By Published On: 13 May 2014325 words1.7 min read

monkey mirror

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.

FURTHER READING:

Photo credit:  I dream of Nici via Flickr

By Published On: 13 May 2014325 words1.7 min read

monkey mirror

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.

FURTHER READING:

Photo credit:  I dream of Nici via Flickr

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  1. Amy May 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    R&E–Thank you for your comments and the sentiments. It’s a tough balance to remain OK living in a culture with one pervasive value that differs so much from most people and it being a matter of life a death, as far as I’m concerned. I try to constantly give my thoughts and feelings context, and although it can make me sad, I know that I CAN and DO make a difference, and that wallowing in sadness will hinder my positive efforts. That said, some occasional days are meant to be spent under a blanket with tea and vegan treats). One thing that helps keep my balance is visiting farm sanctuaries and hanging out with people who share my vegan values often enough to laugh together and share vegan hot dogs.

  2. Renaud May 14, 2014 at 6:03 am - Reply

    Amy, in a way, you are lucky because for me it’s quite the opposite. I have to use speciesism to be able to manage my feelings and move on. I have to not think too much about what i see or i would live with pain and frustrations most of the time. I need speciesism to be able to have a social life and to not be in conflict with everybody. I don’t want to be deeply disturbed for 2 weeks because i saw a smashed dead cat on the road. Thinking to myself “it’s just an animal” is relieving sometimes and can me make think in a more constructive way like cars can be really dangerous to animals and drivers do not seem to care about it, etc…..

    My way to veganism is very long and difficult as i have to fight with myself about the way i live my life, so i’m really impressed that you are vegan for so long and you are so involved. You are the kind people who can make a difference while people like me can hardly follow.

  3. Ellie May 13, 2014 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Each day in my vegan journey I become more and more aware of how entrenched our society is in exploiting animals and not giving it a second thought. Because most of my friends are meat eaters, I am surrounded by this all the time. However, I consciously try not to be sad when we’re at a meal and they are eating meat. I am affected by it, but I do not want to feel sad all the time. I don’t feel I deserve to feel that way. I try to be happy in the things I am doing to promote animal rights and let that be enough for now.

  4. Daria Zeoli May 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    Great topic, Amy. I’ve recently been thinking about the dead animals at the side of the road, and the baby birds on the sidewalk when I walk the dog each day. I think not dwelling on how sad their fates are is the way I cope – one more way to navigate a non-vegan world.