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December 5, 2011

Excellent Vegan Speech - by Angel Flinn

Angel Flinn and Poof; the magic rabbit!
The vegan ideal embodies the highest of spiritual and ethical aspirations – non-violence, harmlessness, reverence for life, and the cultivation of compassion toward the innocent. It is cause for celebration that we are blessed with the ability to bring such noble qualities down to earth by simply eliminating from our lives the products and practices that require the exploitation of other beings.

And yet, even in a time when, more than ever, the world needs us to put these basic human values into practice, this powerful ethical stand continues to be marginalized by society. The example that is set by the increasing number of individuals who embrace these principles is too often vehemently opposed, trivialized, or simply ignored. But the effects of this paradigm shift in perception are far-reaching, and the rewards of making such a change are beyond measure.

By doing nothing more than simply living as a vegan – which means to eliminate one’s support for all products and practices that exploit animals – people can greatly lessen their ecological footprint, take their health into their own hands, play a part in eliminating world hunger, and experience the peace of mind that comes from making such a powerful personal contribution toward the beginning of peace on earth.

Ironically, it may well be that the survival of our species, and perhaps even life on this planet, is dependent upon our learning the very lessons of empathy, responsibility and self-control that the vegan ideal embodies, and which our society seems so reluctant to embrace. By living the vegan ideal, we can address, all at once, the many, seemingly different issues that are crippling our civilization and threatening our very survival.

From world hunger to climate change, mass extinction to escalating violence, the catastrophic problems we are facing are clear indicators that we are in need of transformation on a global scale. With our society and our world within sight of a major breakdown from resource scarcity and subsequent political conflict, it has become crucial that we face up to the need for a radical shift, beginning with a change of perception inside each one of us.

More and more people are recognizing the prejudice and injustice inherent in enslaving and slaughtering animals, in order to feed our collective appetite for flesh, eggs, milk, and other products sourced from industries of exploitation. It’s no secret anymore that animal concentration camps are the breeding grounds for all sorts of infectious diseases. It’s also becoming known that the consumption of animal products is detrimental to human health, and that industrialized animal agriculture, including so-called ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’, is implicated in some of the worst crimes against the planet. As consumers become increasingly aware about how inefficient it is to cycle grain through animals to produce food for humans, even the truth about the animal industry’s role in world hunger and food shortages is starting to come into the open.

And yet, it somehow appears that the light of veganism is so bright that people are afraid to open their eyes to it, even individuals who are deeply involved in other social causes. What is it that makes us cling so stubbornly to practices that are clearly unnecessary, devastatingly cruel, and, if left unchecked, will almost certainly end up destroying us?

Our collective appetite for products that come from the bodies of animals has driven us to create systems of animal farming that are not only completely unsustainable in the long-term, but are also immediately damaging to natural eco-systems, populations of wild animals and the citizens of developing nations.

As the human population continues to grow, and industrialization expands ever further, it brings with it the excesses of animal agriculture, and we currently run the risk of driving into collapse the essential life-preserving systems of the planet itself. Livestock's Long Shadow, the now well-known report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, stated that "livestock production is one of the major causes of the world's most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."

In addition, our society is desperate for a solution to our many social problems. Our pandemic of violence is becoming increasingly severe, from school and workplace shootings, to sexual assault and domestic abuse, and of course, the unrelenting displays of military might that claim the lives of both soldiers and civilians.

But it’s not surprising that we experience such widespread aggression when we remember that not only do we habitually fuel our bodies (and therefore our minds) with products of violence, suffering and death, but we pretend that there’s nothing wrong with doing so. We try to avoid the truth of where animal products come from, by buying them in neatly wrapped packages, but we cannot help but be aware of it in our deeper selves, and the violence that is implicit in our meals and in other aspects of our lives – from clothing to cosmetics – permeates our culture on all levels from personal to global.

All over the world, around the clock, innocent beings spend the duration of their lives imprisoned and enslaved. All the while, they are brutally tortured and are eventually violently killed. And all over the world, people who are otherwise kind, gentle and caring, continue to ignore – and even participate in – this unspeakable cruelty.

Our indifference toward the suffering of other creatures is an accepted societal norm that calls out for us to realize that basic human values apply to other animals as well as to our fellow humans: justice, empathy, and respect. By extending these values to include those beings who have committed no other crime than that of being born nonhuman, we actually have the power to create new standards for human behavior, motivated by our collective desire for a better, safer world for all.

Veganism is an acknowledgement of the responsibility of the individual – the recognition of our personal obligation to minimize the harm we cause by our existence, and to develop in ourselves the qualities necessary to become citizens of a better future; where no one is oppressed, where no one is treated as a means to an end.

It is a demonstration of one’s awareness of fundamental principles of justice – an ongoing declaration of our conviction that acts of brutality and oppression are not excusable simply by virtue of the species of the victims. Veganism is nothing less than the evidence of one’s commitment to the principle of nonviolence – the determination to eliminate our support for cruelty carried out on our behalf.

When we advocate for the widespread adoption of vegan values, we speak for the entire population of humanity’s victims – from wild animals who are hunted and exterminated to make way for the ravages of human excess, to domesticated animals who are bred and confined (whether in crates or in pastures), and ultimately killed.

These billions upon billions of sentient beings are considered, by today's ‘civilized’ society, to be nothing more than chattel property, and their owners are legally entitled to subject them to many forms of barbaric cruelty in the name of profit, convenience or pleasure.

This cycle of exploitation not only burdens our planet with the weight of a population of billions bred into existence solely to serve the desires of humans, it also prohibits us from moving forward into a more peaceful and prosperous future, the inhabitants of which reject violence and bloodshed as a matter of principle.

The pandemic of violence in the world calls out to us to reevaluate our relationship with non-human animals – who are the victims of the most extreme forms of our collective violence – and to recognize that they are no more meant to be our possessions than are people with different-colored skin, women, children, or any other sentient beings. They too, are individuals, who value their lives, feel pain, fear death, and have a right to live free from oppression.

If we truly seek a peaceful world – a world in which people do not live in fear of one another, and a world in which humans are not universally regarded as the most violent species on the planet – then there is simply no way we can sidestep veganism as the key to the future we are seeking.

The world stands at a turning point. We simply cannot go on as if our old ways can continue to sustain us. If we are to have a future, the people who live in that future will not be dependent on products that are a result of exploitation, suffering and environmental devastation. We will not source our food from animal farms or slaughterhouses, but from fertile gardens, vibrant orchards and veganic farms. People will be kind, compassionate, gentle and just.

The vegan ideal represents nothing less than the next evolutionary step for humankind. This quantum leap may seem far-fetched from the position we are in today, but it is within this very change that we will ultimately find our hope for the world of tomorrow.

Angel Flinn is outreach director for Gentle World (http://gentleworld.org)

9 comments:

Heidi said...

A brilliant speech!

tim said...

This is part of the Awakening of Humanity. We are HERBIVORIANS! IT IS EMBEDDED INTO OUR DNA! We must behave as such! This is part of the Awakening that must happen. Otherwise there is not much of a future for us.
Humans are HERBIVORE by design. According to Dr. Milton Mills, a graduate of the Stanford Medical School, and a member of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (which advocates a vegan diet, an end to animal experimentation, etc.) humans are not natural omnivores. See below:
Excerpted from "The Comparative Anatomy of Eating", by Milton R. Mills, MD

*Facial Muscles*
CARNIVORE: Reduced to allow wide mouth gape
HERBIVORE: Well-developed
OMNIVORE: Reduced
HUMAN: Well-developed

*Jaw Type*
CARNIVORE: Angle not expanded
HERBIVORE: Expanded angle
OMNIVORE: Angle not expanded
HUMAN: Expanded angle

*Jaw Joint Location*
CARNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
HERBIVORE: Above the plane of the molars
OMNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
HUMAN: Above the plane of the molars

*Jaw Motion*
CARNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side motion
HERBIVORE: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back
OMNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side
HUMAN: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back

*Major Jaw Muscles*
CARNIVORE: Temporalis
HERBIVORE: Masseter and pterygoids
OMNIVORE: Temporalis
HUMAN: Masseter and pterygoids

*Mouth Opening vs. Head Size*
CARNIVORE: Large
HERBIVORE: Small
OMNIVORE: Large
HUMAN: Small

*Teeth: Incisors*
CARNIVORE: Short and pointed
HERBIVORE: Broad, flattened and spade shaped
OMNIVORE: Short and pointed
HUMAN: Broad, flattened and spade shaped

*Teeth: Canines*
CARNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
HERBIVORE: Dull and short or long (for defense), or none
OMNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
HUMAN: Short and blunted

*Teeth: Molars*
CARNIVORE: Sharp, jagged and blade shaped
HERBIVORE: Flattened with cusps vs complex surface
OMNIVORE: Sharp blades and/or flattened
HUMAN: Flattened with nodular cusps

*Chewing*
CARNIVORE: None; swallows food whole
HERBIVORE: Extensive chewing necessary
OMNIVORE: Swallows food whole and/or simple crushing
HUMAN: Extensive chewing necessary

*Saliva*
CARNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
HERBIVORE: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
OMNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
HUMAN: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes

*Stomach Type*
CARNIVORE: Simple
HERBIVORE: Simple or multiple chambers
OMNIVORE: Simple
HUMAN: Simple

*Stomach Acidity*
CARNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
HERBIVORE: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach
OMNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
HUMAN: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach

*Stomach Capacity*
CARNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HERBIVORE: Less than 30% of total volume of digestive tract
OMNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HUMAN: 21% to 27% of total volume of digestive tract

*Length of Small Intestine*
CARNIVORE: 3 to 6 times body length
HERBIVORE: 10 to more than 12 times body length
OMNIVORE: 4 to 6 times body length
HUMAN: 10 to 11 times body length

*Colon*
CARNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HERBIVORE: Long, complex; may be sacculated
OMNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HUMAN: Long, sacculated

*Liver*
CARNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
HERBIVORE: Cannot detoxify vitamin A
OMNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
HUMAN: Cannot detoxify vitamin A

*Kidney*
CARNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HERBIVORE: Moderately concentrated urine
OMNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HUMAN: Moderately concentrated urine

*Nails*
CARNIVORE: Sharp claws
HERBIVORE: Flattened nails or blunt hooves
OMNIVORE: Sharp claws
HUMAN: Flattened nails

We are HERBIVORIANS! IT IS EMBEDDED INTO OUR DNA! We must behave as such! This is part of the Awakening of humanity that must happen. Otherwise there is not much of a future for us.

Colin said...

The most incredibly inspiring speech for veganism I have ever read. I have only been vegan for a short time, after living my entire life as a meat eater, but suddenly a light came on and all the dots connected, and now for me there is no going back.Your speech will serve as a solid rock which will keep me steadfast in my decision. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

When so many corporations and government agencies are putting so much time, money & effort into finding ways to turn people into selfish, heartless, brainwashed, consuming drones, it's hard to imagine how we're ever going to win this battle.

Those corporations & agencies just keep getting more and more powerful and their methods of psychological manipulation become more and more streamlined & effective.

This article is excellent though.
Thank you for writing it.
Maybe it will inspire someone with the political power needed to do something about these heartless corporations and corrupt government agencies.

Anonymous said...

Brilliantly stated. You have left no stone unturned.

Anonymous said...

While I see the value in people choosing this lifestyle, I also see value in meat eating, preferably done in better ways than now practiced by and large, so I continue to enjoy meat.

I will add some of my thoughts here about the topic, which you may find informative about those of us who forego the call to veganism.

Given animals eat other animals in nature, I don't think there is any immoratlity in humans continuing in this digestion (albeit modern practices mostly suck).

The argument of less of an ecological footprint is compelling but not a conclusive reason. Committing suicide would certainly reduce one's footprint, for example.

To stretch the benefits of veganism to that of ending world hunger and world peace does not account for the powerful people blocking this now, even without anyone being vegan. That is, "ending" world hunger and establishing "world peace" could be mostly achieved regardless of veganism, if those with the power supported it, although obviously more veganism or global veganism should contribute to these goals, if those in power didn't thwart the vegan efforts.

Veganism as a political perspective, abstracted and generalized to go beyond not eating meat, already exists in many forms of human secularism in play now, so we have those benefits to some extent now without having to label it veganism. (Such worldviews are not doing us much good, again, due to those in power subverting human progress.)

I never have gotten the line drawn of loving other animals but not the plants we mass produce and consume. I get animals are higher beings than plants (mostly); I don't get that treating animals better requires of us that we can't eat them.

I will sidestep the adhominum attack that I am afraid of the "light of veganism" presented in the article. The "pandemic of violence" is worthy of address, but it is so in this article by only extending the "ideal" of veganism to a political perspective about matters far beyond veganism's domain, that of human diet. Again, the issue already is being addressed, albeit mostly unsuccessfully.

Product of violence? Cut down an animal; cut down any plant-- only a matter of degree, noteworthy but not central to veganism (would vegans eat meat handled humanely?). This is flatly false: "we cannot help but be aware of [meat "murder"] in our deeper selves". People do obscure much successfully.

Yes, farm animals should be treated better; that's not an ipso facto reason to be vegan.

No, we should not mistake that "basic human values apply to other animals"; they are for what they are named for, "humans".

What a ridiculous goal: "no one is treated as a means to an end". Not every human interaction need fully acknowledge each being's humanity; that's impractical.

The writer seems to be lost in abstraction, drunk on veganism. It is not the answer to all our problems, at least not where I contain it: as a choice in human diet.

Vegan Poet said...

To the last anonymous commentor, this recent post of mine might answer some of your questions: http://thevegantruth.blogspot.com/search/label/Veganism%20is%20Rational

Anonymous said...

I must admit I am impressed and now must consider becoming vegetarian again (as a minimum

)

William Zimmermann said...

This is so great. I've been a vegan since 2009. Now I am discovering why. I did it to cure cancer but in the process realized I was preventing cruelty and more - much more. Your work in admirable. I hope to join you one day. Right now I am working on ending fluoridation of water which has a political history stranger than fiction.

Your writing is amazing and you are the kind of humans I incarnated to know. I hope one day to meet you. As the veil if ignorance lifts and consciousness expands we begin to see Eden and in contrast also we see the cruelty of our fellow humans. It is most disconcerting. But we must move forward and stay joyful and positive between screaming fits of vegan rationality and tantrums of logical anger. JUST KEEP GOING, but care for your body mind and spirit, you are an animal too. Thanks for all you do. Bill Zimmermann, San Diego