Category Archives: speciesism

Speciesism and Veganism: Transcending Politics and Religion

I wrote this article with Angel Flinn, who is Director of Outreach for Gentle World — a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition.

This article was originally published November 10, 2011 on Care2.
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Although this may come as a surprise to some, there are ethical vegans across the political spectrum and in every major religion. Veganism transcends politics and religion because it is based on the simple matter of rejecting a particular form of prejudice: speciesism.

Speciesism, racism, sexism, and other prejudices rely on a morally irrelevant criterion (in this case, species) as the basis on which to deny the interests of an individual belonging to a different ‘group’, even if those interests are more significant than one’s own. As such, speciesism is simply a different form of the same underlying wrong at the foundation of all prejudices. It really doesn’t matter which morally irrelevant criteria we base our prejudice on – sex, race, skin color, age, sexual orientation, species – it is ethically wrong to use such arbitrary criteria to deny the rights of others.

Despite the cultural evolution that has brought humanity a long way from the ‘kill or be killed’ mentality of prehistoric times, the world today remains profoundly speciesist. The extreme prejudice of our cultural speciesism reaches far beyond disregarding an individual’s right to avoid persecution. It extends as far as absolute indifference to the right to be free from unjust imprisonment, mental and emotional torment, extreme physical violence in the form of mutilations and the infliction of injury and death. Owned as chattel property, with no laws to protect their most fundamental rights, those who are not human are condemned to a life with no protection against the brutal and unremitting oppression from those who control their world: Us.

Animal exploitation is perfectly legal and socially acceptable everywhere in the world, despite the emergence of satisfactory alternatives to virtually all uses (not to mention those yet to be developed, once our society rejects our current speciesist practices). Although there is a growing movement drawing attention to the many brutal rights violations routinely carried out against nonhumans being used for human gain, we continue to confine, injure and kill animals of all kinds, maintaining unnecessary, antiquated exploitative practices for food production, research, fashion, and even entertainment.

The ubiquitous nature of this extreme cultural prejudice explains why speciesism (and the proper moral response to it: veganism) is unrelated to political leaning. Although social justice movements generally arise from the left, there are some political conservatives who are principled vegans, while some on the political left, sadly, continue to scoff at issues of animal rights. In fact, it is remarkable that the vast majority of those on the political left choose to remain uninformed and to deliberately ignore these glaring justice issues, including their own participation in practices that would be rightly abhorred by anyone in touch with their conscience.

As it is with politics, so it is with religion. Christians were strongly divided over human chattel slavery in antebellum America, with slavery proponents using Bible quotes to defend their “God given” right to own slaves. Opponents of slavery used different Bible quotes to point out that slavery was condemned by God. And so it is with regard to animal rights today. Those on both sides of the issue use quotes from religious texts either to justify unnecessary killing, or to validate the vegan ethic of nonviolence.

Eastern religions are no exception. Many of today’s Buddhists attempt to justify animal use, unnecessary killing, and speciesism by pointing to loopholes in the various contradictory writings about the Buddha’s teaching of universal compassion for all sentient beings. Other Buddhists choose instead to practice and promote veganism as the rational response to the essential Buddhist teaching of nonviolence. Presumably, having been liberated from their own speciesism, vegan Buddhists are able to see through such prejudiced rationalizations, and recognize the higher authority in the truth the Buddha was apparently trying to impart to his students.

(In other words, if the Buddha wasn’t a vegan, as some people claim, then he wasn’t living up to his own teachings, which state very clearly that reverence for sentient life is a fundamental principle of a spiritual existence.)

In any case, it is clear that politics and religion are irrelevant to rejecting our common prejudice against fellow sentient beings. Regardless of whether we are conservative, liberal, leftist, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, atheist, or fall under any other category, we have the choice to acknowledge and reject the underlying cultural speciesism that we have all been conditioned to accept.

In fact, one might say that a deep-seated awareness of the essential rights and needs held by all sentient beings is the common ground that we every one of us shares.

Despite our many differences and divergences, underneath religion, politics, worldviews, interests, personalities, shape, size, sex, color, and even species, underneath it all, every single one of us is made from flesh and blood. Or, as the Buddha himself is said to have taught:

“All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?”

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BANNED from The Atlantic Monthly

I posted the following comment (in italics below) on this linked article. The Atlantic Monthly deleted it and blocked me from posting on the site. Just more evidence that speciesist prejudice is just as strong today (at least at The Atlantic) as racial prejudice was in the 1700s and 1800s in the US.

A reasonable acid test as to whether you, regardless of your race, would have freed your slaves in the antebellum South is to ask whether you’re vegan for moral reasons now, or, if you’re not vegan, whether you would consider going vegan for life.

If you’re not an ethical vegan and wouldn’t even consider it, you almost certainly would not have freed your slaves in the antebellum South. It is very easy for most people to go vegan today. It was significantly more difficult (much more of a sacrifice, anyway) for most slave owners to free their slaves prior to 1865.

If you are an ethical vegan or would seriously consider it today (especially after learning why and how!), then you *might* have freed your slaves prior to 1865.

I look forward to the day when we’re as disgusted by speciesism as any other prejudice.

Edit to add: Someone asked if this comment was the only reason I was banned, or were there contributing factors.  The answer is yes, it had to be the only reason; and no, there were no other possible contributing factors.  It was the first and only comment I made in at least a few weeks (if not several weeks) on The Atlantic.  When I have commented on Atlantic articles in the past, the comments have certainly been no “worse” than this one, and I’ve never had a comment deleted by The Atlantic in the past.

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Banned from The Huffington Post

Update: As of Monday, June 28, 2010, my account has been reactivated at The Huffington Post. See this blog post for more details.

Interestingly, The Huffington Post banned me from commenting on their site this morning, June 26, 2010, after I signed up last night to post two comments in the article entitled, Meat or No Meat: Tell Us What You Think and Why.

I am re-posting my comments here to let readers see what apparently qualifies at “HuffPo” for “abusive, off-topic, excessive foul language” or other violations of their comment policy.

My first comment was the following:

An argument against human chattel slavery:

99.999% of our uses of human slaves are unnecessary by any coherent concept of the word necessary. 99% of our uses of human chattel slaves harm them. Unnecessary harm is morally wrong. Therefore, 99% of our uses of human slaves are morally wrong.

The same argument against nonhuman chattel slavery:

99.999% of our uses of animals are unnecessary by any coherent concept of the word necessary. 99% of our uses of animals harm them. Unnecessary harm is morally wrong. Therefore, 99% of our uses of animals are morally wrong.

All of the arguments for animal use can be applied with equal force and cogency to the use of human chattel slaves. When we defend animal use, we necessarily defend human chattel slavery.

Human chattel slavery benefitted many people greatly throughout human history, but 99.999% of it was not necessary; therefore morally wrong. The exact same argument holds for animal use.

Go vegan.

To which a user named “SusanElizabeth1949” replied:

Your straw man argument that equates use of animals with humans slavery is based on the idea that animals are equal to humans, I think you discover that few humans will buy into that notion.

Most of us find the notion that “A Rat is a Dog is a Boy” to be utterly preposterous.

To which I replied:

Susan,

There is no straw man fallacy in the argument by analogy, since I am not interpreting or countering a previous argument (the straw man fallacy is an attack on a weaker argument than was presented by an opponent).

Animals are equal to humans in sentience, which is the only characteristic that is relevant to an interest in not being owned as property, enslaved, exploited, harmed, or killed. So for the purposes of the argument above, equating the use of animals with human chattel slavery is valid.

Finally, racism and speciesism are both the same wrong of ignoring morally relevant characteristics, such as sentience, in favor of morally irrelevant characteristics, such as species or race membership. Just as racists find it very difficult to see anything wrong with their racism, speciesists find it very difficult to see anything wrong with their speciesism.

But let’s face it here, logic and consistency hold no weight when there is personal gain to be had from the status quo. We are repeating history: 200 years ago it was human chattel slavery and racism; today it is animal use and speciesism. Slaveholders ignored consistency then as animal exploiters ignore consistency now.

These are the only comments I have ever made on HuffPo. Apparently, one or both of these two comments caused me to be banned from the site without warning.

Although the comments are quite direct in comparing speciesism to racism, and therefore by implication, comparing speciesists to racists, and that might be offensive to people who are not aware of the similarities between the two prejudices, I did explain how they are similar, and the similarity explanation is cogent. Further, the argument I made is highly relevant to the topic, so a claim that the comments were “off-topic” is false. Perhaps they didn’t like the accusation of a lack of clear thinking caused by the perceived opportunity for personal gain, but that is simply another reasonable, and very likely true, point in the argument. I cannot think of how else these comments may have violated HuffPo’s comment policy. Therefore, I cannot understand how these comments, taken together or separately, would trigger such a strong reaction as a banning without warning.

There is one other possibility. Perhaps I was banned because the combination of the cogency of the arguments set forth in the above comments with how deeply prejudiced the moderators and average readers are at HuffPo generated such irrational resentment that they would no longer tolerate the bright light of a cogent and simple argument exposing their ignorance, self-centeredness, and prejudice. In other words, one of HuffPo’s unwritten comment policies is “if the light is too bright, we shut it off”.

One might wonder why I would complain about being banned from commenting on a site when I do not allow comments on this blog. The primary reason I don’t allow comments is that I do not have time to moderate and reply to them adequately. Further, this site is an animal advocacy site in an extremely speciesist society, the purpose of which is to publish a perspective on animal ethics that is widely and intentionally censored in mainstream media. Therefore, if I allowed comments, I would moderate the comments to clearly favor the view that animal exploitation should be abolished. I make no apologies for being “one-sided” for nonhuman animals in a human-dominated world that is so one-sided and downright bigoted against animals.

Back to the comments, if I’m missing anything regarding a legitimate reason for a ban without warning, please send me an email.

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Single Issue Campaigns, Speciesism, and Compartmentalization

Speciesist Compartmentalization

Compartmentalization is the separation of persons (including nonhuman persons), things, ideas, attitudes, or behavior into categories or compartments. Sometimes it is epistemically rational to compartmentalize (e.g. biology); other times it is epistemically irrational to compartmentalize (e.g. race or species prejudice).

Speciesism (like racism, sexism, and heterosexism) is the epistemically irrational prejudice of favoring one or more species over other species without a morally relevant characteristic providing justification. From the standpoint of irrational, unjustified prejudice, ignoring the morally relevant characteristic of intelligence in preventing certain classes of humans from obtaining an education is the same as ignoring the morally relevant characteristic of sentience in exploiting and killing nonhuman animals for food, clothing, research, and entertainment (all of which are unnecessary).

Speciesism is one form of irrational, prejudiced compartmentalization. An example of speciesist compartmentalization is when we pet and love a dog while a pig’s full body and head rotate over a fire pit. Why isn’t it the other way around? Better yet, why don’t we pet and love both the dog and the pig?

Other examples of speciesist compartmentalization are single issue campaigns. Why do we protest and publish “open letters” about fur, but ignore leather? Why do we have high-profile protests against seal “hunts”, aerial “hunts”, and canned “hunts”, but quiet down significantly about fishing and so many other “hunts” (all of which are unjust, one-sided, and cowardly)?

Since single issue campaigns are cases of speciesist compartmentalization themselves, such campaigns obviously reinforce prejudiced compartmentalization. Because of this alone, we should avoid them. If we insist on protesting an animal circus or a fur shop, we should make unequivocal vegan education front and center of the protest. If we publish an “open letter” to Johnny Weir, it should be an open letter to go vegan and reject the exploitation of all animals, not just cute furry ones.

Diseases and Symptoms

In addition to single issue campaigns being counterproductive by strongly reinforcing speciesist compartmentalization and confusing the public (most of “the public” sees the inconsistency better than the activists do), they are useless in that they address the symptoms of speciesism without addressing the disease  of speciesism itself. As such, single issue campaigns, when they are at their “most effective” (a pathetic scene to be sure), act as temporary relief from one of the many symptoms of speciesism. As soon as the campaign is over, things go back to “normal” because there was never any treatment of the underlying disease of speciesism.

The only way to address speciesism as a disease is through vegan education. When people take animal interests seriously enough to embrace veganism, speciesism has been at least mostly eliminated in their case, and they no longer contribute to the thousands of varieties of symptoms. To use a metaphor I used in a far more comprehensive essay on single issue campaigns, Picking the Low Hanging Fruit: What’s Wrong with Single Issue Campaigns?, the tree of speciesism has been cut down for vegans and it no longer produces the “low hanging fruit” that single issue campaigns address: fur, foie gras, animal circus attendance, zoo attendance, and on and on.

Two Paradigm Shifts

There are two paradigm shifts people experience, each one reducing speciesism: first, embracing personal veganism; second, embracing abolitionist principles. Embracing veganism means rejecting speciesism in attitude, thoughts, speech, and behavior. At a minimum, it is avoiding the exploitation of animals and use of animal products in one’s life. Embracing abolitionist principles means rejecting single issue campaigns and welfarism and engaging in vegan education instead. Veganism is the personal manifestation of a commitment to eliminate speciesist prejudice and take animals’ interests seriously. Abolitionism is the public and political manifestation of a commitment to eliminate speciesist prejudice and take animals’ interests seriously.

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Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit: What Is Wrong with Single Issue Campaigns?

Introduction

A single issue campaign (herein referred to as “SIC” or “campaign”) can be of two different types: welfare-oriented campaigns and elimination-oriented campaigns. SICs can also be short-term or take up an organization’s entire mission and lifetime. The primary difference between the two types is that welfare-oriented SICs focus on merely reforming an exploitive industry, while elimination-oriented SICs focus on entirely eliminating an exploitive industry. Since some industries are mere subsidiaries of a larger industry (e.g. the foie gras industry is a subsidiary of the animal agriculture industry), some SICs may be an elimination-oriented SIC to a subsidiary industry, while being a sort of welfare-oriented SIC in relation to the principal industry.Welfare-oriented Single Issue Campaigns

Welfare SICs are at the core of the business and revenue cycle of almost all large, corporate animal welfare groups. Large animal welfare groups such as PETA anticipate and select what they consider a winnable target – usually in some area that industry is ready to make the targeted change in for profitability reasons anyway – and generate a donor and public relations campaign to “encourage” industry to make the change a few months or a few years earlier than industry would have without the welfare group’s prodding.Of course, when selling the SIC to donors, the welfare groups dramatize the industry’s resistance to the proposed change to justify an immediate call-to-arms in the form of “send us your money NOW or we’ll lose this campaign!!” What the welfare groups either downplay or don’t mention to the donors is the negotiations with the targeted animal exploiter, which generally include emphasizing to the targeted exploiter how the campaign can be a “win-win” for both the welfare group and the exploiter if the exploiter will eventually allow the welfare group a “victory”. So the stage is set, the volunteers (who are generally also in the dark about the overall money-making and industry-welfare partnership scheme) are mobilized, and the money comes flowing into the corporate welfare organization and into the pockets of its executives in the form of handsome salaries and bonuses.After weeks or months of campaigning by the welfare group, mostly done by the lower-paid staffers and a small battalion of volunteers, the targeted exploiting company: 1) has shown adequate “resistance”, 2) has cost the welfare group’s donors quite a bit of money and cost the volunteers quite a bit of time and energy, and 3) calculates that it would be an optimally profitable time to “give in to the pressure” and agree to the demands of the welfare group for the “win-win” on which the industry-welfarist partnership thrives. The welfare group (e.g. PETA) has received its windfall of donations, gets to declare “VICTORY!!!” to its donors and the public as loud as it can, and obtains future status among donors as the “reliable watchdog” of industry. The targeted exploiter gets free advertising and promotion by the welfare organization in an “all’s well that ends well” love affair of public support. Meanwhile, any cost to the exploiter of the targeted change is more than offset by the subsequent public goodwill generated by the welfare group and the fact that the targeted change is almost always a long-term strategic benefit to the exploiter which would have to be incurred regardless of any campaigns to hurry it up.Elimination-oriented Single Issue Campaigns

As described above, elimination-oriented SICs differ from welfare-oriented SICs primarily in that they target an industry rather than a practice within an industry. Generally, the targeted industry is a subsidiary of a larger principal industry. For example, dog racing, horse racing, dog fighting, and cock fighting are subsidiaries of the principal animal entertainment industry. The foie gras industry is a subsidiary of the principal animal agriculture industry. The seal clubbing industry is a subsidiary of both the hunting and fishing and animal agriculture industry.

Many of the same large corporate welfare groups that specialize in welfare-oriented SICs also engage in elimination-oriented SICs. While elimination-oriented SICs can be very profitable for most of the groups that engage in them, they are usually not as profitable as the welfare-oriented campaigns mostly because the “win-win” opportunity with the target industry is diminished or lost entirely. In elimination campaigns – with a large exception to be explained in the next paragraph – there is no negotiation with the targeted exploiter. Still, entire organizations are financially fuelled by elimination-oriented SICs and such campaigns can be very lucrative without significantly changing society’s moral attitude toward animals, if at all. Fur comes and goes out of fashion, seal clubbing becomes more or less common, but overall moral attitudes toward animals change very little. In fact, when these subsidiary industries make a “rebound”, they often do so with tremendous success, as the fur, veal, and seal clubbing industry have in the first decade of the 21st century.

The large exception referred to in the last paragraph is the pseudo-elimination campaign that is sold to the public as an “elimination campaign,” but in reality it is proposed legislation negotiated with the target exploiter and the exploiter’s lobbyists and politicians to “ban” a certain practice with a grace period of several years that will allow the exploiter to continue the abuse in question and come up with alternative practices (i.e. welfare reform) to keep the industry alive beyond the sunset date. The classic example of this is the California “ban” on foie gras production starting in 2012 (if it’s not overturned by then by new methods of producing foie gras). See Part II. B. 3. in this Duke Law School link for more information on the so-called “ban” in California.

The Problems with Single Issue Campaigns

While it is understandable, from a business or economic growth standpoint, why welfare groups engage in SICs (SICs are very effective fundraising tools as explained above), there are some problems with SICs that are fatal from the standpoint of bringing about any meaningful, lasting change in society’s moral attitudes toward nonhuman beings.

Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit

As a practical matter, one of the biggest problems with SICs is that they focus most of the animal movement’s money, time, and energy on the periphery (the “fruit”) of the animal abuse and exploitation tree while ignoring the tree’s root, trunk, and lifeblood of exploitation. The specific parts of the periphery focused on are usually what are perceived to be (but aren’t necessarily) the most egregious abuses.

New welfarists (i.e. those who support SICs and welfare reform as a way to abolish animal cruelty) ironically call these perceived egregious abuses the “low-hanging fruit” because the public generally agrees with the welfare groups on these particular issues. I say the phrase “low-hanging fruit” is ironic because it also helps explain why SICs (i.e. picking the low-hanging fruit) are so ineffective at changing society. First, the sole reason that the fruit is “low-hanging” is precisely because most of society already agrees that it’s fine to eliminate these practices. “Low-hanging” is a synonym for “go with the flow” or “accept the status quo.” Second, what is the nature of “fruit”? It is sweet and it grows back on the animal exploitation tree. Picking the low-hanging fruit (i.e. sponsoring SICs) is sweet because it endears the general public to the welfare organizations, fills the organizations’ coffers, and allows the organization to yell “victory” on a regular basis. And as these problems/”victories” are metaphorical fruit, the problems grow back after a few years, providing an endless supply of fruit in the future while not harming the tree of exploitation and cruelty at all.

So, the millions of dollars that get poured into the animal movement go to picking easy, financially lucrative “fruit” off of the animal exploitation tree instead of working to chop the tree down. Later in this essay, I will talk about chopping the tree down, but right now, I’d like to discuss two more problems with SICs and “supply-side activism”.

Global Free-Trade

We live in a world where globalization in free trade is here and on the increase. Given the economic benefits of global free trade, it is highly unlike that this trend will slow or reverse. The implications of such free international commerce is that if we make an industry practice illegal in one city, state, or nation, the animal exploiters will merely set up shop in a less restrictive state or nation and export the goods to where the demand is located. Since demand has more influence over supply than supply has over demand (e.g. the customer is always right), it has never really been cost effective to focus on restricting suppliers in the first place, except perhaps to sue them for false advertising. In a global economy, where a supplier can easily set up in a less restrictive state or nation, it has become downright absurd to focus societal change on suppliers.

But as absurd as it is to focus on suppliers in a global economy, that is exactly what SICs, especially welfare-oriented SICs and SICs focusing on exportable commodities, do. If we eliminate horse slaughter in the United States, exploiters will simply ship the horses to Mexico and slaughter them there. If we eliminate battery cages in the United States or Austria, suppliers will simply move battery cages to Mexico or another, more lenient European country, respectively, and ship the eggs back to the more restrictive countries.

So, SICs focusing on reforming or eliminating the production of exportable commodities (e.g. SICs on battery cages, gestation crates, and controlled atmosphere killing) without changing the demand for those commodities may enrich welfare organizations because donors have been duped into giving money for such campaigns, but these SICs are doomed to failure in changing society’s attitudes and behavior if demand is not addressed. We need to focus the animal movement’s resources on changing demand.

SICs Cultivate Speciesism

The third problem with SICs is that, if they don’t also call for an end to ALL animal exploitation and abuse, they cultivate speciesism. SICs do this by implying, via the silence regarding other forms of exploitation, that forms of exploitation other than the one on which the SIC is focused are either not as important or unimportant. SICs can avoid this problem by putting it front and center that ALL animal exploitation is wrong and ought to be abolished, but they almost never even mention other forms, much less make them front and center of the campaign.

So, to the extent we focus on the evils of purchasing fur, but ignore the evils of purchasing leather or buying eggs, we imply that only fur is the problem. When we focus on veal, as the movement did in the 1980s and 1990s, we imply that consuming dairy products is okay, even though the veal industry is little more than a by-product of the dairy industry.

SIC promoters may object that mentioning all other forms of exploitation or even related forms (e.g. the veal dairy connection) may result in public resistance to the campaign. The implication here is that the welfare group won’t get the donations and the public endearment. Well, as long as we insist on pacifying the public instead of educating the public, we will get nowhere. We don’t want to offend the public, because we cannot educate people if they are angry with us, but we must find creative and intelligent ways of getting our message across rather than telling people what they already know and agree with.

The Solution: Attack the Root; Chop Down the Tree

The root, trunk, and at least 97% (in numbers killed) of all animal exploitation is in animal agriculture and is directly caused by the fact that so few people are vegans. The remaining 3% of animal exploitation is in experimentation, hunting, rodeos, zoos, circuses, and fur; the elimination of which is equally rooted in widespread veganism. So, what does the “animal protection movement” do? The opposite of what makes sense. Instead of focusing 97% of its efforts on vegan education, which would address 100% of exploitation, the “animal protection movement” focuses 97% of its efforts, via SICs, on welfare reform and trying to reduce or eliminate the 3% periphery. The remaining 3% of the “animal protection movement’s” efforts (in time and money) are given to lip service about going vegan.

We need to turn this around if animals are to stop existing in a perpetual, indefinite hell. We need to focus at least 97% (preferably 100%) of our efforts on vegan education. Being a vegan is not difficult. The food is delicious and optimally nutritious; and we certainly don’t need leather or wool for clothing; nor do we need zoos, or circuses, animal experimentation, or any other uses of animals.

More importantly than how easy it is to go vegan, however, the animals we slaughter for our gustatory, clothing, entertainment, and other preferences are just like us. They experience the same pleasures, pains, and desires for comfort and security that we do. The only known difference is that they don’t use spoken or written language or symbols in thought and communication (which is NOT to say they don’t effectively communicate in non-verbal ways) and this difference of spoken or written communication is completely irrelevant to the moral question of our use of them.

Given our experiential similarities and kinship with animals, what we do to them and the scale on which we do it (53 billion annually, worldwide) is an atrocity worse than any atrocity humans have ever engaged in the history of our species. We need to wake up out of this moral coma as individuals and as a society.

The essence of waking up out of our moral coma is going vegan and engaging in vegan education. Vegan education entails everything from large-scale programs sponsored and paid for by our largest groups to talking to the people in our lives as individuals. We need to put an end to the moral relativism and timidity on every level of our advocacy without being offensive or annoying in doing so. We need to promote veganism without the kind of embarrassing publicity stunts for which PETA is well-known. When the topic of vegan living comes up, we must be honest and unequivocal in our contributions to the topic, which is to say that we view slaughtering innocent animals as morally wrong as slaughtering innocent humans. If people are offended by the comparison of humans and animals, it is because they are the victims of acculturation in a grossly speciesist society and accept anthropocentrism as unquestioned dogma. We need to challenge the dogma. We need to have people carefully question and think about how sentient nonhuman beings are similar to human beings, what the differences are, and which is morally relevant, the similarities or differences. If we take an impartial, unbiased view, it is blatantly obvious that the similarities are morally relevant and the differences are utterly irrelevant.

For more information on vegan education, this blog essay is a good starting point.

Note: This essay was edited on December 21, 2011 to clarify in the last section that the term “vegan” meant the elimination of all animal products from one’s life as much as is practically possible, including the elimination of animal products in clothing, entertainment, personal care products, and other possible uses of animal products.

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