We need to talk about the word “veganism.” Veganism is often seen as little more than a diet, yet even when acknowledged as a lifestyle, veganism is often seen as a rather extreme, impossible way of life to those who do not know much about it. So what actually is veganism?
Veganism is simply the necessary act of respecting animals, as they deserve the same value and upholding as humans. Currently, we as a society use animals in every way possible. This planet has been transformed to be a place of living only for humans, with little to give to our innocent, voiceless, animal friends.
Veganism recognises the way in which those of us who are not vegan use animals daily, without noticing. A few examples would be: wearing a leather jacket, cooking eggs, adding cream to our coffee, using a wool scarf for warmth before heading out into the cold, and later eating meat for lunch. The list goes on. To most, the mention of these acts does not mean anything other than: daily activities one must partake in, in order to get through life.
If we take a step back and review this information from a stance in which we are not viewing animals as commodities that must be used, we can look at the same information in a new light. How?
Wearing a leather jacket is the unnecessary usage of animal skin for human fashion.
Eggs belong to chickens (contrary to popular belief, it is in fact not harmless when one takes the egg).
Wool comes from sheep through torturous methods that most who use the product are not aware of.
What does all of this suggest? That we have been blinded, from childhood all the way to adulthood. We use animals as if they are ours to use, never learning that they too have goals and wishes just like we do. Animals are not here for us, but here with us. This planet is not ours to abuse, it is a shared space for all species to co-exist peacefully.
Veganism is the act of realising the way society treats animals is abhorrent. By law and common conscience, we do not do anything to humans that would not involve their consent. This is not the case for (mostly farmed) animals – except the lucky few protected in sanctuaries.
Why do we treat animals so horrifically? Commonly held beliefs passed through generations have had us believe that animals do not feel pain the same way we do or that they cannot feel at all, that they are unintelligent, that they cannot understand, grieve or fear. This is all entirely false. In the case of a fire, the human, the mouse, the dog, and the cow all react the same way. They panic, fear and back away. We all feel the same emotions. We all would prefer life over torture, misery and a brutal death.
This is why veganism isn’t extreme. Veganism is compassion and understanding extended to all animals: the active avoidance of products and activities that exploit and murder animals. “Veganism” as a word is necessary in a society where the majority believe animals do not feel or understand. In reality, it is we who do not understand them.