Animal Rights and Veganism
Table of Contents
(Click titles to skip)
Species-ism Can Be Dismantled Logically
Saving the World
Begins with the Animals
Some people think that animals should come last, and we should only worry about them after we've saved all the humans. They say we shouldn't "spend our energy" focusing on animal rights until we've got human rights figured out.
But in fact, we won't be able to end human oppression *until* we end the oppression of animals. As long as the latter exists, so will the former. It's cosmic law. It's spiritual physics.
Because how we treat others determines how we in turn deserve to be treated by others.
Everybody knows this. It's so simple, even little kids know it. "What you put out, you get back."
And no relationship is more important, more telling of who a person truly is, than the relationship with the vulnerable, the weak, the powerless - those with less power and stature than oneself.
Think about it. Nobody gets "moral credit points" for how they treat those with more power than themselves... like kings, generals, cops, bureaucrats, politicians, clergy, professors and teachers, parents, bosses, and so forth. Because there are perfectly selfish reasons to treat them well. Being kind and respectful to the bigwigs is just pure self preservation. It says nothing about moral character.
The same is true of one's relationships with peers - those of equivalent social stature... like friends, co-workers, compatriots, business partners, family members, neighbors, and community members. Because one still needs them for self-serving activities. One has to treat one's peers reasonably well, in order to ensure continued cooperation with them. So one's behavior towards peers does not indicate much about one's moral quality. It doesn't really say who one is.
What does, though?
Answer: How one treats those with less power than oneself.
Those of lower station in the hierarchy of one's society.
Those whom one has been taught - by parents, teachers, clergy, politicians, celebrities, and all manner of authority figures, all one's life - to view as unequal to oneself. Less than oneself. Inferior.
The ones whom our society views as things, as inanimate objects, as property we can buy and sell, and which we can do whatever we like with, because (we were told) they have no rights, no intrinsic entitlement to any kind of ethical consideration whatsoever, no social value outside what you or your peers see fit to bestow upon them.
Those toward whom there is no social prescription to show kindness. Those toward whom we can be cruel and apathetic, without fearing any punishment, neither from law nor from social sanction. Those whom we can hurt and exploit, and "get away with" it.
How you treat these beings...
...is what reveals who you really are.
And who is it who has the least power? Who is afforded the most pathetic and anemic protections by our "laws" - if they're even afforded any at all? Whom does this society consider the lowest and least important?
Animals, of course.
The way a person treats animals is the clearest window into their soul.
And that's not just true of you, the individual, but also of society at large. Societies and individuals have similar properties, and are subject to the same metaphysical laws. And how a society treats its most vulnerable members shows you what's at the core of that society.
And societies that are cruel and heartless don't last long. They eventually turn against themselves, and fall apart.
There will never be freedom for humanity until there is freedom for animals. It's just not possible any other way.
A society that keeps building cages will keep building prisons.
A society that practices animal slaughter will keep practicing human slaughter.
A society that treats animals like objects will continue to treat vulnerable humans as objects.
And if we deny the worth of animals' lives, we shouldn't act surprised when other humans - those with more power than us - deny the worth of our lives.
If you show no mercy to those under you, why should you deserve any mercy from those above you?
While we stand, whip in hand, behind others...
...others will continue to stand, whip in hand, behind us.
This is just how the universe works.
And why should it be otherwise? Why should anyone deserve mercy from those with more power when they refuse it to those with less?
Do you really think there will come a day of "Liberation" - a day when all humans are "finally free", with jubilation in the streets, with cracked and broken shackles lining the curbs - and meanwhile, a trillion sentient animals are still locked in cages, and blood still flows in torrents across the slaughterhouse floors?
Do you think the Hosts of Heaven will be blowing their trumpets in celebration of your new freedom, in total disregard of the heartbreaking slavery still continuing behind the cement walls of factory farms and abattoirs that you support with your patronage?
Do you really think we humans will get our happy ending to this drama, while we're still the villains in the stories of a trillion others?
Do you think this civilization of ours will stand for another thousand years, while a trillion anguished voices cry out in prayer for its speedy collapse?
Human rights depend on animal rights. Animal rights are the foundation of human rights. The socio-spiritual prerequisite.
What humans are doing to animals may be the most important sociological issue in the world.
Instead of last, they should come first.
No other issues are solvable while this one remains ignored. It is of the utmost importance.
And thankfully, the consciousness of animal rights is finally starting to take hold. The recognition of the sentience of animals, of their equality to us in spirit, and their intrinsic worth that transcends their mere "usefulness" to us, is expanding rapidly.
More and more people are surrendering their efforts to backwards-rationalize speciesism and human supremacism as anything other than a despicable bigotry on par with racism, fascism, and religious fanaticism.
While everything else has come to a stalemate, this one issue - animal rights - is gaining steam.
It is the epicenter of hope on this planet.
Now maybe you're thinking, "I don't believe in this 'deservingness' argument... It sounds an awful lot like "karma" and other New-Age woo-woo stuff. I don't believe in that nonsense. Can you explain to me how the one thing leads to the other, in a concrete way?
Can you explain how a society that's cruel and apathetic towards animals becomes cruel and apathetic towards humans? Can you show me a direct, cause-and-effect relationship that could actually be tested scientifically?"
It happens through two mechanisms:
1. Desensitization to violence.
2. Supremacist ideological structure.
We'll now explain both.
- Desensitization -
The Training for Violence
Violence requires *practice.* Specifically the practice of overriding, or "turning off", one's empathy function.
Everyone is born equipped with the ability to "put oneself in another's shoes" - to feel what others are feeling, in real time. That's what empathy is, and it's a key function in any society. The glue that holds society together.
And when a person is about to do something horrible to another person, they can't do so if their empathy function is working. In order to go through with a vile act, you need to turn off that function. "Suppression" is the technical term.
And suppression takes practice - you don't learn it overnight.
And WHOM do people practice on?
Come on. Think...
Unless you grew up with Vikings, hitting and stabbing human victims as soon as you were old enough to speak, you got your practice on animals.
Our culture trains us to suppress our empathy for animals, starting from a very young age.
Without that training, we wouldn't be able to hurt other humans. Violence against animals is a prerequisite for violence against humans.
The latter is impossible without the former.
And the correlation is clear. Today, the countries with the worst human rights records also have the worst treatment of animals. Some people who resist this message offer the pithy excuse that "respecting animals cheapens the value of humans." But if this were true, and human supremacist attitudes helped foster respect for humans, then the countries with zero animal rights legislation would have the most liberty and respect for human life, but the reality is precisely the opposite.
And you might come up with the next objection: "Sure, I see the CORRELATION there, but not the CAUSATION. Perhaps it's because their disrespect for HUMAN life LEADS them to disrespect animal life - rather than vice versa."
But this is a weak argument, for the simple reason that animal abuse always precedes human abuse, chronologically. How? Well, consider:
A. Every serial killer started out with animal victims before graduating to human ones.
B. War criminals have been known to practice wanton cruelty on animals in their childhoods. Bush, for instance, was known to have "fun" by stuffing firecrackers into frogs' mouths, and blowing them up. Later, he graduated to blowing people up.
C. When it comes to slavery, the animal kind always precedes the human kind. No society in all of history has ever started enslaving humans until after they've already institutionalized the enslavement of animals, and practiced it consistently for some time.
The earliest archaeological evidence of human slavery comes from the Uruk Period in Mesopotamia, around 4000 BC. The earliest animal slavery began in the *exact same region*, just a couple thousand years earlier.
Out of all the continents, and all the regions on the planet, what are the chances that these two phenomenon would "just happen" to come about in the exact same place, at almost the exact same time - just a couple thousand years apart, out of a 200,000 year history of anatomically modern humanity?
D. It's the same for human sacrifice: It never enters a society until after that society has already become comfortable with animal sacrifice. The latter is the "gateway drug" to the former.
E. It's the same for regular old violence. No tribe ever started killing people, and waging war, until after they had already normalized the hunting and killing of animals. The very weapons that are used in war - indeed, the very concept of weaponry - comes from hunting. Weapons were invented for hunting animals - and then they were later repurposed for fighting humans.
F. The Nazi secret police (SS) trained recruits to desensitize themselves - to turn off their empathy at will - by practicing on animals - specifically, on ones very close to their hearts. They gave each cadet a dog at the beginning of training. At the end of training, just before graduation, they had to kill their own loyal companion, upon command, without hesitation. If they hesitated, they failed out of the program, and all that work was for nothing. The intended *application* of this... "skill"... should be obvious.
G. The Nazi death camps were modeled on the slaughterhouses of the American meat and dairy industry. The Nazi leadership even traveled, in the early 1930's, to Chicago (then the center of the "modern" technological meat-packing process), to study the systems there, for ideas on how to construct their own killing-factories to liquidate humans in the most efficient way possible. Everything about the camps reflects the slaughterhouses. Quote
The chronological order makes it clear: Violence against animals is the "gateway drug" to violence against humans.
And it makes perfect sense. When you train people to desensitize themselves to violence, is it really any surprise when they become... you know... violent?
When you train them to suppress their empathy, is it any surprise when they you have an empathy-less society?
And is it any surprise when that empathy-less-ness spills over onto vulnerable members of our own species?
The Original Supremacy-ism
There are several types of supremacism in our world.
Racial. Sexual. Nationalistic. Religious. Class. Caste. Ability. Age. Developmental stage.
Across the different types, the content varies - but the structure is always the same.
The identity of the oppressed (and of the oppressor) vary across ideology - but the shape of that ideology always stays the same. The foundations are all shared.
Different content... same structure.
How is supremacism structured? It consists of the following main tenets:
The Structure of Supremacism
1. The world is (and ought to be) arranged in a hierarchy. The basic shape of society is (and ought to be) a pyramid.
2. The relationship between the levels is that of Superiors and Inferiors. X's are superior to Y's.
3. This is "ordained" by some higher power or authority - perhaps a deity, perhaps human "laws" and government - but either way, it's a source higher than the individual, and therefore cannot be disputed.
4. The X's have been granted "dominion" over the Y's.
5. The Y's are property. The X's can own, buy, sell, and trade them.
6. Y's have no intrinsic value. Whatever value they might have, they have only because it was assigned to them by the X's. And it's perfectly acceptable and normal for X's to assign value to Y's only to the extent that they're useful to the X's.
7. The same goes for rights. Y's have no inherent rights. Whatever rights they might have, they have only by the good graces of the X's who have been generous enough to bestow them with such rights - but it's entirely the X's prerogative to refuse to grant rights, or to withdraw them at any time, for any reason.
8. X's have the right to do whatever they want to Y's.
9. Y's do not matter. Compared to X's, they are nothing.
Surely you can see how the purveyors of every form of bigotry have utilized this belief system. Simply start plugging in identities for X and Y, and you have every pro-bigotry argument ever.
Plug in whites for X and blacks for Y.
Plug in men for X and women for Y.
Plug in the able for X and the disabled for Y.
Plug in the wealthy for X and the poor for Y.
Plug in tribe members for X and outsiders for Y.
Plug in parents for X and children for Y.
Plug in pregnant women for X and the preborn for Y.
Plug in Christians for X and pagans for Y.
They all have the exact same wording. You can plug any of those pairs into the values of X and Y, and the wording is IDENTICAL to the arguments that people REALLY ACTUALLY USED in previous time periods. (And yes, some idiots are still using).
See? All the familiar bigoted arguments we find in the history books (and on Neo-Nazi websites).
But there's one more set.
The ORIGINAL set.
The ORIGINAL supremacism.
You know what it is:
X = "Humans", and Y = "Animals".
This set predates all the other sets, chronologically, in both the historical record, and in the indoctrination of each individual mind. It's the prototype from which all the other supremacist ideologies emerged.
Only after speciesism did we get classism, sexism, ageism, racism, religious bigotry, and tribal/national bigotries.
None of those other "isms" would have been possible without speciesism, which created the shape and outline of supremacy-ism itself. Once the outline was created, people merely swapped different identities in and out for X and Y.
Structure takes a long time to create. But once a structure is set up, content can be swapped in fairly quickly and easily.
So if you believe in supremacism - any form of it - then you're strengthening all forms of it. Even if you don't mean to. You're strengthening the structure of bigotry - all the words around the X and the Y. And when you strengthen that, you're maintaining the mental thought system that makes all the other possible. Once a person has the structure, they're susceptible. Even if they're only plugging in identities that you find acceptable - like "Humans" and "Animals" - they're just one step away from plugging in other identities you DON'T find acceptable - like "whites" and "blacks", or "men and women."
You can't build 99 floors of a 100-storey pyramid, and then claim you didn't really build it, simply because you quit right before installing the capstone.
"I understand all your arguments here. But I still think that treating animals as equal to humans *cheapens* and *detracts* from the sacredness of human life. I don't think you should be comparing humans to animals, or vice versa. We are not animals. We're special!"
If our society actually respected animals, and honored the sacredness of their lives, then comparing a human to an animal wouldn't lessen the former's value - because the latter is sacred too!
Dehumanization can't have any power if the beings we're being "reduced" to aren't even "less" in the first place!
Just imagine one person - Person A - saying to another person - Person B - that "such and such group of people are ANIMALS."
It could be a race, a nationality, a religious group, a group of people with disabilities - whatever it is, imagine someone calling them "animals."
Now... imagine that their audience - the person they're talking to - is a vegan.
Even *IF* the vegan believes the statement - (and it's a stretch to imagine that any vegan would do so - but just for the sake of discussion, imagine it) - the vegan is not going to hurt or abuse the targeted group, *BECAUSE THEY DON'T EVEN BELIEVE IN HURTING ANIMALS!*
In other words...
If your audience are NON-vegans, you're only ONE step away from talking them into committing an atrocity against humans. All you have to do is convince them that the target group of people "are animals", and your audience will be ready to attack, persecute, lynch, and start building concentration camps.
But with VEGANS, you're TWO steps away. There's an extra step, buffering the vegan against committing violence. Not only do you have to convince him or her that the target group of people "are animals" - but you ALSO have to convince them to stop being vegan!!!
(Because vegans don't hurt animals, see?)
If the audience thinks it's fine to hurt animals... then you've got violence against humans in the making. As was just explained in numerous ways above.
It's clear that violence against animals is the gateway to violence against humans.
It's clear that speciesism intersects with every other kind of bigotry.
It's obvious that cruelty breeds more cruelty, and you can't insulate any group from it once it's infected a society.
As long as we have a society willing to commit heinous acts of evil against the vulnerable of one species, the vulnerable of all species will continue to be at risk.
There will never be peace in this world until it is a vegan world.
Peace, while cages and slaughterhouses exist, is the ultimate pie-in-the-sky fantasy. You will never persuade anyone to drop their particular supremacism while you're simultaneously building and defending the intellectual structure of supremacism itself. You will never convince anyone of the sacredness of Life while you're running around denying and violating that sacredness in a thousand brazen ways, every single day, from morning til night.
Compassion is a tide that lifts all boats. If you're wondering why the world doesn't seem to have much compassion, look inside yourself first. Ask yourself, "How am I contributing to the current situation? How might I be impeding the entrance of the very compassion I claim to wish for?"
Species-ism Can Be Dismantled Logically
Now you might be thinking:
"Hey, the human rights and animal rights struggles aren't the same ,because humans and animals really are different! Because of anatomy!
All the other groups you mentioned have the same anatomy. Whites and blacks, men and women, gay and straight, different religions, different nationalities, and so on - the differences are illusory, because it's all the same DNA. Same species. Same anatomy.
But with animals, it's different! They're literally different from us, anatomically. So you can't compare human supremacism to other forms of supremacism. We actually ARE superior. Anatomically!"
Nope. That's an argument that doesn't hold up under rational scrutiny.
Time to put species-ist ideology to rest. This will be your comprehensive debunking of speciesism.
Are you ready?
"Heh. Try me."
You've heard of Neanderthals, right?
Do you think they qualify as humans?
"That's a dumb question. There aren't any Neanderthals left."
Why does that matter? We're only speaking hypothetically, for now. Are you capable of answering a hypothetical?
Plus, we don't know that for sure. There are still some vast wilderness areas on this planet. We don't know what's going on in every square inch, everywhere, all the time. It's not impossible that some have survived, in a remote pocket or two.
Suppose some were found living somewhere, in the jungle, or a remote island, or in the mountains, or far out in Siberia.
Would you consider them people?
Would you consider them to have rights?
Inalienable rights - the same rights as you?
...would you call them objects?
Would you consider yourself to have the right to buy and sell them? To cage them? To eat them?
For reference, here's what they looked like:
Yes, they really looked like this. These are artists' renditions of Neanderthal faces, based on DNA and bone structure analysis. They were not the "stooped-over hairy beasts" that the cartoons told us they were.
They walk on two feet. They have faces. They have families. Community structures. They use tools. They control fire. They wear clothing. They build houses. They have language.
There were also other types, like the Denisovans:
Unlike Neanderthals, scientists are not in agreement on whether Denisovans are another subspecies of homo sapiens, or an entirely different species altogether. According to the Wikipedia article:
"It is debated whether Denisovans represent a distinct species of Homo or are an archaic subspecies of H. sapiens. DNA analyses showing Denisovans as a sister taxon of Neanderthals also concerns the classification of the latter as H. neanderthalensis or H. s. neanderthalensis. Proposed species names for Denisovans are H. denisova or H. altaiensis."
But you can hardly tell the difference between them and us.
So what's your answer?
Persons, with rights?
Or property, to be bought and sold?
"Well those clearly look like humans. So yes. They deserve rights."
All the rights? Like the right to vote?
"Supposing that they still exist, and that we found some living somewhere, yes. They should have the right to vote in whatever country they're found in."
Good! You're not a racist.
Let's take another step now. Here is a different species: "Flores Man":
They lived on the Indonesian archipelago, from 800,000 years ago until around 15,000 years ago, and they aren't classified as homo sapiens, but rather homo floresiensis. A different species.
Would you recognize these beings as having rights? To life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
Or would you view them as property? Objects? Things, that you can own? And put in circuses? And imprison, even if they've committed no crime? And force them to do labor? And even kill them if it's economically useful?
"No no, don't worry, I'm not a racist. That's definitely a person."
So you're acknowledging personhood outside of your species?
Remember, this is no longer homo sapiens. This is homo floresiensis. You believe other species can be persons?
"Hmm... Well.. Sure! Apparently I do!"
How about a slightly older species: homo heidelbergensis?
Person or not?
OK, good. Let's take another step, to an older species: homo erectus.
"Okay NOW I'm starting to see some obvious differences. Those are clearly ape-like features.
If I have to draw the line somewhere, I think I'll draw it here."
"Umm... Because they look different."
Why should that mean anything?
"Well, what other metric should we use?"
How about what's actually going on in their minds? How about their consciousness? How about their inner worlds?
"Do we know any of that?"
We know that they:
Walked on two feet.
Communicated in language.
Had families and social structures.
Cared for infirm or weak companions.
Had consciousness and the ability to feel pain, fear, and emotions.
"Really? Wow... I couldn't tell that, just by looking at them! I guess outer appearances can be deceiving!
So in that case... I can't really justify calling them non-persons. I take it back."
That's good to hear.
Let's take another step: Homo habilis.
"Oh come on!"
"That's a... a monkey!"
Careful. People have gotten in deep trouble for calling other people "monkeys." Are you sure you really want to go down that road?
Instead of making our decisions based on what someone looks like, shouldn't we ask about their cognition?
This species had:
Bipedalism (walking upright on two feet)
Fire (they didn't create it, but utilized it when it occurred naturally)
Worn accessories (like stones and seashells, if not textile clothing).
Families and communities.
Altruism (caring for infirm or weak companions)
Consciousness and the ability to feel pain, fear, and emotions.
"I don't like where this is going."
It doesn't matter whether you "like" it or not. The truth doesn't care about your feelings. It's your duty, as a rational person, to follow the truth wherever it leads - regardless of whether you "like" where it leads you.
"OK... I'll try to be brave, and face the truth. Those are persons."
Next up: australopithecus.
Walking on two feet? Check.
Families and communities? Check.
Caring for infirm or weak companions? Check.
Consciousness and the ability to feel pain, fear, and emotions? Check.
"OK, that may be so, but I'm not comfortable calling those "persons." Sorry. Those are animals."
Animals make tools?
"I mean like... OK, like... um...
So I totally get why they would deserve *some* protection, and it would be an evil thing to put them in circuses or cages or buy and sell them like property. I DO feel uncomfortable with such blatant dehumanization.
But I just can't call them persons. Not FULL persons. Maybe partially?"
How partially? 3/5ths?
"I get the reference. But it's not equivalent. The creatures in those pictures really are different from us. Could you even give them the *Right to Vote* if their linguistic capabilities aren't advanced enough to understand economics and politics?"
Suppose you're right, and the Right to Vote would be inappropriate for them. Let's just suppose that, for now.
What about the Right to Liberty? To walk around freely, and not be stuffed in a cage or prison without having committed any crimes?
What about the Right to Family? To remain together with loved-ones and pair-bonded individuals, and not be forcibly separated?
What about the Right to Life? To not be hunted? Or farmed?
You see, "Rights" is not a binary. It's not 0 or 1. We don't need to choose between "Yes they have All Rights" and "No they have Zero Rights."
Rights are a continuum. If a certain Right would be meaningless to a particular individual, and wouldn't affect their life in any way, or wouldn't make sense for some other reason, then it can certainly be argued that that individual does not have that particular Right.
For instance, a human without functioning arms (missing or disabled) shouldn't have the Right to a Driver's License.
You don't need to make a choice between "Person" and "non-Person." You can look at each specific Right as a unit in and of itself. If the individual doesn't even have the anatomical capacity to utilize that Right in the first place, then that Right is meaningless, and doesn't matter. But the OTHER Rights - the ones he or she DOES have the capacity to utilize, and the presence or absence of which DOES affect his or her life significantly - DO matter, and he or she DOES have the right to those Rights!
See how that works?
Australopithecus people might not have had quite as complex of a technological mind as we do, but they still had minds. And they had families, communities, emotions, and feelings. They could feel pain, and feel joy. They could suffer.
And since they could suffer, they would deserve, in a sane and just world, to be respected, and free from aggression or oppression that would cause them to suffer.
Look at these faces. Can you not tell that there's someone behind those eyes? (Or would be, if it wasn't a replica)?
Can't you tell that a being who looks like this would have consciousness, and the capacity to suffer? Can't you tell that if a being like this suffers, there would be someone suffering, and not just something?
"Alright. I'll agree that they are someones, and not merely somethings."
That sounds like you're saying "person."
"OK. I guess you're right. They're persons."
Good. Still not a racist :)
Let's continue to ardipithecus:
"Same as Australopithecus. Someone. A person."
This species was partially bipedal. They probably did not walk on two legs, but they could stand up on two legs, to reach branches.
Although we aren't sure whether they used tools (no tools have been found with them - although what do you expect after 7 million years of weathering?) but they did have opposable thumbs, and therefore could have used tools.
And they did have:
Brains, consciousness, feelings, emotions, and the capacity to suffer.
So. Stick them in zoos and circuses? Farm them? Cage them?
"No. They're persons, in all the ways that actually count."
Good! You're catching on!
Next up: orang utans.
"Aha! I found the line! Those are DEFINITELY NOT persons! Those are animals! I know it, because SCIENCE says they're animals! Bingo! Are we done here?"
Science does say they're animals, but it has nothing to say about whether they're persons.
Personhood is a philosophical concept - not a scientific one. It's not in science's purview to answer such a question. Science can tell us about anatomy, and make educated guesses about cognition - but it can't determine who's a person or not, because that question is not a scientific question to begin with. It's a philosophical one.
"OK, well, in my philosophy, those aren't persons."
What's different between them and oreopithecus, whom you said was a person?
They're both hairy. They both have similar faces. Similar statures. What's different? Why was the previous one a person, but this one's not?
Is it merely because they're contemporary? Because they live now, at the same time a we do?
"Well yea, I guess that's part of it."
And why should that make any difference? Why should someone's mere location coordinates on the Space-Time Continuum determine whether they're a person or not?
If orangutans had lived 7 million years ago, would you call them persons?
And if the more recent hominins - anyone from oreopithecus up through Neanderthals - were still living today, would you do a 180-degree turn on their personhood, just because they're living contemporary to you?
Why should being contemporary matter at all in the answering of the question of personhood?
"I guess it shouldn't. You're right. It was a bad argument. I take it back."
So, absent that argument, is there any other reason why orangutans shouldn't be persons?
Plant-based tools (they roll up grasses to make "straws" to suck food out of tight places)
Brains, consciousness, feelings, emotions, and the capacity to suffer.
Here's a video about chimpanzees (similar to orangutans) mourning their dead:
Yep, wow is right. And you know who else mourns their fallen companions?
Here's an article exploring the question of grief and other complex emotions among non-humans:
"Dude, elephants? Seriously? They're LITERALLY animals. Can we please draw the line here?"
Once again, we ask you: Why here? What is it based on?
What substantive difference is there between elephants and orang utans?
Between orang utans and oreopithecus?
Between oreopithecus and australopithecus?
Between australopithecus and us?
We just went through the spectrum, and we established that there is no rational reason to draw a binary line between "personhood" and "property", between any of these beings.
So why draw it between orang utans and elephants?
"Because elephants are... animals! They're in zoos!"
Well maybe they shouldn't be.
"They're on Animal Planet!"
What has that got to do with anything? Is the National Geographic Corporation the arbiter of Truth in this universe? Are their shareholders gods?
100 years ago, people with light-colored skin were calling people with dark-colored skin "animals." They even put some of them in zoos.
People were wrong then. Perhaps they're wrong now too.
Merely being placed in a zoo does not mean that someone is an "animal."
Or... perhaps... we're ALL animals.
"So you're saying elephants are persons?"
Why shouldn't they be? They have:
Brains, consciousness, feelings, emotions, and the capacity to suffer.
They might not be like us in every way, but they are like us in every way that counts.
"Should they have the right to vote? To drive a car?"
We've been through this already. Scroll up. They deserve all the rights that would be meaningful to them.
So what do you think? Are they persons?
"Because... umm... I don't know, but they're just not!"
So you don't have any rational reason for your position?
Remember, this world of ours is in trouble. We're not going to solve our problems by being petulant and irrational, and basing our policies on emotions, whims, and prejudices. We have to start being logical and rational.
Do you have a rational reason for denying the person-hood of elephants? One that hasn't already been debunked above?
"I can't say that I do."
So they are persons?
"I guess they are."
Good. You're catching on.
Next up: suidae:
Brains, consciousness, feelings, emotions, and the capacity to suffer.
Societies don't stay the same. They evolve.
Things that are acceptable today are not always acceptable tomorrow.
Living Beings who are seen as "things" and "property" in one period of time are recognized as Living Beings a few decades later.
The pattern repeats itself, again and again, throughout the ages.
People of other races were once considered unworthy of ethical consideration. The same goes for people of other religions... other nationalities... other sexual preferences... and women... Even poor people (or anyone not royalty) were once considered "property", if you go back far enough!
But as we evolve, the umbrella of ethical consideration (and protection under law) grows, sheltering a greater range of living beings under its protection.
Here's a handy visual:
The vegan movement - the effort to achieve societal recognition of the sentience and innate rights of animals - is the abolitionist movement of our time.
And the oppression of animals is the Slavery of our time.
Yes, slavery. And if you don't want History to remember you the same way it remembers slavery-supporters - with shame and disgust for all Time - then you need to make sure you're on the correct side of this fight.
"SLAVERY!?!?!? I don't accept the comparison between animal exploitation, and human exploitation. In fact, I find it insulting! It trivializes the suffering of oppressed groups of people! You should take that back!"
That's quite an ironic thing to say, for a slavery-supporter.
"What? Me? A slavery supporter? How in the world do you figure that?"
Let's do a little thought experiment.
If you - yes you - had been born and raised in the 1700's or early 1800's... would you have been against slavery?
Picture yourself living back then. Think of all the social institutions, and all the ideological programming that went on.
Picture yourself living in this setting.
Now... living in such a setting... would you have supported slavery, or opposed it?
Would you have been an abolitionist?
"Yes! I would have totally been against slavery!"
How do you know that?
"Because slavery is totally evil, and I'm totally against it!"
Well of course you see that now! Of course you do! Because your society sees that!
Your society is already against slavery, and it doesn't take any courage or forward-thinking to reject something that your society already rejects. All you're doing there is going with the crowd.
That doesn't show any moral foresight on your part. It takes no moral courage to do what your society is already doing. You don't get any points for condemning a type of barbarism that your society already condemns.
So what evidence do you have that you would have been an abolitionist - a person against slavery? The fact that you're one NOW is not evidence. So what evidence do you have?
"Well I'm generally a good person. I'm nice. I care about others. I always try to do the right thing"
Most people in the southern states were also generally good, kind, caring people (notwithstanding their racism). Have you ever heard of "southern hospitality"?
Just being a "nice person" doesn't mean you would have applied that niceness to a group that your society taught you were undignified, inferior, and unworthy of your niceness.
And the statistics are not on your side. The vast majority of (white) people who lived during slavery-times were in support of slavery. Only 2% of (white) Americans in southern states were against slavery when Abraham Lincoln was elected. And an even smaller portion of those were actually abolitionists - people who actually bothered to get up off the couch and agitate to abolish it.
The vast majority of people didn't care about the plight of the slaves one bit.
So if you're saying you'd be among the tiny minority who DID care, what evidence do you have for that?
What is it about YOU that makes YOU the type of person who would oppose slavery?
What qualities do you have?
What makes you different? What makes you part of the tiny minority who saw the evil for what it was?
"Well it's impossible to know, I guess. Nobody knows for sure what they would have been. I guess it's just the luck of the draw."
No it's not. Because there is an actual set of personal qualities that made a person back then an abolitionist. And if a person today has those same traits, then we can accept that they have a strong claim that they would have been an abolitionist, because they live in a similar way now.
"What qualities are you talking about?"
1. The ability to go against the grain of one's society. To look at an accepted social norm and question it. And not take the fact that something is "legal" and socially "acceptable" to mean that it's MORAL. The ability to decouple morality from legality and social acceptability. To engage in independent moral reasoning, independent of the conventions of ones society.
2. The ability to look at a type of Being that you've been taught to otherize, and, instead of otherizing them, empathize with them. To look at a Being whom you've been trained, from a very young age - by your parents, friends, teachers, clergy, and all the respected social institutions of your society - to view as inferior to you, and less than you, and beneath you - and still treat them as an equal.
3. The courage to openly state your recognition of the dignity and rights of the oppressed Being, to go against social norms and conventions in order to make this stance known .
4. The willingness to give up some kind of pleasure or economic benefit, to give up some aspect of ones lifestyle, in order to show compassion to the oppressed group.
And possibly a fifth:
5. The willingness to do things that are considered illegal, in order to help the oppressed Beings.
Those 4 or 5 qualities are what made an abolitionist.
So... the 64,000 dollar question:
Do you have these qualities?
"Yes. I empathize with oppressed people!"
Like people of color! And women! And LGBT people! I'm woke!"
But your society already recognizes the rights and dignity of these. You may be doing what's right, but you're not going against your culture to do it.
You don't get any moral credit for opposing barbarities and prejudices that your culture already opposes.
Who has those qualities today?
The answer is obvious.
"Look, I get it. Vegans have a point - we should be treating animals well. It's a good thing to do. But why do they need to be so PUSHY?
Why do they care about what I do in my own personal life?
Why do they care about my personal choices? What gives them the right to push their ideas on the rest of us?"
Because it's only your "personal choice" if no one else is involved.
What you do to yourself is your business.
But what you do to others is others' business.
And if you're hurting others, who have no ability to defend themselves, then that's everyone's business.
"I guess that makes sense. That is, after all, the basis of every social movement for a better world.
But the thing is, we NEED to exploit animals for some things. We need to eat meat. If we don't, we won't get proper nutrition. What are we supposed to do? Be malnourished?
I'm actually on your side. I WISH I could be vegan... but I can't."
First of all, the very existence of vegans - including bodybuilders, UFC fighters, marathon runners, and all kinds of successful vegan athletes - pretty much proves that people - at least most people - don't need to eat animal products in order to be perfectly healthy.
But you know what? Let's assume that you're right.
We're throwing this one out for you. This is your free Bingo square.
Let's assume, for the sake of this argument, that humans need some quantity of meat and/or other animal products in your diet for optimum health. Let's just assume that.
There's still a difference between using animals for necessity vs. using them for pleasure.
Can you recognize the wrongness of using animals for, say... circuses? Or fashion? These things aren't necessities.
"Yes, and I think those things should be illegal. I'm only defending the use of animals for food, because food is a real necessity."
So we're going to honor your free Bingo square... but there is still a difference between eating them for the fun of it, vs. eating for actual nutritional necessity.
A big difference.
You can't quit meat overnight? You can't go "cold turkey"? Fine.
Can you at least recognize the goal? Even if it's not a goal you feel you can achieve 100% overnight (or perhaps ever), can you still recognize it as something to aspire to? Something to continually work towards, something to get as close to as you can, even if you can't fully reach it?
Can you at least acknowledge that?
"Umm well... I'm not really sure what you mean exactly..."
In other words, while it may be true that some portion of the animal flesh you eat is indeed for your nutrition, there's still a portion on top of that that you're consuming only because you "like" it, for sensory pleasure - for entertainment. And possibly other things as well, like social status, convenience, or whatever it may be.
There is a portion you're eating for nutrition, and a portion on top of that which you're eating for fun.
Which means you have room to reduce your consumption of it, without impacting your nutrition.
And if you eat anything close to the average modern American diet, you have a LOT of room to reduce it. You're probably eating way way way more of it than you could ever attempt to rationalize "needing." The amount that the average person in modern society consumes is just gargantuan. It's pure gluttony, and it comes with a cost to those who are caught in the industry that produces it.
Let's say you need some for your nutrition. Are you willing to reduce your consumption down to that level? Are you willing to forego the entertainment value of the unnecessary excess amount, and only consume what your body actually needs?
"No, because I ONLY eat the amount I NEED. I'm doing this ALREADY."
Are you saying that if you reduced it - even by just 1% - you would become malnourished?
And how do you know that?
"Because I only eat as much as I want to."
Want? We're talking about need.
"Well yes, the fact that I want it, that I hunger for it, means that I need it, so whatever amount I FEEL like eating, (which doesn't cross over into OVER-eating), that's the amount that I need, and I know I needed it, because I wanted it."
So all wants are needs, automatically?
If a guy wants a fancy car, or a excessive mansion with 3 tennis courts in it, or he wants to snort coke off a stripper's tits, are these needs - because they're wants?
"Well no, those are just egotistical desires. But when it comes to nutrition, it's different. With nutrition, whatever we wanna eat, that's what we need. The desire is our body's way of telling us what we need to eat."
So why is there so much disease in people with a meaty diet?
Think of all the obese people, the ones who eat as much meat and cheese and junk as they want, the ones with the multiple jiggly neck rolls, the people who eat so much beef they start looking like cows (maybe from all the bovine growth hormone injected into the cows, which still remains in the meat and dairy). Are you saying that they're only eating as much of it as they need?
If their bodies are telling them to eat this way, and they're only eating as much as they need, then why is it making them sick?
Why does it give them hypertension, and atherosclerosis, and colon polyps, and all kinds of cancer, and impotence, and diabetes, and Alzheimer's, and this vast array of diseases - if it's only what their "body needs"?
"Well obviously they're eating way more than they need."
But they want to.
So, obviously, want can't be identical with need. Just because you want something, doesn't mean you need it. They're two different things.
"OK. Good point."
So are you willing to reduce the amount you consume, down to the level of your need? And not the wants?
"Well sure, in theory, but how would I even know what that amount is?"
There are ways.
Are you interested in looking for the ways?
So you're not looking for ways you can reduce suffering to animals?
You said you love animals. You called yourself an animal lover. If you can reduce the amount of suffering you're causing them, without any negative affect to your health, wouldn't you be interested in doing that? If actually care about animals, like you say you do?
"Fine... You're right. I should try. How do I tell the difference between a WANT for meat, and a NEED for it?"
First of all, how much are you eating? How often?
"Probably more like every meal."
So that's obviously excessive, by common sense alone. Nobody's ancestors (except perhaps for Inuits/Eskimos who had no choice because there are almost no vegetables growing in the Arctic) ate meat that often. Your ancestors almost certainly didn't. Common sense is enough to tell you not to do that.
"OK, maybe once a day then?"
Again, 99% of human cultures throughout history didn't do that. Our ancestors ate meat as a once-in-a-while delicacy, to supplement their mostly plant-based diets.
"What about once a week? Is that what you're getting at?"
There is no "exact amount" that we're hinting at, but sure, that would indeed be more reasonable, and more in line with historical patterns.
"But what if that's not often enough for me? What if I get a craving?"
Learn to tell the types of hunger, and then you'll be in a more informed position to make that call.
"Types of hunger?"
There are different types of hunger. You're probably citing "protein" as the nutrient that you require meat for, right?
"Yea, that's the main one."
So there are different types of hunger, for just calories in general and for protein specifically. And you can learn to tell the difference. It's subtle, but if you start paying attention to your body, you'll be able to start distinguishing. And you'll start to realize which hungers are simply for calories, and not specifically for protein, and when you get those types of hunger, there's no reason to opt for meat or dairy or eggs. When you get the protein hunger, try eating plant-based protein, like a nice big dish of beans, nuts, and various protein-rich plants.
Then, if the day after that, you still feel that protein hunger, then maybe eat an animal product.
Are you at least willing to do this much?
"Yes, I'm willing. But vegans, as a group, won't accept that. They insist that I be 100% vegan, overnight. And they're mean and nasty to me if I won't."
Not true. Although every movement may have extremists on the fringe, the vast majority of vegans are willing to help someone make the change to kinder eating habits, and to do so gradually if need be, and be patient while the person is working through the change.
Provided, of course, that you really are trying. Provided that your effort is truly genuine, and you're not just "saying" it to get them off your back. If you're really trying, 99% of the vegan community will accept your efforts.
In fact, as far as the Earth Party is concerned, as long as you're making an effort, (a genuine one) we're OK with you calling yourself a vegan! Even if you're not perfect at it. Even if you occasionally consume animal products, but you're doing your best not to.
Instead of calling you a "non-vegan", (and thus an "outsider"), we're happy to call you a "vegan with imperfections!"
Because when you really think about it, all vegans are imperfect vegans. There's no such thing as a "perfect vegan"! A lot of vegans might get mad at hearing that, but it's true.
Look at the concentric circles above.
Each layer represents a period of social struggle.
During all of these struggles, there were people fighting for the rights and dignity of the oppressed group, and also people resisting progress, and arguing to continue the oppression.
Western so-called "civilization" started out with kings being the only beings with rights, and every other type of being, from nobles on down, had to fight for the recognition of their rights in order to get them recognized.
Nobles, merchants, craftsmen, regular common-folk, peasants, women, children, the handicapped, other races, other religions, other sexual types - again and again and again and again and again, for one type of being after another, a fight was waged within society to get them their rights, and their rights would never have been recognized without that fight.
And during all these fights, there were people arguing against recognizing them - arguing to keep the subjugated group subjugated.
And what time was the pro-subjugation side EVER correct? What time did they ever win? What type of oppression is it whose apologists (defenders) are not today remembered with nothing but shame and disgust?
None. History heaps scorn upon them all.
Imagine a white person denying that black people matter, and another white person trying to persuade him to change his mind.
Who was right?
Imagine a man denying that women have rights, and another man trying to persuade him to change his mind.
Who was right?
Imagine a nobleman denying that commoners' lives matter, and another nobleman trying to persuade him to change his mind.
(Hey, this was actually the debate the human race was having, for quite a long time).
Who was right?
Imagine a religious person denying that people of other religions have a right to exist, and one of his fellow faithful trying to persuade him to change his mind.
Who was right?
Imagine a citizen of a nation denying that people in other nations' lives have value, and a fellow patriot trying to persuade him to change his mind.
Who was right?
Imagine an able-bodied person denying that disabled people matter, and another able-bodied person trying to persuade him to change his mind.
Who was right?
Imagine a straight person denying that queer people deserve to exist, and another straight person trying to persuade him to change his mind.
Who was right?
Any time there's a conversation in which one person is trying to convince another person that someone else's life and feelings matter and have value, and the other person is denying this, the truth is always on the side of the former.
Can you think of a time in history where the more compassionate person turned out to be wrong?
It's never been so. Every such debate, when it finally ends, ends with:
1. "Yes, they DO matter."
2. "Yes, their lives DO have value."
3. "Yes, they DO deserve rights."
4. "Yes, it IS morally wrong to oppress them."
5. "Yes, it SHOULD be illegal to hurt them."
6. "Yes, the people who argued the opposite WERE wrong."
Every single time.
And not only does history always side with those who want society to evolve in the direction of compassion, but it's also quite cruel to those who resist the evolution. Think of how history treats those involved in the slave trade. Or those who resisted women's rights and suffrage. Or who opposed the civil rights movement. History is not kind to these people. Their names live on only in shame. Whenever their names are uttered, the emotion felt is shame - and that's what their name and memory are connected to, for all posterity.
And they didn't see it coming either. They didn't think future generations would be ashamed of them at all.
Don't believe that?
Think of those old photographs of slave-sale posters from the 1800's and before. People put their names on those posters. The sellers. The slave traders. The kidnappers. They put their names on a document of slavery, knowing full well that it would transcend the corridors of Time, and reach the eyes and ears of their very own descendants - the very people tasked with preserving their memories.
And they were comfortable putting their names on such documents, signing their names alongside slavery, sealing their memories in eternal conjunction with barbarism.
See the name at the bottom? John Carter Esq.?
That's how confident these people were that slavery would never be outlawed, that society would never view it - and them - as evil.
They all thought their society had already completed the Circle of Rights - that it was "finished."
Oh sure, they valued the Circle "as it was." They agreed with all the layers that had already been achieved, which, they were quite thankful, included themselves! They supported all the previously achieved layers - but they didn't think any more layers were ever forthcoming.
A poor white man in the antebellum South was fully in support of the Circle's earlier expansions - the ones that started the inclusion of commoners and non-landowners (i.e. people like himself) - but never thought it would expand again to include other races. He thought the Circle was complete - that it had already reached its maximum radius, and that the process of societal evolution had already concluded.
Do you believe the Circle has reached its maximum radius?
"Yes, it has. Because all the other groups in the Circle are PEOPLE. They're HUMANS. Animals are fundamentally different. There's no basic difference between white people and people of color... or between gays and straights, or between religions, or nationalities, etc. They're all HUMAN. But animals are not. Animals are WAY different."
If they're so different, then why do you use the exact same arguments as the slave holders?
Why do you attempt to defend your practices with the same arguments the slavers utilized to defend theirs?
If you could go back in time, and talk to a slave-holder, what kind of arguments do you think he would have made?
Imagine you're him. Imagine some pesky little abolitionist (anti-slavery activist) disrupts your peaceful day to argue with you about slavery.
How do you think you'd respond?
What kind of arguments would you bring to your defense?
"They're not intelligent."
"They're intelligent, but not sapient. Not fully. Not like us."
"They don't have souls."
"Maybe they have souls, but not like OURS."
"God put them here for us to use."
"He gave us Dominion over them."
"The Bible supports it."
"Subservience is their natural station."
"They're my property. I worked hard to acquire them! I paid good money for them! You can't just go around confiscating people's property! That's tyranny!"
"When I hurt them, I do it humanely."
"It's necessary for the Economy. If we ended the practice, the Economy would collapse, and millions of people would suffer!"
"If we free them, they would run amok! It would be chaos!"
"It's an integral part of our culture and tradition. You're being insensitive to my people's traditions!"
"It's existed since the dawn of man, and you'll never put an end to it, and it's futile to try."
"It's my personal choice! If you don't like it, don't participate in it, but don't you dare tell ME what to do!"
"It's legal! If you don't like it, then pass a law or something, but until then, get outta my face!"
Every single one of those arguments is still being employed, 200 years later, right now, by people attempting to defend the exploitation of animals.
Every single one.
It's like plagiarism. The entire playbook of the slave-holder has been completely plagiarized by every apologist for animal exploitation. Word for word.
If the two issues are so different, why are the arguments exactly the same?
"Hmm... I guess I don't have an answer for that. Those arguments were stupid back then... and I guess they're still stupid now. But... I'm not a bad person! I'm not like the guy in that poster! He was a piece of sh*t, but I'm not! Maybe I participate in animal exploitation, but I would NEVER, EVER support human slavery!"
How can you be sure about that?
Of course you don't support human slavery now. Your society doesn't support it. Your society is against it. By condemning slavery, you're not going against the flow of society - you're going with it. That doesn't require any courage or forward-thinking.
But are you capable of opposing oppression when it's part of the social norm?
Are you brave enough to go against your society?
If you see nothing wrong with carnism today, then you would not have seen anything wrong with slavery then.
If you're a human supremacist now, then you would have been a white supremacist then.
A supremacist in any era is a supremacist in every era.
This can be proven.
If a person lives in a society that trains them to view animals as objects that are here for human use only, but they develop a sense of empathy and compassion for animals nevertheless, and realize the consciousness and sentience in animals, and try to fight to gain recognition of that in society, then they have what it takes to have approached the issue of slavery in the same manner, had they lived in the 1700's/1800s. And if such a person says "I would have been an abolitionist", then their claim has strong support.
But if a person gleefully consumes all kinds of animal products without any remorse, because his society tells him it's OK because animals are "less than" him and "beneath" him, and "not really sentient" or whatever the excuse happens to be, then when he claims he would have been an abolitionist, that claim has no support.
In all likelihood he would have been among the 98% of people that didn't give a crap about the slaves. Because there's an oppressed group right now, and he doesn't give a crap about them. In fact he's actively, gleefully participating in their oppression. So he would have done the same thing back then.
"But I'm woke! I'm progressive! I stand up for minorities, and people of color, and women, and immigrants, and the LGBT community, and the poor!"
And if you had lived in the 1800's, you would have been tolerant of Catholics, and you wouldn't hate the Irish, and you'd be totally cool with Italians. And because you wouldn't hate them, you'd think of yourself as woke. While still supporting slavery.
Because that's where the "progressive" part of your society was, at the time.
So today, you see yourself a very woke, because you oppose slavery in a society that already opposes it, and you oppose misogyny and sexism in a society that at least nominally opposes those things, and you oppose discrimination in a society that's already outlawed it, and you oppose homophobia in a society that's largely accepted other sexual orientations, and so you believe you're very woke, for following along with the moral code that your society has dictated to you.
All we can infer about you is that you're able to conform your morality to the moral code around you. So, if you had lived in the early 1800's, it would have been the same. You would have thought slavery was OK, but you would have considered yourself very woke, because you're cool with Catholics and the Irish and Italians.
You don't get any points for opposing a form of barbarism that your society already opposes. You only get points for opposing slavery if you live in a society that approves of slavery. Because that takes courage. It doesn't take any courage to oppose slavery in a society that already outlawed it. Such a person has displayed no moral courage. So when they say they would have been an abolitionist, where's the courage? When they say they would have had courage back in the 1800s, where's their courage now? If they don't have it today, why would they have had it then?
So just because someone thinks they're woke for respecting the dignity of Beings that their society already expects them to respect the dignity of, doesn't mean they're woke.
To know where you would have stood on slavery in the 1800's, don't look at where you stand on slavery now. Instead, look at where you stand on the next, upcoming layer of the Circle of Rights. Not the layers that have already been achieved, but the layers that haven't yet been achieved.
It's not about which layers you believe in. It's about which direction you want to go in.
Expansion, or contraction, or stasis.
If you're happy keeping things where they are, now, then you would have been happy keeping things where they were, in the 1800's, had you lived back then.
If you're an apologist for cruelty and exploitation of animals, then you're an apologist for cruelty and exploitation - no matter who is at the receiving end of it. The only difference between you and a slavery apologist is the social context into which you were born. There's nothing different about you.
It doesn't *measure* who you are. It's not a real test.
So let's ask one more time:
Do you believe the Circle has reached its maximum radius?
Do you want the Circle to expand, contract, or stay the same?
Do you want the next layer to be included, or are you happy keeping things where they are?
Assuming, of course, that we can fortify the layers already socially accepted, and make sure that they stay strong, and make sure everyone's rights are respected - assuming this of the already nominally-achieved layers - are you content?
As long as the groups already accepted within the Circle can fully realize and actualize their deserved respect, are you content to stop expanding the Circle?
As long as we can secure the rights of all women, POC, LGBT, and all other types of oppressed humans - and TRULY secure them - are you content to keep the Circle where it is, and not expand it to include other types of Living Beings besides humans?
If so, then History will remember you the same way it remembers slaveholders. It doesn't matter to History what layers your society accepted - you don't get points for accepting the layers your society already accepts.
The true test is where you stand on the question of Expanding the Circle.
Think back to the question.
Do you believe the Circle has reached its maximum radius?
If you do, then you think like a slave-owner, and History will note it.
And if you don't... then you're on the Good Team. And History will note that as well.
Where do you stand on animal rights?
Do you think you have the right to hurt them if it suits you - just for entertainment or taste-bud pleasure?
Do you take pride in your opposition to animal cruelty that others engage in - while participating in forms of your own with nary a thought?
Do you self-righteously condemn other cultures for their barbarities - the bullfighters, the whalers, dolphin-hunters, dogfighting bookies, pet-neglecters, trophy-hunters, etc. - while stuffing your fingers in your ears when someone else tries to condemn you for yours?
Do you support laws that criminalize the abuses that "other people" commit, while resisting efforts to properly outlaw the ones you commit?
Do you think that animals can be property?
Do you think that they can be - and should be - bought and sold?
Do you think you have the right to hurt them for fun?
That includes the fun of taste.
Look, if you have an addiction, it's understandable to have difficulty quitting. That's how addictions are.
Meat and dairy are addictions. Dairy has literal drugs in it: casomorphins, related to morphine.
If you WANT to quit that stuff, but don't know if you CAN, then you're not the bad guy.
It's one thing to recognize the GOAL of being vegan, as something to aspire to, while struggling to uphold it in your personal choices. Hey, life can be that way sometimes. We have a moral Value - something we strongly believe in - but we don't always follow it - not 100% of the time. Sometimes we backslide. That's OK. If you really want to be vegan, but don't have the strength of will... or the know-how... or the social support... or the resources, physical and/or emotional... but you still WANT to... then you're on the Good Team.
If you don't feel you can do it... ...but WISH you could...
...then you're not on History's bad side.
Maybe not the good side either... but something more like neutral.
Neutral like a poor white farmer in the South, who said he "opposed" slavery, but was too exhausted from the struggles of living and providing for a family to do much in the way of activism. History is not quite so cruel to people like that. They don't get any praise... but at least they don't get the harshest condemnation either.
But it's very different for someone who ARGUED FOR slavery...
Someone who, when faced with logical proof of the immorality of slavery, responded with, "Well, actually..."
...someone who wrote newspaper columns DEFENDING slavery.
Well, guess what? Social media is the newspaper of the modern world. How do you talk about animal rights here on social media?
How do you talk about animal abuses?
Do you defend them?
Do you laugh?
Do you make jokes about eating them?
Do you attempt to uphold the institution of animal ownership, of animal trading, of exploitation, and of violence against them?
Do you look for excuses to make?
Do you tell people that you "feel for the animals", but then go right back out and purchase their bodies for your consumption, without a pang of guilt?
Do you claim to be "cutting back" on meat and dairy, and trying to "be conscious" about it, but then argue and get defensive when someome tries to question you on just how "conscious" you're really being?
Do you claim to "know" that consuming animals for entertainment is unethical - and then turn right around and make social media posts about meat and dairy meals you just ate, and how "delicious" they were?
Do you still advertise, to the whole world, that you're doing something unethical?
Do you publicly affirm and reinforce the paradigm of human ownership of other Beings?
If you do these things, then you're not really "neutral." You're actively participating on the losing side of this debate. And History won't see that as neutral.
Either you're on the side of progress, or you're not.
Do you claim to be "progressive"?
What does "progress" actually mean?
Progress is the Expansion of the Circle. If you're FOR it, then you're progressive.
But if you think the Circle is just fine at its current reach, and doesn't need to include any more types of Living Beings than it currently does, then you're not progressive.
To have the right to call yourself progressive, you have to want the Circle of Rights to expand, to the next layer, to include more types of Beings under its protection.
If you refuse to do that, then you can't call yourself progressive. History certainly won't.
Now you might be thinking:
"I believe the Circle should expand to include animals eventually - but we're not there yet.
We still haven't secured rights for humans. Women and POC and LGBT folks are still not secure in their rights yet.
We should take care of the humans first - and THEN move on to animals afterwards."
Hey, wake up! This is nothing more than making EXCUSES to prevent the expansion of the Circle. That's all this is.
A poor white southerner could have made the same argument. He could have said:
"Hey, look at me, I'm still poor! Let's take care of white people first, and make sure that every white man has enough to feed his family, and then we can move on to helping colored people afterwards."
What he didn't understand was that his own oppression was connected to the oppression of colored people. By participating in their oppression and upholding the institutions of their oppression, he was simultaneously upholding the institutions of his OWN oppression, because all oppression is intersectional - as anyone who understands intersectionality knows.
The thought-system that identifies one race as superior to another...
...and the thought-system that identifies humans as superior to the rest of Nature...
...is the SAME THOUGHT-SYSTEM.
Both of those beliefs INTERSECT.
And you can't oppose one without opposing the other. Because if you support one, you're supporting BOTH.
The Buddhists have a word for this: karma. By endorsing the oppression of colored people, or just making excuses to avoid doing anything about it, he was generating karma for his own oppression.
Since poverty and racism are intersectional problems, the impoverished white man, who was being oppressed by the wealthy class, was perpetuating his own class oppression when he turned a blind eye to the racial oppression of enslaved Africans.
And today, if you're a member of an oppressed class of humans, then you're perpetuating your own oppression whenever you turn a blind eye to the oppression of animals.
Animals are the most powerless and abused class of beings on the planet. What was done to humans pales in comparison to what was done, and is still being done, to animals, on behalf of your entertainment preferences.
This is true whether you're white or black, male or female, queer or straight.
If you abuse those over whom you have power, why should you deserve protection from those with power over you?
If you uphold oppression anywhere, you're upholding it everywhere. Including of your own self.
So "me first" and "them first" are not valid excuses. Saying "wait for me to fully secure my own rights before I recognize those in others" is nothing but pure selfishness. It's not a prescription for a solution - it's literally the perpetuation of the problem.
Stop making excuses. Just stop. Stop opposing the expansion of the Circle of Rights.
You might still think to yourself:
"Hey, History will understand that I lived in a culture that was at a certain point in its evolution, and that I only did what I did because it was culturally accepted. History will understand that, and be merciful to me."
Is it merciful to those who accepted the bigotries of the past?
Is it merciful to slave-owners?
Is it merciful to the Confederacy or any of its soldiers or citizens?
Is it merciful to the Jim Crow southerners who didn't do what they could to resist and dismantle the institutions of racism?
If not, then how do you expect it will treat those who refused to dismantle the institutions of speciesism?
Who are you?
Are you a human denying that animals matter, denying that their lives have value, denying that they have inalienable rights, denying that it's wrong to oppress them?
Or are you another type of human, trying to persuade them to change their mind?
Questions / Objections:
"If the Earth Party endorses veganism, what specific policies will you enforce? Will you make meat-eating illegal?"
For policy specifics, refer to our page on Animal Rights Law.
"I agree with the general idea of being vegan, but I'm just not sure if it's healthy. I'm not sure if I can get all my nutrients from just plants."
This topic is also covered under Animal Rights Law.
"OK, I get it; we humans probably don't need to eat meat to be healthy. In fact, I've seen the studies, and it looks like the less meat we eat, the healthier we are. I get it.
And I also get how history might judge me harshly if I refuse to evolve. I sure don't want to be remembered as another John Carter Esq.!
But still, it's MY business. Not yours.
If I want to risk history's wrath, that's my choice to risk it.
Why are vegans so PUSHY?
Why do they have to shove their beliefs and choices onto me? Why can't they just do their own thing, and let ME enjoy the foods that I enjoy (and reap whatever consequences come from it)?
Why do they think MY food choices are any of THEIR business?
And what right to they have to FORCE me to make different choices? I'm fine with preaching, and educating, and persuading. But they choice ultimately remains mine - or it ought to. They have no right to force me to do anything. I'll change IF I want to, WHEN I want to."
The choices you make for your own self are indeed your own business.
But when your choices involve harming others, they are no longer limited to your life - there is another's life involved.
What you do to yourself...
is your business.
What you do to others...
is other's business.
What you do non-consensually...
is everyone's business.
If you're inflicting harm upon someone else, then it's the business of everyone. There is no one whose business it isn't.
When we see violence, we have the right to intervene. In fact, we have the moral obligation to do so.
If you harm someone, the issue is a matter for the public domain.
The public - We the People - have the right to know if the innocent are being harmed in our midst.
And if they are, then We the People have the right to know why.
And if the reasoning falls apart under rational scrutiny, and no justification remains for the act, then We the People have the right to intervene and put a stop to it. We have the fundamental, inalienable Right to Defense.
The Right to Defense
To protect and defend
by proportional use of force
oneself and any who are unable to defend themselves
in a situation of already-existing attack, or unmistakable threat.