|Enewsletter • April 20, 2005|
There have been several key points in the evolution of Vegan Outreach, with an important one being the publication of the essay On Being Vegan. In preparation for this summer's new version of our Vegan Starter Kit (which will now be titled Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating), we have revised this essay, and are presenting it here.
asks the question, 'Is it safe?'
What we choose to eat makes a powerful statement about our ethics and our view of the world -- about our very humanity. By not buying meat, eggs, and dairy products, we withdraw our support from cruelty to animals, undertake an economic boycott of factory farms, and support the production of cruelty-free foods.
Choosing to act with compassion is the ultimate affirmation of our humanity. From children and athletes to celebrities and grandparents, compassionate living is spreading -- and easier than ever! Today, even small-town grocery stores can feature a variety of veggie burgers, dogs, deli slices, plant-based milks, nondairy desserts -- a bounty unimaginable only a decade ago!
Opposing Cruelty: A Results-Based
At some point, you might decide to try to root out every product associated with modern animal agriculture. But some type of connection can be found everywhere if one looks hard enough. Some examples are organic foods (manure used as fertilizer), bicycles (animal fat used in the vulcanization of tires), books (hooves and bones in binding glue), roads and buildings (animal products used in curing concrete), and even water (bone char used for filtration by some water treatment plants).
Ultimately, living with compassion means striving to maximize the good we accomplish, not following a set of rules or trying to fit a certain label. From eating less meat to being vegan, our actions are only a means to an end: decreasing suffering.
For this reason, we believe that the consequences of our actions should guide our choices. Oftentimes, there's more to consider than whether or not an item is completely animal-free. For example, it can be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to shun every minor or hidden animal-derived ingredient. More importantly, avoiding an ever-increasing list of these ingredients can make us appear obsessive and lead others to believe that compassionate living is impossible. This defeats our purpose: ending cruelty to animals!
Our desire to oppose and help end cruelty to animals can help guide our choices, as well as provide a simple, easy-to-understand explanation of our actions. The question isn't, "Is this vegan?" but, "What is best for preventing suffering?"
Dealing with Others
Instead of expecting others to change immediately, we need to be understanding, giving everyone time to consider the realities of factory farms on their own time and within their unique situations. Burning bridges with anger only serves to create enemies and feed the stereotype that vegans are self-righteous.
Although it may be tempting to get into arguments about our prehistoric ancestors' diet, the simplest statement can be the most powerful: "I know that I don't want to suffer. Therefore, I donít want to cause others to suffer."
As long as we remain respectful, our positive example and the information we provide will ultimately be the best voice for the animals.