Vegan is a term that refers to people who have chosen a way of living guided by ahimsa (nonharming) and reverence for life. Veganism utilizes a completely plant-sourced diet that is varied and abundant. It is a lifestyle that rejects the use of all animal products in food, clothing, and commodities and all other forms of cruelty to the animal kingdom insofar as possible. This includes research, medicine, sport, and entertainment.
There are many reasons why people are vegans. The three most common are health, environmental, and ethical reasons. Some people cite social reasons of relationships or are born into a vegan family. Others have religious beliefs about the matter of killing animals.
Vegans recognize the value of life to all living creatures and extend to them the compassion, kindness, and justice in The Golden Rule. Vegans see animals as free entities in nature, not slaves or vassals, nor as chattel, pieces of goods to be bought and sold.
An animal has feelings, an animal has sensitivity, an animal has a place in life, and the vegan respects this life that is manifest in the animal. Vegans do not wish to harm the animal any more than they would want the animal to harm them. This is an example of The Golden Rule precisely as it should be applied.
Vegans live according to an equitable, ethical relationship between human and nonhuman animals. They recognize that the production of animal-source foods—all of them—and all other animal commodities involves destruction of life. This cruelty and death violates basic laws of humaneness and common decency.
The shocking conditions of animal slavery and slaughter outrage the conscience of any fair-minded person who objectively investigates the matter. These conditions include shortened life span, selective breeding to distort once-natural aspects of animals, profit-oriented diets, various forms of mutilation, deliberate disruption of hormonal balance, taking of the young from their parents, slaughter of “surplus lives” such as those too old, too diseased, or of the wrong sex for profitable production. The deplorable conditions on factory farms have become more widespread as the greed for making money at the animals’ expense increases.
Vegans do not use animal flesh, of course, because of the terrible cruelties and abnormal conditions involved in all the stages of the life of the animal in slavery from the moment of conception to the moment of slaughter. We need not go into these details here, as they are well documented in vegetarian and other literature and are readily seen and experienced on the farm or at the slaughterhouse. It is described in books, online videos, and documentaries.
Meat is no miracle food and can easily be eliminated from the diet. This means all meat, whether the poor thing lived on the earth or in a tree or in the sea. Meat, fish, and fowl—get rid of the whole foul assortment of slaughter foods. Fish and other aquatic beings advertised as a healthier choice are often the last meat one forgoes. However, they are efficient storehouses of waterborne pollution and waste. Fish are commonly slain by slow suffocation in the course of harvesting.
Vegans take a stand against the whole selfish and ignoble system of enslaving, selective breeding, raising, caging or penning, castrating, branding, doping, disrupting of families, transporting, and of course the final scene in the whole unholy drama, the killing itself. Vegans recognize the impossibility of separating the cruelty and killing from the business of keeping animals or obtaining their products profitably (such as milk and eggs), especially in a modern, competitive society. Thus vegans resolve to root out the whole briar patch of cruelty and suffering, not merely trim a single thorn.
The crime against the animal is just as great whether it is killed for the purpose of food, clothing, drugs, or decorating. Virtually all animals used primarily for nonfood purposes are also killed prematurely at the precise moment in their lives when they pass the point of diminishing returns to the animal raiser or keeper. It means nothing but dollars and cents, pounds and pence, rupees and paise to the animal raiser.
What this means to you and me is that it is worth a great deal in life to have a clear conscience, a pair of hands unstained by blood, a mind that thinks of cleaner and loftier things, and a heart that is pure and beats with the tempo of compassion. We do it by turning our backs on the slaughterhouse and all the brutality supplying it. We send our economic message to all involved; we will no longer support such acts. We refuse to partake of items stolen from the animal kingdom.
The vast carnival of cruelty called animal exploitation goes on and on—and it is all so needless, even counterproductive. There is already an adequate and often superior nonanimal substitute for virtually everything obtained by animal suffering and slaughter. As demand increases for vegan products, it will accelerate still more materials innocent of blood and anguish.
Many people have gone vegan overnight. When people’s eyes open to the horrors of animal production, global concerns, and health tragedies, it is difficult to go back to sleep.