Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hating Meat, Hurting Animals

At times, it can seem difficult to be vegan in today's society, with nearly everyone around us eating the flesh of previously tortured animals. Most people's apparent indifference toward – even mockery of – our ethical diet can be very frustrating (to say the least).

Furthermore, given the horrors the animals go through, we often feel utterly compelled to take any and every opportunity to make any and every argument against any aspect of animal agriculture / the standard American diet.

As I discussed yesterday, this attitude – while entirely understandable – can perversely lead to more animals suffering and dying.

While making a larger point in her most recent blog post, Ginny shows another example (emphasis added):

Several weeks ago, I received an email newsletter from an animal rights group highlighting a study on red meat and lung cancer. It linked directly to the study abstract which concluded that “A high intake of red meat may increase the risk of lung cancer by about 35%, while a high intake of poultry decreases the risk by about 10%.

That’s hardly a vegan message. And since most people already view chicken meat as healthier than red meat, it probably only serves to perpetuate existing beliefs about poultry consumption, while encouraging a behavior that leads to more suffering.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, in his famous 1963 letter from the Birmingham Jail wrote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

He wasn’t talking about animals, of course, but it’s an observation that works well for animal advocacy. Vegans advocate for all animals. And even when we want to advocate for other things–like human health–we shouldn’t do it by endorsing a system that tortures mice, and rats, and monkeys and dogs and cats. And we shouldn’t do it with messages that can have the unintentional consequences of encouraging people to eat one type of animal while avoiding another.

Or to put it another way – if we want to help animals, we should advocate for animals.