Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's All About Intent

I just read the following article on One Green Planet:

Thanks to this illustration, a lot of people seem to have suddenly woken up to the fact that products derived from animals are pervasive in modern society. This isn’t news to most vegans, since our lifestyle choice is based on avoiding such products (to the extent practical). As expected, the reaction to this illustration has largely been focused on the conclusion the artist arrived at (i.e. “There is no such thing as a vegan”). We can only speculate about the artist’s intention for creating the illustration, but in our opinion, the conclusion seems a bit misguided.

As we (and others) have defined and discussed in the past, veganism is not about perfection. Anyone who claims to be a perfect vegan has either not done their research or is not quite sure what veganism is about. We live in a society that is built on the use of billions of animals and that isn’t going to change any time soon. The billion dollar industries that farm these animals and sell their by-products as food or raw material to other industries are not going to crumble and fall in a matter of days or months. That’s reality. But is that reason enough to do nothing? Hell no!

The question is, who manufacturers these products and who buys them? We do! Who can instrument a systematic shift in how this entire modern industrial system works? We can! As Lao-Tzu, the founder of Taoism famously put it, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

The moment you acknowledge there’s something wrong with the unnecessary use and exploitation of animals for human benefit, you should ask yourself what that first step can be. No matter how you look at it, the logical conclusion you will arrive at is the path of veganism and ethical consumerism. Most people consider veganism to be extreme because they don’t understand the logical process that leads people down this path. Veganism is a beginning, and what follows is a practical effort to avoid products that are derived from the exploitation of animals. Eventually, with the help of creative vegan education (including the removal of the stereotypes and misconceptions associated with the word vegan itself), we will arrive at our destination. That destination is a world where the demand for animal products has been systematically eliminated.

Or you can do nothing. The choice is yours.

The bolded emphasis above is mine.  Many people try to "trip" you up when you declare that you are vegan.  They look for ways to poke holes in your argument, which may be the original intention of the illustration, but the image has the opposite effect on me.  It just shows how pervasive and disturbing the use of animals is.  This is shown to me on a daily basis.  The remains of animals are shoved into so many different places; places where there is no good reason to have their bodies being used.

It is difficult to poke holes in my veganism because I know what my goals are.  It's about not causing any harm intentionally.  I control what I can control.  And my goal is to be compassionate... not perfect.

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