Sometimes I imagine a better future: Where we don't make millions of nonhuman animals suffer and die every single day. Where we don't treat cows, chickens, fishes, pigs, bees, and goats like they are things we can use and kill at our discretion. Where we view every sentient being as a unique individual who values his or her life. Where we never breed or capture someone so they can be our property. Where we feed and clothe ourselves with plants, minerals, and synthetics. Where we entertain ourselves without confining alligators in zoos, forcing horses to race, or watching dolphins perform tricks.
Somehow I need this. Perhaps because I believe almost anything I envision is possible. If you think that's exceedingly weird, please disregard it. You will find that what I've outlined is by no means unrealistic or utopian. In fact, it's thoroughly modest: A nicer place both for animals who aren't human, and for those who are. An improved natural environment for everyone, and healthier bodies for us. Less exploitation and violence endured by nonhumans, and more peace in our hearts.
Someday this will be true. But it won't happen overnight or be handed to us by the government. Society's thinking regarding animals who aren't human must change — one person at a time. Are there obstacles to overcome? Certainly. Our exploitive behavior is supported by seductive forces like pleasure, convenience, and tradition. But there has never been a more fertile time to plant the seeds of justice. For one, it's indisputable that over 99.9% of the suffering and death we inflict on nonhuman animals is unnecessary. Secondly, most of us already strongly empathize with cats, dogs, or members of another nonhuman species. Finally, thanks to resources like the internet and the increased popularity of veganism, rejecting exploitation has never been easier. Be encouraged by these facts. Become a vegan! If you have the time and inclination, patiently and creatively educate others.
Someone reading this believes veganism won't change anything. Remember that each vegan automatically sends two powerful messages to those around them: nonhuman exploitation is wrong, and it's something you can live without. Each vegan also lowers demand for exploitive products and increases demand for the alternatives. But suppose the world only gets more violent from here on out. While that would be awful, it would have zero affect on our moral obligation to be vegan. We simply can't justify unnecessarily using and killing sentient beings. So consider which side of history you want to be on, but, most importantly, consider doing the right thing.