I wanted to offer some advice for vegans. I haven’t written much lately about the philosophical journey of veganism or about some of the sharp stones that we can encounter along the road to veganism. So I thought today seemed like a day for a fireside chat.
This article is meant to be helpful to new vegans as well as seasoned vegan vets who have been in the trenches as long or longer than I have. I also hope to offer some advice to the vegan curious folk out there who are considering the rewarding and compassionate approach to living and becoming a vegan.
I’ve been vegan over 22 years now and I love every minute of it. It has become part of my lifestyle and something I wear as a badge of honour. I am honoured to count myself amongst the ranks of my fellow courageous and compassionate vegans. I get great comfort from living a life that is causing the least amount of suffering to any living being that I am able within my daily decisions accomplish.
But being vegan is not without its trials and tribulations. I have been in the trenches with you long enough that I recognize that our path is not solely one of a bed of roses with bushels of lettuce leaves to eat.
There are some real hiccups along the road and I’d like to offer some strategies and thoughts on how I have learned and how I continue to learn to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous mfortune that can be occasionally slung at vegans.
Veganism as selflessness
For most of us, being vegan is a calling that is not so much about us but about our part in the greater world.
It is an attempt to leave this world better than when we found it. My veganism as I imagine many or your path towards veganism was about ethical considerations. Specifically we came to veganism as a living protest about the cruelty and abuses inherent in our giant agricultural business and how it treats animals.
As such, we vegans are a sensitive sort. We feel things deeply and the pain caused to any one of our furry or feathered or scaled brothers is a pain caused to us personally.
I remember when I started up the very first animal rights and vegetarian group at my local college campus I was inundated with a huge amount of support from many of the biggest animal rights’ groups and vegetarian groups.
Much of this support came through the offering and delivery of many leaflets and photos and videos.
I spent hours of my time watching cruel animal experiments and the abuses at slaughterhouses and factory farms. I saw young chicks tossed into grinders to die while still alive. I saw the pleading look of veal calves too weak to get up covered in their own filth.
I saw the eye of God in a strung up baboon attached to more wires than he had limbs. I heard the devil’s snide snickers and comments from callous men used to torturing these feeling sentient beings. I saw cows dragged off of flatbed trucks their legs broken beneath them and hens still alive while having their throats slit.
To a humane being these are atrocities no less unforgivable than the atrocities we have committed against one another.
I have spent many hours weeping at the sight of cruelty and suffering and I have spent many days seeking justice from a deaf and mute God.
But I have also never lost my optimism and hope, for without it our journey will be more painful than most of us can shoulder. Without hope our work will end in vain.
And looking back over the years. When I see the larger vista of human evolution I do find this hope. In just the last 100 hundred years we in the West have ended child labour, abolished slavery, allowed women the vote as well as African Americans. These are significant wins in the growing swell of equality and justice in our societies. These are moments in time that will stand tall and proud as testaments to our evolution towards a compassionate and egalitarian community.
And the benefits and rights we can bestow on our most vulnerable citizens is just the starting point. A gnawing conscience is forming that will soon eradicate the most obvious abuses we commit against other living beings.
And soon after that I am certain that the rights of all creatures great and small to live an unimpeded life, the right to be left alone from human abuses especially will become apparent. And we will look back on these dark days and ask ourselves how we could have lived under such Dickensian times where animals were afforded no comfort, no respite from the daily abuse and neglect heaped upon them by humanity.
Plant strong veganism
But the above mentioned Eden to be built by many hands those hands need to be strong, sure and steady.
As vegans we are marching in the front lines of this great emancipation of the human spirit from our weak and selfish flesh.
The time will come when it is not only our cats and dogs who enjoy our comfort and companionship. There will be a time when all creatures with equal right to be here on this beautiful jewel will no longer be debased by our human frailties and evil.
That time is coming soon my fellow vegans and compassionate citizens. But we have lots of work ahead of us and we need strong minds, strong bodies and strong hearts to accomplish what needs to be done.
And that is why I urge you to live an exemplary vegan life. A life that is centered around compassion and non-violence. Not just towards animals but towards all of the natural world. Do not squabble with your neighbour over your veganism. For indeed it is righteous to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. For fortune will one day favour the brave.
And we are the brave me and you. We are facing these cruelties and not allowing ourselves to take part in them. And when your neighbour snidely remarks about your rabbit diet. Smile and offer him a meal to enjoy.
We are being watched and our very ideals of animal abolition are built upon the fragile foundation of compassionate non-violence. Let us not disturb the cornerstone while our work is not yet finished. We mush hold on hard to the ideals we cherish lest we become the monster we see as we stare into this society’s abyss.
And commit no violence against yourself. You are the few and the brave and the compassionate. Eat well and healthy and honour your soul’s temple this thin fabric of flesh. Remain plant strong on whole foods and do not allow your compassion to blur you to the necessary sustenance needed to continue this long journey for many mile to come.