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Animal Rights Activists Rock, But the Movement Needs to Do Better

In the introduction to Peter Singer’s book, Animal Liberation Now, controversial historian, Yuval Noah Harari, writes the following: “Animals are the main victims of history, and the treatment of domesticated animals in industrial farms is perhaps the worst crime in history…If Peter Singer is right, industrial farming is responsible for more pain and misery than all the wars of history put together.” Wow.

Over the weekend, I joined a National Animal Rights Day (NARD) event in New York City. It was well organized, and as usual, most of the activists were inspiring, lovely, and passionate. Meeting like minded people is always good for the soul. There were many other highlights too, including a few words from NYC vegan activist Jamie Logan, and a song from Entyce, The Lyrical Vegan. However, I still feel that there is a growing number of animal rights champions who don’t know how to respect everyone. I get it on some level. For a brief time, I thought that most people fell short too, but then after some soul searching, which included lessons from Thich Nhat Hanh, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, I realized that although our feelings of doubt are often justified, most people are inherently good. It is when individuals get into groups (with a longing for acceptance), and then acquire power, that greed and ego kick into high gear, and all hope seems to be lost.

Vegans can be jerks too! There have been multiple “vegan” events that I have attended in recent years, where a couple of the speakers, and organizers (and one or two attendees), have been flat out obnoxious. I don’t know if it is because they think they are rock stars, or if it is because they have contempt for people in general, but if a vegan is being rude to another vegan, imagine how they must treat non-vegans. Seriously. Again, I get it. When you think about how most people don’t care about the violence and suffering that is experienced every day by billions of innocent animals (and millions of innocent people), around the world, it can be maddening. And in that sense, how can anyone with a conscience not find most people revolting? Unfortunately, animosity doesn’t get us anywhere. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison, and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” I am reluctantly okay with the loss of some people, so long as I know that I am on the right side of history, with regards to science, truth, justice, and fighting the good fight. Losing friends and others still sucks, but I have learned that it is their choice, not mine. Having said that, I also know that I can do better with meeting people where they are, and remembering that we are all flawed, and products of our environment. Yes, as vegans we have the moral high ground, but we also need to respect and love others as much as we can, if we are ever going to educate, foster compassion, and effect change.

The other concern that I have with the vegan movement is their complete disregard for the human health component of plant-based diets. It has been my experience that most people who consider going vegan, do so for health reasons. I am now just as motivated by animal welfare, but the health benefits of a plant-based diet are truly astounding. In fact, a healthy plant-based diet is by far, the most powerful weapon we have to fight disease. Mic drop indeed! And despite the science, and amazingness of plant-based nutrition, it is rarely mentioned at vegan events and rallies.

We have to figure out a way to bring all of these important causes together because they are all connected. Most people at the peace, human rights, and climate marches don’t want to hear about animal rights and plant-based diets, just as too many vegans don’t really care about illegal ongoing wars, poverty, and the environment. We need to remind everyone of the words of Dr. King, “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.”

I am not sure how to get there, but I know we can do better. We have to do better. 🙂

Btw, how is amazingness not a word?

Until next time….

Click here for the National Animal Rights Day website.
Click here for Jamie Logan’s website.
Click here for Jamie Logan’s YouTube trailer.
Click here for the song, You Don’t Sea Me, from Entyce.
Click here for Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Click here for Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem, and powerful piece on compassion.
Click here for the Animal Rights documentary Dominion.
Click here for the documentary, Earthlings.
Click here to learn more about the incredible health benefits of a plant-based diet.

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