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Opposition Confirms My Purpose

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Aside from simply being on the justifiable side of a cause, a major reason that social justice movements of the past succeeded was persistence. Realizing that even the most effective vegan advocacy will take decades, rather than months or years, to have its intended goals achieved can give us the perspective we need to ultimately succeed by avoiding the burnout that comes with obsessive activity, unrealistic expectations, and a short-sighted focus on short-term results. We should recognize that it might sometimes be beneficial to take a break and recharge our batteries,  and that, alongside our personal advocacy, it’s important that we also strive for physical, mental and emotional health, so that we can be as effective as possible in our efforts to educate and inspire others.

So let us relentlessly persist in the struggle for justice at a pace we can maintain for as long as is necessary. Let us not measure our progress in insignificant welfare “victories”, which, during the short time they last, only serve to perpetuate the exploitation paradigm and make consumers feel better about their purchases of animal products. Let us instead measure progress in terms of the increasing number of ethical vegans, the decreases in animal product consumption, the increases in vegan alternatives, and the gradual transformation of the collective consciousness, which, only 65 years ago, didn’t even have a word to describe someone as being ‘vegan’.

Over time, the irrepressible power of justice will prevail, as we overcome the shameful prejudice and despicable discrimination that attempts to justify and maintain the moral status of animals as economic property and tradable commodities. Until that day comes, let whatever opposition comes our way serve only to increase our ardor, and confirm our purpose.

Drawing on the wisdom of another of the great voices of the anti-slavery movement of the 1800s, Frederick Douglass,

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

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with Dan Cudahy
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Angel Flinn is Director of Outreach for Gentle World – vegan intentional community and non-profit organization whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition.

Dan Cudahy is author of Unpopular Vegan Essays: Unpopular Essays Concerning Popular Violence Inflicted On The Innocent.

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Related Stories:

Legal Slavery in the 21st Century

The Importance of Being Vegan

Making a Killing with Animal Welfare Reform

 

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73 comments

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11:46AM PDT on Apr 19, 2013

Thank you for this article. If only the issue of eating flesh were personal, but unfortunately it is not, it is a matter of life or death for another being. Better treatment during life is more desirable than not, but in the end it is killing without consent, terrifying and painful. The continuous justifications remind me of the statement, "Why keep looking for the right way to do the wrong thing?"

7:17AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

2:46PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

thank you for a good article!!!!

1:48PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

Please Care2, add a letter counter to these posts. I had some really funny things to say,,,

,,,anyway, someday, humanity may need those of us who are capable of killing an opponent w/o remorse (the universe is vast and dangerous). If that's what it takes to ensure your survival, then so be it,,,I love you and I will do whatever it takes for you to prosper,,,to the end of time,,,

1:42PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

I am not a vegan or vegetarian. I eat a paleo diet, in which most of my calories come from flesh and fat. It's the only diet I've found which allows me to control my diabetes. I literally cannot eat any grains and sugar is pure poison.

,,,on the plus side, I don't have to supplement my diet with zinc or vitamin B12.

,,,but that doesn't mean I don't understand that the animals I eat deserve to be treated with respect. As long as they are kept in clean spaces, fed healthy food and allowed to live well until they're cleanly (halal) killed for my sustenance, I have no problem with that. Fortunately, food animals usually have no prefrontal lobes (I think pigs DO, which is a good reason to remove them from the list of food animals), which means they are unable to anticipate their eventual demise and worry about it. For much the same rationale, I oppose using any apes, elephants, dolphins and whales as either food or experimental animals because they DO have such brain structures and can feel anticipatory fear. Like a trip to the dentist, anticipation of pain is often worse than the pain itself and I would not impose such on any critter but for those who live only in the moment, surprise,,,you're my dinner,,,

Ok, so, I'm a primitive,,,you'll just have to spend a few thousand years breeding that out of the species however,,,remember we have no idea what the universe has in store for us. Someday, we may meet another species more powerful and ruthless than us and humanity wi

3:47AM PST on Mar 3, 2012

stop exploiting animals! it's the only solution!

12:59AM PST on Mar 3, 2012

Thanks for the article.

4:51PM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Thank you for this excellent article. I am heartened by your openness and sane perspectives on not only activism, but also the problem of compassion fatigue, a very serious problem among those who work in any form of activism, but in animal advocacy especially.

So often, all we hear is how no one wants to be vegan, no one cares if animals have their lives stolen for a moment of flavor (yes, there are a few extreme exceptions in which plant foods may not be suitable, but those are no excuse for the vast majority to bring so much suffering and sadness (killing takes a friend away from someone, whether that friendship is between humans or non-humans. Science has proven that animals do have these kind of relationships, and anyone who's loved a companion animal knows that friendship first hand.) for something so insignificant and fleeting. One can live a healthy (many doctors, nutritionists, and other experts agree, healthier) life without animal products, so the only real value is flavor preference. Is that any reason to take a sentient life?

11:01AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Sue H. “Not all animals raised for consumption are ill treated”

Although I am a vegetarian (vegan whenever possible), based on moral and health grounds, It is not my practice to criticise other people’s choice of diet. I do not preach nor condemn, but when I hear the claim that it is possible to sustain meat production with no possibility of ill-treatment I would prefer to see the evidence rather than accept this claim without question. Raising sentient creatures in the best of conditions is to be applauded. However, even when these standards are high, the process of transportation and slaughter is a different scenario. Perhaps if all meat eaters were to visit their local slaughter house, there may just be a few more vegetarians.

10:27AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

To Suzana M. ...just to make it clear, I meant it the other way around. I intended to make the statement that many have projections that lead them to think that others are judging them. So the projection for a meateater could be that a vegetarian thinks he is som much better than him (feel free to find any example in any kind of situation or society). Now, in this case that´s all in the meat-eaters head. And yes, my experience talking to vegans/vegetarians is that they are often very respectful of others views. I´m just trying to debunk the myth of the militant vegan (which kind of had it´s peak in the 90s). Veganism is certaunly about compassion (and how deep that can go also to other species, and th eplanet itself). So using aggression or a sense of superiority to mediate it´s cause would be rather counter-effective.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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