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January 18, 2021

Let’s Be Honest: There’s Nothing Ethical about Speciesism.

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.
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Imagine this:

Your dog is taken from you. They are thrown in a truck with countless other dogs in transit to a slaughterhouse.

For days, or even weeks, they have little to no access to sunlight, food, or water. They fight for their life living in conditions of poor ventilation and extreme temperatures. They contract diseases and wallow in their own fecal matter. They can’t move, as bodies are piled one on top of the other.

Once your dog arrives at the factory farm, they are sorted based off their value to human consumption. For some, they will be shred alive in a macerator. For others, they will be led to a gas chamber, where they will suffocate and die. Some will have the fate of a gunshot to the head or a slit to the neck, all while conscious.

Your dog may get lucky and be spared from immediate death, but they will be forced in a cage with other animals the size of their own bodies unable to move or turn around for the duration of their life. They will never see sunlight again, feel grass under their feet, or feel the warmth of a loving touch. If your dog is unlucky, they will be bludgeoned, branded, cut, and used as entertainment by factory workers.

If your dog is a female, she will be raped and inseminated. Once she undergoes pregnancy in these cruel conditions, her babies will be immediately taken from her to be tortured or instantly killed. She will be hooked to a machine until she can’t produce any more. And once that happens, you can say bye forever to your dog.

These are the conditions of a typical factory farm today for most chickens, pigs, cows, goats, sheep, and turkeys—not to mention aquatic animals, who suffer a different but same fate. Your dog could have easily been born into another species. And if you believe in reincarnation, this could have or will be you.

What really is the difference between your dog and these animals? They both are sentient, have the same capacity for affection and companionship, form social bonds, feel pain, experience pleasure, and most importantly, have the desire to live.

Whether you are a carnist, vegan, pescatarian, or vegetarian, there is a common belief we all hold (unless you are a sociopath) and that is—killing is wrong. If you truly believe this, you would be vegan. The truth is, there is no animal product you can buy on this world that is not a result of torture. There is no such thing as humane killing.

Since the day we were born, society has fed us the lie that speciesism is okay. It’s okay to love some species and kill, dismember, and eat others. It’s okay to eat and wear some animals, but love and cherish others. It’s the belief that one species deserves to live and the other deserves to die. This kind of toxic, disconnected, and divisive thinking is not only psychologically damaging, but also damaging to our health and to the environment.

The hypocrisy in our culture of ranking the value of animals’ lives needs to end. It’s injustice and it’s inequality at its core. It’s not that dogs or cats are smarter or more lovable, it’s that society indoctrinated you to think this. Pigs are highly intelligent and social. Cows are gentle and affectionate. All of these animals, who are the innocent victims of factory farming, have the same capacity to love as your dog or your cat.

As an ethical vegan, seeing this hypocrisy among my friends and family and society at large is deeply upsetting. I know we all have compassion in our hearts, but for many, this compassion has not yet been extended toward animals. Many of us never challenge the norms of this world when it comes to this issue, and we remain but blind followers to a system of cruelty. And by doing so, we remain ignorant, disconnected, and ambivalent.

If you are reading this, chances are you believe in equality for all sentient beings, which includes animals. If you have love in your heart, then you too will see it.

Veganism is not just a diet. It’s a movement and a fight for one of the most prevalent and long-standing injustices in our world today.

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