In life, there are many things over which we have little to no choice. There are certain things which we just need in order to survive and live happy, fulfilling lives. For many of us in the modern world, these things are easier than ever to acquire.

In the past, it may have been true that our ancestors needed to take advantage of the meat and hides of other animals to survive. They needed to stay fed, and they needed to stay warm. For them, the exploitation of other animals was a necessity.

Today, that may still be true for some people. For people who live in small-scale societies and practice traditional lifestyles, an argument could be made that they need to rely on killing animals. But that isn’t true for people living in industrialized societies.

Piglets and Mom Veganism

When we eat meat from an animal bred and raised in captivity, or when we wear beauty products, shoes or jackets made from their skins, or sleep with down pillows or bedding, we are making a choice. We are making choices based on tastes we enjoy and styles we find attractive. These aren’t decisions that come from necessity or any ethical consideration. They are simple matters of habit and preference.

But when we live in a world where billions of creatures are bred in cages, treated like objects, and mechanistically slaughtered, habit and preference are not good enough reasons. When we live in a world where many species are facing extinction because of human activity, we need to think much more critically about ourselves. The choices we make about how our lifestyles affect the lives of other creatures need to be taken seriously.

Choosing a Vegan Lifestyle

The industries which produce the meat, milk, eggs, and leather which saturate our lives make incredible profits off the indescribable suffering of countless conscious beings, while contributing enormously to climate change and the degradation of the planet’s ecosystems. A vegan lifestyle is a conscious decision to stand against the misery and pain caused by this system.

Veganism is a decision to choose compassion over convenience. It is a practical philosophy to reject products and industries which are doing harm. Today, we can live quite comfortably and easily without eating the flesh of other creatures, and without wearing their skin. But most of us are brought up doing those things, and so we grow up without giving much thought to the lives of animals who died. While eating meat is a choice, we often don’t perceive it that way.

Usually, people who adopt a vegan lifestyle experience a moment of recognition. Something forces us to notice our choices. Maybe it’s when they see grotesque images from factory farms, or they see activists on their campus protesting against animal testing. Or maybe it’s something as simple as developing a relationship with a family dog or cat, and understanding that behind those eyes is another mind.

First Steps Lamb

These moments of empathy are gifts. They give us the insight which allows us to make a positive change in our own lives. Sometimes we have many of these experiences before fully embracing veganism. I think most of us — even those who never become vegan — have these experiences. But it can very difficult to accept that the way we live our lives — that the way our friends and parents live theirs —is deeply problematic.

Luckily, things are getting easier all the time. Our collective consciousness concerning the rights of non-human animals is expanding, and with it a growing awareness of the extent of the cruelty inherent in the animal farming industries. Every time activists release pictures from inside a factory farm, every grocery store and restaurant that provides vegan options, every time someone refuses to wear leather, it becomes harder to ignore the problem. And it become easier to join the movement.

The decision to life live to the fullest extent possible without harming other beings unnecessarily is personally very rewarding. Living life in accordance with one’s values is a sort of validating experience. And this authentic sense of self is an important part of becoming a vegan.

But of course, in the long run, we would like to see an end to the industries which cause so much unnecessary suffering. Veganism is both idealistic and practical.

Someday, maybe, we’ll get there. But these aren’t just enormously powerful industries which we, as vegans, are rejecting. It is also very deeply held beliefs about the superiority of human beings, and our inherent right to exploit, abuse and control other living beings and the natural world.

These entrenched beliefs will not disappear overnight. No great social struggles were overcome easily. But the more of us that stand up together to proclaim the value of all life —who demand an end to the needless suffering of billions of thinking, feeling creatures — the more the social conscience will shift.

Yes, we might have to pass on that piece of cake, and yes we might have to buy a different pair of shoes. But when you commit to veganism, it becomes easier for the next person. And the next. With these small decisions, we help to build a new world. A world with less suffering, less misery. A world that is better for all.

Many celebrities are converting to a vegan lifestyle with good reason. The health and beauty benefits are numerous, while contributing to a better planet for nature. If you plan to transition to veganism, consider consulting with a nutritionist. The food options are endless. Visit this page to check out this beginners guide to vegan cooking. Check out this guide filled with delicious recipes that anyone will enjoy.

Dusky Leaf Monkey Animal Rights


Photo Credits

A sheep in the long grass” by Michael Palmer – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons

Sow and five piglets“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Lamb first steps (edited)” by Peter Shanks from Lithgow, Australia. Original uploader was TimVickers at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transfer was stated to be made by User:Amqui.(Original text : Commons). Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Duskyleafmonkey1” by Robertpollai – Own work, published on Licensed under CC BY 3.0 at via Wikimedia Commons