Today, as I am writing this post, it is my vegan anniversary. I finally looked it up and put it in my agenda yesterday. Such a coincidence! I always knew that it was a very random date since I just decided one day: I’m doing it. I’m going vegan! As I said, the day that I am writing this, it’s been 4 years! Woohoo. I thought that therefore it would be good to write about the very base of this lifestyle I’ve had ever since: ethical veganism.
How It Started
I can’t really say that I have been an ethical vegan for 4 years now. I really evolved over the years. 6 years ago I became a vegetarian. And as crazy as it sounds, at first this wasn’t really for the animals. My main reason back then was that meat is very harmful for our environment. It was only later that I really started to care for the animals. You read books, watch documentaries and talk to people. It really takes a while to come over your cognitive dissonance. And after that, reason after reason for staying a vegan keep on adding up. And I guess my thoughts therefore have become more radical too. Where at first I thought: I don’t eat meat because that’s needed to combat climate change, I slowly went to: animals are living beings and that itself has value. They’re not here for us and we should leave them alone all together.
I like to say things in a positive manner: I am an ethical vegan. However, this is a lifestyle that is against a very specific thing: speciesism. So yes, you could also phrase this a little different: being against speciesism. But what is speciesism?
Speciesism refers to a set of irrational beliefs and prejudices, exhibited in various forms and degrees, which reproduce political and social structures that yield power and privilege to human animals over other species of animals.
It basically means that we humans think that we’re better than non-human animals. However, we’re all animals. If you’re an anti-speciesist you are against this superiority. We treat animals in ways that we wouldn’t treat ourselves and I believe that’s morally wrong. Now, this does not mean that we should do the same things with animals as we do with humans. We would not invite them to drink tea with us or go clubbing haha. Obviously, non-humans are different from us. They can’t speak or do things that humans can. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t treat them morally. As an anti-speciesist I believe we should apply our morals to them like we would to ourselves. We should not hurt or use them and make sure they have a joyous life.
So, the basis is to value their lives just as much as we value our own. Humans are not better or more value-able than non-human animals. Therefore, we could never own animals. We co-exist on this planet. We should live together in peace. And as you know, this is not the case right now. We abuse, hurt, kill, use, breed, buy and exploit non-human animals on a daily basis. And for me, the word use is very important in ethical veganism. I mean, not to kill or hurt animals is very obvious if you’d ask me. But when we use animals this becomes less apparent and so that’s the base for me. We as humans are smart enough to do things on our own without using animals for it.
Ethical veganism therefore does not stop at a plant-based diet. I mean, it’s a great start. But it’s also about boycotting circuses and zoos, being against hunting and horse-riding, not using their shit (literally) to fertilize our crops and it’s even about pets. We should never use animals for ourselves. In any way. So it goes from the base to not eating animals to not breeding dogs so that they can be our pets.
Maybe this seems all a bit abstracts. Let me try to make this more clear by describing my utopia. In my utopia we live in a world where non-humans animals and humans live together in harmony. We don’t really have cities anymore since all of the world is created in a way that it is nature-supporting. Non-humans animals can thrive and so can humans. We live together in peace. All humans are ethical vegans. The non-human animals live on this world in peace and they are not used in any ways. Humans and non-humans only interact by seeing each other sometimes. Non-human animals are never the property of humans and so they’re always free in nature. When humans hurt non-human animals in any way, this has consequences just like it would when a human hurts another human (not in the way this is done today, like prisons and inhumane punishment, but that’s something for another time haha). But of course nobody would hurt each other because this is utopia. Non-humans would also not hurt humans because we’ve designed the world in such a way that we can only live in harmony. Seems nice, right? No suffering, just harmony.
*The picture you see on top of this post is an embroidered inside of a mouse for a biology practical. I think this is a great example of we don’t need to use animals. I found it via this Instagram page.