"Only the choicest vegetable discards"
This issue of Vegan Spam is sponsored by Kirk's Castile,
makers of all-natural soaps and skin-care products. The oldest soap in America,
Kirk's is an all-vegetarian company that does not believe in or endorse animal
Animal Rights 2001
Apologies to all those who wanted to meet with Vegan Outreach at the
conference. Over the next few issues, we will have different people passing
along their thoughts from the conference.
A quick thought:
It seems as though the animals would be much better off if all those concerned
about suffering would realize that over 99% of all
animals killed in the U.S. die for people to eat.
More detailed, personal thoughts: Activism and
Veganism Reconsidered: Personal Thoughts at the New Millennium
While my ethics and religion students hated reading Why Vegan, and being
subjected to my constant questioning of our flesh-eating, nipple-suckling
ways, by the end of the term at least a dozen students mentioned that they
had made drastic changes in food choices–three went vegan–and
there is a newly formed animal advocacy group on campus. Keep up the good
work! I will be counting on a fresh batch of WhyVegans to enliven my next
batch of unsuspecting philosophy students. (I wish textbooks were as relevant
LK, Hoquiam, WA, 7/3/01
Thank you so much for the Vegan Starter Pack. If only everyone had access
and could be exposed to the truth behind animal agriculture! Starting now,
I will make my mark on the world by showing compassion for life with my cruelty-free
diet and manner of living.
AC, Essex Junction, VT, 6/28/01
I would like to write to all of you who have contributed in such a great
job to make people see the suffering in animals. My fiancé and I were
walking in Santa Monica when we stopped to see a film projector showing the
horrors of factory farms. My heart felt pain and I wanted to cry. I got a booklet
from the people showing the film. What I saw changed my life! Although I loved
meat, since then I've been a vegetarian!
I don't know how to thank you for opening my
eyes. I know I can't change the entire world, but I know that by just not eating
meat, I'm helping a little part.
MH, Los Angeles, CA, 6/27/01
PETA called off its "Murder King" campaign after Burger
King agreed to toughen its animal welfare guidelines to meet or exceed
those of McDonald's. Now that both McDonald's and Burger King have pushed
new standards on their meat suppliers, Wendy's and Denny's will face great
pressure to take similar action.
Excerpts from How Are We To Live?
by Peter Singer
One of the main questions that vex many activists is: How can we convince people
to care about the suffering of others? Obviously, it is possible for people
to live without caring about a consistent set of ethics (e.g., eating some animals
while loving others).
To explore this question, in this and the next issue of VS, we'll be sharing
excerpts from Peter Singer's book How Are We To Live (excerpts also
found in his book Writings on an Ethical Life):
Living Ethically / The Good Life
We must, of course, be thankful for the fact that today we can help strangers
without dreading the knock of the Gestapo on our door. We should not imagine,
however, that the era of heroism is over.
Reason's capacity to take us where we did not expect to go could also lead
to a curious diversion from what one might expect to be the straight line of
evolution. We have evolved a capacity to reason because it helps us to survive
and reproduce. But if reason is an escalator, then although the first part of
the journey may help us to survive and reproduce, we may go further than we
needed to go for this purpose alone. We may even end up somewhere that creates
tension with other aspects of our nature. In this respect, there may after all
be some validity in Kant's picture of tension between our capacity to reason,
and what it may lead us to see as the right thing to do, and our more basic
desires. We can live with the contradictions only up to a point.
Here is an example, from Gunnar Myrdal's "An American Dilemma":
The individual ... does not act in moral isolation. He is not left
alone to manage his rationalizations as he pleases, without interference
from outside. His valuations will, instead, be questioned and disputed....
The feeling of need for logical consistency within the hierarchy of moral
– and the embarrassed and sometimes distressed feeling that the moral
order is shaky –- is, in its modern intensity, a rather new phenomenon.
Our ability to reason can be a factor in leading us away from both arbitrary
subjectivism and an uncritical acceptance of the values of our community.
Reason makes it possible to see ourselves in this way because, by thinking
about my place in the world, I am able to see that I am just one being among
others, with interests and desires like others. I have a personal perspective
on the world, from which my interests are at the front and center of the
stage, the interests of my family and friends are close behind, and the interests
of strangers are pushed to the back and sides. But reason enables me to see
that others have similarly subjective perspectives, and that from "the point of view of
the universe" my perspective is no more privileged than theirs. Thus
my ability to reason shows me the possibility of detaching myself from my
own perspective and shows me what the universe might look like if I had no
Consistent with the idea of taking the point of view of the universe, the
major ethical traditions all accept, in some form or other, a version of
the golden rule that encourages equal consideration of interests. "Love your neighbor
as yourself," said Jesus. "What is hateful to you do not do to your
neighbor," says Rabbi Hillel. Confucious summed up his teaching in very
similar terms: "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."
The "Mahabharata," the great Indian epic, says: "Let no man do
to another that which would be repugnant to himself." The parallels
The perspective on ourselves that we get when we take the point of view of
the universe yields as much objectivity as we need if we are to find a cause
that is worthwhile in a way that is independent of our own desires. The most
obvious such cause is the reduction of pain and suffering, wherever it is to
be found. This may not be the only rationally grounded value, but it is the
most immediate, pressing, and universally agreed upon one. We know from our
experience that when pain and suffering are acute, all other values recede into
the background. If we take the point of view of the universe, we can recognize
the urgency of doing something about the pain and suffering of others, before
we even consider promoting (for their own sake rather than as a means to reducing
pain and suffering) other possible values like beauty, knowledge, autonomy,
The possibility of taking the point of view of the universe overcomes the
problem of finding meaning in our lives, despite the ephemeral nature of
human existence when measured against all the eons of eternity. Suppose that
we become involved in a project to help a small community in a developing
country to become free of debt and self-sufficient in food. The project is
an outstanding success.... Now someone might say: "What good have you done? In a thousand years these
people will all be dead, and their children and grandchildren as well, and nothing
that you have done will make any difference." That may be true, or it
might be false. The changes we make today could snowball and, over a long
period of time, lead to much more far-reaching changes. Or they could come
to nothing. We simply cannot tell.
We should not, however, think of our efforts as wasted unless they endure forever,
or even for a very long time. We can make the world a better place by causing
there to be less pointless suffering in one particular place, at one particular
time, than there would otherwise have been. As long as we do not thereby increase
suffering at some other place or time, or cause any other comparable loss of
value, we will have had a positive effect on the universe.
Vegan Outreach is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the suffering of farmed animals by promoting informed, ethical eating.
All donations are tax-deductible.
POB 30865, Tucson, AZ 85751-0865