“Reducetarian Steps” Are Neither “Beautiful,” Nor “A Contribution”

I recently came across the following article after it was shared by someone in a Facebook group for Vegans and non-Vegans:

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/09/24/650437498/opinion-as-florence-kills-pigs-and-millions-of-chickens-we-must-open-our-hearts?

This article will do worse than nothing for animals. Why do I say worse than nothing? Because of this line in the article:

“So here’s a personal note for everyone out there who isn’t prepared to give up all meat, cheese, and dairy: Taking reducetarian steps makes a beautiful contribution, too.”

We live Vegan because we understand why we need to observe the right of nonhumans not to be used merely as chattel property of humans. Just as we reject human slavery or the rape, torture or murder of humans for any reason, so too do we reject all of those same things when it comes to nonhumans. The basis for our rejection of the idea that nonhumans should be used as property is exactly the same as it is with humans: the fact that, just as we know that humans are capable of feeling pain and other sensations, we also know that nonhumans are capable of this; this makes them -if we value moral consistency- part of the same moral sphere as humans. This also means that they inherently have the same basic, most important pre-legal negative moral right that humans have: the right to not be used as the property of humans.

There is one other problematic point in the article that I’d like to touch on before I get to the main point though. It’s that the wording “who isn’t prepared to give up all meat, cheese, and dairy” makes it seem as though only “meat” (a term we need to stop using as in reality it’s the flesh of a nonhuman and the term “meat” is just a euphemism that was fabricated specifically to divert our attention from this fact) cheese and dairy (cheese is dairy by the way) are the only things that we need to reject if we care about animals’ rights.

If we are committed to moral consistency, as we all need to be, then we should recognize that all use of nonhumans is morally wrong: there is no moral distinction between inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on nonhumans for the purpose of eating their flesh or dairy and inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on them for the purpose of eating their eggs, their honey, using their skins as clothing, using them for entertainment, or any other use that is unnecessary.

Now the main point of my concern: let’s say that in this day and age that we’re talking about the idea of humans being used as slaves -as we actually did allow legally in the US before 1863- and we already understand that slavery is morally wrong, as (hopefully) you and I already do. In other words, we already take the moral stance personally that it’s wrong to use humans as slaves at all. We have this idea that we may be able to get people to stop hurting humans unnecessarily through their use as slaves by talking to them about how we see the issue, so we decide to mount a campaign to educate them about it.

Within the context of this campaign, let’s say that we said to all the people who buy slave-made goods that “we know you’re not interested in eliminating the amount of those goods you buy completely” and so -instead of abolishing human slavery- it’s morally acceptable to “just partially reduce the amount of slavery-based products you buy;” or perhaps we would tell slave-owners that instead of owning 50 slaves they should only own 15 slaves. Would that sound like a rational response to the fact that we knew that slavery was morally wrong?

Of course not. Advocating for only owning 15 human slaves is still advocating for owning human slaves. If we human animals think that using other human animals merely as chattel property is wrong, we have a moral obligation to not tell people that there is a moral distinction between only using *some* humans as slaves and using some other higher number of humans as slaves. There may be a quantitative distinction in the utilitarian calculation of amounts of suffering, but that does not mean that there is a qualitative distinction regarding the morality of slavery. In other words, we have a moral obligation -if we think that it’s wrong to use humans as slaves- to only tell people that we think that all slavery is morally wrong. And that is what was called “Abolitionism” prior to 1863 and that is exactly what was advocated for by any morally consistent humans at that time.

After all, if we think that we’re doing something morally wrong in taking away the lives and freedoms of humans by taking their mere existence out of the realm of “someone who has moral value” and placing them into the category of “property of a human,” then what sense does it make to argue that we should merely “cut down on the number of property that we use” instead of being direct and telling someone that they are doing something wrong by using humans as property? If we care about the individual humans who we want people to stop using when they reduce their use of humans, then what about the individual humans who they are still going to be using? Does that mean that we don’t take a moral stance against the taking away of the lives and freedoms of those humans? Do we think that those humans -who are ceaselessly having their lives and freedoms taken from them and being subjected to enormous amounts of unending suffering- feel good about the fact that we advocated for a mere partial reduction in the number of humans being used? Because that is how it would look to anyone observing our campaign.

Moreover, if anyone who had never heard the idea that there was anything wrong with slavery was observing us say that we should merely “reduce the number of slave goods that we buy,” one of the obvious thoughts that would occur to them would be that we actually don’t care about whether people used humans as slaves in general, because we’re not clearly and unequivocally advocating for all humans to be free; they wouldn’t think that someone who is merely concerned with the partial reduction of the number of slaves who exist is morally against the institution of slavery at all.

They would automatically think that we were merely concerned about humans as some sort of aggregate of suffering (and most likely that we thought that the people being used as slaves should have about the same moral status that we currently accord nonhumans, as that is exactly what did happen in the past) rather than the idea that each human is an individual who we believe has a right to their own lives and freedoms; they would probably think that we merely thought that the overall treatment of the human slaves was not up to some arbitrary level of “kindness” that each individual campaigner had created in our own heads. And this makes it exceedingly easy for pro-slavery campaigners to argue unceasingly about whose arbitrary level of kindness should be the standard, which is exactly what they are doing regarding the slavery of nonhumans right now.

Contrary to what many people believe, the humans who use slaves are not so stupid that the majority of them won’t immediately realize that if someone is morally against slavery, that the most logical thing that person could do is immediately make the statement that all slavery needs to end immediately. Conversely, those same people will recognize that if someone is unwilling to make that claim, then they don’t actually believe that slavery is a moral wrong.

Both of these problems are exactly what we are seeing right now in regards to the nonhuman animals who we currently use as slaves in our society. Just as it happened before 1863, there are some people arguing that we don’t need to live Vegan, but just “reduce the number of others that we harm” -by using them as slaves- by an undefined but always arbitrary number. It’s no coincidence that these people are almost always the ones who argue that merely changing the way we treat the animals who we use as slaves eliminates the need to observe their actual rights as well. Those people who argued for better treatment of human slaves also often argued against the abolition of human slavery. In the context of human slavery they were arguing merely for the “welfare” of the slaves, as opposed to “the abolition of slavery.” That’s why we now have the terms “welfarist” and “Abolitionist Vegan” regarding the slavery of nonhumans in our current society.

There are also people in our current society who try to argue that we can make a claim for better welfare of slaves while still calling for slavery to end. These people have been dubbed “new welfarists” by some. However, the very fact that a person argues that we need to treat slaves better while we’re using them necessitates the position that using them is not a morally reprehensible crime that needs to end immediately. We can’t argue on moral grounds that something needs to immediately end if we’re arguing that it should be improved in some way. It just doesn’t work, from a moral standpoint or a tactical one. New welfarism and Abolitionist Veganism are by necessity contradictory positions.

It’s a major problem in our society that some people -who should understand that it would make no sense for those morally opposed to slavery to argue that we should just reduce the number of slave goods we buy that are made by human slaves- tend to make that exact argument when they talk about what we should do when deciding whether to buy the products of nonhuman slavery. When we change our moral argument from a categorical rejection of slavery to the idea that it’s morally acceptable to us to merely reduce the amount of slavery we engage in, solely because we have replaced the species membership of the human victims with “nonhuman,” that indicates an arbitrary moral double-standard that’s been dubbed “speciesism.” Speciesism is a product of a myth that we’re indoctrinated in since birth called “human supremacy.” Speciesism is every bit as much of a problem as racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other moral double-standard based on any other physical characteristic; in fact it’s even more of a problem, since it’s the root cause of all of the others.

Speciesism is the real threat from human animals to nonhuman animals in this world. When we make a speciesist argument like “we should reduce our consumption of meat or dairy” -rather than saying that we should end all of our participation in all forms of slavery- that has the unfortunate consequence of reinforcing the speciesism that is already saturated into every part of our society. The more speciesism in society, the more people will inflict completely unnecessary suffering and death on nonhumans. That is the main reason why I said the article will do more harm than good.

The article starts out ok by making the point that we should have moral concern for the nonhumans who are being killed, but it’s the conclusion they come to in the end that is counter-productive to the stated goal. If we truly want people to stop inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on nonhumans, the only thing we really need is for the highest number of people to reject speciesism. That is the only way that we can put an end to the root cause of the problem that is illustrated here, and keep things like these pointless deaths from happening over and over again for the rest of time.

Some people have criticized the idea that we need to verbally take a clear, strong and unequivocal moral stand that it’s wrong to use nonhumans as slaves by saying that “attacking people” for taking “reducetarian steps” will cause them to hate Vegans, or at the very least become defensive and choose to not make any changes in their consumption of nonhumans at all. There are several problems with this position however. Number one, criticizing the idea that as “animal advocates” that we should not be telling people that reducetarianism is morally unjustifiable is not “an attack,” any more than -if we are against human slavery- telling people that it’s wrong to engage in human trafficking in this day and age, or rape, or murder is “an attack.”

When someone is doing something wrong to a human, then it’s our moral responsibility to speak out and explain why what they’re doing is wrong. Changing the species of the victim from human to nonhuman doesn’t change this. Claiming that it does is purely due to speciesism. And there is a difference between saying that an action is morally wrong and saying that someone is a bad person. If we’re doing our jobs as Vegan Educators in the only morally justifiable and effective way that we can, then we’re criticizing the moral action, not attacking the character of the moral actor.

Number two, no one is making the moral claim that the act of reducing one’s consumption of animal flesh, dairy or any other form of animal use based on their moral concern for animals is a bad thing in and of itself. It’s very easy to praise someone for “taking steps in the reduction of their consumption of animal products” due to their moral concern, without implying that they don’t need to go all the way and live Vegan. It’s not the “taking steps” that are at issue, it’s the idea that we should merely say that taking steps is a good thing, and say nothing else. The idea that taking steps is a good thing does not mean that it’s morally justifiable for us as Vegans to be telling people that the way to express their moral concern for nonhumans is to merely “take some steps.”

Also of note is that when we verbally take a clear, strong and unequivocal moral stand against all animal use, those who are observing are most likely to understand why we think that they need to live Vegan. The highest number of those people will positively consider the idea of living Vegan out of any results from any different kind of advocacy that we can do. Out of those who don’t start living Vegan soon after, some will merely choose to reduce the amount of animal products they consume, and some will choose to do absolutely nothing at all; but that does not say anything positive about the idea that as Vegans we should be pushing for mere partial reduction of animal use as a tactical matter.

As I just said, when we advocate for unequivocal Veganism as the moral baseline, we get at least some portion of people going Vegan immediately or soon thereafter. But in contrast, if we advocate for mere reduction and don’t take a stand for Veganism, we don’t even get anyone to go Vegan at all. The most we get in that case is reduction, and in many cases, nothing at all. So we can see that even as purely a tactical matter, advocating for reducetarianism makes no sense. It also makes no sense that someone observing our advocacy for reducetarianism -or indeed, any single-issue campaign- will somehow magically discover their moral obligation to live Vegan by some sort of weird osmosis, as is being claimed by quite a few new welfarists.

The rejection of speciesism as a moral wrong is the real meaning of living Vegan. If we reject speciesism by living Vegan, then we need to understand that we must also reject the idea that it’s morally justifiable to claim that “Taking reducetarian steps makes a beautiful contribution, too.” If we think that nonhumans matter morally and that they are entitled to their lives and freedoms, then it rationally follows that we have a moral obligation to -if we’re going to say anything to anyone on the subject of nonhuman slavery- explain to them why they already agree that they need to live Vegan, although they don’t yet know it. This means that we need to be exclusively engaging in creative Vegan education, as that is the only way to get people to reject speciesism.

Please live Vegan friends, and educate others about why they also need to live Vegan.

More reading on the problems of reducetarianism:

http://blog.veganeducationgroup.com/on-welfarism-abolitionism-and-playing-well-with-others

The most effective way to educate non-Vegans on why Veganism is our moral obligation to animals:

https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/how-to-create-vegans

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please live Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cis-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

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Guest Blog: Why do I do it? How do I do it? Background issues and more.

Pierre and his nonhuman family, Aura, who is thriving on Evolution plants-only dog food.

The following was posted on the Facebook timeline of Pierre Roland Roy-Parent who is an AbVegan friend of mine and a great writer on the subject of Veganism. I’m happy to be able to present his writing here:

“Why do I do it? How do I do it? Background issues and more.
I fully realize that talking about the ethics of veganism turns some people off or makes them feel uncomfortable. I get it. I really do. This discomfort stems from the way most of us have been taught to think about animals from the time we were little kids; that it’s okay to love some while it’s also okay to eat/use others. This speciesism (which exists in every culture) is deeply ingrained in our minds and it has had and will continue to have a variety of serious repercussions over the years, obviously for the animals, the environment and for everyone’s health.

Why do I do it? So why do I talk about veganism and the importance of going vegan if it makes people feel uncomfortable? Well, I believe that one’s temporary discomfort (as it was for me when I was first exposed to veganism) is worth it, especially if it can lead to a re-conceptualization in the way we regard animals.

How do I do it? I often start with a basic question: “Do you believe that it’s wrong to inflict unnecessary harm on animals?” 99.99% of people will agree that it is wrong. So, in essence people believe in the concept of veganism. The problem is that about 98% of people’s actions do not align with their beliefs. We call this cognitive dissonance. There is a long list of reasons for this cognitive dissonance.

Ethical vegans see veganism as a social justice movement in much the same way as abolitionists did when they wanted to end slavery back in the day. Many of those who worked to abolish slavery would never have pushed for reducing slavery or making slavery more humane. It had to go. It was a violation of a person’s most basic right – the right to not be someone’s property.

Now when it comes to animal rights there are some similarities and there are important differences. Slaves are human. Many could and did speak up and did a lot more than just speak (they fought, they escaped, etc.) to gain their freedom. They also had a number of non-slave advocates who fought on their behalf. Animals now have more and more advocates who are willing to speak up on their behalf. They need us because they obviously cannot fight for their own freedom or escape in order to obtain the basic right not to be property.

I see the pursuit of animal rights as a question of fairness, as an extension of basic justice. Yes, we accord some basic justice to a few animals, especially those we anthropomorphize – the one we deem cuter (puppies, kittens), smarter (dolphins, great apes), magnificent (lions, elephants). We often regard these species as worthier of greater human care, kindness and justice while other species (typically those regarded as food animals) are viewed as dirty (pigs), dumb (cows), scary (sharks) and thus unworthy of extended human consideration pertaining to their rights.

None of the positive qualities we accord some animals or the negative qualities we accord to others should matter with respect to all animals having the right to live their lives. The only thing that should matter is that they are sentient, that they feel pain, can suffer and want to live. Their lives are important to them even if they are of no importance to anyone else.

I am always glad to keep the discussion with non-vegans going, to answer questions, to recommend books, films or websites. I am not going to condemn a person who eats/exploits animals (I was once a part of this group) but neither am I going to praise him/her/they (once they have understood the simple concept of veganism) for reducing their intake of animal products via a meatless Monday approach for example or a poorly defined baby steps approach having no defined end date in mind.

Praising a person who employed either of these strategies would be like praising someone for subscribing to racist-free Fridays or misogyny-free Mondays. I would no more throw the animals under the proverbial bus than I would people of colour or women. All of these prejudices are morally wrong (speciesism, racism, sexism) and they need to end.

I can’t (obviously) force anyone to end any of these prejudices by imposing my beliefs on them. It is something that people have to work out for themselves once they have examined the facts. I think that those who truly take the time to discuss the issues, do some reading, watch some films, check out some websites will begin to see that veganism makes sense and is the morally correct path to take. However, I do understand that just because it makes sense and is fair/just does not mean that people will all become vegan in the end. Some people have powerful conflicts of interests which will lead them to advocate for their continued use and exploitation of animals. Most of us do not have these powerful conflicts of interest.

I refuse to hate anyone who does not see things my way, frustrating as that may be, whether they do so through benign neglect (the willful ignorance approach) or by mounting a stringent defense of their self-interest in continuing to exploit animals. The law will nearly always reflect the opinion of the majority of us out there and until the tide shifts and people begin to extend an invitation to non-human animals to join the moral community the laws protecting some animals while allowing us to use and exploit other animals are not going to change.

Going vegan right now does not require anyone to wait for new legislation or new technologies to pave the way forward. It really is the easiest grassroots approach to making a change that will make a real difference for every species that exists.

So in the end, I am more than happy to engage in discussions with people, sharing food and recipes but I won’t advocate for better welfare regulations, reducing one’s animal intake, etc. If people choose to take any of these paths rather than immediately going vegan once they have examined the issues and checked out the facts, then they will do so anyway and they won’t need a pat on the back from people like me in order to do so.

Veganism is as close to a social justice/peace movement for all that there is out there. I hope in the end people will see it this way and embrace it.

Peace. Love. Justice.

Pierre

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please live Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cis-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

On Morality: Why Not Use Speciesist -And Other Kinds Of- Oppressive Language?

 Confused (1)

Our language is a window into the way we think.

The way we think about nonhumans informs the way we speak about them, and the way we speak about them influences the way others think about them. And finally, that influences how they act towards them. So we can see that our language is vital in taking not just the first but many important steps towards ceasing to harm them.

Carefully choosing the words we use is incredibly important. If you’ve ever had someone make a completely inadvertently insensitive remark in your presence and you’ve been offended, or even if you’ve been blatantly insulted on purpose, you know exactly what I mean. And yet, pretty much every one of us has made a slip like the former at one time or another, and most of us have intentionally done the latter. The hallmark of a truly wise person is how they learn and grow from their mistakes. Criticism -the constructive kind, naturally- is a valuable tool in helping us learn and grow.

Part 1: The Vocabulary Of Speciesism

Part 1a: Establishing Our Moral Agreement
The first part of this post is about how we refer to nonhuman animals in our daily language. But before I get into examples, I’d like to pose a question: Do you think animals matter morally? I’m going to assume for the sake of argument that you’ve already read at least one of my pieces on our moral obligation to live Vegan and stop our “physical” (as opposed to what we would call “verbal”) violence towards nonhumans. If not, please read something here, here or here and then come back to finish this essay. If you need a definition of speciesism, the gist is when a human animal places a different moral value on a member or group of members of one species than we do on another species because of their species membership. This includes thinking that the human species is morally superior to any nonhuman species (“anthropo-centrism” aka “human supremacy”), and also that any nonhuman species is morally superior to any other nonhuman species. To understand why this is problematic from a moral perspective, go ahead and read one of the above linked items.

If you do think that nonhumans have moral status of any kind, then you should want the intentional suffering and death inflicted on them by humans to decrease, shouldn’t you? And if you want that to happen, as a way of effecting that, you should want others to feel that way as well, shouldn’t you? And if you want that, then it only makes sense for you to think and talk as though nonhumans have moral status. Which is why using the correct words in referring to them only makes sense, right? In other words, we don’t want to give other people the wrong impression, and so cause them to get the wrong idea, which they would then logically act on by committing wrongs on sentient beings.

Part 1b: Pronouns And Other Such Problems
I’ve seen a lot of people in our current speciesist, morally confused societal paradigm use extremely problematic words to refer to nonhumans. And I’m even talking about people who “rescue” animals and claim they have moral concern for animals; even some people who call themselves Vegans. Words like “it,” “that,” “thing,” “where,” etc. As in, “I saw a pig, it was running across the street,” “I saw a cute pig that was running across the street,” or “We should respect the rights of every living thing that feels pain, even pigs that are running across a busy street,” or “Where did this meat come from? Did it come from the pig that was killed while running across the street?” etc.

If we think that nonhumans matter morally (and so we want others to consider them as beings who are morally worthy of not having their rights violated) we should recognize that, in any discussion that refers to others who we consider worthy of moral concern (aka “moral discussion”), beings who can feel pain (which is what we mean by “sentient beings“) are completely different from insentient objects, that can’t. Words like “it,” “that,” and “thing” are used to refer to insentient objects, such as rocks, metal, plastic, and trees. These are objects –whether they are “living” or not- that cannot be proven to feel pain and therefore are not owed any moral weight by us, as opposed to subjects, who we do owe our moral concern. Before anyone reading this is tempted to argue that plants are sentient beings, read this or this, and understand that I’m not interested in that debate at all.

In regards to moral discussions, nonhuman animals are considered sentient beings and so should be referred to as “she,” “he,” “her,” “him,” “they,” “them,” “who,” and “being,” etc. As in “I saw a pig, they were running across the street,” “I saw a cute pig who was running across the street,” “we should respect the rights of every living being who feels pain, even pigs who are running across a busy street” or “who did that oink come from? Did it come from the pig who was running across the street?”

The fact that we use the same pronouns for nonhuman animals as we do for inanimate objects and that we would not use for human animals under the same circumstances shows a profound lack of respect for nonhumans.

Note: Some people have criticized this word choice by claiming that it makes no sense to use the pronoun “they” when the singular subject’s gender is in doubt. Really, it makes all the sense in the world. It may be awkward in our mouths when unpracticed, but it works  for us to use it every day for humans who are oppressed -when their gender is in doubt- and so it should work for us. People have criticized this choice of wording by saying that using “they” is confusing because it implies plurality, as in more than one human or nonhuman. This is patently false in any case where it’s already been established how many beings are the subject of a sentence. When we’ve already established that we’re only talking about someone, and not more than one someones, there is no problem there.

Plus, we already do use it in that way. Think about it: If we were referring to humans, we wouldn’t say “I saw a cloaked and hooded person walk down the street, and then I lost sight of it when it turned into an alleyway.” No, we would say “I saw a cloaked and hooded person walk down the street, and then I lost sight of them when they turned into an alleyway” because the being in question is a “person,” but we have no idea which gender that person is.

Humans are sentient beings, so we usually consider it disrespectful to refer to a “human person” as “it.” But when it comes to nonhuman persons, our speciesist society refuses to grant them the same consideration. This is the way we frame things in our minds so we can turn sentient beings into objects, which is the only way we can reconcile what we know, if we really examine them, to be massive atrocities our society commits daily on those innocents.

Some further criticize our anti-speciesist word choice by giving the example that we commonly refer to human babies as “it.” As in “Mary just had a baby, I wonder which sex it is?” I don’t think this proves that the word “it” should also be used for humans, however. Rather it betrays a lack of respect for children on the part of the speaker. It should become common practice for us to say “I wonder which sex they are?” or even better “I wonder what their sex is?” instead.

It may feel strange when we try to retrain ourselves to use non-speciesist terminology in the matter, but that is purely a result of the speciesist conditioning that our society puts us through, not whether it’s “wrong” to use the non-speciesist term.

Part 1c: The Euphemism, or “A Great Way To Distract You From The Truth”
The second point I’d like to make is about how we talk about the nonhumans who we humans use for our interests. Or more specifically, I’d like to talk about them as well as their flesh and secretions. If we’re going to talk about nonhumans and their rights, let’s be perfectly clear: The term “meat” is really a euphemism meant to divert attention from the real issue, which is that we’re talking about the flesh of a being who is easily provable, using only fact and logic, to be morally equal to any human. An innocent being who could feel pain, fear and other sensations, just as much as humans can. A being who had an interest in their own survival and freedoms just as much as you and I do. The reality is that it’s impossible to obtain the flesh of those beings for us to consume without inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on them. Every nonhuman whose flesh or secretions we consume was forced into existence, exploited, and then slaughtered using violence, and it was completely unnecessary.

Using nonhuman animals for their flesh is also not morally distinguishable from using any sentient being merely as a replaceable resource for any other human purpose either. All forms of exploitation of any animal, nonhuman or human, are equally morally wrong. Furthermore, to distinguish morally between different kinds of exploitation ensures that the people observing our arguments will inflict even more unnecessary suffering and death on nonhumans (and humans) than before.

So we can understand that using the term “meat” to refer to animal flesh is highly problematic from a rights perspective. It creates and reinforces the notion in others that who we’re consuming is merely an inanimate object, completely divorced from the breathing, sentient being who was unnecessarily harmed in order to obtain it. Similarly, words like “pork,” “beef,” “bacon,” “mutton,” “veal,” “leather,” “wool,” “down,” etc. are equally problematic.

Coats are not made of “leather,” they’re made of the skin of sentient beings who were killed for completely unnecessary reasons. Sweaters are not “wool,” they’re the hair of sentient beings who have immense suffering inflicted on them and then are killed for their flesh when they can’t produce enough hair to be profitable anymore. Pillows aren’t filled with “down,” they’re filled with the feathers of sentient beings who are fully capable of desiring not to be used as resources or killed, and who have been proven to care about their families as much as we human animals care about ours.

When you think about it, the very existence of “cheese” is completely messed up, let alone the word itself. Do we see any other species enslaving other animals so that they can use the milk that rightfully belongs to them and their babies to make “cheese?” Using that word in reference to animal dairy is adding insult (and by extension, further injury) to an already grave injury. These are the lives and secretions of sentient beings; we have a responsibility to the nonhumans who lived and died in humans’ immoral quest for our own palate pleasure to call these substances what they are: animal flesh and animal secretions at the very least, products of suffering and death if we want to bring passion to our rhetoric. But never “meat,” “leather,” wool,” “down,” etc.

Part 1d: Possession Is 9 Points Of The Very Speciesist Law
Also very similarly, we should avoid using the term “my,” “mine,” “ours,” etc. when talking about nonhumans. They are not our possessions, in the moral sense. They are not ours to use; their lives, freedoms, family, and suffering are not ours to exploit; they belong to themselves. So, it’s not “my meat,” it’s the flesh of an individual who was immorally exploited and caused to suffer and die for unnecessary reasons. To me, the nonhuman animals I rescue and keep in my home are not “my cats” in the sense of them belonging to me as mere possessions, they are “my family” in the same way that other humans are my family. They certainly have a relationship to me -as does any human I interact with- and this latter usage is the version of the word “my” that we can use and still observe a sense of justice for them. It’s the only non-speciesist way in which we can refer to nonhumans as being “mine.”

Moreover, we don’t think that it’s necessary to use euphemisms when referring to circumstances where humans have been exploited, oppressed, or otherwise harmed. If a human is intentionally killed by another human merely for selfish reasons, we decry that as “murder.” If a nonhuman suffers the same fate, we call it “putting them down,” or even more divorced from the act, “harvesting.” If a human is used as a replaceable resource to perform unconsenting labor of any kind, we call them “a slave,” but if the victims in question are nonhumans, we call them “livestock,” “units” etc. This is purely speciesism in it’s most obvious form. In fact, these are only a small portion of the instances where speciesist language occurs. Pointing out every instance in just the English language alone could fill an entire book.

Part 1e: A Little Pejorative Goes A Long Way
Another way in which we use speciesism to reinforce the idea that nonhumans are our moral inferiors is to use terms that pertain to them as pejoratives. To make but one example, we think absolutely nothing of using the terms “bullshit” or “horseshit” to describe something that we find objectionable or a lie. Let me ask the obvious question: why is a male bovine’s excrement morally worse than that of any other being? If it’s not, then why do we need to point out that the thing we find objectionable is like it? This is only the tip of a very large iceberg when it comes to this particular form of speciesist language.

Some other problematic phrases are “dumb as an ox” (this is both ableist, as it uses a word for not being able to speak as a pejorative, and speciesist, as it implies that all oxen are stupid), “the world is your oyster” (implies that we should own nonhumans and therefore use them as we see fit), “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” (both ableist and speciesist as it implies that all elderly humans or dogs are incapable of something that younger ones are capable of), “use ____ as a guinea pig” (implies that using nonhumans as unconsenting test subjects is justifiable), “hold your horses” (implies that we should own and use nonhumans as we see fit), “pick of the litter” (implies that we should use nonhumans as we see fit), “like shooting fish in a barrel” (should be obvious), “like a bull in a china shop” (implies that all bulls are clumsy and destructive), and these are only a few. Again, there are quite a few more; some of which are also outlined in this excellent essay, which also points out that it’s easy to find alternative phrases:

http://veganvine.blogspot.com/2016/06/speciesist-language-reinforces-animal.html

When we try to liken something we find problematic or objectionable (and it’s often some action that we humans engage in that we can be blamed for, but nonhumans can’t) to nonhuman characteristics or behavior, or just plain present nonhumans as things that are normal for us to own and use, we make obvious our lack of respect for them.

Part 1f: A Note On Miscellaneous Problematic Terms And Ideas
I’ve heard many Vegans say that nonhumans “should have rights.” Regarding pre-legal morality as a concept, nonhumans already do have rights. As a society, we’ve merely been violating their rights all along. We can’t give them moral rights nor take them away. Whether we are going to keep violating their rights -by living non-Vegan- or respect their rights by living Vegan does not change whether they have them or not. If we talk coherently about “giving them rights” this is only in regards to their legal status as property or persons. This is an important distinction to make (in those very words) in our speaking and writing.

Other speciesist phrases that our society sees as normal are ones such as “you’re an animal” in the context of vilifying someone for their negative actions. This is probably because most people are under the mistaken impression that any suffering and death inflicted by nonhumans on other nonhumans is somehow morally blame-worthy. So not only do we -often only subconsciously- excoriate ourselves for treating nonhumans in a way we -rightfully- know to be wrong, but we -often simultaneously- excoriate nonhumans for seemingly not being able to live up to some standard that we set for ourselves (confusedly, since most people don’t really understand morality from an academic standpoint and also aren’t following a consistent moral code in the first place). And throughout all of this, not only do we not realize the arbitrary and even contradictory nature of our mindset, we don’t even realize that all of this suffering we’re intentionally inflicting is completely unnecessary in the first place.

It’s only through Veganism (and by that I mean learning what Abolitionist Veganism means and thereafter practicing it) that we begin to untangle this ridiculous Gordian Knot of irrational, confused moral contradictions and myths that we’ve constructed about nonhumans. Only through recognizing what is unnecessary suffering; why sentient beings have rights and what rights those are, and how many different aspects of human and nonhuman behavior have been mythologized can we then fully realize just how deep our societal programming really extends; and thus, begin to reverse that programming. And one of the most effective tools for that reversal is in recognizing our problematic language and striving to choose our words more carefully at every opportunity.

Part 2: The Vocabulary Of Human Oppressions

Part 2a: Identifying The Underlying Problem
“The vegan movement” is rife with racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and other oppressive actions of all kinds. The first rule in any human rights social justice movement is that you must listen to the members of a marginalized group and believe them when they tell you what is oppressive and offensive to them. When you are not a member of the group in question, you are not the person who decides what is oppressing them and what is not.

All forms of oppression reinforce and sustain every other form of oppression. This is why people who identify as vegan will never achieve the true end goal of the vegan movement as long as they are engaging in any of these forms of oppression. This is also why people who wish to end the injustice of “racism” or any other form of oppression will never achieve their goal while they are still engaging in speciesism or any other form of oppressive action. How can someone know how to help end oppression when they themselves are engaging in the worst forms of oppression? You can literally never eliminate violence being inflicted on one oppressed group by engaging in ableism, genderism, ethnic bigotry, or *any* other oppressive behavior.

When we engage in any form of oppression we are promoting the idea that it’s morally acceptable to dismiss others from our sphere of moral concern based on some sort of physical characteristic that they have that we don’t, or that we have that they lack. With speciesism, that characteristic is their species membership. It makes no sense to discriminate against others morally based on their species membership because if we do so, then that promotes the idea that others should be able to get away with discriminating against you based on your physical characteristics, such as your sex, gender, ethnic membership, sexual orientation, etc. This also works the opposite way, which is why it makes no sense to say that it’s morally wrong to use nonhumans as mere replaceable resources for our interests but then turn around and show the same lack of moral concern for other humans based on some physical trait.

And it isn’t just a case of men discriminating against women, white against black, etc. Promoting the use of animals is just as effective in encouraging P.O.C. to harm each other, white people, etc. and women to discriminate against others, and so on. Promoting violence encourages violence in all its forms.

Part 2b: Identifying Each Problematic Term And Why It’s Wrong
When we use a word that was created to mean a disability -such as “dumb” means can’t speak, and “lame” means has trouble walking- as a pejorative (a negative connotation towards a thing or person we find morally wrong or objectionable) we cause the person with the disability to fell as if they are being vilified as a person. Even if the thing or person we’re using the term against has nothing to do with the disabled person. Just like saying “that’s gay” makes a gay person feel vilified. Or “that’s retarded” vilifies intellectually underdeveloped persons.

You may think that it’s not abelism to use “innocuous” terms like “dumb,” “lame,” “moron,” “idiot,” etc., but you are not the one with the disability being vilified! You using terms like “dumb” when *you* are not a speech-impaired person is abelism. You are not the oppressed, but you are being the oppressor. You have the privilege of being able to speak! Or being able to walk or get around without inconvenience or pain! Or you have a higher IQ than some people. You are not mentally impaired.

Problematic terms to use as pejoratives include, but are not limited to: “retard” or “retarded,” “idiot” and “moron” (vilifies the intellectually underdeveloped), “dumb” (vilifies people who can’t speak), “lame” (vilifies those with mobility problems), “gay” (vilifies those who are of a different sexual orientation than “straight” people), “bitch” (this term is both sexist and speciesist, as it not only vilifies women -comparing them to female dogs as a negative- but also vilifies female dogs as being somehow objectionable), “dick” (vilifies those who have a penis or who identify as male), and “pussy” or “cunt” (vilifies those who have a vagina or identify as female). It’s also problematic to use sex-negative terms like “cocksucker” as a pejorative because you’re vilifying both women and non-straight men.

Part 2c: How We Defend Our Problematic Behavior
I constantly see those who are unwilling to consider the problematic nature of their speech making the claim “That term isn’t oppressive because _____ .”

If you’re not the one who is offended by the remarks, then chances are you’re not one of the people who has the trait that’s being vilified. Ergo, you have no standing to make any claim as to whether the remarks constitute oppression or not. Telling people who are being oppressed that they are not experiencing oppression is oppression! It’s marginalization through silencing dissent.

Also, the argument that “most people don’t use that term to mean _____ anymore, but now they use it to mean this non-oppressive thing instead” is not a valid argument. The argument I’m making has nothing to do with whether the person remarking is intentionally trying to hurt the person offended by  the remark or “aiming” it at that person, it has to do with whether any observer is offended or not. If I, as a “white” person, went up to someone and attempted to insult them by calling them a “nigger” and a P.O.C. was nearby and was offended, would it make sense for me to say to the P.O.C. “I wasn’t using that term to mean you, I was using it to mean this other thing or person I meant?” No. The term was created to mean something offensive. If we use it as a pejorative in regards to something not connected to the original pejorative it was coined to mean, we can’t expect the person who belongs to a group whose members were the target of the original pejorative to not be offended.

“That isn’t as bad as _____ (something someone else is doing) so it’s ok.”

“I’m doing a lot of good for _____ (whatever group) so you should overlook it when I do this much smaller wrong thing.”

Neither one of these arguments is valid when it pertains to any problematic behavior such as slavery, rape, torture or murder, and so it’s not valid in the case of any problematic behavior. For instance, we don’t expect a claim such as “There will always be people who murder other people, so me beating my spouse or children is morally justifiable” to be taken seriously, likewise with a claim such as “I contribute a lot of money to/support organizations that fight child poverty and hunger, so it’s morally justifiable for me to kill other humans merely for my own interests occasionally.”

In the same way, it’s unreasonable to claim that just because someone else commits moral harms that you perceive as “worse” than merely using speciesist, racist, sexist, ableist, etc. terms, that it morally excuses us to do that. And the same can be said of claiming that just because we engage in some form of morally positive action that this excuses us from any blame for using various forms of problematic language either. In all cases, our moral responsibility is to not only refrain from committing the morally “worse” actions, but all morally problematic actions that we can refrain from.

Yet another argument that I see people trying to use to justify their oppressive language is “I have a friend(s) who are ______ (insert characteristic the person just got through using as a pejorative) and they told me that they aren’t offended when I say ______ (insert oppressive term).” In other words, these are people who will claim that they have black friends who give them a pass for using racist terms, gay friends who give them a pass for using the term “that’s gay,” friends who are disabled who don’t care if they use terms like “lame” or “dumb,” etc.

This argument is not valid in this context, however. The argument against using oppressive terms hinges on the people who are offended by those terms, not the people who aren’t. Morality is about causing the least amount of harm, not seeing how much we can get away with before we’re called out on our behavior. In order to cause the least amount of harm we need to live by the precautionary principle. Which means that if an action is unnecessary (meaning that it’s not something we need to do to thrive) and we know that there is a chance that any others could suffer because of that action, even if we don’t have direct knowledge of who those people are and where they are in relation to us, then we have a moral responsibility to err on the side of caution, which means not engaging in that action. So if there are 100,000 people of a marginalized group in existence, and you only know 10 of them personally -and those 10 people tell you that it’s ok to use any term you want around them, regardless of what it is- that doesn’t mean that the other 99,990 people of that grouping would agree with that. Which means that you going out into public and openly using those terms is going to oppress someone from those groups, which is the only criteria necessary to make doing so morally wrong.

Conclusions I’ve drawn from the last few years of Vegan advocacy
If we really wanted to insult others (although that is morally a bad idea, and just about the farthest thing from what we should be sticking to, which is peaceful Vegan education) there are plenty of much more egalitarian insults we could use. I am not going to teach these to people, since as I stated, I think that insults are one thing we should be decreasing in our society.

In any moral discussion, the best way to react when someone brings up the idea that we’re doing something wrong is to carefully consider their words and ask ourselves if there is any way that we can make positive changes to our behavior. If we want to ask respectful questions to see if the person we’re talking to has any further information for us or suggestions as to how we can do this, that’s a great second step as well. The worst thing we can do is become defensive and angry at the messenger, as this keeps us from thinking clearly and hence, blocks us from any positive change.

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

Animal Welfare Is A Trap

Welfarism is a trap; one that our entire society has been caught in for around 200 years.

Our society begins our indoctrination in welfarism since the day we learn to talk, and doesn’t stop piling it onto us until the day we die. Those people living right now who call themselves “vegan” but repeat the mantras (which they erroneously call “arguments”) supporting welfarism are merely repeating the same ideas propagated by non-Vegans that we’ve been bogged down in for all this time regarding how we should be *treating* nonhuman animals. The same ideas, over and over. Where has that gotten us? We’re currently enslaving or needlessly slaughtering many times more nonhuman animals each year than we were 200 years ago.

In reality, the process we call “going Vegan” has been corrupted by welfarism into something that most people -even those of us who think we’re Vegan at first- completely misconstrue. We think that once we’ve gone Vegan, that means that if we care about getting people to stop hurting animals, we need to sign petitions, engage in “protests,” tell people “baby steps are good” or “every little bit helps.”

In short, this is because welfarism has corrupted the meaning of “going Vegan” to support itself. When we really live Vegan, we completely reject everything that is not part of a coherent, consistent framework of Animal Rights. Welfarism is directly opposed to that framework, so one of the only ways that welfarism can counteract Rights is to corrupt people’s understanding of Rights to support welfarism.

However, once someone who has been indoctrinated in welfarism recognizes this, they can then begin the process of freeing themselves from it. This is actually like a second “going Vegan.” If we recognize this, then we have begun a process which should culminate in our understanding of what really does constitute Animal Rights and what doesn’t. This is not an instantaneous process in almost any cases, but usually spans a bit of time spent researching and learning, even for the most astute among us. But as I said, once it’s over, it means that we reject any and all of the activities that support welfarism (after all, how can making the same old mistake over and over again get us a new, better result?).  The people who have already done this are called “Abolitionist Vegans.”

The tenets of Abolitionist Veganism -in stark contrast to those of welfarism- are that nonhumans have the right not to be used for human interests, regardless of how “nicely” we use them; and that their use -being wrong- is what we need to abolish, not that we need to merely change our treatment of them. It’s really not that difficult a concept to grasp.

The tenets of welfarism -which are meant to divert our attention from Animal Rights discussions and reinforce the ideological framework of welfarism- include the ideas that: we don’t need to stop using animals as long as we change their treatment; that animals don’t care if they or their loved ones die, they only care whether they suffer in the moment; that there is a hierarchy of species with humans at the top, which means that our interests are more important than theirs; that there is a moral hierarchy of wrong acts so that some are more wrong than others, which allows us to somehow “rank” how bad other people are in comparison to ourselves and each other; that Veganism is a matter merely of human health or some other human-centric concern; that we need to focus our anger on the human “abusers” instead of focusing our peaceful education efforts on all non-Vegans; that hating other humans because they “torture” nonhuman animals and inflicting violence or destructive acts on them or their property is not counter-productive to our goal; that even if petitions, protests, and other such campaigns on behalf of nonhuman animals are speciesist (and they are, all of them), that this doesn’t matter because “at least it’s DOING SOMETHING”; that “getting someone to ‘go vegan’ is progress” even though what the welfarist who is saying this doesn’t realize is that the people they are talking about are actually now just “plant-based” welfarists; and more.

Some of you may ask, “but if you don’t do all these old types of ‘activism,’ then what do you do instead?”

The answer: we do the only thing that isn’t harmful -which welfarism is- and that has the ability to help instead – we educate people on why they need to live as Abolitionist Vegans. This activity is what is responsible for *any* progress that has been made in regards to Animal Rights in the past few decades.

If you think it’s wrong to hurt animals and that’s why you’re Vegan, please join us in educating people about why they need to live Vegan. Here’s how we start:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/create-new-vegans

And here’s much more info on which actions are counter-productive to the Animal Rights Movement:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/welfare-watch

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cis-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

Re-blog: Something Other Than They Are

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cis-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.


An incredibly powerful and useful perspective on the evil of domestication.

 

metaevolutionary

Recently I was involved in a discussion on another forum initiated by a hopeful vegan person asking if there was a humane source for animal based food for carnivorous pets.  My response was that there is not.  Though with great populations of domesticated carnivorous animals who are dependent on humans for food, we are, so far, fraught with choosing the life of one animal over another.

Plant stuffs can be formulated to meet the health and nutritional needs of some obligate carnivore species, namely domesticated cats.  And omnivorous ones, such as dogs, generally cruise easily on vegan diets.   However, should this option fail a particular animal, Gary Francione, esteemed promoter of the grassroots Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights,  explains that in our responsibility to all domesticated species who are already in existence we may succumb to a morally excusable use of one animal for the food of another however morally…

View original post 1,225 more words

On Morality: Intent Vs. Consequence – Why “Good People” And “Evil People” Don’t Actually Exist

 Duality 01

I don’t think “evil” is something that exists.

By which I mean to say that I don’t believe in the idea that evil is a physical force which hovers in the air and enters people and makes them do things. Nor do I believe in the idea that “some people are ‘evil’ but some people are ‘good’.”

  • The Art Of Reductionism

Many people throughout history, no less on social media recently, have expressed the idea that specific people or groups of people “are evil” based on their actions towards human or nonhuman animals. This can range from simply saying that non-Vegans in general are bad people, to saying that hunters are worse than others, saying that people who torture animals are the worst, saying that pedophiles are all monsters, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

However, the idea that “some people are evil, and some people are good” doesn’t make much objective sense. All humans have the capability to perform actions that seem either “evil” or “good”, depending on the perspective of the person performing the action, as well as the person observing the action. Because of this, the very idea that some actions are “good” and some are “evil” doesn’t really make much sense either.

This is not to say that some actions are not destructive or harmful. But ascribing the term “evil” to a person because of an action that they’ve committed, as if simply using that term puts the action into a category that divorces it or the doer from all complexity or renders the doer incapable of being anything other than “evil” is far too simplistic and narrow-minded.

  • A Re-Examination Of Rights

Our human concept of morality itself is an automatic, logical response to the recognition that each being who is capable of feeling pain has an individual interest in not suffering. This recognition is the basis for our notion of whether individuals have such things as “rights.” A “right” is merely a term that we use to mean that we agree to a rule that allows us to protect an interest that we all have. Chief among the “rights” that individuals have is the right to not be used as merely a replaceable resource for human pleasure and other non-necessary (aka non-survival, non-health) interests.

Our human system of justice is based on the notion of a human interest in creating a “social order”; this order aims to regulate our behavior in a way which induces the most happiness, satisfaction and “good health” in general in as many of the members of our moral community as possible, and the least pain, unhappiness, and other forms of suffering. But this is only because we recognize that individuals who are capable of suffering have this right to not be made to suffer for the non-necessary interests of a human.

  • Who Makes The Most Sense To Blame?

From a purely practical perspective (before even considering any abstract notions of moral philosophy) if we examine the ideas advanced by Chaos Theory – for instance – we see that any choice we make between a wide array of possible actions means that our chosen action will affect everything else in the world. So basically, everything that happens in the world is a product of a near-infinite number of different inter-connected actions that are performed by everyone and everything in reality over “the course of time” (since by our commonly-held perspective, time is linear, even though from what some people have postulated, it may not be): each action affecting or being affected by every other action.

This seems to indicate that any action we commit could have a near-infinite array of both positive and negative consequences. Indeed, each action, as well as each of the consequences which automatically follow from it, could seem either positive OR negative OR both from the perspective of the beings both observing and being affected by them (This has been recognized already for thousands of years by some cultures).

So taking all this into account, how do we determine whether an action that affects others is morally right or wrong for us to engage in? Its simple: we must start by asking whether their are other beings who can feel pain who could become victim of our immediate actions, or even whether we can predict an indirect link between the 2. Since our actions could be seen as either positive or negative depending on who’s perspective they’re being seen from, it should need no explanation why we should be using the perspective of a potential victim as the measuring stick for whether an action is harmful, and not the perspective of a potential victimizer.

It’s not just the actions themselves or the consequences of those actions which determine whether we are morally blameworthy, but our perspective on those actions and consequences. So that is the ruling factor in whether we should commit an action or not; our own knowledge of whether or not we ourselves perceive our intent and our resultant action to be morally justifiable, based on whether we know if others may or may not be harmed by them unnecessarily. In other words, we must endeavor to commit only actions that have the best chance of causing the least harm through causing the least violations of the rights of others.

In my estimation, this would indicate that the consequences of our actions have absolutely no bearing on our moral culpability. Our actions obviously need to follow logically from our intent, but only our intent means anything when we are determining whether an action fits within our notion of moral responsibility. In other words, only our intent, not the consequences of our actions, should give someone the ability to morally blame us or morally praise us.

  • Being Honest About What Evidence We Really Have

People often try to prove the argument that evil people exist with the assertion “But there definitely are people who are evil. I know this is true because this person committed this, this or this horrible action.”

 But this is merely a list of wrong-actions that the person committed. The point that someone committed an immoral action is not proof that the person in question is evil. Their actions can be morally justifiable, or not morally justifiable (what we call “immoral”) but that doesn’t make the person “immoral,” nor does it make them “moral.” Everyone, even those who have committed the most heinous acts, has the ability within themselves to change their moral stance so that they are never again going to commit such acts.

Many people often try to counter that argument with the assertion “But this person never did change, so this proves that they were evil. They committed those actions, never regretted it, and died without repenting. This means that they were evil.” But this argument doesn’t prove that at all. All it proves is that the person in question didn’t change, not that they couldn’t have, if they’d lived longer or encountered the right set of circumstances. No human has been proven to be able to predict the future, so saying that we know whether someday someone will change or not is nonsense. There are amazing stories of people who have committed the most heinous actions doing a complete moral “about-face” years afterwards. Add to this point the fact that there are plenty of people who, for one reason or another, have never let on about the regret they felt for their actions. In other words, we often have no way of knowing who will change their moral stance in a specific way, when they will change, or in many cases, even whether they’ve changed at all.

Even putting aside the obvious problems with considering people evil from a rational standpoint, there is a moral problem with just dismissing someone as evil before you’ve seen how their life will turn out. This is because it doesn’t take into consideration the fact that people are eminently capable of changing their moral actions based on new perspectives. In fact, the only real constant in human behavior is change. To dismiss or condemn the entirety of the person as morally worthless based on only some portion of their actions is illogical from a moral standpoint as well.

Also, keep in mind that there are a lot of factors involved in the viewpoints of various people on the myriad actions one could commit and how they relate to morality. In many cases, the intent of a person is to do good, but they are merely confused or unsure what the best course of action is. Some people have been heavily indoctrinated regarding whether an action or set of actions is morally justifiable or not, in various ways and regarding different kinds of beings. Some are more indoctrinated than others, and fear, especially when it’s not even consciously recognized by the fearful, is an incredibly powerful obstacle to moral consistency. There is also the existence of mental disorders, both created by physiological elements and also those related to trauma. These are only a few of the things that often cause perfectly “morally conscious” people to say or do immoral things.

  • What Action Does This Suggest We Should Take?

The point is, when we consider the question of how we should be responding to the actions and even the arguments used by non-Vegans to attempt to justify their actions regarding nonhumans, we should keep in mind that we’re not dealing with monsters. We’re dealing with humans, and humans are fallible. They are also capable of massive changes in their moral stance as well as incredible acts of bravery and kindness. I personally have met or have heard the stories from many people who now identify as Vegan and would never have considered living Vegan -some, in fact, who were die-hard anti-Vegans beforehand, including trophy hunters and slaughterhouse workers- if someone hadn’t been compassionate enough to forgive them and then educate them peacefully on why it’s wrong to use animals. If not for this, they would still be enthusiastically exploiting nonhumans to this day. They themselves admit this.

If we want the people who are harming animals for palate pleasure and/or simple convenience -who would otherwise consider ending that behavior- to consider Veganism, then we have to be willing to put our hatred aside and educate them with understanding, instead of condemning them. Representing them as evil -or even “sociopathic,” “psychotic,” etc.- to others, regardless of what they have done, merely causes them, and other people, to avoid our message about the rights of nonhumans. If we look at it from the more rational perspective that anyone who’s done wrong can change -even to the utmost- at any moment and that we have no idea when that may happen, it makes it much easier for us to allow ourselves the opportunity to influence them.

  • Our Conclusions, And Who They Say The Most About

Another point to consider: Many of our family and friends may be non-Vegan. They are inflicting just as much unnecessary suffering and death by living that way as any other non-Vegan. Are we ok with considering them “evil” as well? If not, we’re just arbitrarily picking and choosing whom we consider to be evil based on our own fits of anger, random self-interest, or whims. Almost all Vegans were non-Vegan at some point, probably including the person reading this (you). Were they evil? Were you? Doesn’t that mean you are still evil? If we think people are one or the other, good or evil, then where is the line? Where do we draw a line and say that this set of actions makes someone evil, but this other set of actions doesn’t? And who is the authority who draws that line? What makes one person’s opinion on what makes someone evil better than some other person’s completely different, arbitrary -and usually contradictory- opinion?

In summation, it’s irrational, not to mention cruel, to just dismiss someone as evil before you’ve seen how their life will turn out. And publicly stating that someone is evil is a great way to guarantee that they, and probably at least a few other non-Vegans, will refuse to go Vegan, which means that the nonhuman animals lose. Is that what we’re trying to accomplish? Is some sort of catharsis where we obtain a few moments of sick pleasure from publicly vilifying another person (which is almost always due to our own shame because we once engaged in the same non-Vegan actions that they currently are engaging in) worth the very real lives and suffering of nonhumans?

  • Let’s Resolve To Do Better

Veganism is a movement of peace. If you think animals have moral value, then follow the path of peace, towards humans and nonhumans alike. Remember that humans are also animals, and it makes no sense to say that “other people should have compassion for animals” and then show a lack of compassion for  your fellow humans. Live Vegan. Educate others peacefully about why they need to live Vegan as well.

Yin-Yang 02

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

Re-blog: What we ask for, what we get ….

“As vegans, we all know that the world won’t go vegan overnight. Goodness, if we didn’t know, we’re reminded often enough. But likewise, we have to realise that there’s a big difference between compromising on material aspirations and compromising the rights of others; we have to keep our focus on who we’re fighting for. Just as I experienced with bullying, we all know that destructive behaviour isn’t going to stop overnight but that does not change the limits of the compromise that we are entitled to make.

Firstly we have a duty to our victims to educate those who needlessly harm them with use, that they, the victims, have a right to live unharmed and not to be used by our species as if they were our resources. Likewise those who are not vegan have the right to know that the myths they were taught about the necessity of harming others were completely false.

We owe everyone the absolute truth, that the only way that any of us can live true to our own values is to become vegan”

Read more of this incredible post:

Source: What we ask for, what we get ….

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, cis-sexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.