Being Vegan – We Need To Get It Right With The Animals First
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
“The problem is that humans have victimized animals to such a degree, that they aren’t even considered victims. They aren’t even considered at all. They’re nothing. They don’t count, they don’t matter, they’re commodities like TV sets and cellphones. We’ve actually turned animals into inanimate objects–sandwiches and shoes. It is the greatest magic trick ever performed.” – Gary Yourofsky
What we have done to animals throughout history sickens me. What we continue to allow to happen to the animals in the way of capture, enslavement, cruel treatment, and slaughter for food, clothing, entertainment, or other reasons…all in the name of profit…sickens me even more. With all of our technological advances and such, it has not necessarily made us more compassionate or caring about the lives of living creatures, human or animal. So many have not evolved in their thinking or actions, even with all of the information now available out there that should encourage us to do just that.. We truly have reduced animals down to next to nothing and show little regard for their lives. We are disconnected from the reality of where our food and clothing come from. And yet there is a reality that is out there that is being faced by tens of billions of animals.. Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” How then can the greatness of our nations be judged? Unless we are talking about a segment of the animal population on the planet that happen to be companion animals, not very well at all by this criteria.
My thought is that until we can get our relationships right with animals and treat them properly, we will never get our relationships with other humans right. Immanuel Kant said, “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” My experience in working with people who are living a vegan lifestyle and are advocates for animals for ethical, health, and environmental reasons, for the most part, are also extremely compassionate towards all living creatures. Now, even those that I say are living a conscious lifestyle are certainly not perfect and occasionally get frustrated with the cruel words and actions of those humans who continue to defy a compassionate lifestyle and exercise what they feel is their right to use animals in any way that they please. It makes you lose a little faith in humanity. Yet for the most part, I have found those who live a compassionate lifestyle are also loving and kind towards all living creatures. They are not the warmongers and those perpetrating acts of violence upon society. I absolutely believe there is a connection between one’s disregard for an animal and their eventual disregard for human life as well. It is certainly not valued the way that it should be. Albert Schweitzer wrote that “Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, Man himself will not himself find peace.” It needs to start by making peace with the animals and eventually that peace will be reflected on our plates by our refusal to partake of animal flesh. Then we have a chance to extend compassion and peace to other humans as well.
We are all on a spiritual journey in one form or another, whether we realize it or not. You may be a part of a church, synagogue, temple or some other kind of regular gathering that encourages spiritual growth and life. We hear about love and compassion a great deal in these gathering places, and yet it is really being selectively lived out and certainly is not being extended the way that it should to all living creatures. We can talk about living an abundant life and having spiritual fruit, but that can only be short-circuited by partaking in the fear, torture, and death of another living creature. This is something that I would like to challenge all spiritual people to consider. Do you want to live in love and compassion and experience real peace? Then get your relationship right with the animals of this planet who are no less a part of creation than we are. We need to stop exploiting, using, and killing them. It is not necessary and it was never a part of the original plan for things. Albert Schweitzer also said, “By ethical conduct toward all creatures, we enter into a spiritual relationship with the Universe.” You can interpret that however you want, but it is really just encouraging us to get our relationship right with all living creatures. The ethics of how we treat animals and allow the systems in play right now to continue, will ultimately tell us a lot about who we really are.
The tens of billions of animals who give their lives each and every year for human consumption are real, living, thinking, and feeling beings. They are not inanimate objects or commodities. We should consider their lives as being vital and important. We would not want the lifestyle they are born into as anything that we would wish for our family, friends, or any other human being. So why do we allow it for them? By doing so, it is not only killing them but it is killing us and damaging our planet. We can fix this…we can make this right. But it is going to begin by us realizing that we have been complicit in this process and have supported it by our consumerism. I am telling you that we do not need to continue to support it to survive, in fact, if we walk away from it we will thrive. We can see peace but it begins with us. In our hearts and then in our actions and lifestyles. We have been part of great atrocities towards animals but we can make that right by making a change. We will see a difference in our health and spirits and the environment around us if we do. It can and will improve our relationships with people as well. If so much can be done on a personal basis, imagine what it would be like on a global scale? We could see a shift like nothing else we have seen in human history. It begins with us. It begins with the animals. The rest will follow.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul‘s revised edition of Eating Vegan Vegas is now available in bound book form and can be ordered through Amazon.com or any independent bookseller. The e-book version can be found at Kobo.com.