I get hundreds of emails and private messages every day. A common theme is “I agree with you but” and a common version of that theme is to criticize me for not patting people on the head because they are not vegans but are on “journeys” toward being vegan.
Here’s one that greeted me this morning:
“I really like your abolitionist position but I think you are too judgmental. I am a vegetarian and I know that going vegan is the right thing to do. I am on the journey towards being vegan. I think it’s wrong that you don’t give positive reinforcement to people like me and I think it ultimately hurts the cause.”
Going vegan is not about anyone’s “journey.” It is remarkable how, in 2014, the observation of the most fundamental moral principles gets presented as a matter of narcissistic autobiography.
Not exploiting other sentient beings–not treating them exclusively as resources–is not a matter that involves some trivial option similar to where you will take your next vacation or what movie you will choose to view tonight.
It is a matter of fundamental moral obligation.
And this talk about “journeys” is even more annoying because it’s almost always articulated by people who claim–like you–that they already recognize it’s wrong to exploit animals. They just need the time for the “journey” needed to conform their conduct to what they claim to acknowledge as their moral beliefs.
Sorry, that’s not a matter of any “journey.” That’s nothing more than a matter of being too selfish to conform one’s conduct to what one claims to believe.
If we have a moral obligation to do X, continuing to do not-X is morally wrong. End of story.
Telling yourself it’s a matter of a “journey” is just a way of excusing yourself for doing something you know is wrong.
If you think I am being “judgmental,” you are right. I judge the exploitation of the vulnerable–be they human or non–to represent a profound sort of immorality. You claim to have made that judgment as well!
You already know that going vegan is the morally right thing to do. So just do it.
Here’s a related blog post.
If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It’s easy. It’s better for you and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do. It’s what we owe other sentient beings.
Do it today. Right now.
Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University
©2014 Gary L. Francione