Morrissey has finally recognized–after three decades of collecting royalties from Meat is Murder–that all animal products are murder.
Morrissey made this announcement on the Larry King Show. And he made very sure to reinforce the idea that being vegan is anything but a moral imperative. Indeed, his denigration of veganism sounded like the sort of thing you hear about veganism from the large new welfarist charities.
What he said was very damaging and counterproductive.
When King asked him about going vegan, Morrissey responded:
Well, it’s just a gradual thing. Everybody begins as vegetarian. Because to dive straight forward into being completely purist is very hard for most people. Financially they can’t do it. And also you have to find food.
What complete and utter nonsense.
First of all, it’s not difficult. This is the same line we hear again and again from the large animal charities. You will recall Fiona Oakes, Ambassador of The “Vegan” Society, saying on BBC that veganism is not “for everyone” and “it’s not probably for very many people.” That’s just anti-vegan propaganda. It’s hard only if you don’t care about our moral obligations to animals. If you do, it’s as easy as any other decision you make to respect the fundamental rights of other. And so-called “animal advocates” should never say otherwise.
It’s not a matter of “purity” any more than it is a matter of “purity” to respect the fundamental rights of humans. We would not say that anyone who rejected slavery, rape, and child molestation was a “purist.” The same applies to nonhumans. Veganism is the least we owe animals if we believe they matter morally. There is no morally coherent distinction between meat and any other animal product. They all involve suffering. They all involve death. They all involve injustice.
In “Meat is Murder,” Morrissey sings:
And the calf that you carve with a smile
It is murder.
And for 30 years he hasn’t recognized that to consume milk, cheese, etc. necessarily involves the deaths of calves? And to recognize and act on that involves being a “purist”?
All animal foods involve suffering and death and the only justification for any of it is palate pleasure. As the song states:
It’s death for no reason
And death for no reason is murder.
But to recognize that and act on it is a matter of being a “purist”?
That’s wrong. Respecting the fundamental rights of nonhumans is not a matter of being a “purist.” It is a simple matter of doing what we are morally obligated to do.
Third, a diet of vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and seeds is invariably cheaper than a diet of animal foods. It does not help for him to reinforce the completely false and counterproductive idea that veganism is only for the affluent.
And even if being vegan were more expensive, which is not the case, why would that stop Morrissey from going vegan for 30+ years? He’s quite well off.
Fourth, what is this nonsense that it’s hard to find vegan food? It’s not difficult to find vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, and seeds. Indeed, it’s hard not to find them.
It took him 30+ years to go vegan. That’s strong proof that the “animal movement” has failed miserably in promoting veganism as a moral baseline. Veganism is sidelined as just another way of reducing suffering–along with going vegetarian, consuming crate-free pork, eggs from “cage-free” hens, milk from “happy” cows, etc. And that’s the problem. If animals matter morally, we cannot eat, wear, or use animals.
Morrissey showed King his Stella McCartney non-leather shoes made in Italy. I suppose that was to reinforce the idea that going vegan is difficult because not many people can afford Stella McCartney shoes. That, of course, is also silly. Good vegan shoes cost less than what a decent (not designer) pair of leather shoes cost. And Stella McCartney, supposedly a vegan, produces clothing made from wool. But she claims that the sheep are not mistreated. That, of course, is also complete nonsense.
It’s bad enough that high-visibility people like Morrissey and Paul McCartney pose as “animal people” when they are not vegan. They send a message to people that “animal people” don’t have to be vegan as long as they “care.” Although that is the message that the large animal charities want to promote (it allows nonvegans to feel comfortable in donating), it’s a very wrong and very damaging message.
And it is also damaging to make the sort of announcement that Morrissey made when he decided to go vegan. He regurigated the idea that going vegan is just an option and not a moral imperative, and that it is difficult and expensive.
But I am not sure that it is reasonable to expect more from a person who thinks that the Chinese are a “subspecies”.
If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.
If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.
Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.
Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University
©2015 Gary L. Francione