If you are vegan like I am, you probably have been asked many times, and I mean many times, “Why are you vegan?” Sometimes it is asked in a friendly tone and sometimes not. In the beginning, I would gird myself for the inevitable question. Oh, my goodness, here it comes. I can tell by the look on his/her face. Please don’t ask, please don’t ask! Oh bummer, she/he asked. Now what do I say without seeming scared or self-righteous or dumb? I was afraid of all three.
My first considered response to this question was the following: “I am vegan because of the cruel treatment of animals in farming industries”. It was a pretty narrow interpretation of being vegan, but, truthfully I was, and still am, horrified by the treatment of these beings. It wasn’t long before my vegan daughter started to point out to me (kindly, of course) that veganism is about so much more than the cruel treatment of nonhumans. It is about not using them in any way for our own consumption, whether it be for food, clothing, shelter, something to sit on, entertainment, medication.
As I became more educated, I fiddled around with changing my response. It has been a while since I started tinkering with the “right” (is there such a thing?) answer. I am not sure that I remember all the different things I tried. What I do remember is stumbling over my words, trying not to offend, trying to look confident. Long story short, I started to say that “I am vegan because nonhumans or sentient beings (instead of animals) deserve to have agency over their own lives”. I would answer the all too predictable follow up about my health, by saying that I am enjoying improved health. I did, and still do say, that improved health can be a welcome benefit, but that it is not a goal of veganism-same thing for the environment!
The more I fine tuned this answer, the more I wondered how other vegans would answer this query from this vegan. So, I decided to ask them. I sent the fill- in- the- blank out on the waves of social media. I “Facebooked” it, “Twittered” it and “Montreal Vegan Rejected” it. I was pretty pleased to receive quite a few considered and heartfelt answers.
Here they are for your perusal.
I am vegan because______________.
…I am proud to say I am vegan.
…most of the suffering in the world I can do nothing about; this I can do!
…I do not want to contribute to innocent animal suffering!
…I care about ALL animals.
…I live with the fortunacy of option. Some peoples options are very, very limited. Privileged punks like me should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream, until everyone has everything they need! And because J-Lo is.
…of the Right to Live with Dignity.
…killing animals is unnecessary and cruel.
…it is better for my health, for the animals and for the planet. Win! Win! Win!
…it matches my beliefs and value system !!!
…I am an animal lover. I can’t make the arbitrary distinction between “animals I love and would do anything to protect” and “animals whose lives don’t matter to me.” All their lives matter, and my actions as an animal lover need to reflect that.
I don’t want to support animal exploitation and murder. For health reasons. A living, free animal is a healthy animal, and deserves a fair shake in his/her lifetime.
…It’s the right thing to do.
…I want to live in a way that is more and more closely aligned with my understanding of justice.
…to put it simply, it makes my heart feel less heavy knowing I am doing what I can to contribute to a better life for all beings.
…I haven’t encountered a good enough reason not to be (i.e., a reason that’s more important than the rights of all animals).
…I don’t believe that nonhuman animals are resources or commodities for our use. I believe that they have a fundamental right to life, free of unnecessary suffering inflicted by us, that they are sentient beings, capable of a range of emotions: including happiness, sadness, desires, disappointments and frustrations, that they have a will to live, that most are capable of rich social lives, lives which are of inherent value.
…I am fully aware that I can lead a healthy and happy life without consuming animal products, and so, the only reasons to do so, are those of tradition, pleasure or convenience, reasons which are not morally justifiable.
…I’m Lucid/Conscious Living!!
…I can’t bear the abuse of men over animals!
…quite simply, I choose to live consciously and honestly, rather than hypocritically.
The vast majority of meat eaters could not kill an animal themselves – especially in a circumstance where it is not necessary for one’s survival – and so they conveniently hire far away, anonymous people to kill for them. They then allow themselves no conscious thought of how their meat gets to the nicely packaged end product. When attempts are made to tell them the truth, they close their eyes, block their ears, and run away, terrified at the thought of being viewed – quite accurately – as complicit in the abuse, torture, and death of the animals they consume. It’s much easier to view a package of meat the same way one views a box of crackers – in a very detached and unconscious manner.
I choose to not be a hypocrite; I choose to see the reality – ugly as it is – and to not contribute to it.
I also sent out this statement.
I am not vegan because____________.
I did not get any responses to this one, and that is unfortunate. However, if people took a moment, and I hope they did, to reflect on why they are not vegan, then that is a good thing!!-a small thing, but a good thing!
Thanks to everyone who contributed. If you would like to add to this discussion, please do so. Just click on the Thoughts button at the bottom of this post and send me your views.
Links you may find helpful:
Asking the difficult questions can be freeing for oneself and illuminating for others. While standing alone with conviction remember to celebrate if you are joined by even one other voice. Two voices speaking in unison is one hundred percent stronger than one. Reflection can bring clarity. I say proudly, that “I am vegan because of and for all the little piggies and nonhumans who suffer at our hands for our wants!” May all beings be happy and free.
Annie’s Vegan View
Asking the difficult questions can be freeing for oneself and illuminating for others.
While standing alone with conviction remember to celebrate if you are joined by even one other voice. Two voices speaking in unison is one hundred percent stronger than one.
Reflection can bring clarity.
I say proudly, that “I am vegan because of and for all the little piggies and nonhumans who suffer at our hands for our wants!”
May all beings be happy and free.