March 1st, 2011 by Gary Smith
Veganism is much more than what one chooses to eat or not eat, chooses not to wear, chooses to forego for entertainment and chooses to purchase in terms of cosmetics and household items. Veganism at its core is about justice. Veganism is a social justice movement that places an animal’s right to be left to his or her own devices as the center of justice.
As such, advocating for veganism is much bigger than convincing individuals to become vegan – not that this work isn’t deeply important. It’s about fighting against the industries that profit from the use of animals. It’s about fighting against the governments that protect the rights of those industries to use and abuse animals. Ultimately, it is about reaching a public that allows and perpetuates the abuse of animals, and educating them about speciesism.
Speciesism is the core belief in the inherent supremacy of humans. It is what justifies the confinement, torture, and murder of billions of animals for food, clothing, entertainment and research. The idea that human beings are the center of the universe and that animals are a sub-species is unethical. History has shown us what happens when one race or country, for example, sees themselves as superior. Genocide happens.
What has been happening since human beings began to breed, raise, and kill animals has been a continual genocide. This genocide has been going on for thousands of years without a pause. In fact it is increasing with human population growth and industrialization.
So veganism is a social justice issue that requires active efforts to eliminate speciesism. Justice and equality are not going to come to animals by manipulating people through health claims, environmental reports, personal spirituality, or other promises about how going vegan will help that individual. Justice is not about self-serving acts. Justice is about the greater good, in this case, the rights of animals.
When someone makes a dietary choice for their own self interest, animals lose. How do animals lose? Diets and health choices change like the direction of the wind. I am avoiding gluten for dietary reasons. If I get tempted, or have a glass or two of wine, I may cheat on my dietary choice and eat some gluten. But no matter how much wine I drink, I will not cheat on veganism. Why? Because veganism is an ethical choice that is outside of my personal interests. I am vegan for animals.