Like most of us, I grew up entrenched in the belief system that humans have complete domination over animals. Even though many people regard their pets at home as members of the family, all non-human animals were (and still are) considered property. We "own" them and therefore can do with them what we choose. So some of the very same people that could never imagine consuming these beloved family members, think nothing about eating other animals, using them in various experiments, wearing their fur or skins, or exploiting them in various films, circuses, rodeos, or zoos. However, even though most of us grew up with this social attitude, we do in fact, at our very core, dislike witnessing pain and suffering in others. We feel empathy when faced with the horrors of factory farming, animal testing, and others forms of non-human animal enslavement. Speciesism, like other social movements in the past, is at the very forefront of complete cultural transformation, a re-evaluation of who we are, our deep embedded ethics, and where we go from here.
Thanks to many other grass roots organizations, national and international groups, the voiceless are continuing to be represented. For instance, the Sundance Film Festival hosted films such as "Mr. Pig", "Unlocking the Cage" and a virtual reality piece called "Factory Farm" created by Condition One and Animal Equality. All which raise questions about how we view non-human animals and why. A question that causes us to look deep within ourselves and see that we have not only enslaved animals, we have in turn, enslaved ourselves.
We experience the slaughter house and it brings tears and sadness. That particular animal’s liberation and happiness become our main concern. Last week, a cow escaped slaughter in New York and again, the community came together to see it through that he ended up at a sanctuary nearby. These stories pull on our heart strings. Then an hour or so later, we sit down to eat a meal which consists of the very same species we were just rooting for!
Some will argue that non-human animals are not as intelligent as human animals. Perhaps, that is why we group all farm animals together and choose ignorance when we hear the statistic stating 56+ billion animals are slaughtered each year for human consumption. First, the basic desire of freedom and autonomy has nothing to do with intelligence. Second, this statement only compares intelligence to that of humans. Non-human animals aren’t going to do what we as humans do in the world but they do have abilities and responsibilities within their own families and communities.
Veganism and the animal rights revolution is so important and immensely powerful because it causes us to resonate with our true core values which are compassion, empathy, and love. Instead of asking the industries for another way to "humanely" slaughter, test on, skin, or use non-human animals, let us choose to opt out. As long as we continue "buying in," the industries will continue to be our "dealers." We can liberate 56 billion times more the single cow who escaped slaughter by eliminating our meat, dairy, eggs, and fish consumption. A vegan saves roughly 200 animals per year and more people are turning to this lifestyle each and every year!
Some day we will look back on Speciesism the same way we look at racism today. Now is the time to liberate ourselves and the animals we care so deeply about. The future is vegan!
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“Will we ever have the political temerity or community courage to finally say ‘enough is enough?’ Growth should be the defining issue of the next local election, not climate change or social injustice,” writes Matthew Lindon.