Why animal rights, not human rights?
I’d first like to get the misconception out of the way that veganism prioritises animal rights at the cost of human rights. It doesn’t. Animal farming harms humans in all sorts of ways. For one, it is extremely inefficient. Not only do animals require more space and water, they require far more plant feed to produce the same amount of food than if we just ate plants directly. We have enough resources to feed far more people than we currently do, if only we used it properly.
Next, the sheer amount of manure produced by animal farming pollutes the environment. It releases a lot of methane into the atmosphere, and is responsible for the faecal contamination of many rivers. This affects the livelihoods of people who are affected adversely by these changes.
Lastly, the consumption of animal products also causes a lot of health problems in developed countries, stunting productivity and causing millions of taxpayer dollars to be spent on healthcare. It is responsible for much human grievance when our loved ones pass away from easily preventable diseases such as cancer.
However, I acknowledge that a desire to live a meaningful life could lead to many things, only one of which is veganism. I won’t pretend that veganism is the magical solution to everything. It won’t stop the environmental destruction caused by soy monoculture, it won’t ensure that impoverished farmers are paid a living wage, and it won’t make you immortal.
So why do I choose to advocate veganism? It’s because veganism is accessible to each and every one of us. I’m not sure what the average person can do about sectarian violence in Syria (let me know if you have any ideas), but I know that you can most certainly change your dietary and lifestyle habits. If you want to get involved in human rights work, you can commit yourself to it fully and being vegan won’t take up any of your time at all. A lifetime of veganism makes a difference to THOUSANDS of animals, all of whom have interests that matter to them just as much as your interests matter to you. In that sense, I truly think that veganism is beautiful.
This doesn’t mean that once you’re vegan, you’ve done all you can and have come to the end of your moral journey. You can never do enough.
You do realise that a lot of the animes you refer to depict people eating meat, right?
Yes, I’m completely aware of that. When I see people eating meat in an anime, I try to see it in terms of what the creators want me to see. Is it a symbol of luxury? Warmth and comfort? Bonding over a simple meal? I don’t want this to affect my enjoyment of the show.
This doesn’t mean that meat bears any thematic significance. To me, it’s just a reflection of our cultural norms. You could replace that gyudon with a smackin’ tempehdon, and it’d be just as fantastic.
Once we acknowledge that animals have the capacity to suffer just as much as we do (and many of us already recognise this, in dogs and cats at least), it’s easy to see how the humanitarian messages in anime can apply to animals as well, even if the creators didn’t intend it. Learning is a two-way conversation.
I want to change my lifestyle habits, but it’s just so hard! How can I start?
I know it can be overwhelming. The first step to giving up meat is knowing what you’re going to eat instead. You can start by going to vegetarian or vegan restaurants every once in awhile, and taking a look at what’s on the menu.
Happycow is an amazing resource for finding the nearest vegetarian and vegan restaurants in your area.
Other than that, here are some great article you can refer to on my favourite forum, Veggieboards:
One article will lead to the next, and soon you’ll have all your bases covered. If you still have any queries, feel free to create an account on the forum and start a thread. We answer even the weirdest questions most enthusiastically,