If you're you're reading this as a vegan, chances are you made the decision to adopt the lifestyle for one of three reasons:
Combinations of those, or for another reason, are, of course, perfectly valid too.
It is the last reason for me. I am vegan for the animals. I will do my best to explain veganism based on the concept of being an "animal lover." What does that truly mean, and how is being vegan the only way one can ever indeed be an animal lover without condition?
Here are a few scenarios to consider what it really means to be an "animal lover" or not.
It's Friday afternoon, and your work colleagues have decided that a bite to eat and a few drinks after work is in order for the evening. A great night out beckons, but first you have to grab some groceries and get someone in to babysit the kids at such late notice. A quick online search gets you a babysitter in your area, Tania, that looks pretty good – a reasonable price and cover at late notice too.
Your call with Tania goes like this:
You: So how long have you been babysitting for?
Tania: Oh, about a year now.
You: Great! Well, my two can be a handful, but nothing too bad. I'll need you for about three hours.
Tania: No problem. I really love kids.
You: Awesome. Always good to know.
Tania: Yeah, I do, though, like to eat their roasted or fried bodies three or four times a week. Please don't worry, though, they are humanely killed, and I always use a lot of vegetables to go with them. So, all's good!
You: Say what?! <hangs up>
Tania's services are, of course, never needed, and she goes down in history as the single worst babysitter of all time.
For those who call themselves "animal lovers," but still eat meat, really need to redefine themselves. Sure, they may have a cat or a dog in their lives, but they still consume the dead bodies of other less fortunate animals. That's a being a "pet lover" not "animal lover."
Put another way, why is it "OK" to eat one animal but not the other? Maybe Tania knows? But then again, probably not.
It is unfortunate that our society defines which beings are OK to eat, and which are NOT OK to eat. If you live in a western society, chances are you would never eat meat from a horse or a dog or cat.
In some cultures, slaughtering and then eating meat from these creatures is commonplace. How does it make you feel inside knowing that this happens? What's worse, if you have a dog or cat as a pet, imagining them going through this painful process may change your perspective.
If you truly love your pets, you should be vegan.
By any study-backed measure, all animals are sentient, pain averse beings. They, like humans, would want to avoid that which hurts or even kills them.
The fact that they cannot articulate this notion is irrelevant – their reactions to pain and pleasure are the same as baby humans who also cannot talk.
Lots of factors are at play when we look at different societies' animal eating and treatment habits around the world, such as history, religion, and culture.
But if you take a step back from those cultural norms, as vegans do, it is all so utterly arbitrary and ultimately so very, very wrong.
At their closest points, England and France are separated by a mere 22 miles of sea. In Calais, France, the frog's legs are very much on the menu.
Just over the sea in Dover, England, the prospect of eating the same would be met with lots of aghast looks and statements about how "we don't eat that!"
At the same time, plenty of anti-animal cruelty charities across England readily put on fund-raising events for their cause and, without any sense of irony, have barbecued meat stands as part of the same event.
And of course, such cognitive dissonance and inconsistencies are not just specific to those two countries – sadly, it spans the globe.
Spring – the most optimistic of all the seasons and an excellent time to start enjoying the great outdoors - going for a walk, run, or bike ride, all the while enjoying the feel of the sun on your face. Life is blooming, and everything is good.
While out one afternoon, you take in a beautiful Spring field.
But your serenity soon changes to despair. In the middle of the field, a maniac is taking a tree-branch to a defenseless lamb. Wild with anger, you start to make your way over the fence and into the area to stop the psychopath doing what he's doing.
Before you can get there, though, a guy named "Grant" races into the field ahead of you and takes out the other guy attacking the lamb, saving the day.
As the assailant is taken away by the police, you thank Grant for doing what he did to save the lamb. He says he loves animals and couldn't stand to see that sort of cruelty. Grant is the hero of the day.
The next day, you're out doing your weekly vegan shop at the local supermarket. While walking up and down the aisles, you catch sight of Grant. In the meat aisle. Eyeing up the lamb chops, marveling at how cheap and fresh they are.
Grant's halo of heroics just slipped down to his ankles, and his status as an animal lover just booked up a one-way cruise and disappeared over the horizon…
As empathetic humans, when we see cruelty happening in real-time, our response is to stop that cruelty from continuing. We see it, we react that way. If we do not try to stop it, most of us will at least feel disgusted and unnerved by the actions taking place. I get it, not everyone is a hero.
However, Grant's case is something we encounter everyday. Otherwise empathetic humans give into hunger and settle for the easy-to-find meat on the shelf.
Since we saw Grant jump in to save the lamb, we can surmise that if lamb chops were not offered at the grocery store, he would not seek out a store manager to request them.
And If there were no meat choices available, Grant could be convinced to eat fruits and vegetables given he was hungry enough at the time.
The point is, most people would not go out of their way to be cruel to animals, nor would they actively hunt for their sustenance.
Our society has programmed its citizens to choose foods based on price and availability. So, we can thank big agricultural businesses for society's addiction to meat. They make it easy to make the wrong choice, the choice that hurts animals.
Fortunately, there are those of us fighting back against this machine. As vegans, we raise the world's consciousness by exposing human hypocrisy.
This is why peaceful activism is so important.
And we don't have to become violent either.
"Oh my word, they've broken up a dog-fighting ring in town" splutters Max as he takes in his local Sunday newspaper over Sunday lunch.
Of course, as an animal lover, Max feels appalled that something as barbaric as dog-fighting happens in his town. The very thought that people could do that – how can they not be animal lovers like him?
The problem is, Max is reading that account in his local Sunday paper just while he's eating his roast beef Sunday lunch.
There's that cognitive dissonance again – the psychology of holding conflicting, inconsistent thoughts. Why does Max pity the animals he reads about in the paper but thinks so little of others that he can turn his stomach into a graveyard for them?
What the world needs is a reality-check.
And we need to hold ourselves accountable as much as possible if we are to achieve our goals to bring about these necessary changes.
Veganism is the only remedy for stopping animal cruelty period.
Veganism values all life, not just the selective lives of those that a particular culture reveres as "cute," "sacred," or as "pets"
Tania, Grant, and Max may think that they are being animal lovers, but on examination, they clearly are not.
Only by choosing a vegan path, and removing all cognitive dissonance and double standards, would they be able to call themselves "animal lovers" truly.
Change is not easy, and that is OK too. That's why we are working so hard to build a community together where the actions we take serve a greater purpose and work toward our collective aims.
Choosing that higher path takes a ton of work and maintenance, but it is worth the effort! You health, the animals, and the planet overall thank you for forging ahead as a vegan human being.
As we've mentioned before, membership to our community of like-minded vegans aims to offer support to vegans new and old with collections of heartwarming stories, tasty recipes, interviews and other engaging content.
Immersing oneself and going all-in on making animal-friendly changes in your life is one of the best ways you can make a difference with this cause.
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