May 5th, 2014


Rapeless Mondays

Organizations and individuals who promote animal welfare reform, single-issue campaigns, and ideas like "Meatless Mondays" often ask why we vegan abolitionists are opposed to such. What is the harm? The whole world won't go vegan overnight, if ever, after all. Shouldn't we respect people's freedom of choice as they go on their personal journeys to find whatever lifestyle works best for them?

Imagine if such an approach were taken to ending rape, child molestation, or murder. These horrific crimes against humanity will likely always be with us, sadly. But that does not mean that we promote "Rapeless Mondays", or campaign for "more humane child abuse". A victim who is not beaten while they're being sexually molested might be "better off" than one who is, but sexual molestation is still inherently inhumane.

We don't counsel people to rape, molest, or murder less frequently or more gently; we tell them not to do it, period. (Or at least that's what we should be doing; in today's rape culture, it's not surprising to see more education and blame directed at the victims than at the perpetrators.)

Those who are bothered or offended by my comparison of animal exploitation to human exploitation should keep in mind a few things:

- I am a mixed-race queer FTM transsexual atheist who was sexually abused for years as a young child. While I certainly am not speaking from a position of no privilege (as I am able-bodied, educated, and financially stable), I am a member of numerous social groups that have been targets of exploitation.

- Exploitation is the commonality in the mistreatment of both human and nonhuman animals. The sexual molester treats their victim as a thing to be used, as their personal property to be exploited. Nonhuman animals are all considered property, so this treatment as a thing, an object, is considered normal and expected. It is still exploitation, because these animals are sentient, suffer pain and wish to avoid death, and cannot consent to being used in such a way.

- Once the facts are known and understood about how animals are exploited for their bodies, one cannot claim a meaningful difference between the pleasure a molester gets from exploiting humans and the pleasure an omnivore gets from eating meat, dairy, or eggs. The fact that the food item usually no longer resembles the animal that suffered and died to provide this momentary palate pleasure makes it easier to deny the connection.

I denied the connection myself for a long time. I can do so no longer. Because I had absolutely no reason other than pleasure, habit, and convenience to continue eating dairy and eggs. Habit and convenience are often used as justifications for exploitation even when it is conceded that pleasure alone is not, but consider that we do not allow these as excuses from molesters either. The person who beats their spouse might claim that they do it because their parents and their grandparents did it, that their spouse is used to such treatment, or that it would be too much effort to try counseling or talking with their spouse instead of beating them to get them to do what they want.

None of these should be considered reasons to condone the spouse-beating, to say that it's OK to continue it as the exploiter experiences their "personal journey", to say that they should have the "freedom of choice" to beat their spouse six times a week as long as they abstain on Mondays. The same applies to the exploitation of nonhuman animals.

Does this mean that everyone who eats an ice cream cone should be thrown into jail, sentenced to community service, or have to list themselves publicly on a web site for offenders? Of course not. Punishment is neither the goal nor the solution here. The point is to educate people and ask them to think, really think, about the impact of their choices on others. Not just other humans, but other sentient beings. Giving factual information and asking people to think is not in any way taking away freedom of choice. It is giving a more informed basis for that choice.

In conclusion, I do not support "Meatless Mondays" any more than I support "Rapeless Mondays". I support veganism, every day of the week and year. If people choose to become vegan instantly, gradually, or not at all, that is their choice and I am not taking away that choice. But I will not condone the continued exploitation of animals.