Many vegans lament that there are dog/cat rescuers and other animal activists in their communities who are not vegan. I’m with you, believe me. I get it. It is shocking when humane societies serve animals on plates at fundraisers. It is a head-scratcher that someone who works to save whales would order sushi in a restaurant, failing to recognize he is destroying the ocean habitats and food chains that support those whales.
I understand your frustration that nonvegan companon animal rescuers don’t recognize that a pig is every bit as lovable as a dog, and a turkey can be just as cuddly as a cat. They work hard for one or a few species but not every species – just like there are people who feel called to get active on behalf of sea turtles, elephants, wolves, or other specific animals.
Although it would be wonderful if more dog/cat rescuers were vegan, I’d also like it if more vegans gave a crap, and actively helped animals in need. Not eating, wearing or exploiting animals is the absolute bare minimum a person can do. It is the default setting. It is the “moral baseline,” as some say.
Over the years I’ve worked with people and organizations who rescue dogs, cats, birds and other domestic pet species, those who are doing the dirty work of animal liberation. There should be much more respect, and less derision, for “dog and cat people” from the vegan community.
The animal rescuers I know do things that most vegans wouldn’t deign to do – such as run into traffic with a leash in one hand and a can of dog food in the other; wake up every two hours to bottle-feed kittens, crawl through mud to save a lost cat who scratches the hell out of them as a thank-you, cut the chain embedded in the neck of an auto yard pit bull who has never known a kindness from a human, pay their unemployed neighbor’s vet bill, not to mention clean up piles upon piles of shit.
Animal rescuers are willing to trap, trespass, surveil, steal, and otherwise do whatever it takes to do the right thing for an animal, right now, regardless of what the law says. As activists, most of us don’t hold a candle to these people. Too many vegans do very little to proactively help animals.
But what about the estimated 100 animals a year we save by being vegan? Let’s not strain ourselves patting each other on the back.
Going vegan doesn’t “save” 100 animals a year. 100 animals don’t go to sanctuaries or aquaria each year because you are vegan. In theory, you are preventing the future births of 100 animals a year. But with the realities of animal agribusiness, I’m loath to consider that anything more than theory. The minor losses the vegan population causes to animal processors are more than made up for by government subsidies and bailouts, plus exports to developing countries.
Ordering a pizza without cheese or buying cruelty-free makeup doesn’t make you a hero. Going to a potluck or a protest a few times a year is a nice opportunity to have your picture posted on Facebook so other people can congratulate you for changing the world. We should do those things. They feed us – literally and emotionally.
But there are no photo galleries for people who spend their entire weekend doing home checks to make sure that companion animals are being adopted by loving families instead of creeps. There are no awards for people who foster yet another animal because the “owners” are having a baby and don’t want him or her anymore, or people who go out night after night to trap homeless cats so they can be treated for mange, vaccinated, and fixed. They don’t get a prize for every box of starving abandoned kittens they find on the side of the road or every injured, bleeding dog they rush to a 24-hour vet. It is thankless, unglamorous work. It saves animals.
So be kind to dog and cat rescuers. Befriend one who isn’t vegan. Walk some dogs, scoop some poop, volunteer at an adoption event, help feed a feral cat colony. Buy them lunch and ask why, since they do so much for animals, they aren’t vegan yet. Give them a popular cookbook. Take them grocery shopping. Find out how you can be supportive and encouraging.
Then find out how you can do more for animals than signing a few online petitions and clicking ‘like’ to give a nonprofit a dollar.
Los Angeles area rescues with vegan cred: