My deep commitment to our furred, feathered and fined sisters and brothers is rooted in many things.
For one, I am a Jew. In Ashkenazi culture, we are taught to think about WHO we are eating or wearing. For example, we are meant not to eat the body of an animal along with her secretions. For me, being vegan is what kosher principles are all about: just because something is available to me to eat does not justify uncritical consumption. And my privilege as a human in this world does not justify my using other animals’ bodies at my whim.
I am a feminist. I believe in looking critically at the way female people are treated in society. I want to tease out misogynistic saturation in my life. When I think about the consumption of bodily secretions I know that these are female bodies from which milk and eggs are sucked. I know how raw, bloody and full of pus my own nipples would be if I had metal suction cups forcing liquid from them for hours on end. My own menstrual cycles let me feel the pain of those whose bodies are starved so they will be shocked into an unnatural egg cycle. I am left horrified. I wonder if this abuse of female bodies would be appropriate in a feminist, non-patriarchal society.
I am human. I know that no person can kill animal after animal on an assembly line without suffering irreversible psychological damage.
Pure logic. If we were not stuffing non-human animals full of grain and corn, those foods could be fed to the millions of people who are hungry around the world. I refuse to exercise my first-world privilege by eating flesh because I know that a cow or chicken has a relatively small body compared with the amount of grain s/he must eat.
I have been criticized before that I am exerting my privilege as a first-worlder by being vegan. This weak argument often sounds like “Some people don’t GET to eat meat” or “it’s so white to be vegetarian, people with culture eat meat”. Just because endless consumption is available to me as an american DOES NOT mean that I must participate and more importantly, to participate creates a world of suffering from humans to non-human animals to the environment as a whole. There are cultures throughout history and across the world that encourage their people to think critically about what they use, take and eat. Jewish, Rasta, Buddist, Hindu and Muslim cultures all ask you to think about what you are eating.
Please do not censor your comments. I want to have a space where we can speak openly about each others’ thoughts and beliefs.