Our feelings v. Their suffering

What about them? If we are simply acting as a voice for the voiceless, then why must we continually argue with each other?
Think about it. How can we have the audacity to compare human beings taking offense to words versus the constant suffering abuse, torture, pain, fear and terror that nonhuman beings must endure during their entire short lives until they experience their own violent deaths after witnessing the violent deaths of their loved ones?
This question begs two more questions.
First, what is the only species that kills for fun and sport?
“Of all the creatures, man is the most detestable. Of the entire brood, he’s the one that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.” Mark Twain, American writer, 1835-1910
Second, how should humans treat other species?
Most cultures agree with a common theme of Goodness which implies Compassion, Empathy, Gentleness, Kindness, Peace and the Golden Rule…which supports Veganism; not Violence, Torture and Slaughter.
For example, Christians refer to the Bible. In Genesis 1:26, the Bible states that God gave humans “dominion over creatures.” Many Hebrew scholars believe the word “dominion” is a very poor translation of the original Hebrew word “v’yirdu” which actually meant “to rule over” as a wise king rules over his subjects with CARE and RESPECT. It implies a sense of RESPONSIBILITY and ENLIGHTENED STEWARDSHIP.

“Unlike the animal, God has given man the faculty of reason. Ethically they had arrived at the conclusion that man’s supremacy over lower animals meant not that the former should prey upon the latter, but that the higher should protect the lower, and that there should be mutual aid between the two as between man and man. They had also brought out the truth that man eats not for enjoyment but to live.” Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948

“We are all God’s creatures—that we pray to God for mercy and justice, while we continue to eat the flesh of animals that are slaughtered on our account, is not consistent.” Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 1902-1991

“Animals, too, are God’s creatures…Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.” Pope Benedict XVI, 1927-2022

“In my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. The more helpless the creature, the more it is entitled to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” Gandhi

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Gandhi

“When I see a cow, it is not an animal to eat, it is a poem of pity for me and I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world.” Gandhi

“If God wants us to breed into existence billions of animals to enslave, torture and slaughter them (mostly as babies) for sensory pleasure, then what in the world could the Devil possibly want? Gary Yourofsky, American Activist

It’s not a Perfect World and It’s Not a Homogeneous World

The ideology of veganism remain analogous to politics and religion because the extremely delicate, sensitive issues continually challenge people’s morals and values.

In addition, factions exist within the Animal Rights Movement, politics and religion. There is nothing wrong with factions; however, it remains imperative for us to meet people where they are in their own journeys. After all, factions exist within both major political parties in the US today, and we acknowledge a third, independent party, Libertarianism. Many factions exist within religion, and people adopt a plant diet for the following four reasons: health, our environment and planet, animals, or some combination thereof.

I have learned that if we (members of the Animal Rights Movement) ever wish to accomplish anything, we need to meet people where they are in their own journeys. If we practice what we preach, ie, peace, love, empathy and compassion, we must make progress.  For example, I followed a strict bodybuilding diet for three decades (and an Italian-American diet for two decades before that) before I adopted a complete plant diet 12 years ago. Now, in hindsight, I remember the signs along the way that foreshadowed my decision to convert to a plant diet.

We must not allow the aforementioned four vegan factions to divide us and hinder progress. We need cohesion and cooperation. We must strive towards unity.

How can we embrace our commonalities? Celebrate your friends’ love of animals, concern for the environment, and choices to prepare and eat plant-based meals.

To my knowledge, the greatest achievement with regard to discussions about animal rights to date remains Earthling Ed’s epiphany and practice of using the Socratic method to converse with people rather than a judgmental, critical approach. He asks questions and allows people to think and reach their own conclusions.

I believe this concept is slowly catching on and the most critical, judgmental folks are the newest members of the movement who speak directly from their hearts out of pure passion, but have not yet developed a mature approach to advocate or discuss their beliefs in a logical, inquisitive way.

Try to understand their genuine intentions. They’ve had a revelation and they remain excited to tell everyone they know. They wish to shout it from the rooftops and scream it from the mountaintops. They desire to advise the world to save the world.  The Animal Rights Movement is a global movement, and the numbers are growing; we just need unity.

Let’s congratulate the folks who participate in Sid Lerner’s and Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Meatless Monday global movement that encourages people to reduce meat in their diet for their health and the preservation of the planet.

Likewise, let’s celebrate Distinguished Professor Gary Francione’s abolitionist theory which advocates the status of legal personhood (which even corporations possess) for animals because they deserve the right to life and the right to liberty, ie, the freedom to spread their wings, walk around on the earth, etc. We have no right to take their secretions or byproducts despite the fact that, in doing so, we do not harm them. In addition, we have no right to “own” pets, although a “pet owner” is, arguably, a legal guardian or custodian.

Finally, political parties are generally domestic or national groups as opposed to the Animal Rights Movement which is global. Think about how much more diverse the Animal Rights Movement remains compared to a political party. Think about the varied factions within one political party. Now, compare one country or nation to the whole world. People of many different cultures bring their unique, sacred morals, values, ideologies, beliefs, experiences, education, etc. to the same issue. For example, consider this true story. Many years ago, in a college International Law course, my class engaged in an open discussion about the law of larceny. A female student from the other side of the world from me, commented, “In my country, if a person steals, we just chop off his hand.” I responded, “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” to which she replied, “He’ll never do it again.” Her comment ended the discussion. What could I say? Although I did not agree with the ideology, I could not argue with the logic or efficacy.

In closing, International Law proves difficult to enforce due to the players’ vast differences. It works only when voluntary cooperation exists. By the same token, the Animal Rights Movement depends on our tolerance of each other and our cooperation. If countries can do it, human beings can do it too.