Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Veganism is Nonviolence" - a short essay

Written for a vegan essay competition:

Veganism is Nonviolence

Right now, someone is crying for help. Someone is mourning the loss of her stolen baby. Someone has just been murdered. Simply for humans to consume.

I am vegan because I do not want to support an industry of violence. I am vegan because discrimination to anyone, whether based on race, colour, class, sex, sexual orientation, ability or species is wrong. I am vegan because these animals are our property; slaves who are denied the right to live their own lives. I am vegan and I am working to put an end to the property status of animals, hoping that one day, they will be free.

What is veganism? Veganism is Nonviolence.

Rejecting violence to your body; as animal products can be detrimental to our health and consuming them can lead to cancer, heart disease or diabetes, among many other preventable illnesses. A plant-based diet isn't the only thing you need to be healthy, eating vegan junk food all day won't do any good, but if you eat right it can have many benefits. It's important that we take care of our bodies for a long, healthy and happy life.

Rejecting violence to the planet; Earth's valuable resources are being wasted in the production of animal products, it's an ecological disaster. Tons of food wasted to feed to livestock. Land wasted to both farm animals and grow crops to feed those animals. Forests home to wildlife destroyed to make room for that land. Being vegan can greatly reduce your carbon footprint.

But most importantly, Veganism is about rejecting violence towards other animals. Over 56 billion land animals are killed for human consumption every year. Calves are being taken away from their mothers so that humans can drink her milk. Thousands of day-old roosters are being ground up alive or thrown away and left to suffocate because they're useless to the egg industry. Lambs are being taken from their mothers and slaughtered for meat. And the only justification we have for using these animals is simply for pleasure; because they taste good, or feel good when we wear them, or entertain us by living in an enclosure or being forced to perform tricks for us. Ask yourself: is a moment of your pleasure really worth their suffering?

It is time to take the next step in humanity's evolution. Time to say “NO” towards violence to anyone. Time to build an Earth that is powered by peace instead of greed.

Going vegan is the first step towards living a nonviolent life. It's easy. I did it. My whole family of seven did it! You can do it too. If it feels like too much, try going vegan for breakfast first. Then a week later, go vegan for lunch. After that, go vegan for dinner. Stop buying products made out of or tested on animals. Stop going to places that profit out of using other animals; such as zoos, circuses, marine parks, and rodeos. Then before you know it, you'll be vegan.

Let's carve the way to a better, brighter future. For our children. For other animals' children. One day, there will be peace on Earth. But change won't come if we continue to follow the norm or behave as our parents have taught us to. We must break free from our own racism, heterosexism, speciesism, etc, and extend a hand to those in need. The human and nonhuman slaves, the starving humans who have no food due to animal farming, the animals who are endangered due to deforestation, the victims of discrimination, we can put a stop to their suffering if we work to make it happen.

Be nonviolent. Be vegan.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vegans advocating for Welfare: Why?

From Sow Stalls to Battery Cages to local slaughter rather than overseas slaughter. I've seen many vegans supporting or promoting better treatment for enslaved animals. And every time I see this, I wonder; Why?

Ok, so less torture is always better. Being killed instantly by a gun is better than having your throat slit and bleeding to death. Doesn't mean it's right. These campaigns are basically saying "It's okay to use other animals for our selfish purposes, so long as it's done 'humanely'". I can understand why animal welfare groups advocate for these campaigns. The public is happy because they're buying "with compassion", the exploiters are happy because more people are buying their "free-range" products, and the welfare organisations rake in a whole lot of money from both non-vegan and vegan supporters of their campaigns. The only losers are the animals.

The thing I can't quite understand are vegans who support these campaigns. I know we all feel helpless sometimes and want to make a difference for animals NOW, but it's not going to help them much if more welfare laws come into place. I mean, we've had animal welfare for 200 years now, and more animals are suffering than ever before.

The only way we can help animals is by going vegan and educating others about veganism. It's speciesist to say that anything less than veganism is morally acceptable. Would we advocate for "humane" rape? Or for better treatment of enslaved humans?

But what about the people who say they'll never be vegan? Isn't it better for them to consume free-range animal products than not change at all? Well, that decision's up to them, but don't encourage it. Make it clear that it won't help the animals, it won't stop them from losing their children, being exploited, or being murdered at a young age. Maybe that person won't change straight away, but a few years down the line, they might have a re-think about it and decide to make the change. But if they're encouraged to consume free-range, and they believe that they're doing something good for animals, odds are they won't change, not until someone stands up and tells them that actually, consuming these "happy" animal products are really not helping any animals.

We wouldn't encourage a mass-murderer, who doesn't think he can completely give up murdering humans, to murder them "nicely". No, that doesn't acknowledge the fact that any murder of a human is wrong. If so-called "Human Rights" activists said that it's alright for him to murder a human, provided it's done "humanely", of course he's going to continue doing it. It's insane when you think about it in human context, so why is it different when it comes to non-humans?

If you want to help animals, go out and educate others about veganism! And if you want to do something now to help animals, adopt a homeless animal, volunteer at a shelter, and/or encourage others to adopt, there are millions out there who need loving homes right now.

Be an unequivocal voice for those who can't speak for themselves. Always remember the victims when doing vegan advocacy. If someone says they'll never go vegan, then just move on to the next person, but don't compromise your message. Be a clear, consistent voice for all animals.

Vegan Education: Working With What You Have

This Friday I went out in Hamilton with pamphlets and a box full of vegan cupcakes to educate the public about veganism. Each cupcake was given out with one of my Cupcake Cards, and I also had Abolitionist Approach and Butterflies Katz's Becoming Vegan pamphlets for people to take as well.

I had three cupcakes on the box at a time, with the pamphlets in front. I positioned myself in front of a shopping centre, where a good amount of people would be walking past, holding the box and saying "Free Cupcake!" whenever someone walked past. It was a great experience. I had a lot of interest, and gave out all my cupcakes within two hours.

This is something anyone could do. You don't need to be a part of any organisation, it's cheap, doesn't require much setting up, and it's a great and fun way to educate people about veganism. When you don't have much, but you want to get vegan education into your community, get creative and work with what you have! 

Hand out vegan food, host cooking classes, make videos, write, do a market stall, hand out pamphlets, do whatever you feel comfortable doing - There are many ways you can promote veganism!