This week I had dinner with a large group - mostly friends of a friend - at a pretty pricey French restaurant. Maybe because I'm vegan or maybe because there was another vegetarian at the table, a few conversations broke out around the table about eating animals. I wasn't directly involved in any of those conversations, so I didn't jump in with my thoughts (every time I've jumped uninvited into a conversation about this topic, it's had opposite effect I want), but there was so much wrong with what was said.
"It's ok to eat veal now because they don't break their legs."
No, it's not. It's really not.
"If I couldn't eat the duck, I don't know WHAT I would do!" "You'd order the lamb! Ha ha ha!"
"The quick way we grow livestock is the greatest accomplishment of our farming system."
(By the way, free range/organic is not a solution.)
What do we owe the animals? Anyone who has lived with a doggie or kitty knows first hand that non-human animals avoid pain and seek pleasure like us. They have inner lives. Most of us haven't been able to live with cows, piggies, duckies, and chickens, but study after study finds that these animals are just as smart and caring as the animals who share our homes.
Let's be honest: buying products made from animals is a selfish decision. You are choosing your taste, your convenience, your sense of fashion, and the approval of your peers over the suffering and lives of others. And for those who try to defend their choices by claiming only "humanely raised"meat is in their fridge? The bottom line is you are willing to pay someone else to kill an animal, because the dead animal provides you with pleasure. That's selfish and it's cruel.
But you don't have to. Every meal you eat is your opportunity to be kind. I am so grateful to live in a time and place that allows me to live without taking the lives of animals. You can go vegan too, and there are lots of celebrities to help you on your way.
In the same way that giving $10,000 to charity does more than giving $100, going vegan does more than going vegetarian or just reducing your intake of meat. But does that mean we turn down the $100 gifts to charity? Of course not. Every action on your part makes a difference, for better or worse, for the animals who suffer to become food or fashion.