It’s very common for people to get defensive when presented with the truth about what we do to animals. They say that sort of thing doesn’t happen in their country, that they only buy from small family farms where the animals are treated well, that activists only release the most extreme footage. It sometimes seems as if people will bend over backwards to justify what’s on their plate.
Here’s the thing: the problem isn’t just that we’re mistreating animals, it’s that we’re using them in the first place. The definition of veganism according to the Vegan Society is, ‘A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose’.
In other words, veganism is about recognising that exploiting animals for our own benefit is wrong. It doesn’t matter how nicely they’re treated – humane slaughter is an oxymoron, and it can never be ethical to take what isn’t ours.
But there’s still a lot of confusion about this, even within the vegan community. For example, one Facebook group dedicated to debates about veganism includes in its description, “Maybe you’re a vegan who eats eggs if they’re completely cruelty-free”. This bothered me, partially because there are very few situations where eggs are completely cruelty-free, but mainly because the author clearly didn’t understand what veganism was. Keeping chickens in your back garden so you can take their eggs is still a form of exploitation, even if they are rescued. Similarly, eating honey will always be exploitative.
My hope is that we’ll soon see a collective shift in consciousness, away from the mindset that animals are essentially objects to be used as we please. Instead, I hope we will recognise them as sentient beings with a right not to be exploited. That’s why I think it’s so important to understand what veganism truly is.
What are your thoughts on this?