Veganism as a Form of Living Protest
by Bob and Jenna Torres
The following is an excerpt from Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World by Bob Torres and Jenna Torres
…Animals should be treated as beings rather than things, and we do not have the inherent right to subjugate other beings for our own purposes. In human society we call that slavery, and when we do it to animals it is no different. There is no “humane” slavery, and just as there is no humane slavery, there can be no “humane” slaughter, exploitation or abuse of animals. The very act of subjugating animals for our own use is morally objectionable since it denies another being the ability to live its life free of pain and suffering. Sadly, what is often called “animal welfare” consists of minor improvements in the process of subjugating animals. If you’re a slave and you live in a bigger room, aren’t you still a slave? For this reason, Tom Regan writes that we should not want bigger cages; instead, we should want nothing less than empty cages.
Some people object to the idea of animal rights because animals are “irrational” or because they can’t speak, yet we give rights to very young children who are also “irrational” and who cannot speak. Being able to speak, or being able to reciprocate rights are not reasons to deny those rights to anyone, human or non-human. Giving animals rights does not mean that animals are exactly like humans; instead it means we accept that animals – as sentient possessors of their own lives – deserve to be treated with respect, and deserve to be free from exploitation and oppression.
…What’s mind-boggling about all of this needless animal exploitation is that the solution is exceedingly simple. Humans can live well as vegans, and there are millions of vegans around the world who prove this to be the case, day in and day out. As ethical vegans, we live as practicing anti-speciesists in a world that exploits animals at every turn. We ethical vegans serve as a constant reminder that something is not right with the use and exploitation of animals, and in this sense, our very diet is a form of living protest we enact at every meal. Veganism is our lived expression of our own ethics; it is basic compassion 101.
Despite this, as a way of easing their own conscience and justifying their own inaction, you’ll hear omnivores sincerely tell you that “one person can’t change anything.” It may be true that you alone will never stop dairy production, or cause the downfall of the egg industry. Still, being vegan is an essential step for anyone who believes in animal rights. It is the most basic commitment anyone can make towards showing that animals are not ours to use and abuse. In addition, part of fighting against speciesism requires that we speak out for those who cannot speak. Though may of us who care about the rights of animals are marginalized by a media that would sooner paint us as “terrorists” than air a documentary on the abuses of animal agriculture, we can have a powerful influence on those around us. We can educate our friends, family, and communities, and show them what’s wrong with the way we treat animals. When people who know us see our sincerity on this issue, it can make them rethink their own participation in animal suffering. – excerpted from Vegan Freak by Bob and Jenna Torres