Monday, September 30, 2013

A Vegan World

What do abolitionists mean when we speak of a future vegan world? First of all, we are talking about changing the world that we have created for ourselves. Our world includes humans and the animals that we have forced into domestication, including those that we use for food, clothing, companionship, entertainment, and biomedical experimentation; but not the wild animals existing outside of our sphere of domination such as the carnivores that need to eat other animals to survive.

Just as murder, rape, and other forms of violent assault against humans continue to occur even though virtually all of us consider such things to be morally wrong, in a vegan world there would still exist instances of animal exploitation. However, the vast majority of people would consider speciesism—much like racism is today—a scourge, and veganism would be a social norm. The legal system would no longer recognize the property status of animals, and harm to any sentient being would be treated similarly regardless of the victim’s species.

Animals would no longer be recognized as resources for our benefit, but rather as persons with self-interests, inherent value, and basic rights. Animal sanctuaries where nonhuman refugees displaced from their natural habitats could live out their lives with minimal interference would exist for as long as they were needed, but institutions that exploit animals for their entertainment value such as pets, animal actors, zoos, marine parks, and aquariums, would not. Animal domestication, similar to how human domestication is regarded today, would no longer be acceptable, and we would no longer be perpetuating it by breeding animals for any purpose.

A vegan world will require a major paradigm shift, with societal attitudes changing first, followed by changes in the legal systems once there exists a sufficient political base to support that. Given that most people already accept the premise that it’s wrong to impose unnecessary pain, suffering, and death on an animal, we are closer to a vegan world than many may think. Increasing awareness of animal agriculture’s damaging effects on human and environmental health will force many changes. However, the more important challenges are to acknowledge that animal exploitation, in all of its many manifestations, is a form of violence, and to then bring our behavior in line with our core beliefs. But we won’t get there without a collective sense of self-efficacy—a durable belief on the part of enough of us that a vegan world can be achieved. We also won’t get there if we don’t change our focus to challenging animal use and killing, rather than continuing to spin our wheels by talking about “humane” treatment of animals that we shouldn’t be bringing into our world and exploiting in the first place.

The world is vegan! If you want it.

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