A request for my omnivorous friends and loved ones:
For anyone out there with a vegan in their life, please think before you say something like, “I wish you were more accepting of people who eat differently than you.”
We recognize that other people eat differently.
The fact that we can walk around through the world, day after day, watching our friends, loved ones and strangers eat and wear what was once a living, breathing, feeling individual, shows how understanding we are of others’ lifestyles.
It hurts, but we do our best to manage the pain. We remind ourselves that we, too, were once closed off to the lives, experiences, joy and suffering of other animals.
If this sounds self-righteous or judgmental to you, please consider this: the only things that changed when we embraced veganism were our actions. Sure, our beliefs and principles might have evolved a bit since then, but initially, all “going vegan” really meant was aligning our actions with the values we already had; values which I’m inclined to believe many of you share:
We recognize that not everyone else in the world is vegan. We recognize that it is unreasonable to expect others to change overnight; but that doesn’t mean we condone it. We cannot condone it.
This isn’t because we think it’s gross or different, nor is it because we believe a god or holy book tells us it’s wrong. We cannot condone using, exploiting, killing or eating animals and treating them as property for the same reason we can’t condone treating people of other races, sexes or classes that way; because slavery is unjust, because no one wants to be killed or harmed for any reason and because nothing can justify doing so.
Most of all, we see that—just like with race, sex, class and many other identities which have been used to divide us—we are not all that different.
In all the ways that matter, we are the same.
We can all love, we can all fear, we can all suffer and we can all long for freedom, regardless of which species our biological parents happened to belong.
So next time you feel that a vegan in your life is being unreasonable or intolerant of your lifestyle, remember this: it’s not about you, it’s not about me. It’s about violence and injustice, and about the real consequences of our actions.
Ryan is a student at OSU, a vegan, atheist and anarchist. He spends too much time reading and involving himself in activism of some sort or another. He rides a bicycle and loves his best dog-friend, Miko, a whole bunch.
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Ed: Sara Crolick