A year and a half ago, I wrote this article about our perceived wants and needs and how they tie in with veganism and the AR movement. While I have evolved in my views since becoming vegan and more recently, an AR activist, these words still ring very true for me. For this reason, I am re posting for your perusal.  Comments and thoughts are always greatly appreciated.

Originally Posted on Oct 20, 2014

Putting the Garden to Bed

Putting the Garden to Bed

My New Office

My New Office

I am not sure, after a very busy weekend, if I am busier now than when our kids were little, but sometimes it seems like it. I washed valences and blinds to get ready for the fellow who is going to clean our windows on this coming Wednesday. I continued to put things away post renovation. I cleaned out one china cabinet and washed all the dishes in it, did some laundry and caught up on all my paperwork and bill paying. My husband was busy putting the garden to bed, emptying flower pots of their scruffy looking charges and cutting back perennials for the long sleep to come. He ran a bunch of errands and then ran for his health. Together we shopped for a new car (only because ours are dying of old age and OMG are cars ever expensive), joined a couple for dinner out at a Japanese restaurant on Saturday night and made a dynamite veggie and bean pasta sauce which we served over spaghetti squash for last nite’s supper. To say, that by the time we sat down to eat and watch a bit of TV,  we were both pooped out is an understatement. It is never a good sign when one is too tired to walk up the stairs to go to bed.  Plus, we are not getting any younger, as they say.

Last Night's Supper

Last Night’s Supper

Poverty

Poverty

So, all that busy work got me thinking. How much does our actual survival in this world depend on getting all of this done? You know, the kind of survival where one breathes in and out, has enough to eat, enough clean water to drink and shelter from the storms of nature. I guess I would have to say, none of it, apart from the food we made. We are lucky enough to live in a middle class type neighborhood in a suburb near Montreal, QC, Canada. There is no question that we have worked hard to be here and to continue to live here now that our children are grown.

However, I am well aware that much of our good fortune comes from the happenstance of birth. We were born to parents who worked hard and were able to get ahead. There is no question that we benefited from all their hard work. We were offered educations, support and an example of how to be successful in the  modern world in which we live.

This busy work, the stuff we absolutely have to get done to keep the sky from falling, seems to me to be a somewhat frivolous occupation of privilege. We get all mixed up about what is a want and what is a need. I don’t pretend to know  much of how other people live  or what their struggles are, but I do know that a huge chunk of the human population struggles daily  to breathe, to eat, to stay warm and to protect themselves from the elements.

Cappuccino-a Want

Cappuccino-a Want

From where I sit, there are needs that, if not met, affect our ability to survive . Then there are our want needs. These are wants we need  to maintain the status quo, to keep our houses looking nice, to protect our hard earned level of comfort. In other words, these are all the little needs we worked on this weekend. “I need to get the garden work done, I need to clean the china cabinet, I need to have a reliable car” . Lastly, there  are the wants. These are all the extras that add more comfort to our already comfortable lives, those things that would seem so frivolous to the people who cannot even meet the most basic of needs. A much fancier car, a designer purse and designer coffee, flavored and topped with something creamy, would all fit into the want category.

Cave Dwellers

Cave Dwellers

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have enough are proud  of all that we that we have accomplished and accumulated  in our short time here on this earth.  We have so much more, we live so well, we are nothing like our ancestors, the cave dwellers. We definitely would not want to go back to living like that. So, I am always puzzled when one of the main arguments naysayers will use when defending their right to eat other species is:

Well, it was good enough for our ancestors, so it is good enough for us.

Huh? Are you kidding me?  Even if anthropologists knew for sure that our ancestors did nothing but continually kill nonhuman animals for their food and pleasure as we do, they certainly didn’t enslave them and torture them and kill them and package them as we do, or use them for entertainment, for leather furniture to sit on, ineffective medical research, and so on.

Trapping a Fox

Trapping a Fox

Our ancestors had needs directly connected to their very  survival and we have, as a privileged society, wants. Indulging these wants comes at a great cost to the other species with whom we share this earth-domesticated and wild alike. Our fellow humans whose lives revolve around scrambling for enough food to eat, clothes to keep warm and dry places to live, suffer incalculably because of our meat eating culture .

 

Annie’s Vegan View

Choosing to be vegan has helped me to understand the difference between a want and a need.

I know that many of my needs are really just wants.

I know that much of the human population is not having the most basic of needs met.

I know that farmed animals may have enough food to eat, but live in deplorable conditions without agency over their own lives and have the  manner of their life and  death prescribed by a cruel meat eating culture.

I now know  that choosing to be vegan is a choice that is really a need!

Choose vegan.

May all beings be happy and free.

Anne

 

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8 thoughts on “This Vegan’s Views About Wants And Needs

  • April 7, 2016 at 4:00 pm
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    Thanks, Anne, this sure does help to reframe perspective for me! I really would like this third and final act of my life to be one of simplicity and meaning. I am tired of keeping up, . . . with all our accumulated stuff, with our oversized home and yard, with our appearances, even with the Jones, lol! Having chosen veganism, about 18 months ago, all else seems to just pale in comparison, with regard to needs vs. wants. Time to lighten up, and let go of the many old, unnecessary structures, objects, beliefs, (and sadly even people), that no longer serve any purpose in my life. -xoxo

    Reply
    • April 8, 2016 at 4:58 am
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      Hi Sharon,

      Welcome to my website and thank you for your considered comments. And congratulations on your kind, compassionate and just decision. I have been vegan for about four years, so am fairly new at this new way of living as well.

      I agree with you that letting go can be a very good thing. I too have a big house that we recently moved into and I must say that I do love being here,but certainly have enough stuff to last me for the rest of my life and beyond. I buy only what I absolutely need, and I am aware daily that I have so much more than many, so I make sure to appreciate all of my blessings. I am always happy to share whatever I have if someone may have a use for it.

      I was pleasantly surprised to connect with a sense of peace, knowing that my focus is on helping rather than consuming, that I am trying to do everything possible to change hearts and minds and to leave a kinder, more peaceful world to my children and grandchildren.

      Take care,
      Anne

      Reply
      • April 14, 2016 at 3:03 pm
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        Thanks, Anne, for your kind reply. I agree, there is a sense of peace in simplifying, especially now as I am getting older! Peace! -xo

        Reply
  • April 16, 2016 at 12:00 pm
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    Hi Anne… Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve been able to check your site. The dog I adopted back in February has health issues (I’m not sure how much of this, if any, I’ve shared with you) and although he’s doing fine, it takes almost all my waking hours to make sure he’s taken care of (I almost wrote “his needs are met”) and so I’ve lost most of my computer time. It’s worth it, but I’m sorry to have been out of touch for so long.

    This is a very well-written post and I agree with your viewpoints. Gotta admit, I’ve never heard the “if it was good enough for our ancestors” line, but I’m not surprised. When defensive, most of us end up grasping at straws if we don’t have a reason we believe in that we feel good about to get our point across.

    Although it’s completely evident that needs and wants are two different things, it’s also a bit complicated and can vary from individual to individual of all species. Basic needs are not arguable, what each of us needs to physically survive. The psychological and emotional needs of each living, sentient being are different, but overall we all share the same needs there as well to some degree. One thing I do know, psychological and emotional well-being absolutely matter for all of us, every living creature on the planet. Surviving physically while suffering mentally and emotionally is often too much for some. And for our fellow beings, there is often no escape from these particular situations. As human beings we have a great responsibility to ensure that we do not cause harm to those around us who were not so fortunate as to be born into this world as humans. Some of us “get” that, some don’t. Thank you for all you do and thank you to all the activists, bloggers and others out there who try to get this message across, and to those who simply just live according to that simple rule.

    Hope your Spring is happy so far! Hugs to you.

    Reply
  • April 19, 2016 at 8:16 am
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    Hi Krissa,

    How wonderful to hear from you. I have been thinking about you and it is good to touch base once again. I think that it is so wonderful that you are taking care of and loving a special needs dog. No need to ever apologize for not checking in. We do have things in our lives that take precedence.

    I am glad that you enjoyed this post. I think about wants and needs often because I am a typical North American consumer who likes to have nice things that are not life sustaining needs, but yet are important to me all the same, from a comfort perspective. I must admit, happily, that I am a much more conscious consumer since becoming vegan and strive to become better at it with each passing day.

    You make a good point about the whether or not we consider life worth living even if we have all of our basic needs met. Being in emotional, psychological and physical distress most certainly does color the way we view our lives.

    Yes, as vegans and animal rights activists it is our responsibility to do the least harm possible and to encourage others to do the same. And even though the animal rights movement is not about us specifically, it does hold the key to our salvation.

    Take care,
    Anne

    Reply
  • April 30, 2016 at 5:59 pm
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    This could be a great way to frame an elevator pitch as well. Why vegan? “I’m vegan because consuming other animals is a want, not a need. 🙂

    Reply
    • May 1, 2016 at 11:50 am
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      Hi Friend,
      …sounds good to me.
      Take care,
      Anne

      Reply

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