous (if that IS your real name),

Who crapped in your corn flakes this morning? Such anger. No, I personally don't think vegans are self-righteous (a little sarcastic perhaps), but a lot of people claim we are. That's why I put those words in quotation marks, get it?

Second, I never wrote that we can live without food (where did you get that from?), just that we can live without animal products. As a fellow "plant based dieter" I thought you would agree (I'm having serious doubts that you read my blog in its entirety) and my point about religion was that both religion and animal products are introduced to us at an early and impressionable age.

My other point was this: if an action (like eating an animal) causes someone else (like that animal) to suffer or lose his or her life, then that action should not be considered a right; it should be considered a crime.

To a vegan (look up the definition if you're unclear), it makes no difference whether that someone has two legs, four legs, wings or gills. All sentient beings deserve compassion (even you); all sentient beings have an interest in living free of pain and suffering. All animals fear death and try to avoid it.

And with all due respect, I think your comparison to Monsanto makes no sense.

"Please stop writing articles or at least change your perspectives please...your making the rest of us clear minded plant based dieters look out to be fucking wacko."

Bravo! What a great closing argument. I mean wow, you have no idea how humbled I am by the depth and wisdom of those words, especially coming from such a "clear minded" individual such as yourself (in case you can't tell, I'm being flippant).

But as I pointed out in my blog, I still live in a country where I have the right to express my opinion (and it's not inflicting pain, suffering or death on anyone else), whether you agree or not.

Bye for now!

P.S. Proper spelling would give more credibility to your arguments. Not a lot, but some.

Randy W. Sandberg said...

WOW! I *do* know where to start and note that I'm actually using my real name (i.e., Randy W. Sandberg)!

Anyway, as a fellow abolitionist I just want to say BRAVO! What a brilliant job you've done expressing the grizzly TRUTH about the various forms of discrimination including speciesism which allows human animals to have a clear conscience while they enslave, torture and murder other animals. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this.

Daniel K. Vegan said...

Thanks Randy! I try to make it a rule to be tolerant and respectful of other people's views, even if I don't agree with them, but as soon as someone uses profanity and insults, the gloves come off. By the way, I also enjoy reading YOUR blogs. I think it's important that we continue to write about abolition and veganism so people understand where we're coming from and so other abolitionist vegans can better defend their positions. Keep up the good work!

cath ens-hurwood said...

thanks for re-introducing your piece on facebook - I can't tell you how many times recently I've had people tell me that people have the "right" to eat what they want and to stop telling them what to eat. I wouldn't dream of telling anyone "what" to eat - only to remind them "who" they are eating