Slavery & You
Vegans can often be heard discussing the animal slave industry. Does it make sense for vegans to compare animal agriculture to human slavery? or to the Holocaust? These are two of the greatest travesties ever befallen mankind, this article is not meant to compare the suffering of Man or Beast, but merely to conjure thought and provoke curiosity.
Hypothetically, imagine you were raised in an alternate universe and slavery had been legal. Secondly, assume your parents owned a family of slaves. A mother, father, and three children serve your family. Growing up, you witnessed your parents force the slaves to work around the house. They were made to do chores, cook, clean, work in the yard, etc.
Enslavement Seemed Right At The Time
To the best of your knowledge, even though physical discipline was legal under slavery, your family didn’t physically abuse the family of slaves unless “necessary”. As you matured, your needs grew as well so you began making more demands of the family. However, the more you tried it, the practice of ordering around other people didn’t feel right. After high school, you entered the “real world”. You went to college or found work and met people from outside your primary social group.
Soon, both your primary and your secondary social group begins to expand. You’re now interacting with co-workers, in addition to doing business with others. You’re growing up and as you do, you begin learning from these new connections. Your perspective expands when you meet former slaves. They had purchased their freedom and you learn about their struggle.
Slavery Was Never Moral
Imagine you are an adult now. You’re still living in a hypothetical scenario. Assume you have the same moral compass and decision making skills you have today. You’ve evaluated the situation and looked at it with an adult perspective. You see the moral issues related to owning another human. You understand exploitation and sentience. Although the practice of owning slaves is normal and perfectly legal (in this hypothetical world), you choose to stand against the practice of slavery for moral reasons.
Suddenly, you realize that you were part of this mistreatment of others. You remember all the times the weary mother of three looked tired after a long day of cleaning your house and cooking your food, she still had her family to take care of before getting to rest. Yet you chose to order her to make you a late-night snack, or clean your clothes for tomorrow, without regard for her needs or liberty. You remember times you disciplined the slaves, people who should never have been under your rule.
Guilt or Blame, Choose Your Game
Would you feel guilty for the actions you’d taken before becoming an adult? You were a child after all, and this was the “normal” way of life for most of society. You hadn’t broken any laws, and you could stand up in church on Sunday upon the back of your slave if you wanted, legally. However, as an adult who understands empathy, you must also recognize how your actions affected the slaves.
Therefore, as an adult, you have an understanding of the Central Nervous System. You understand how the Central Nervous system responds to pain and sends those signals to a brain where they can be interpreted and experienced as pain as well as emotion. These were real people with real emotions, who experienced real pain and loss. How would you feel toward your family for placing you in that situation? If your family had not owned slaves, you wouldn’t have this moral dilemma now as an educated, empathetic adult. Would you resent them?
Back To Reality
Bondage Hopped From Hand to Hoof
It’s abhorrent to imagine ever owning or participating in the slave industry. The very idea is appalling. But, what is the difference between human and animal exploitation? Many would argue that the two are incomparable, that animals don’t experience suffering in the same way that humans do. Various arguments attempt to claim that animals are not suffering for reasons that vary wildly, from their level of sentience to divine mandate. The animals await a decision.
Some could argue that, since animals very clearly have the ability to experience pain and at least some level of cognition, their experience is not remotely similar to human experiences. Animals experience all of the pain of captivity and also the fear of not being able to understand why. However, imagine being trapped by aliens who raised humans in a society completely beyond our understanding on an alien planet, simply so they could slaughter and eat them. You’d become paralyzed with terror. Imagine living in that terrified state for the duration of your life, having your children taken from you and eaten, and then being murdered by the aliens.
While society as a whole comes around, each of us must also make our own decision. Due to the climate crisis, the topic of veganism can no longer be ignored. Where do you stand? Before you answer, on what information are you basing your opinion?
Meanwhile, take a look at the real world around you, at the 72 billion land animals slaughtered for food every year who are being housed, transported and slaughtered in inhumane conditions. Watch the horrific videos shared by vegans and activists every day which depict what happens in slaughterhouses and see the pain and suffering these animals experience. Take the time to learn about the human exploitation involved in animal agriculture. Fully read and therefore understand the IPCC, or countless other studies, which outline the devastating effects of animal agriculture on our environment and how that is affecting climate change.
If you are a parent, please consider raising your children vegan. Even if you aren’t vegan, don’t saddle them with this guilt and shame. At one point in American history, our ancestors were faced with the very decision mentioned in the hypothetical scenario. They were faced with the decision to stand against slavery or sit back and try to keep things as they’d always known them. Most noteworthy, are those who took a stand early and got on the right side of history. On what side of history will your children find you?
All Slavery Must End
The world is experiencing the turbulent effects of the climate crisis. It is undeniable that going vegan is the greatest change the common civilian can make to help curb climate change. Many people realize this fact and are making the change. Some people would argue that the transportation industry is causing greater damage, and they’re correct. However, people have less control over how far they travel than they do over the food and products they buy. Also, much of the transportation costs are due to the animal agriculture and food industry.
Local Farmers Markets and Plant-based options are growing more abundant each day making it easier to become vegan; and only the out-of-touch wear fur; wool and leather are next on the list of passé garbage from the past. The Dairy Market is dwindling, the leading dairy company recently filed bankruptcy. Animal Agriculture is floundering, farmers are going bankrupt and losing money. They can’t support themselves, rather, subsidies are the only reason the industries stay afloat.
Consequently, taxpayers are paying the bill, both on their paychecks and at the grocers. Without subsidies, these environmentally destructive, exploitative industries would be bankrupted and replaced with more ethical and sustainable options. People are realizing the problem and turning vegan daily, your child will not grow up in the echo chamber you knew and loved. As a result, hard questions are coming, do you have the answers?
Reap What You Sow
Most importantly, after you’ve educated yourself, ask yourself how your child will feel once they’ve become educated. Does your child deserve to deal with the issues you weren’t ready to address? Do you want them to feel that guilt? Will they be sick from the shame?
What questions will they ask themselves as they live out the consequences of your poor choices? Will they question why their parents didn’t do anything? Will they blame you for living in the Information Age and choosing ignorance? Finally, enough Americans realized slavery was wrong and abolished the practice in 1865.
To sum it up, please just look into this for yourself. You’re already on the internet. For more information: Just open your eyes. Check your newsfeed. Search the internet for “Go Vegan”. Pick a good place and start reading.