by Jim Robertson
Just as the abolitionists had an agenda to see an end to human slavery or the suffragettes had an agenda to see that women get the right to vote and are treated as equals, there is a vegan/animal rights agenda to see that non-humans are free from exploitation and abuse.
It’s not that we expect to give animals “human rights” or the literal right to vote (people seem to have a hard enough time with those hanging chads), but their interests should be considered whenever our actions affect them. At the very least our fellow animals deserve to be free from forced insemination, mutilation, and concentration-camp-like confinement throughout life and in the cattle-cars on their way to an early, horrific death at the slaughterhouse.
To those who say “I respect your decision to eat vegan. Now it’s time for you to respect the rest of our rights to eat what we want!!!” This situation is similar to an abolitionist being told by a slave owner that he respects the right not to have slaves, so the abolitionist should respect the right to keep people enslaved.
Veganism is in no way comparable to a religion, any more than abolitionism or the women‘s rights movement were religions.
In both of those cases, as with veganism/animal rights, the proponents of those progressive causes were desperately trying to convince people that it is wrong to consider others as mere property. And as with those other movements, people involved with wanting to end the property status of animals adhere to many different religions or none at all.
Most vegans are keenly aware that we all evolved from the same animal origins and realize that we have more similarities than differences. And as far as the idea that vegans want to see everyone convert to veganism–well, ultimately that’s true, in the same way that abolitionists wanted everyone to free their slaves or suffragettes wanted everyone to see that women deserved equal rights.
Some say that we should have tolerance for those who choose to eat meat in the same way that they have tolerance for us choosing not to eat meat. But it should be obvious that there is a major difference between tolerating the consumption of food that is the result of animal suffering, and tolerating the food choices of those who do not consume sentient beings.
Intolerant is what the Japanese accused non-whaling nations of being towards them and their “right” to harpoon, butcher and eat whales and dolphins. The Koreans who literally torture dogs to death and boil cats alive in the belief that doing so makes them taste better and/or improves their medicinal value, call you intolerant when you oppose their cruel customs. Some Europeans have accused animal advocates of intolerance for working to end their practice of force-feeding geese and ducks for fois grais, or to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
In this country people like to think that the animals they buy in restaurants or in cellophane packaging have been treated well and killed humanely, because after all, this is a civilized country. Unfortunately, animals forced to live on factory farms would not think of our culture as civilized any more than dogs and cats would in Korea, or dolphins off the coast of Japan, or ducks, geese and horses in France.
The fact is you can’t house and slaughter 350,000,000 turkeys and 9,000.000.000 pigs, cows, chickens, sheep and other animals per year in a manner that would even remotely pass for humane.
No one should be expected to tolerate cruelty to animals who are capable of suffering any more than they should be expected to tolerate cruelty to humans.