|Enewsletter • January 21, 2004|
Feature: Excerpts from Anger, Humor, and Advocacy
Update on Matching Donation
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"One in every five American adults (21%) say that fear of mad cow disease will change their eating habits, according to results of a recent Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll."
The poll shows that 77% will eat more poultry, 61% will eat more fish, and 50% will eat more lamb or pork.
Least Harm: a Defense of Vegetarianism from Steven Davis’s Omnivorous Proposal
-Gaverick Matheny, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 16: 505-511, 2003
Abstract: "In his article, “Least Harm,” Steven Davis argues that the number of animals killed in ruminant-pasture production is less than the number of animals killed in crop production. Davis then concludes the adoption of an omnivorous diet would cause less harm than the adoption of a vegetarian diet. Davis’s argument fails on three counts: first, Davis makes a mathematical error in using total rather than per capita estimates of animals killed; second, he focuses on the number of animals killed in production and ignores the welfare of these animals; and third, he does not count the number of animals who may be prevented from existing. When we correct these errors, Davis’s argument makes a strong case for, rather than against, adopting a vegetarian diet: vegetarianism kills fewer animals, involves better treatment of animals, and likely allows a greater number of animals with lives worth living to exist."
Full article here.
-Matt Ball w/ Jack Norris
Last week we joked that Peta was trying to steal our good name. Some people, not realizing it was a joke, wrote us asking how we could pick on Peta when we are both on the same side. In fact, we work with Peta on some projects, and they have given us much generous support. So, we want everyone to know we were joking.
Speaking of joking, some people have asked how we can make jokes when the animals are suffering so terribly, when we're supposed to be focused on animal liberation, the moral imperative of our time. We believe that having a sense of humor is in the animals' best interest, because not only does it make our example more appealing, but it aids in avoiding burnout. In the cumulative ~40 years we've been active, Jack, Anne, and I have known literally hundreds of activists who have given up -- many of whom have even gone back to eating meat! On the other hand, the most successful activists we've known almost always have a sustaining sense of humor.
As a reaction to what goes on in factory farms and slaughterhouses, very strong feelings are understandable and entirely justified. Over time, people tend to deal with their anger in different ways. Some take to protesting, some to screaming, hatred, and sarcasm. Others disconnect from society and surround themselves with only like-minded people, seeing society as a large conspiracy against veganism. I do not believe any of this does much to move society towards being more compassionate.
A different approach is to try to maintain a positive outlook and a sense of humor. This makes it easier to continue in activism and to avoid self-righteous fundamentalism, and also makes it possible to interact positively and constructively with others.
To have any change occur in the world, we need to convince others to think beyond themselves. We must be willing to do the same. Just as we want others to look beyond the short-term satisfaction of following habits and traditions, we need to move past our anger to effective advocacy (e.g., moving from yelling and chanting to constructive educational outreach).
Few people came to an enlightened view of the world by themselves and overnight. It took me over a year after my first exposure to the issues to go vegetarian, and even longer after that to go vegan. If I had been treated with disgust and anger because of my close-mindedness and pathetic (in retrospect) rationalizations, I would certainly never have gone veg.
"Fighting" suffering is not the only way to make a better world; creating happiness and joy as part of a thoughtful, compassionate life can be an even more powerful tool for creating change.
As long as there is conscious life on Earth, there will be suffering. The question becomes what to do with the existence each of us is given. We can choose to add our own fury and misery to the rest, or we can set an example by simultaneously working constructively to alleviate suffering while leading joyous, meaningful, fulfilled lives.
Being a vegan isn’t about deprivation
or anger. It’s about being fully aware
so as to be fully alive.