I’m a speciesist.
I first found out that this words exists when I took a class titled “Speciesism” in college. This class was one choice among many awesome ones offered for a “tier 3” class for people who were graduating soon, and although I think the class on Gandhi would’ve been cool, I think I chose wisely.
We read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation. We debated. We spied on the instructor to see what he ate and there were rumors that a student saw him order fish at a local restaurant.
That was right at the turning point for me to go from vegetarian to vegan. I started to do rescues at that point and volunteer, which wasn’t a direct result of the class but a general personal evolution of my moral life.
And I’m still evolving. Every day I fight thoughts that my culture tells me to have, like I’m inherently more important than my dogs or than the animals who inhabit my backyard. I fight myself to make sure I speak up in cases where most people feel fine, like when people casually describe their plan to swim with dolphins, go to the zoo, or roast a pig. I fight to feel sad for more than a few seconds when I drive past a squirrel or raccoon smashed to death on the road.
I’m vegan in every way I know how to be, but I have daily battles with my inner speciesist. We grow up surrounded by attitudes that tell us to devalue non-humans. That’s an ingrained values system that we need to revisit every day, one that we need to re-examine continually–with every bite, every conversation and every purchase.
Photo credit: I dream of Nici via Flickr