wearing a t-shirt with a living puppy glued to it is just as bad as wearing one with an American flag glued to it
Over the weekend, I engaged with a staunchly vegan friend in heated debate about the taking of life. At root, my argument was that in order for us humans to stay alive, something else must die. Each living human sends tens of thousands of living bacteria to perish in a lake of his stomach acid every time he swallow. Each vegan takes the life of a broccoli plant when he lops its head off; he denies the soy plant the ability to live when he eats its beans instead of planting them; he kills countless bacteria every time he washes his hands with soap or spills a drop of vodka onto a wooden bar-top. Hence, the only thing a person can do to avoid killing other living things, every day, is to die.
In my experience, certain vegans rationalize their dietary and life choices according to the 'cute and cuddly' argument: since a cow can turn supposedly doleful eyes back at its butcher and certain emotions can be interpreted into its gaze, it should not be killed. Another is what I call the 'flight' argument: since a chicken can run away from a person trying to catch it (whereas an onion cannot), it wants to stay alive and must therefore not be killed. A third argument is 'it has eyes, and a mother, and should therefore not be killed.' My vegan friend made extensive use of the 'it has eyes' argument; indeed, it seemed to sit at the core of his very existence. That, and saying that since he can't see bacteria with his own eyes, I could not prove to him that they were alive, fled from danger, or even existed. Oh, and trying to shame me into admitting I would eat the liver of a human baby if one were served up to me mixed up in a bowl with the livers of other animals. (For myself, on the day-to-day, I choose to eat only plant products, but since I will eat whatever a host puts in front of me while a guest in his home, I without shame admitted that I would probably – but not willingly – eat a member of my own species...) When I made the point that potatoes have eyes, my counterpart argued that this was only a matter of definition, to which I countered with something like, “So, if we started calling the sight organs of animals something other than 'eyes,' would it be OK to eat them?” He responded by launching back into shaming mode and accusing me of wanting to eat babies. After nearly an hour of cyclical conversation and me admitting to being a monster and a (potential) cannibal, I brought things to a point, asking my vegan friend if he agreed that by eating a tomato, a soy bean, or an apple, he was a taker of life. A killer. He responded by saying that, according to what he referred to as the 'food chain,' it is natural for humans to eat not only plants but also the products of plants. That, for him, eating the seed of a plant is not killing. That, since plants cannot run away and he cannot hear their screams of agony (certain pine trees scream at frequencies inaudible to humans when they're dying of thirst), they're freely giving up their fruits, and their lives. At that point, we ended the conversation, agreeing to disagree.
In my opinion, since a chicken's egg can grow up to become a chicken, it contains life, or at least the potential for life. In my opinion, since a soy (or any other) bean can grow up to become a soy (or any other) plant, it contains life, or at least the potential for life. Therefore, for me, there's no difference between a chicken's egg and a soy bean. I am a vegetarian primarily because I like the way my body and mind feel when I'm vegetarian. Also, I do not wish to support an animal husbandry industry that causes undue suffering to the lives in its care, destroys Earth's environment, and massively overuses antibiotics. Plus, I find that eating a lot of meat causes my blood-chemistry to become unbalanced. Before each meal, whether it should contain meat or plant products, I try to take a moment to thank the food for sacrificing itself so that I might live. George Bernard Shaw once wrote: 'Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends.' Every time I hear Shaw's quote used by a vegan person to self-aggrandize his or her dietary and life decisions, however, I want to add this: 'But plants? Fuck plants – I'll kill and eat the shit out a fucking plant.' I will write more on this subject once my passions have subsided and my tone is more rational. Essentially, however, all life is precious, and we would do well to be thankful for everything that dies to keep us alive, no matter how stationary, unattractive, or small it may be. In this way, we can start to develop a deeper compassion for all things living, not just things with eyes we might want to cuddle.
© americanifesto / 場黑麥
blog updated Fridays, usually
I bicycle, write, surf, and the rest.