Non-Violent Principles Start With Non-Violent Eating

Why do some people take up animal rights issues and others don’t? Perhaps because those who believe that animals should not in any circumstances be exploited know they must follow it through, by no longer eating meat or using by-products . . . and that adds up to a huge lifestyle adjustment. If we can’t go that far we have to accept that some animals may be exploited and that’s enough to make us feel less proud of ourselves.

If we do become vegan we have to want to stick to the idea so badly that even the greatest temptations won’t shift us: in return we can speak up on the animals’ behalf, which is a responsibility, an opportunity and a powerful platform from which to advocate non-violence. By non-violent eating we represent the basis of a future non-violent society.

Of course it isn’t a simple matter - there are consequences. We have to withstand disagreement from people who refuse to be seen as ethical weaklings - they’ll make light of our “bleeding heart”, trivialise our arguments, frighten us with nutrition science and make us feel like a social pariah when we eat with them. And even when we eat on our own, the unavailability of vegan-friendly food in shops makes it that much more difficult, so it’s no wonder that vegans sometimes get angry and feel a bit sorry for themselves. It’s galling to think that we fight for what’s right and we’re frustrated at every turn, and yet the struggle to find a way through to people’s hearts is the ongoing challenge.

Vegans need to be very self-disciplined and even one step ahead of all their fellow animal-eaters, if only to set an overwhelming example to them, whilst at the same time not rubbing our obvious advantages in their face. They aren’t stupid, they must realise vegans often have what they can’t have themselves: better health, clear conscience, nice vibes from animals, and a right to speak up for true non-violence. That must be quite annoying for them.

As vegans, by realising all or any of this, it might eventually bring us personal fulfilment, even happiness and a desire to be less judgemental of others. We can then reserve our grief for the animals rather than for the purpose of inducing self-pity. Ultimately by sticking to principle we can reach a “true adulthood”, where we won’t need to feel so self-righteous or so in need to boast about our self-discipline, we’ll just be grateful that we’ve a golden set of principles to guide our everyday life and give us something worthwhile to fight for.

David Horton.