Thursday, December 22, 2011

Change the World: Become a Vegan

This year billions of unique individuals have needlessly suffered and died (sadly, millions will be killed in the few remaining days). Next year won't be much different, but it won't always be this way. We are going to change the world. You and I are going to be vegans for the rest of our lives, and we are going to change the world. It's a beautiful thing.

Confronted with an ongoing atrocity, what are we to do? We could ignore it and let the next person or next generation claim responsibility. We could eat cheese and ice cream made with cows' milk. We could adorn skin and hair (‘leather’ and ‘wool’). We could use animals who aren't human in countless other ways. After all, no one is going to stop us. Society welcomes and encourages our participation in their exploitation.

Or we could say no. We could become vegans. If we don't, who will?

You might believe veganism won't change anything. Does a lone vegan affect the number of animals who suffer and die? In a few cases, the decision to be vegan does directly forestall exploitation. For instance, a vegan won't join a fishing expedition or place an order for purebred puppies. But, as a general matter, the answer is no. If a consumer stops buying chickens' eggs from the grocery store, a ‘layer hen’ won't be released to a peaceful sanctuary life; one less chicken won't be bred into a life of servitude.

Although a single human not eating eggs won't cause fewer chickens to be exploited, millions of people making that choice will. So, collectively, vegans do affect supply by lowering demand. As veganism spreads, our effect becomes even greater.

Vegans also create change by setting an example for others. By publicly refusing to participate in immoral institutions, they act as representatives of the exploited (who are often absent by virtue of being dead). They show that living without nonhuman exploitation is possible and, in all likelihood, won't result in ignominy or ruin health.

Many choose to amplify their impact by actively educating others about the what, why, and how of veganism. The forms this can take are limited only by imagination: developing artwork, distributing literature, teaching someone how to cook, having conversations with friends, giving presentations to strangers, and more. The importance of education can never be overstated. A society will never be peaceful and just while its members seek out products and activities that require innocent animals to be subjugated and murdered.

But suppose a particular vegan in no way affects supply, sets an example, or educates others. They are still doing the right thing. Imagine a scenario involving humans: Several thousand people across the world regularly pay to see live internet video of women being raped and tortured. Dave receives an email inviting him to view these events, but he chooses not to participate. You probably agree with me that Dave's decision is morally obligatory — even though the women will still be exploited and none of the viewers will notice his absence.

There is never a bad time to start doing the right thing. Of course, the best time is now. The days you haven't been vegan are gone, and you can't have them back. Forget them. They belong to the past. Make today, tomorrow, and every day after the priority. They are yours.

But remember, you won't be taking this path alone. Others are on it with you, and many of them are willing to help you. Personally, I would love to address any thoughts or questions you might have: nathan {@}


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