Saturday, March 18, 2023

Remaining Silent Isn’t Being Polite

I often still hear vegans mentioning that they don't discuss veganism with non-vegans unless they're asked about it. They insist that they don't want to "preach" to others or to "dictate" to others what they should or shouldn't eat, wear or otherwise use and that we all have the right to make our own "personal choices". I see a few problems with mindsets like these. The first is that we conflate the normal discussion of something which shouldn't be allowed to remain a taboo subject with "forcing" opinions on others. 

If an acquaintance of yours made a racist comment or bragged about having stolen money from an elderly aunt, would we think we were "forcing" our opinion on that person by speaking up and questioning their behaviour and pointing out that it's wrong? Of course not. So why is it that merely mentioning veganism -- simply casually discussing why we, as vegans, refuse to participate in animal exploitation -- gets misrepresented by so many vegans as "forcing our opinions or personal choices" on others? There's no "forcing". 

Why are we trying to silence vegan voices by writing off any mention of animal ethics in such a negative manner? If people are uncomfortable hearing about why animal use is wrong, instead of blaming ourselves for having somehow caused that discomfort, shouldn't we instead realize that all we're doing is pointing to the facts and that the discomfort they feel has to do with those facts and with their participation in the process? Also, I'm not vegan because it's my personal opinion that it's wrong for *me* to participate in the torture and slaughter of others; I'm vegan because that torture -- that slaughter -- is just so horribly wrong in and of itself. All animal use is abuse. How on earth could I sit and smile politely and say nothing? If nobody had ever spoken to me about going vegan, I wonder how much longer it would have taken for me to go vegan. I'm already ashamed that it took as long as it did. I really am.

Let's keep the issues and the discussion on the table instead of making it taboo to bring up speciesism. Let's not allow the continued compartmentalization and self-delusion in which non-vegans engage continue to be the status quo. We're not going to solve the horror that is animal exploitation by shrugging and smiling politely about it when others around us participate in it and defend their doing so. There are billions dying each and every year. Remaining silent isn't being polite: It's being complicit.

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