Explaining why had turned down an invitation to a vegetarian gala dinner
You're thinking I'm one of those wise-ass California vegetarians who is going to tell you that eating a few strips of bacon is bad for your health. I'm not. I say its a free country and you should be able to kill yourself at any rate you choose, as long as your cold dead body is not blocking my driveway.
I made the choice to be vegan because I will not eat (or wear, or use) anything that could have an emotional response to its death or captivity. I can well imagine what that must feel like for our non-human friends - the fear, the terror, the pain - and I will not cause such suffering to a fellow living being.
The symbolism of meat-eating is never neutral. To himself, the meat-eater seems to be eating life. To the vegetarian, he seems to be eating death. There is a kind of gestalt-shift between the two positions which makes it hard to change, and hard to raise questions on the matter at all without becoming embattled.
It is a federal system of sadistic torture, vivisection, and animal genocide, which has been carried on for decades under the fraudulent guise of respectable medical research. And nobody on the outside knows, or wants to know, or is willing to find out. My parents, my friends, my teachers, wouldnt listen to me, or suggested that if it was bothering me that much I just had to quit the job. Just like that. As if that would have solved anything. As if I could ever live with such cowardice. You can't imagine, or maybe you can, how many people are convinced - without knowing the first thing about it - Animal research is essential. Americans have been hopelessly brainwashed on this issue. The animal rights people, by and large, acknowledge the essential futility of trying to change the system. So they address the smaller issues, fighting for legislation which would provide one extra visit per week to the labs by a custodian of the US dept of agriculture. Or demanding that a squirrel monkey be given an extra 12 square inches in his holding pen, before being led to the slaughter. That sort of thing. For whomever, and whatever it's worth, I hope my little write up is clear. I dont have the guts to do whats necessary. I pray there's someone out there who does. God help all of us.
Despite the fact that an Indonesian island chicken has probably had a much more natural life than one raised on a battery farm in England, people who wouldn't think twice about buying something oven-ready become much more upset about a chicken that they've been on a boat with, so there is probably buried in the Western psyche a deep taboo about eating anything you've been introduced to socially.
The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs, no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; but to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies.