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Why I’m Still Vegan

Why I’m Still Vegan

The Guardian published an op/ed piece a week ago by a woman named Jenna Woginrich titled “Why I Stopped Being a Vegetarian“, and I knew that I had to post a response of some sort.

In her piece, Ms. Woginrich exhibits levels of mental contortion and Orwellian doublethink that would be impressive if they weren’t so horrifying. She describes how after ten years of vegetarianism she came to the baffling realization that vegetarianism was only avoiding the question of animal treatment instead of confronting it.

She makes the argument that if you care about animals, the only logical course of action is to eat them, with the caveat that you should only eat animals that lived a happy, respectable life. Her argument is typical of the animal welfare philosophy: that animal slaughter will continue forever no matter what and that the only change that can possibly be made is a superficial reduction in some kinds of cruelty inflicted on livestock animals.

It is easy to see the weakness in the welfare argument: first and foremost it requires cognitive gymnastics to mesh the idea that caring about animals means killing animals. This is not an easy idea to grasp so she fills her piece with a lot of nonsensical metaphors like “you can stay in the rabbit hole…but the only way out is to eat the rabbit.”

The argument she makes – that refusing to consume animals doesn’t make a difference – is rooted in disempowerment. By convincing people that their choices are meaningless she can paint her own ideas as pragmatic when they are anything but.

The truth is that cruelty and compassion are non-issues. The western world didn’t attempt to deal with the problem of slavery by adopting legislation that gave slaves better housing, and it certainly didn’t deal with the problem by telling people to only buy goods from plantations where slaves were treated “humanely”. We dealt with slavery by ending the practice of humans owning other humans.

We don’t embrace “humane” reforms to other problems, we don’t advocate for humane murder of humans, we don’t advocate for compassionate genocide or humane pedophilia. We understand that these things are wrong and as much as we begrudgingly admit that it may be nearly impossible to rid the world of them completely, that doesn’t stop us from trying.

I’ve been vegan for over three years and every day I realize more and more why my decision is the right thing to do. Veganism isn’t about trying to change the conditions in one slaughterhouse or even all slaughterhouses. It isn’t about making life easier for one type of animal in one situation or saying that some kinds of torture and murder are acceptable while others are wrong.

The real question is whether or not a sentient being with a mind of its own should ever be considered the property of another being. For me that’s an easy question.

Being vegan isn’t about a diet, it isn’t about making a list of things I do not wear or consume. Veganism is the real life extension of my belief that an animal is not an object. I can no more own an animal than I can own a person. I can’t kill an animal because it’s smaller, weaker, or less intelligent than I am anymore than I can kill a child for the same reasons.

This theory is the foundation of all of my actions as an activist for animals. For more on the abolitionist theory, read “The Necessity of Theory” by Gary Francione.

I’m still vegan because I believe that my actions have meaning. I’m still vegan because I believe an animal has the right to live without being the property of another. I’m still vegan because peace, justice, and equality cannot exist in a world that slaughters billions for the trivial reason that they taste good.

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737 comments

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2:05AM PDT on Aug 11, 2013

So very true, Diane L.
Commenting on any subject matter on Care2 is the right of the membership. There are many perspectives.

12:47AM PDT on Aug 11, 2013

No, Dale, that's not what I was referring to..........you posted in response to others' resurrecting a very OLD discussion. My reference was in the number of posts/comments it took you to address all of those points, and you did an excellent job of doing so. My reference to zucchini was in relationship to what Colin implied, about us non-vegans having some "need" to post in any discussion that includes the word, "vegan". To me, that's stating only vegans need comment IF the article is promoting veganism. If one goes by what he advocates, nobody who doesn't promote or want to be or has anything negative to say about veganism should comment. That is like saying if the article is about zucchini, then even those who eat meat shouldn't comment, and ESPECIALLY if they don't like zucchini.

9:48AM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

The sky is blue, the wind is brisk, not a cloud in sight, a perfect Saturday despite the fact that my eye has just caught some white fluffy clouds behind the trees. Fascinating Diane L, are you implying that I am somehow ‘long winded’ when you say that it took me ‘a while’ to get around to saying what I stated? I don’t ‘Twitter,” tweet, tweet. You pointed out that no one has commented here “for weeks.” The last date in the discussion after the comment made by Colin W was November 19, 2011. I have to admit that August is a preferable month, it is still warm, veggies are still growing in the garden and there are three more warm months to come. November is when our ground freezes rock solid and there is sometimes a bit of that four letter word…snow. The weather is cold and miserable until April while early April is a bit damp and dingy. Give me August anytime.

9:47AM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

Since zucchini is a food eaten by everyone, be they vegan, vegetarian or omnivore you most certainly are ‘qualified’ to post in the zucchini recipes article. But yes, men would have a difficult time by those standards to comment in the discussions about abortion/women’s rights.

Most vegans no doubt have been appalled to hear about how various companies have been diluting olive oil on the sly, mixing it with other oils and then selling it as genuine olive oil. Since most vegans likely shop at organic stores (except those living in small communities where there are none or quite a distance must be travelled before a decent organic store is found) most likely don’t worry as they purchase the organic oil anyway. Just the thought of diluted olive oil…is nothing sacred anymore? Of course, no vegan has to worry about the HFCS being dumped into honey being sold by various companies as they don’t eat honey but one has to wonder what other foods and ingredients are being diluted on the sly? One wonders if anyone is messing with some organic foods?

12:11AM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

It took you "awhile" to say it, Dale O., but you did say it and said it very well. Since Colin W. is the only person to comment in this discussion for weeks, seems he is the "troll" he's referring to, himself. As you said, if one has to fit a certain "mold" or "qualify" before being authorized to comment on a particular topic, then members would be very limited as to what they could say and "where". I guess since I'm not vegan, I would have no right to post in the discussion about zucchini recipes, even though I grow zucchini and love it. That would eliminate male members from commenting about womens' rights, specifically abortion, wouldn't it?

This discussion became somewhat "heated" the last TWO times around, so hoping it dies out again of a natural death.

8:36PM PDT on Aug 9, 2013

Care2 has a lot of articles and a lot of different people with different viewpoints. This is not apartheid2 and I get a little tired of Republicans telling lefties that we can't post in certain articles, or Americans who tell the foreign membership that we cannot comment on issues pertaining to what goes on in the U.S.A. (Care2 is filled with issues taking place outside the U.S.A., where Americans are not declining to comment because it happens to take place outside of the U.S. We are just as free to discuss gun control in the U.S. as you are to discuss politics in any given nation).

8:35PM PDT on Aug 9, 2013

Here is Colin W, telling people that every time there is an article published on vegan issues, that there are 'meat trolls' who dare to comment. So what, everyone is entitled to throw their own two cents into any issue. This article is from 2011, looks like no one has been here for a while, however Colin W states:

“Veganism is like a gigantic, rising tide that's starting to cover the world. We Vegans are gonna rise up and sweep out all the old, barbaric ways. And there's nothing you old fossils can do about it. That's because there is more compassion out there than your filthy cruelty and greed can drown.”

8:35PM PDT on Aug 9, 2013

Yeah, right. Three percent of the world’s populace is a tidal wave of tsunami proportions. Old fossils? What is with this ageism crud that some vegans throw around these days? A number of omnivores are in their teens and younger than 30. I have to agree with Sir Walk F when he states:

“And the few I know who haven't are mostly angry, rigid, dogmatic, self-righteous people that remind me of some of the fundamentalist Christian folks I know.

It may work for some, but when the arguments move beyond a personal one, to dictating what 'everyone' should eat, or when they proclaim that abstaining from animal products is more 'environmental', i take exception.”

8:35PM PDT on Aug 9, 2013

I like to comment in a variety of topics and no one is going to tell me not to comment in gay rights articles because I am heterosexual or to stay out of vegan articles because I am omnivore or not to comment on abortion because I am neither pregnant or about to have an abortion or because I am on ‘the wrong side’ of a given issue.
Then Colin W states: “As for the people who eat meat but DON'T specifically go around rubbing Vegan noses in that fact, guess what? You guys aren't going to get swept under. You guys can come surf the wave WITH us. All it takes is throwing away your old ideas that murdering animals is a good thing, and letting compassion rule over greed, apathy and fear.

You say: Surf's up Meat Trolls!”

8:34PM PDT on Aug 9, 2013

How generous that we may well be permitted to surf in your New World Order. Just a tad bit patronizing isn’t it? You speak about those of us ‘not rubbing Vegan noses in that fact’ whatever do you mean? I end up following a ton of other discussions and show up often in gay rights, women’s rights and often follow a thread from beginning to bitter end. People have a right to show up and comment as often as they pleased without being labelled ‘trolls.’

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