One of the most profound aspects of turning vegan has been the way in which i’ve embraced a whole new philosophy – one of kindness, compassion and empathy.
I’d always heard about people having ‘lightbulb’ moments; that overwhelming and instantaneous realisation of a profound truth. Well this was mine.
I’ve always been a logical, rational thinker, willing to change my views in light of new evidence or a convincing argument. Over the course of watching ‘Cowspiracy’, ‘What The Health?’ and ‘Earthlings’ I was presented with just that: a solid, persuasive and passionate argument advocating veganism.
What hit me the hardest though was the raw emotional response that I experienced at seeing the horrifying cruelty and suffering that resulted from humankind’s exploitation of animals. It was the magnitude of this response that made it abundantly clear to me that I had to make an immediate, fundamental change in my life.
From that moment I really threw myself into researching veganism. The way I figured it, if I was going to make such a fundamental and permanent change to my life, I needed to make sure that my reasons for doing so were absolute, genuine and organic. For me this meant reading, watching and listening to as much as I could.
One of the first books I bought was Peter Singer’s ‘Animal Liberation’. This seminal work is widely considered to be the founding piece of literature postulating the idea that animals deserve equal consideration of their interests – that is, their interest in a life free from suffering. The central tenet of the book is just that; animals want to live and they also want a life free from physical and psychological pain.
Singer details many of the abhorrent practices that are commonplace in the animal agriculture industry, but he also goes further; He makes a poignant case for the emotional and psychological capacities of non-human animals. They can suffer just as much as us. This immediately prompts a major question – if you wouldn’t do it to a human, then why do it to an animal? On this basis Singer rejects the idea of ‘Animal Rights’, arguing that they don’t go anywhere near far enough to protect the true interests of animals. Instead, he argues for total Animal Liberation.
This is a very important distinction. How can one claim to respect the rights of an animal, only to then slit their throat without a second thought.
This solid line of reasoning redoubled my conviction that veganism was the right way forward. It also enlarged perfectly on a concise quote by 18th Century philosopher Jeremy Bentham who, considering the plight of animals, stated; “The question is not, “Can they reason?”, nor, ” Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?”. In these few words I now had a watertight justification for making a change.