This is going to be a very controversial article, but it’s one I’ve wanted to write for a while. I’m typically told that I’ve lost my mind and dived a little too deeply into social justice, which I don’t think is actually possible, but I digress.
Animal rights are a social justice issue. This is a topic that many people steer away from, out of fear of being made seem like a total freak, but I’m just going to say that the women who pioneered the right to vote were told they were crazy, too. So were people who said that there was absolutely nothing wrong or immoral about interracial marriage.
I don’t think that people are ready to broach this territory. With all the other social issues that are finally being brought to light, animal rights have been left out of the equation, and I will tell you why. From the point of view of evolutionary consciousness, we are unable to see animals as thinking, feeling creatures because we have yet to collectively see people the same way.
You’re gay? Burn in hell. You’re transgender? You obviously deserve to be beaten in the streets. You’re a woman? Get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich. You’re Asian? Probably a crappy driver, then. You’re Iraqi? Obviously a terrorist.
See what I mean? We have all these stereotypes revolving around people and can’t see someone different from us as equally human, so society as a whole can’t see animals as thinking, feeling creatures. I think we’re finally in an age when we are consciously and spiritually evolving, and I am thankful everyday to be alive in a world that is moving forward in that way, but we still have a long way to go.
I don’t believe in running away from a movement because it’s complicated. What revolution wasn’t full of conflict? Saying that you are vegan or vegetarian because you believe in animal rights is considered the least respectable reason to lead the lifestyle. If you do it for health or the environment, it’s deemed acceptable, but animal rights are considered a trivial aspect of the decision.
I have an infinite amount of respect for people who are vocal about animal rights and how that impacted their decision. I remain vegan for what I call The Triad: animals, environment, and health. I opted to be vegetarian for animal rights, went vegan for my health, and remain vegan for all three listed above.
Eating animals and animal products is a tradition, and traditions stick. I have yet to meet someone who has not been heavily judged for eating tofu. Many people cringe when I talk about eating vegan queso. I follow a guy on Facebook who is very vocal about how animal rights converge with minority discrimination. At one point he posted about how you don’t give anything up as a vegan. We live in an age where you don’t have to. I also follow a girl on Pinterest who pins about the intersection of feminism and animal rights. Both of them consistently open my eyes to the convergence of multiple social justice issues, but people who understand the convergence are few and far between.
So next time you think that animal rights aren’t a social justice issue, think about the meaning of oppression. Think about what it means to be human. Think about how society treats minorities. Think about animal suffering in relation to human suffering, and if you think they aren’t comparable, I encourage you to watch Earthlings and undercover factory farming videos to come to your own conclusion. If it’s too hard to watch, then it’s probably time to reevaluate you’re understanding of everything you know to be true, because turning a blind eye is what keeps us in the rut we’re in.