“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation… Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen;—but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—AND I WILL BE HEARD.”
~ William Lloyd Garrison, American abolitionist (January 1, 1831)
November 1st – celebrated around the globe as World Vegan Day – is the first day of World Vegan Month, and kicks off a whole thirty days of vegan awareness activities, to be carried out all across the planet.
Some readers may wonder what makes the vegan cause worthy of an entire month dedicated to its awareness, and why it inspires such a passion in those of us who are dedicated to spreading the message.
When we advocate for the widespread adoption of vegan values, we speak for the entire population of humanity’s victims – from wild animals who are hunted and exterminated to make way for the ravages of human excess, to domesticated animals who are bred, confined (whether in crates or paddocks), and ultimately killed so that people can make use of the products of their misery.
These billions upon billions of sentient beings are considered, by today’s ‘civilized’ society, to be nothing more than chattel property, and their owners are legally entitled to subject them to many forms of barbaric cruelty in the name of profit, convenience or pleasure.
How can we who see this injustice not be moved to speak out on their behalf? In the dark days when the horrific custom of enslaving our fellow human beings was accepted behavior, the abolitionists could not, in good conscience, remain silent. We too, will continue to speak on behalf of freedom, until all beings are free.
The pandemic of violence in the world calls to us to reevaluate our relationship with non-human animals – who are victims of the most extreme forms of our collective violence – and to recognize that they are no more meant to be our possessions than African-Americans, women, children, or any other living beings. They too, are individuals, who value their lives, feel pain, fear death, and have a right to live free from oppression.
On this world vegan day, I think I speak for many vegan activists when I say that we, like the abolitionists before us, will continue to shout it from the rooftops and the hilltops, until the human race recognizes the inherent right of all sentient beings to be free from the shackles of slavery. We will continue to speak out on behalf of humanity’s innocent victims until we put a stop to the breeding-exploiting-killing cycle that keeps tens of billions of animals annually in chains of oppression, from factory farms to family farms, from battery cages to backyards.
This cycle of exploitation not only burdens our planet with the weight of a population of billions bred solely to serve the desires of humans, it also prohibits us from moving forward into a more peaceful and prosperous future, the inhabitants of which reject violence and bloodshed as a matter of principle.
We know that there are people, many of them, who do not want to hear what we say, and who will continue to ridicule our position and ignore our message in favor of maintaining the status quo, and the destructive habits that go along with it… We know that the majority of the human population, apparently, would rather see innocent beings killed than accept minor taste sacrifices or inconveniences. And we know that most people simply are not willing to examine their own participation in the extreme misery we have been conditioned to accept without question.
But there is something else we know. We know that every single person who has decided to take a stand against animal slavery has done so because of an experience of profound realization, and that for many, the epiphany occurred because of something they learned from someone else. That fact alone is sufficient to motivate us to continue to speak for those who do not speak our languages, until justice is served and freedom for all is attained.
The vegan evolution is occurring one step at a time, one person at a time… one realization at a time. For those of you who are on the brink of breaking through: Do It Now. Your only regret will be that you waited so long.
For those of you who are not yet convinced: Perhaps, one day soon, you will join the movement of those who have experienced the joy of freeing their slaves.
Until then, don’t expect us to be silenced, for we are in earnest—We will not equivocate—We will not excuse—We will not retreat a single inch—AND WE WILL BE HEARD.
Image: Wanda Embar