Professor Francione puts it best here. Also, I’m testing Facebook “Embed This Post” feature.
Number of animals killed in the world by the meat, dairy and egg industries, since you opened this webpage. This does not include the billions of fish and other aquatic animals killed annually.
Professor Francione puts it best here. Also, I’m testing Facebook “Embed This Post” feature.
via Prof. Gary Francione’s Facebook page update:
This morning (from the U.K.):
A wonderful book. One of the reviews mentioned that rather than to persuade the reader of your position, you get the reader to see that they already believe carries the implication that they should be vegan. Brilliant! It is clearly written. I loved it and plan on buying a dozen print copies as gifts when they become available. A wonderful job!
And a portion of a new Amazon review:
The prominent theme throughout the book is the connection Francione and Charlton make between Michael Vick’s dogfighting and the similarity to the consumption of animals and their products. From their impeccable logic, the reader realizes that Michael Vick’s dogfighting was wrong because he imposed suffering and death on dogs for no reason other than he wanted to; omnivores consume animals and their products for exactly the same reason – they simply want to. Both dogfighting and consuming animals and their products imposes suffering and death on animals for no ‘good’ reason. Therefore, the only logical response to this is to go vegan.
The Dalai Lama eats meat. Why this bothers me can best be summed up by my favorite quote from Norm Phelps in his book, “The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights“:
Thinking like a lawyer or an academic logician and claiming that it is acceptable to harm another sentient being for our own selfish benefit based on hair-splitting distinctions and nimble logic is contrary to the teaching of the Buddha.
I ate meat for 32 years. It wasn’t until then that I read enough to realize that animal flesh simple is not necessary for humans. What a relief! To know that eating meat (and obviously dairy) wasn’t necessary. I can’t tell you how good it felt to find that out.
Since we don’t need it, and there are alternatives everywhere, eating it is really only an act of preference. Okay, some people prefer it, that’s fine. They’ll come around.
The Dalai Lama eats animals. Having people kill animals for him to eat is the opposite of compassion.
We do not allow animal abuse in our house.
This question only comes up from people in meat-eating households, because only in those households is veganism seen as trivial and flippant a “lifestyle” choice as what hobby to pursue or what color of shirt to wear.
Everyone is welcome to their opinions. The question we must each ask ourselves is: Does my opinion result in actions that harm others?
Many people will not see eating flesh as animal abuse. Somehow, killing an animal does not count as abuse, in that mind frame. In my household, the children will not want to harm cows or chickens any more than they want to harm cats and dogs.
Children have amazingly good bullshit detectors. They “get” fairness. They understand justice. The cognitive dissonance parents cause when they tell children to love one animal and eat the flesh of another is confusing and inconsistent for completely arbitrary reasons. A vegan diet provides a consistent, clear and truly compassionate framework built on honesty, healthy eating, love and, yes, even on justice.
The act of exploiting animals is often justified as a “personal choice,” but personal choices stop being personal when they affect others.
When we eat a vegan diet, when we refuse to attend rodeos and zoos, when we pass up leather jackets, wallets and shoes in favor of synthetic or plant-based goods, we are practicing peace. We are behaving consistently in a manner that directly fosters justice.
It is ironic to hear people use their power of choice (typically, only as consumers) in and of itself to justify harming animals. “It’s my choice to eat or not eat animals,” they assert. But this directly violates the freedom and choices of another living being who has every right not to suffer.
Only the aggressor, or the more powerful, can choose to inflict misery and death upon others. By definition, victims are victims, they do not have a choice in the matter of being used.
What about crimes against our fellow humans? We do not say that rape is permissible because rapists are “making a personal choice,” yet rape is absolutely what is done to female cows to force them into pregnancy and thus eventual lactation. We do not say thieves and murderers are excused of their crimes because they chose to commit them. Yet what is more theft and murder than stealing breast milk and killing the children, then their mother when her body is too worn out to produce milk at a profitable rate?
The aggressors want to wiggle out of the truth of using words like “rape” and “murder,” because of a simple speciesist view that only rape and murder can be done to humans.
One fact which cannot be wiggled out of is by enslaving others, we strip them of their most basic choice: to be free. Actions we take are only a “personal choice” until they infringe upon the freedoms of others. Freedom to move about, freedom to avoid pain, freedom to reproduce (or not) at will: these are all choices denied to enslaved animals who would naturally make them if left alone. When we confine and eventually kill our powerless captives, we deliberately and irreversibly engage in violence that annihilates all of their choices.
We all have the capacity to inflict harm. We all have the capacity for enormous good, as well. Abraham Lincoln put it perfectly when he said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
The could-be-worse reasoning is applied every day to attempt justify exploiting cows, chickens, geese, sheep, mice, rats, dogs, elephants, women, minorities, the old and the young. With animals, people compare current, “humane” slaughter methods to some horrible alternative, and then state that snuffing out the life of an enslaved, helpless creature is now honorable and free from any moral condemnation.
Let’s go back to the analogy of theft. If I steal your television, I don’t get out of jail by stating I could have also emptied your bank account. When we do something wrong, we do something wrong. It’s as simple as that.
Moral relativity to encourage animal exploitation is simple manipulation to keep us dim-witted and spend-thrifted (say that five times fast). Many people want to believe they can make a difference without changing a thing. As Gary Francione says, the “happy meat” and “humane” slaughter ideas are nothing more than the modern day equivalent of the church selling indulgences.
When we hear ourselves or others saying, “well at least I buy organic eggs,” or “at least this was free-range beef,” we need to remember that those allegedly great strides in animal freedom are illusions. We do not free animals by encouraging people to eat more of them. “Free range”, “grass fed”, “organic” and “humane” labels encourage consumption. These labels move us in the exact opposite direction of liberation and justice.
At the core of this issue is the notion that people are still okay with using the animals, it’s the “excessive” suffering they’re uncomfortable with. This is simple speciesism. Except in extremely trivial cases, no one would wave away a crime against a human because “it could have been worse.” That would not even work in small claims court. When the crime is against those who cannot speak for themselves, it seems, we sing a different tune.
The could-have-been-worse perspective backfires on meat eaters and works against exploiting animals; we can always define “do not interfere with them at all” as the relative comparison. Why must the relative marker be placed closer to torture, and not closer to amnesty? Easy:
The goal of arguing in favor of exploiting animals is never on behalf of the animals.
It is our duty to remind people that treatment does not need to be “worse than” to be wrong. Slavery is slavery. Nutrition options exist. Let’s use our options, not individuals.
No justice exists when crimes are dismissed by simply dreaming up “worse” crimes that could have happened instead.
Is it immoral to cut a dog’s throat because we like the sound of the blood gurgling onto the soil? To stomp on a box of kittens because the squishing under our feet is lovely and refined? To sever a lizard’s tail and legs, leaving her to bleed to death, because the trail of blood she leaves behind makes interesting patterns?
Most of us would say yes, these acts are immoral. Would they be any better if the aggressor was paid to do it? If a young man is paid ten dollars every time he crushes a kitten to death, is the act then acceptable? How about ten thousand dollars? Of course not.
We agree that receiving pleasure from the sound, sight or feel of bloodshed is immoral (if not downright creepy), as is profit.
What if the pleasure is taste?
If the pleasures on our ears, under our feet, or upon our eyes are unacceptable reasons to inflict harm, why do we make exceptions for the pleasures of the tongue? It is just another organ.
Eye, nose and skin pleasure may be seen as entertainment. If we agree that killing for mere entertainment is bad, then certainly crushing kittens to death is bad. Stabbing a cow to death for entertainment, then, is also bad because a cow is no different a moral specimen than a kitten is.
The difficult part of talking to meat and dairy consumers is helping them understand that eating flesh and non-human milk are unnecessary. Because these food items are not necessary, they are entertainment. Buying steak at a grocery store which also sells beans and fresh vegetables is no more defensible than stomping on a box of kittens.
We must reject killing not just kittens, but also cows, chickens and all living beings, in pursuit of the specific sensations given to our tongues and noses.
There is no magic morality purifier device built into our taste buds. Criminals are not released on the condition that they greatly enjoyed the crime. And, despite what the bacon advertisements tell us, pigs are not happy to die today because a plate will hold their body parts tonight.
Our enjoyment is as irrelevant as profit. The price paid per kitten squished has no effect on the immorality of the act. Be it ten dollars or ten thousand dollars, funding murder is funding murder. In the same way, a tickle or a taste does not change the exploitation.
Let us be consistent with our beliefs. Being so is much easier than trying to explain to our children why assaulting kittens is bad, but assaulting pigs is okay, provided we eventually eat them, too.
Let me get this straight. We artificially inseminate cows. We steal their babies and hook up machines to steal their milk. We pasteurize the milk, ship it across the country in chilled trucks to prevent curdling, feel sick to our stomachs when we consume it, must take pills to prevent gastrointestinal upset when digesting it, wouldn’t dare drink it if it sat on a counter for a day straight, and we think this is natural? Meanwhile, we see plant-based creams (soy, almond, rice) as strange?
A common misconception is vitamin B12 is produced by animals. This is a main objection meat eaters have to veganism. Their reasoning goes, “If only animals produce it, and we need it, then we need animals.” This sounds like a good point, but, like most other meat and dairy arguments, it falls short if we dig a little deeper.
It is true we need vitamin B12. It is correct to say that of all the things humans who buy their food from grocery stores eat, only animal products naturally contain vitamin B12 nowadays, but it is incorrect to state that animals create B12.
Vitamin B12 and its relationship to animals is best summed up by Reed Mangles, Ph. D., R.D.:
“Animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods contaminated with vitamin B12 and then the animal becomes a source of vitamin B12. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 except when they are contaminated by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 added to them.”
This still sounds like a straight-forward argument to eat meat, doesn’t it? It’s exactly the opposite.
First, the content of vitamin B12 in the muscle tissue of slaughtered animals is questionable. If you think pigs, for instance, are eating whole, natural foods swimming with plenty of the vitamins and minerals they need, you are wrong (and you haven’t been paying attention so far on this web site). In concentrated animal farming operations, pigs and other animals are frequently given vitamin B12 shots. This is necessary for them because the food they are eating does not have adequate B12 in it any more, and some gruesome studies show that B12 supplementation makes the meat “better.” Remember, these poor creatures are forced to consume fish meal, corn and grains they would never eat in the wild.
They have to get their vitamins from somewhere, and that somewhere is usually from the business end of an injector.
Therefore, if we eat animal products from grocery stores because it is a “natural” way to fulfill vitamin B12 requirements, we are being fooled. What we are really doing is using the defenseless pig as a proxy for taking a multivitamin.
Once again we see that if pig flesh wasn’t bled, salted, altered with fire and smoke, you’d find few sane people arguing that we need to eat it for survival.
We are not chained to eating animals to gain our microscopic vitamin B12 requirements. We have options. Common breakfast cereal is a wonderful source of B12. Almost all grain products in the United States are enriched with vitamins, B12 especially. Oatmeal, corn flakes, and rice puffs are good sources. Even the sugar-drenched diabetic horrors that are most breakfast cereals have 35% of your daily B12 requirement. That’s five times the B12 provided by half a chicken breast.
Don’t like cereal? Get what you need from multivitamins, nutritional yeast flakes, breads, tortillas, even pancakes.
Arguing that we need to eat animals to get vitamin B12 is like the Snargleplexonians arguing that they need to eat our babies to get their creamed peas.
Ignorance is bliss. We’ve heard that before.
Is it blissful to stay ignorant of animal suffering? Maybe. But who among us is truly ignorant that animals suffer at our hands? On this topic most of all, 99% of us live in a state of willful ignorance.
Intentionally denying and ignoring the truth is willful ignorance, and is anything but bliss. Willful ignorance is artificial numbness. Numbness to what? To the pain caused by refusing to act.
The truth does not set us free. Not from this kind of pain. Simply knowing the truth about suffering does not set anyone free. Acting on the truth does.
The truth is that we all have the power to alleviate the suffering of sentient beings. Knowing this truth and taking no action causes our own suffering. Intentionally contributing to the unnecessary misery of others puts a heavy burden on us, and it takes a lot of energy to deal with.
Willful ignorance is like taking morphine rather than removing your hand from the stove, as if in a state of paralysis. The burning is knowing we can help someone with very little effort on our own parts, and not doing it. The paralysis binds us to our own suffering, and will not depart until we take action.
Compassion does not exist thought alone; that is called fantasizing.
In the case of eating, wearing, experimenting on and otherwise using animals, we actually can change their fates. We can reduce the demand for them as inbred Yorkshire puppies, as easter bunnies, as cows turned to “steak” and lobsters into bisque.
Willful ignorance compounds the suffering. Maintaining willfull ignorance requires great amounts of energy, because every time we kill one animal but keep another as a companion, we contribute to a split personality, and we reinforce the paralysis that keeps us tied to the stove, burning ourselves.
Why would someone stay in this state?
It’s not because they’re evil. It’s not because they’re stupid.
Replacing meat and dairy requires making changes.
Making changes requires exploring the unknown.
Fear is always about what’s coming. It’s never about what’s here, what’s happening now.
Most of all, I think, people fear the lack of “payoff” of veganism. Pizzas and hamburgers are bound to nearly limitless cultural references, habits and memories. Will vegan pizzas be better? Will the soy milk taste just as good as the kind the posters tell us the mothers happily give up to their benevolent, caring, and gentle human masters?
That’s the funny part. People really do not know. Here we are, as vegans, eating delicious, affordable, compassionate meals that could literally be grown in hydroponic labs in the most cramped of space stations. And our friends, relatives and neighbors really do not know how good our lives are, how little we’ve had to give up. They simply don’t get it.
All because they’re afraid of giving up hamburgers.
Help two someones out, and share your meals. You’re helping the animal and you’re helping the human animal who grabs your tupperware. Cook a little extra, and give away food without asking permission first. Who cares if it’s not perfect?
It’s up to us to help people take their hands off the stove.