An Open Letter To My Daughter, Jenny

A few days ago I learned that my 26-year-old daughter was 'disturbed' that a friend of hers had been reposting some of my pro-animal rights blogs on his Facebook page. She viewed this as a bad thing since it amounted to “ramming veganism down people’s throats”. Her mother proffered that she might like to discuss it with me, but she declined on the grounds that she would find herself agreeing with everything I said.I know my daughter. She would indeed acquiesce to every argument I put forward. I know the subject matter and the arguments are pretty unassailable if you are a reasonable, thoughtful and compassionate person, which (most of the time) my daughter is. Nonetheless, I am also well aware that having agreed, she would ignore everything that was said very shortly afterwards. So I decided to reply in writing.

Then after I’d written my response, I decided to take the rather unusual step of making my reply public. So here is an open letter to my daughter and the rest of the world...  

Hi Jenny,

Your mother tells me that you have concluded that my numerous blogs regarding our treatment of animals amount to "ramming veganism down everyone's throats". She also tells me that you didn't want to engage me about it, so I thought I'd engage you.

Let's deal with the assertion first: Am I "ramming veganism down everyone's throat"?

I hope so.

I am deliberately doing this for reasons, which at least in part, you must know only too well. I proceed from some fundamental tenets:

  1. Animals are living breathing creatures.

  2. They have a right to their lives.

  3. They value their lives.

  4. They don’t want to die.

  5. We have no right to deprive them of their lives.

Needless to say, these are not popular views.

Generally speaking, people either don't yet accept these things, or even if they do, they conveniently forget them. Granted, some are stupid enough to believe that an invisible man in the sky created animals for the sole purpose of humans enslaving, murdering and eating them. But those who don’t buy that brand of BS are either prisoners of their own habits, or they’ve lost their ability to be compassionate.

The sophistication of our society affords us the luxury of buying a piece of meat, prepackaged and bought off the supermarket shelf, in a manner that allows us to totally disassociate from the fact that it is actually the flesh of a living being that valued its life and wanted nothing more than to stay alive. When we buy a pint of milk we don't connect it to the calf that was torn away from its mother at birth so that we could drink bovine growth hormones never intended for us. I could list countless examples of the Chinese walls all around us that protect us from a web of horrors that are perpetrated in our names.

Such a depersonalisation of living beings makes it easy for our consciences. But is that right? Does that mean there is no wrongdoing? Does that mean animal's lives don’t matter?