Your Personal Choice Isn’t Personal At All

By Taryn Dams, Guest Contributor

We all know them: the angry omnivores. Those that eat animals and furiously declare, “I respect your food choices, so respect mine!” Yes, you see where this is going – the “meatatarian” fad, where it’s cool to love devouring cooked corpses. The play on morals, making a parody of the actual ethics that we vegans try to uphold every day of our lives; it’s all just a funny joke.

Attitudes like those leave me wondering what the benefit is in their defensive actions; and it comes down to a few things. In the case of industry, it’s ethics versus profit. Companies that rely on animal exploitation to make money will stand true to their “cause,” questioning vegans for their commitment to ethics, thinking we’re just trying to take them down financially. What they don’t seem to understand, is that unlike them, we don’t get anything out of our defence. They get a paycheque – and we truly just care about the animals. In the case of individuals, though, it’s another matter. What’s the motivation? They’re not getting paid and their livelihood does not rely on exploiting animals. What does that leave? Simple preferences? Selfish tastes: they just like pleasing their palate with meat, dairy, and eggs too much to give them up.

Farm Sanctuary

This sweet girl fell asleep as I was petting her!

So omnivores continue to sit back, perpetuate the cycle of abuse and exploitation, and retort that eating animal products is a “personal choice.” If you’re vegan, I’m sure you know how ludicrous such a statement is. If you’re an omnivore, well – sit quietly for a few moments and really think about it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

We must consider “personal choices” to be things that affect only ourselves. If you want to go grocery shopping in a pink spandex suit covered in sequins, well, that is a personal choice. Who am I to judge? It’s not hurting anyone. If you want to eat a baker’s dozen of greasy (vegan) doughnuts for breakfast, you go right ahead. Those are personal choices. You’re either hurting no one, or you’re just hurting yourself – but that is your decision to make. However, when you pick up your fork and devour a dish full of animal products, you’re making a choice not only for yourself, but for the animals that suffered and were killed for that meal. They were not given the choice to be enslaved, abused, or slaughtered – you made that choice for them. There is nothing “personal” about being responsible for the death of another being, whether human or non-human, and it’s obnoxious to be completely oblivious of the lives you are taking.

So why do we, as vegans, tell you, as omnivores, what to do? We love animals. Period. Yes, that’s it – there’s no hidden agenda, we’re not trying to be mean or take away your freedom, we don’t want to spoil your fun, and we don’t want you to starve to death. We just love animals and we don’t want to see them suffer at anyone’s hands, in any way. Animal products are not a necessity – not only does removing them from your diet and replacing them with other healthful foods spare the lives of animals, but there are excellent benefits for your health* and for the environment, too.

You can be happy, healthy, and thrive on a vegan lifestyle – your body, yes, but especially your soul. How can you turn away from a lifetime free of exploitation and violence in favour of… what? A flavour that can easily be replicated, cruelty-free?

The next time you pick up your fork, please consider the individuals that lost their freedom, their desires, their emotions, and their lives to be the nameless mass on your plate. Their deaths are not your choice to make.

* Your health is another example of a truly personal choice. I’m not telling omnivores to go vegan because it’s healthy It’s a great “side-effect” of veganism, yes, but your personal health is one of those things that truly is a personal choice.

Photo: We animals