Can you be an animal lover when you are an animal eater?
Do you love animals? Your dog, your cat, the fish in your aquarium? Maybe you love watching animals in the wild?
Do you also EAT animals?
Perhaps you even KILL them yourself – if you are a hunter, farmer, or a fisherman.
I recently heard a vegan say: “You cannot say that you love animals if you’re still eating them.”
As vegans, we say things like that all the time, but I had to wonder, playing devil’s advocate a little, if someone says they LOVE animals, is that in conflict with that same person EATING them.
Can you say that you love animals when you are still eating them?
What if someone says “I love APPLES” and then proceeds to eat them. I don’t see a problem with that.
So, is LOVING animals the same as LOVING apples, or bananas, or avocados?
Is saying that “I love animals” the same as saying “I love apples”?
For some people, it may well be. They have no qualms about killing and eating another being – for them it’s “natural,” whatever that means.
But I think we can all see the difference between loving a dog or a cat and loving cucumbers or carrots.
There is a difference between loving a living being (a human or non-human animal), and an object (a purse or a steak).
Even though in both cases we often use the word LOVE, perhaps what we are talking about in the latter case it’s not really love – I mean can we really be LOVING an inanimate object? I realize that some objects can be important, desirable, symbolic, part of traditions, or simply very, very tasty; but is it possible to REALLY LOVE a THING?
I really don’t think so, do you?
So what about all this talk about LOVING ANIMALS coming from people who are killing them and/or eating them (which basically means they’re paying someone else to kill them, so that they can eat them)?
The explanation is simple. We have all being raised and are living in a culture that sees and TREATS ANIMALS AS OBJECTS, even though they are living and breathing BEINGS.
This is called objectification. Objectification [is] where you turn a living, breathing and FEELING BEING into an object, like a purse or steak.
Usually this objectification is selective, as some animals are viewed as living beings, usually, companion animals, such as cats and dogs (they’re still not given the same moral status as humans, and are treated mostly as a means to an end – in this case companionship, enjoyment, or other; but at least they get some legal protection from our cruelty and abuse), while others are treated as objects to be used and exploited for whatever it is that we want (flesh, skin, secretions, medical research, etc.).
This objectification begins very early with “the food choices we learn from birth, in which mysterious, sensitive, and intelligent beings are continually and unquestioningly reduced to mere food objects to be used, killed, and eaten.”
Another question we may ask, can there be love where there is abuse? We’ve all heard stories where the perpetrators of terrible violence, such as beating, torture, rape, and even killing, claim to “love” their victims. But is this really love? Is this what TRUE LOVE is about?
“What’s love got to do with it?,” as the popular song goes.
Can a person who is abusive be also a kind and loving person at the same time? (And what if that abuse is by proxy?)
And what is love anyway?
Will Tuttle explained it beautifully in his book “The Word Peace Diet”:
“The light of the infinite spiritual source of all life shines in all creatures. By seeing and recognizing this light in others, we free both them and ourselves. This is love.
Love understands. From understanding, we can embrace our responsibility and become a force for blessing the world with our lives, rather than perpetuating disconnectedness and cruelty by proxy.”
Does it sound woo-woo to you? What is “the light of the infinite spiritual source of all life” that “shines in all creatures” anyway? Does anybody have a proof of that? Has anybody seen it? I don’t really know, and I don’t think anybody — even the most religious people, or people who study philosophy, spirituality, psychology, meditation, etc. — really understand it.
But we all know and feel in our hearts that there is more to us than just flesh, that we are all spiritual beings and it’s time to recognize that killing and being abusive, doesn’t serve that spirit, even if that abuse is hidden from view and done by proxy.
I may not an expert on love, but love doesn’t seek to control, exploit, or abuse.
What are your thoughts?
PS. Do you believe the message of ethical veganism needs to be heard by more people? Do you think it’s time for the whole world to go vegan? Do you want to help spread this message and start making a bigger difference for the animals?
Join my Vegan Warrior Online Challenge today — sign up here to find out more.