Ethics and Laws

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Ethics and Laws

[Ed. Note: Also read My Dog or Your Child? Ethical Dilemmas and the Hierarchy of Moral Value and Animal Rights 101.]

By Gary Yourofsky, ADAPTT (Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow)

What does Republican Matthew Scully, the former senior speechwriter for George W. Bush, have in common with Ohio's ultra Democrat and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich? The same thing Russell Simmons, Erykah Badu and Joaquin Phoenix have in common with Cesar Chavez, Pythagoras and Leonardo da Vinci. Besides capturing the hearts and minds of generations, all are vegan. By not wearing fur, leather, wool, silk and down, nor consuming milk, cheese, eggs, honey and the meat of any land or marine animal, they made a compassionate decision to directly save the lives of thousands of animals.

When I became vegan on July 24, 1996, and finally understood that animals had an inherent right to be free and live completely unfettered by human domination, I wondered why it took more than 25 years to attain this nonviolent awakening.

I began to ask, "Who taught me that animals were put on this Earth for food? Who taught me to disrespect animals and view them as mere commodities? Who stole my compassion, my empathy and my conscience? Who lied to me? Who instilled this vicious mindset of human-to-animal exploitation as standard operating procedure?"

Over the years as I gave 2,169 lectures at 170 colleges, high schools and middle schools, I asked tens of thousands of meat-eaters similar questions. "Who told you to eat the corpses of dismembered animals and reduce your body to a walking graveyard? Who stole your compassion, your empathy and your conscience? Who lied to you? Why do you embrace such meaningless violence and then make inane rationalizations about the suffering of innocent creatures?"

If every meat-eater logically and compassionately re-evaluated their beliefs, they would understand why veganism is the only ethical and acceptable way to live on this planet.

Isaac Bashevis Singer, the compassionate Jewish humanitarian who escaped Nazi-occupied Poland, once condemned every meat-eater by stating, "What do they know - all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka."

Singer's indictment is probably the most damning statement ever about humankind. It establishes the fact that violence is violence and murder is murder even if the victims have beaks, horns, gills, feathers or fur.

The global atrocity of eating animals kills more innocent beings in one year than all human atrocities over the past 5,000 years combined! This makes veganism the most important aspect of animal rights because almost every animal who is abused and killed on this planet is abused and killed by the meat, dairy and egg industries, despite the fact that no one in this day and age needs meat, cheese and milk to survive. The only exception would be people residing in icy environments or desert settings. But eating animals for pure survival is rare with only around 1 percent of the earth's population being able to use this excuse. Keep in mind, this is just a valid excuse and NOT a justification. I understand why they do it. I wouldn't do it under any circumstances, but I understand their motives. Everyone else on this planet eats animals and the things that come out of animals for four reasons: Habit, convenience, taste and tradition. With the addition of the profit motive, those are invalid, unnecessary and barbaric reasons to intentionally harm animals.

Meat-eating societies are also the main cause of world hunger. In America, we continually feed around 70 percent of our corn, wheat, oats and soy to billions of farmed animals instead of starving people! Every two seconds, someone on this planet dies from malnutrition while pigs and cows get fat. Consequently, meat-eaters are anti-human because feeding billions of animals instead of millions of hungry children is an indirect form of genocide.

Worldwide, around 60 billion land animals [10 billion in the USA] and 90 billion marine animals [18 billion in the USA] are killed and eaten every year in a monumental Holocaust borne of ignorance, arrogance and racism. The human race v. animal race brand of racism permits humans to enslave and kill any other species with impunity. Singer calls speciesism the "purest form of racism" because it kills more innocent beings that any form of human-to-human racism.

This is why vegans are the utmost humanitarians. We indiscriminately seek justice for all by doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves [THE GOLDEN RULE].

As an ethical vegan, it's logical for me to proclaim that the only nice slaughterhouse is an empty slaughterhouse. This statement, however, is often challenged by uninformed, egocentric individuals who believe mercy and kindness are exclusive to humans. But to deny every animal's inherent right to fly, swim and run freely is cruel and dishonest. If given an option, no animal would choose pain or death.

To understand the compassionate movement of animal rights, empathy must be used to examine the issue from the animals' point of view. This isn't a radical concept either. Abolitionists looked at slavery through the eyes of subjugated blacks, just as the Allied Forces looked at Nazism through the eyes of Jews and other non-Aryans whom Hitler labeled unworthy and expendable. Empathy allows people to understand the injustice without over-analyzing the issue, especially when those in power deem the victims unworthy and expendable, something Hitler, slave-owners and meat-eaters have all done to their respective victims.

In an attempt to defile the animal rights movement, meat-eaters often proclaim that Hitler practiced vegetarianism. However, biographers Albert Speer and Robert Payne attested to Hitler's love for liver dumplings, stuffed squab [pigeon], ham and sausage. German Chef Dione Lucas wrote about Hitler's carnivorism in her Gourmet Cooking School Cookbook, published in 1964. Rynn Berry's Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover describes how Goebbels, The Third Reich's propaganda minister, tried to sell Hitler as a vegetarian to make him seem as peaceful as Gandhi. The next section in this series, "Hitler Was NOT Vegetarian," provides ample evidence that, contrary to a good deal of popular misconception, Hitler and his henchmen were not vegetarians at all.

In his book Dominion, Matthew Scully explains that people have to choose between being radically kind or radically cruel. This illuminates the hypocrisy of the meat-eating animal welfare movement which seeks to regulate the enslavement and killing of billions of animals via "humane slaughter" laws. By definition alone, slaughter is radically cruel and can never be humane. If cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys go into slaughterhouses alive and come out chopped up into hundreds of pieces, how could anyone claim that animals aren't being mistreated, abused, tortured, terrorized and savagely murdered in these places? How in the world could SLAUGHTERING BILLIONS of INNOCENTS be done with love, humanity and concern? Furthermore, killing animals via some asinine "humane slaughter" law doesn't exonerate killers from the killing anyway. There is no such thing as humane slaughter like there is no such thing as human rape, humane slavery or humane child molestation. Buying meat, milk or eggs from non-organic, organic, small family or free-range farms doesn't exonerate the consumer from complicity either. From the animal's point of view, the killers and the consumers are the same. And, if for some reason, my aforesaid words aren't proof enough of the abuse, torture and terrorism claims that I have levied against the meat, egg and dairy industries, maybe the billions of dead, dismembered animal bodies could count as proof. Maybe McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's, Taco Bell, KFC, Denny's, Outback and Longhorn steakhouses, Rose Acre Farms (eggs), Smithfield, ConAgra, Perdue and Tyson could be proof, too. Maybe EVERY piece of footage EVER gleaned from the meat, dairy and egg industries is proof as it SHOWS animals being enslaved, abused and killed, most of the time enduring fully conscious dismemberment.

Fortunately, de-programming the perfunctory ways of meat-eaters is possible. My lecture tour converted thousands to veganism while thousands more significantly reduced their meat, cheese, milk and egg intake. Reduction and abolition are the only options to end this massacre. Welfare regulations are a stamp of approval to let the carnage continue unabated because compassionate ways of enslaving and killing billions of animals do not exist.

This is why I am NOT a fan of legislation. Fighting for bigger cages or "better" treatment of animals is contradictory and ridiculous. It will never lead to empty cages. When examining human liberation movements, you'll notice that Malcolm X and Dr. King didn't fight for "better" treatment of blacks via improved segregation policies. They wanted to abolish segregation. They fought for equality and freedom. Cesar Chavez fought for it, too. Same thing when Gandhi liberated India from British rule. If abolition instead of welfare were somehow legislated, I'd be down for that. But I don't believe you can legislate until you educate. Passing welfare laws - which won't be enforced anyway - without explaining the evilness of meat-eating is backwards.

I'd like to further condemn welfare laws by exposing an excerpt of the 1966 Animal Welfare Act. It states, "The term animal EXCLUDES ... birds, rats, mice, horses ... and other farm animals such as ... but not limited to ... livestock and poultry ... and anything used or intended to be used as food or fiber [clothing]." It also states, "The term exhibitor EXCLUDES ... retail pet stores ... organizations sponsoring state and country [county] fairs, livestock shows, rodeos, purebred dog and cat shows and any fair or exhibition intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences."

In America, each meat-eater is responsible for the deaths of 3,000 land animals and thousands of other marine animals throughout their lifetime. Meat-eating, however, is not an instinctive behavior. It is learned tradition. Scientific claims of the human body being omnivorous or carnivorous are erroneous and illogical. If someone placed a two-year old child in a crib with a bunny rabbit and an apple, the child would play with the rabbit and eat the apple, an unambiguously herbivorous reaction. People become inured to the taste of blood, flesh, veins, muscles, tendons, cow secretions [milk], hen periods [eggs] and bee vomit [honey], as I will discuss in the "Humans Are Herbivores" section.

Since veganism is for anybody who wants to be kind to animals, good to the environment and healthy, millions of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, black, white, Asian, Latino, Native, pro-life, pro-choice, pro-gun and anti-gun people live a vegan lifestyle. Millions of Democrats, Independents and Republicans are vegan as well. Tales of tree-hugging liberals being the only supporters of veganism couldn't be further from the truth. Scully's Dominion is a right-wing, faith-based, Christian conservative view supporting veganism because ethnicity, religious affiliation or political party have no bearing on eating a veggie burger tonight instead of a hamburger.