practical liberation

I don’t tend to chat much about what I think might happen to bring about a wholesale reform of the animal agriculture industry, or how such reform would appear in practice. Personally, I would like to see the entire industry abolished and replaced with a more sustainable agricultural system. That’s unlikely to happen before noon today. However, there is room for a lot of other things to happen.

Animal advocates, just like any other labeled activists, can make a direct impact without a revolution occuring overnight. By insisting upon a reasonable pace and constant progress, we can make a great deal of permanent changes to society. Sure, I think cattle farming is completely indefensible ethically, morally, economically, and environmentally. I can back that up with facts unrefuted by the dairy or beef marketeers. There’s nothing terribly unusual about that. It’s not very far from how many people – not all of them self-described pacifists – argue that nuclear war is bad with utter certainty and incredulousness. Yet a lot of people make money from the prospect of one eventually happening, and work directly against those who would abolish the ability to launch one.

So when I read a recent interview with Peter Singer, I was a bit amused. My view is different from his, with my conclusion that animals do possess rights, and those rights should be defended similarly to the way that human rights are defended. Animal rights are derived more easily and are not as broad as human rights, but the concepts are similar. Human rights don’t grant political freedom, nor significant wealth. They have not been recognized for very long, and it’s arguable that recognition of human rights is still a minority view even within the western, “free” world. The people paid to decide how they’re defended often seem asleep at the wheel.

But frankly, the difference between our conclusions, and what we would encourage others to do, are not very different. Vegan habits seem good and promote a degree of justice that doesn’t seem present when paying for animals to eat. Yet that “large triple soy” which cost $6 this morning didn’t really help the workers of the world unite. If one chooses dining establishments as the front lines, then some effort is required. Do the research, ask questions, don’t be afraid to make a fuss, but for goodness’ sake, stick to the topic of vegan/vegetarian options in any rant-like behavior and make your rewards and lack of patronage well known. Above all, stay honest. Check back from time to time. Yes, it makes a difference. Slowly, but to a greater extent than any other single customer.

Also, there’s nothing quite like walking into a sammich shop to return my (suprisingly) cheezy toasty bread, wearing the block-letter ‘vegan’ shirt. Trust me, I got attention whether I wanted it or no. Keeping cool at times like that – and it sounds easy – is priceless as street theater and changing opinions.

Wednesday ~ November 29, 2006 by b

Posted in dining,veg | 6,054 Comments |

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