“Unfortunately, the world will never become vegan. We can only keep pushing forward for the humane treatment of animals.“
I’ve heard versions of this comment frequently from vegans who believe in supporting single-issue animal welfare campaigns because they’re “the best we can do” and I feel compelled to respond.
I respectfully disagree with this shortsighted belief. There was a time when the world was believed to be flat, humans couldn’t imagine traveling thousands of miles in a few hours inside a flying tube (with beverage service and bathrooms!!!), women were never going to have the right to vote and whites people were always going to enslave people of color. There have been manned space flights, lunar landings and interplanetary exploration, all of which were unthinkable and deemed “impossible” not so long ago, all of which became reality* because people believed they could achieve them and worked to see those achievements come to fruition (*and all of which some would argue never happened at all, but that is another conversation entirely). Complacency, laziness and blind acceptance of the unacceptable impede real progress. Since we are always standing on the edge of our own understanding, both individually and collectively, it is imperative that we look toward what can be and move forward rather than stare back at what has been and remain stuck where we are, or worse, slip backward down a slippery slope of regression. To simply settle for picking low-hanging fruit is indicative of a poverty of ambition on the part of vegan advocates, and such a position is, or at least should be, unacceptable in any social justice movement – especially one where billions of lives are at stake every year.
Even if one cannot be shaken from the belief that the world will never become vegan, how does that give us permission, as individuals or as a collective, to continue engaging in and supporting a worldwide system of violent exploitation and oppression of the most vulnerable group in our global society – non-human individuals? The simple answer is, it doesn’t.
Unfortunately, it’s quite likely that humans will always rape and murder other humans as they have since the beginning of time, but it’s not likely that anyone is going to advocate for “gentler” rape and “kinder” murder based on that terrible likelihood. When we believe a behavior is morally unjustifiable, we advocate for the abolition of said behavior rather than “nicer” ways to continue propagating the same injustice. To do the latter only helps the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the injustice feel comfortable about continuing to reap the benefits of their oppression-of-choice.
Know this – any use of animals that has been given the feel-good label “humane” and involves any form of enslavement resulting in the taking of those animals’ lives has been purposely misidentified through a marketing device designed to separate consumers from their money and their morals. It is, in short, a lie. Even the kindest slave owner was still a slave owner, and slavery is always wrong. The only people who argue to the contrary are those who personally benefit from slavery. One doesn’t advocate for “better” slavery conditions – one advocates and fights to end slavery because, as a saying dating back to at least the 1800s goes, there’s no right way to do the wrong thing.
How Can We Create A Vegan World?
When we engage in clear, consistent, unequivocal abolitionist vegan education either one-on-one or in groups, we work toward dismantling speciesism and this gives us a blueprint for treating all individuals as we ourselves wish to be treated – with fairness, justice and the right to live as autonomous individuals, free from the enslavement of more powerful “others”. This is far more effective than engaging in campaigns that profess to have the best interest of animals in mind, yet in reality exist to serve their own interests through endless self-promotion, donation solicitation and putting out small fires while purposefully ignoring the larger source of the blaze that’s been burning the world to the ground for centuries. Consider this:
“Because we so often hear rhetoric and hyperbole about ‘Success!’ and ‘Victory!’ in connection with the treatment of our nonhuman victims, assumptions are made that animal use is ‘not that bad’ and that those who promote a complete end to it are exaggerating, ‘extreme’ or ‘crazy’.
When we allow ourselves to think this way, we are playing directly into the hands of the death industries and the many ‘welfare’ groups who make money from causing, promoting and endorsing harm and bloodshed. We are allowing ourselves to be lulled into believing that ‘everything is regulated’, ‘it’s all done humanely’, ‘Think of all our victories!’, ‘Donate to us and then carry on as usual’.
As a consequence, we feel much better about our use and consumption of sentient individuals as commodities and resources; we feel comforted by the soothing assurances that our donations mean we’re doing all we can; any uneasy conscience we might have had is soothed and quieted.” – excerpted from There’s an Elephant in the Room blog (click the blue link to read the rest of this compelling essay)
Sadly, when we work to reduce animal suffering rather than eliminate animal use (as is the trademark of the animal welfare/protection organizations), there’s an unintended consequence — non-vegans (make no mistake, this includes vegetarians) keep eating, wearing and otherwise using animals, only now with clearer consciences and no reason nor desire to ever stop. And why would they stop when, rather than being honestly depicted as the injustices they are, the atrocities of animal agriculture are presented as “humane” and the animal victims are presented as “happy”?
Welfarism = Enabling
I once heard a recovering alcoholic share their life story, stating that prior to getting sober, their drinking years had progressed through three stages:
- Stage I – Fun
- Stage II – Fun with consequences
- Stage III – Nothing but consequences
If one wants their alcoholic loved one to stop drinking, it is counterproductive to clear a safe path for them to continue their self-destructive behavior by easing the pain and emotional discomfort associated with their drinking and giving them a soft place to land. Why would any alcoholic stop drinking when it feels good and has no negative consequences? The net result of such enabling: a continuation of and increase in the alcoholic’s behaviors.
Animal welfarism is enabling on a grand scale, and the welfare/protection corporations are making true unequivocal vegan advocacy very difficult through their intentional dishonesty, distortions and deceptiveness. Abolitionism is the intervention that a) challenges the complacency of vegans who align themselves with welfarism and b) exposes the blatant hypocrisy of the welfare corporations who lie to everyone, vegan and non-vegan alike.
“Vegans Think They’re So Special!”
Living vegan doesn’t make one “special” – it simply means that those who live vegan don’t pay people to hurt and kill others for their pleasure, comfort and convenience… the same way most non-vegans live in every instance imaginable except where the victims are other than human. When that’s the case, speciesism becomes the default position and non-vegans do a complete about-face by turning their backs on their moral and ethical principles, all for the sake of self-satisfaction.
You Say You Want A Vegan Revolution?
If we want a vegan world, we need to work for it, and here is the blueprint:
The sooner vegans commit to engaging in clear, consistent, unequivocal vegan education with the non-vegan public, the sooner we can create what we all want – a vegan world. Consider some simple math – right now there are millions of vegans worldwide, and if those millions would educate just one other person to embrace veganism who would then educate just one other person to embrace veganism, the number of vegans would grow exponentially and a critical tipping point would be reached.
[the purple links in the paragraph above lead to downloadable vegan literature that presents an unequivocal view of veganism and can be used free of charge for tabling, discussion groups, events and other educational opportunities]
I encourage all readers to click the blue links embedded in this essay and explore the information on those sites. The podcasts and essays connected to those links will help to expand on the ideas presented here.
Live vegan. Educate others. Start now, here’s how: