Some time ago, I wrote a blog entitled “An open letter to my daughter, Jenny’. It was a heartfelt exposition of my reasons for adopting a vegan diet and an exhortation for her to do likewise. Some while later, I met someone who told me he had read that blog. He wanted me to know that it was “one of the most compelling arguments for becoming vegan that he had come across”.
Yet neither my daughter nor this individual have gone vegan.
Why is that?
I have a theory that there are many more who are attracted to a ‘no harm’ lifestyle than actually pursue it. I know so many good, caring and aware people who I cannot believe would endorse the wholesale planetary damage and unspeakable cruelty they are otherwise complicit in, were it not for some mitigating factor. Yet other than "You just don't give a shit" (as musician Pete Crosbie observed to be the only honest argument against veganism), I struggle to fathom what their reasoning could possibly be.
Even for those who are not animal lovers, the logical reasons for adopting veganism are overwhelming. The most basic research reveals personal medical and environmental benefits so stunning and cathartic, that they would surely cause any right-thinking person to change their choices.
Perhaps there are still huge tranches of the population who are ignorant of how destructive our eating habits are for the planet? That would be odd, because the truth is there for all to see, if you but take the time to look at it.
Perhaps insidious lobbying groups are putting out so much self-interested disinformation about the benefits of ingesting dead animals or their excretions (a.k.a. milk) that many are stupidly blinded to the truth of the harm it does? I don’t think so. The people I am referring to are not mindless followers. They are intelligent, sensitive, socially conscious individuals.
I am aghast that it is possible for any good, caring, aware person to miss out on the moral issue involved. Eating animals implies that we have a right to inflict suffering and death upon sentient beings for the frivolous reasons of pleasure, habit and tradition. Isn't the execution of over 26 billion harmless creatures per year (and this is excluding fish) morally repugnant and unjustifiable when there are alternatives?
I can’t really empathise with why it is that some people use excuses like a partner’s eating habits to justify their own choices. (I was vegetarian for 14 years before my family joined me.) If you have made a decision that was right and important to you, isn't the prevailing climate all about we as individuals standing up for what we know to be right, regardless of any difficulties it may cause us?
Neither can I relate to the weakness of mind of those who make such claims as “I simply can’t give up cheese”. After all, as author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau so aptly puts it: “Being vegan doesn’t take willpower; it just takes a willingness to choose compassion over convenience". Well put!
When I reflect upon rationalisations for still eating animals, I am persuaded by the parallel between meat eaters and drug addicts. Addicts will say and do anything to justify continuing their habit, even if doing so hurts them and others.
So what I’d like to think is that perhaps these good, caring and aware people I imagine to be out there simply haven’t asked themselves some basic questions, like:
Do I care about my health and well-being?
Do I care about the future of the planet?
Do I care about issues like climate change, deforestation and animal suffering?
Do I care about ending the torture and suffering of helpless, gentle creatures?
Do I really believe that dead animal flesh is good for me when science tells me otherwise?
Do I really believe that farming animals for food has no effect upon the environment?Do I really believe that my appetite is more important than another’s life?
Do I really believe that killing billions of innocents per year is OK?
If you, as one of the good, caring and aware people, take the time to reflect upon these questions, according them the gravitas they truly deserve, can you possibly come to ANY conclusion other than “Going vegan is the right thing to do”? Or can you, like an addict, come up with excuses? (If so, do tell me what they are, and I’ll knock them down.)
Or do you feel futile? Is your primary reasoning that deciding to go vegan, all by yourself, will change nothing? I believe that amongst good, caring and aware people, that's maybe the most common fallback position. Their bedrock excuse. Their comforting justification.
But if this is you, let me shed some light on the subject:
One can affect a few. Few can affect many. Many can change the world.
I ask you. I challenge you. I implore you: Go vegan. Do it today. You can make a difference. What possible excuse do you have not to?
Or is it that "You just don't give a shit?"
NB. If you chose to take me up on my challenge and furnish me with your excuses, please be aware that you can never win an argument with a vegan, because your argument is never with the vegan.
It's with your conscience.