I wrote an article in 2009 titled Four Years and 1 Million Little Slaves and it was about an exhibit at The New York American Museum of Natural History- a silk tapestry made from the silk spun by golden orb spiders.  I don’t want to spoil anything (because if you haven’t read the article, you should) but my basic position was (is) that spiders deserve autonomy and should be left unmolested.

Now, you have to remember, in 2009 there weren’t that many vegan blogs out there and from the ones that were few writing pro-spider articles.  At least, not through the vegan lens.  And if they were, I missed it.

[And let’s be honest too, there are still few who are writing pro-spider articles from a vegan perspective.]

I was pretty pleased when I saw the article was getting a lot of traffic, right up to the point when I discovered it was due to a forum ripping me to shreds- at one point I was even compared to PETA.  People felt it was extreme to care about spiders, on par with worms (or worse since, you know, spiders scare people).

If you’re vegan then you know how goes- mention you’re vegan in a conversation and suddenly it shifts to all the reasons why someone can’t/won’t/will never go vegan, followed by two different stories how their cousins sisters boyfriends brothers friends girlfriend almost died from veganism and were cured only by eating the bloodiest hamburger on the planet thus proving that humans are carnivores (OUR CANINE TEETH FOR GODS SAKE).

[I went to get a haircut last weekend.  My stylist and I were discussing why I didn’t want him to use a particular hair product in my hair (it had honey in it) and my veganism came out.  The remainder of my visit was things like, “Wait, don’t trees produce honey?,” “Bees produce honey?,” and “Bees just produce honey, we don’t force them to do that,” “I like honey,” “Bees aren’t really animals, I mean they’re not dogs,” to finally, “I think not eating honey is a little extreme.”]

It never fails to catch me by surprise that not wanting to exploit other living beings is considered extreme by most people.  The trophic level of an animal has a lot to do with how we treat them, another reason why some still debate about honey and veganism.

[I’ll just take this opportunity to say, yet again, that honey comes from an animal.  It is to bees what milk is to cows.  Mass-produced or local, honey could never be vegan.]

You might be wondering why I’m talking about an article written more than four years ago- it’s because of article I saw today on Yahoo, Tiny Logical Robots Injected into CockroachesFrom the article:

Nanotechnology just got a little bit smarter.  At the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, Ido Bachelet led a team of scientists in building tiny robots that can respond to chemical cues and operate inside a living animal. More than that, they can operate as logic gates, essentially acting as real computers.  That gives the nanobots — on the order of nanometers, or one-billionth of a meter — the ability to follow specific instructions, making them programmable.

So, yeah.  We’re stuffing little devices in insects so that we have the ability to control them into doing what we want them to do.  How…scary.

This is right about the time that I tell you about how cockroaches deserve autonomy and should be left alone, because they should.  I don’t know the exact role they play in the ecosystem, I assume it’s something disgusting, but I know that they do have one.  I’m not going to sit here and claim that I love cockroaches, or that I would want to live with them (in a word, hell. no.), but I can appreciate that they reside on the same planet as I do.

As a vegan I recognize that cockroaches have their own interests.  Sure, it may seem extreme to some- cockroaches are less aesthetically appealing than say, a puppy.  But offering respect to the littlest members of our world seems logical when thinking about caring for those (who are perceived) weaker than ourselves.

When I decided in 2009 that I was going to write about veganism, I knew that I’d get comments that were less than flattering- veganism can stir up passionate opinions.  I’ve been told that I’m, “one of those vegan assholes” for my stance on the insects among us.  And you know what?  That’s okay by me.

So, allow me to be the vegan asshole and tell you that we should leave cockroaches alone.  No animal deserves to be used as a robot.  I can’t even believe I have to write that sentence.

On a purely selfish level, this story should frighten you as much as it frightens me.  Think scientists are going to stop with simply controlling cockroaches?

. . .the research is the first time someone has demonstrated this particular type of logic system in living animals. . .which is a first step toward trying it out on other species. . .a lot of work in other animals is also needed before these nanobots get to the clinic.

Who’s next?  Dogs without minds of their own?  Cows that walk themselves into slaughter?  Humans?

We should stop ourselves before we even begin.

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC