Why I Am A Vegan
Veganism (n) – a way of living that seeks to exclude the use of animals for any and all purposes
We say we love animals, but our only relationship to them is in how we use them.
We slaughter them for food. We skin them for fashion. We tame them to perform for us. We experiment on their bodies to test beauty products. We impregnate them repeatedly to breed them as pets. We imprison them in zoos. The number of ways in which we use animals around the world is countless (see "Anthropocentrism" tab below). Not one of these acts of violence is a matter of necessity, and yet we continue on in this way we call “love.”
We all agree that it is wrong for the strong to bully the weak. We all agree that the knowing should not exploit the innocent. Deep within ourselves, we know that pleasure and convenience can never justify violence. Yet we defy this innate sense of right and wrong every day with the choices we make in how we live our lives.
By our own self-proclaimed ethics, these traditions of exploitation are wrong. All conscious beings value their lives in the same way we value ours. Everyone seeks pleasure and avoids pain. All wish to fulfill the needs of their own instincts. No being is without a desire for freedom. By every important measure, they are just like us. For this simple and self-evident reason, I began to realize that we must rightfully begin to view animals as persons, not property. Is this not the responsibility of those who wish to live in a just and moral society?
Wherever there is use, the abuse will soon follow. The issue is not in how we treat the animals we use, but rather that we have no justification for using them at all. There are some who will try to deter us from our moral obligation with misleading and misguided notions of “grass-fed”, “cage-free”, “humanely-raised”, “free-range”, and even “vegetarian”. When we begin to open our eyes to the world around us and listen to the voice of our conscience, it becomes clear that all living beings should unequivocally be afforded the right to their own bodies. To understand this idea, and live by it truthfully, is to be vegan.
Our beliefs must be reflected in our behavior.
If we are to take the virtues of truth, justice, and non-violence seriously, we must renounce all animal-derived products and abolish all systems of animal exploitation.
Veganism is the first meaningful step to this end.
In practical terms, vegans abstain from the consumption of meat, milk, eggs, honey, and all other animal byproducts. Vegans do not wear leather, wool, silk, skins, furs, and feathers. Vegans also do not patronize zoos, circuses, horse races, rodeos, or any other event that involves non-consenting participants. However, more than what veganism excludes is what it includes. As any vegan will tell you, living in a vegan way is not a sacrifice at all, but it is incredibly easy, infinitely rewarding, and a way of life that is rich in abundance. The alternatives are plentiful, and each of them provided to you in a way that is better for your health and more environmentally sustainable.
Your voice matters. Never feel that your presence in this world is without impact. In our consumerist society, every dollar is a vote. With every purchase, we are either supporting the status quo of exploitation or we are pushing for an evolution in our ethics. There is no such thing as a passive purchase, and every vote is counted. A better world begins with you. There is no enemy to attack and no authority to blame. We can make a personal decision to eliminate the demand for these exploitative products and be models of compassion for our family and friends.
Veganism is on the right side of a widespread wrong.
Throughout history, humankind has victimized others on irrelevant grounds such gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, and ability. We are now making the very same mistakes in continuing to use animals on our plates, in our medicine cabinets, in cages on display, and stitched into our clothing. We must evolve past these aggressions.
I believe that everyone has the capacity to change themselves and the world around them.
The power to change the world is in our hands.