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Relative Values

Updated: Mar 20, 2019

Today I’d like to share with you two conversations.

The first was a brief exchange between two people who had been out to dinner, and a vegan.

“What did you have to eat?”.

“I had the chicken and XXX had the halibut. It was really nice.”

“Nice for everyone apart from the chicken and halibut.”

“Yeah, but it tasted good!”

What I find disquieting is the assumption that the person enjoying their food trumps the fact that it cost a living being their life. There’s no regret, no remorse, no embarrassment (unless the attempt at humour in the closing comment was designed to mask discomfort?). Making so light of the loss of lives to satisfy momentary desires demonstrates complete disregard for sentient beings and a failure to place any value upon their lives.

The second was an online dialogue in response to a posting on Facebook, by a vegan. The posting was a brief YouTube video explaining why ‘Dairy is scary’. Below is an exact reproduction of the exchange:


Did you watch it?

No. I don’t want to be a vegan and I prefer not to have veganism thrown down my throat....sorry.

You don’t have to be Vegan, I just think people should know what is involved in the making of the food they eat. If you would watch it I doubt very much that you would eat cheese and not feel repulsed.

I hate having veganism thrown down my throat, it brings back memories of religious fanaticism. Not everyone shares the same belief. I also think it tastes disgusting!

There’s more than one Vegan cheese, they all taste different. And as for the ingredients...the cheeses I have been eating have very simple, healthy ingredients.

I prefer my cheeses thanks. Each to their own.

The posting was not an aggressive piece of vegan propaganda, yet it still sparks a fear response typical of those who want to avoid looking at personal actions and their own culpability in harming other beings. What follows is a knee-jerk response, with no apparent consideration to what’s actually being said.

  • Nobody was attempting to throw anything down someone else’s’ throat.

  • The posting was a general one, not directed specifically to any individual.

  • The parallel with religious fanaticism is flawed since the scariness of the dairy industry is wholly factual and not belief based.

Perhaps they meant that the poster is something akin to a religious zealot? So why read their comments at all and why bother to start a dialogue, unless some deep uneasiness has been provoked?

“Each to their own” the individual concludes. Well, not really, because animal agriculture and its devastating effects upon the planet mean that the choice of each one of us ultimately affects us all.

Frankly, for a vegan, clashes of values like these are typical of what they may experience whenever they are perceived as challenging another’s carnatarian eating habits. From their relative positions, both the vegan and non-vegan parties will always consider themselves and their personal values to be right.

Perhaps the difference is that the vegan responses are not motivated by personal desire and are instead focused on the victims. The carnatarians can only ever be self serving, since they exclude the victims.

So why, you may wonder, have I used these two examples for this brief exploration of these relative values?

To my great disappointment, both (although not involving me directly) took place within my own extended family. I find it distressing that there are intelligent people who want to look away and pretend that ghastly things, which are totally within their power to influence and change, aren’t happening, just for their own convenience.

To me, these conversations are just two more examples of otherwise ‘right thinking’ people being seriously misguided in their choices and careless as to the harm they are allowing to be caused to themselves and our world.

It grieves me even more that they are not strangers to me.

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