|Enewsletter • December 12, 2007|
This issues is sponsored by Vegetarian Shoes and Bags
Notes from Vegan Outreach
On Being Fully Human
People often seek to rationalize eating animals with the claim that humans are "superior" to these other animals. But what is the real nature of this "superiority"? From a recent Time Magazine cover story:
"We're a species that is capable of almost dumbfounding kindness.... And at the same time, we slaughter one another.... That we're also the lowest, cruelest, most blood-drenched species is our shame -- and our paradox.
"The deeper that science drills into the substrata of behavior, the harder it becomes to preserve the vanity that we are unique among Earth's creatures. We're the only species with language, we told ourselves -- until gorillas and chimps mastered sign language. We're the only one that uses tools then -- but that's if you don't count otters smashing mollusks with rocks or apes stripping leaves from twigs and using them to fish for termites.
"What does, or ought to, separate us then is our highly developed sense of morality, a primal understanding of good and bad, of right and wrong, of what it means to suffer not only our own pain--something anything with a rudimentary nervous system can do--but also the pain of others. That quality is the distilled essence of what it means to be human."
Each of us chooses what will be our essence -- and legacy.
It is easy to accept ignorance -- simply refuse to question the blood-drenched status quo and unquestioningly accept the prejudices of our parents and peers. As the saying goes, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Like many others, we could turn away from the realities of modern agribusiness, and pay others to serve us the fruits of systematic brutality.
Or we can choose real freedom -- the kind that comes with knowledge and responsibility.
Only by embracing our inherent ethics, and extending it to all fellow feeling beings, can we be fully human. Only through a mindful existence, embodied by compassionate choices, can we realize our fullest potential.
Lists of the Week
Notes from Our Members
Oct '06 my girlfriend
was handed Even If You Like
Meat at Foothill College in
Los Altos Hills, CA. I was instantly
intrigued with the message "just
cutting one's meat consumption in
half would help." Such a minimal
self-sacrifice would be worth trying.
Within a week of trying meatless
meals, I was so shocked at how easy
it was that I decided to eliminate
meat entirely. What started as an
experiment in simply halving my
meat consumption, resulted in my
instantly becoming a vegetarian.
I've been vegetarian for over a
Drew Wilson leaflets at Holy Cross; photo by Mike Benedetti.
At Benson High School,
the kids were shocked by the leaflets.
They talked about them with their
friends, they shoved them in their
friends' faces, they made their
friends come up to me to get their
own copies, and a lot of them screamed
as they looked at the leaflet!
At UC San Diego,
one of a trio of 60+ year-old professors
asked me for a leaflet stating,
"What you have probably is
not for my demographic." Then
after reading the cover, "Oh,
it is definitely for our demographic!"
Each professor took one plus three
more for "some colleagues"
and an A
Meaningful Life. Another bio
professor wants me to give a talk
at his HERO seminar about people
making a difference in environmental
Leafleting at the Dane
Cook Comedy Show today,
I met a guy who worked at the Warped
Tour in San Antonio last year. He
said that he saw a lot of people
decide to become vegetarian at that
concert because of the Why Vegans
At Laney College,
I leafleted a group of three students.
I heard the male student say to
the female who refused the Even
If, "You should read that
booklet. It will really make you
want to cut down
your meat consumption. That's what
it did for me." When I handed
an Even If to one student
he said, "Oh yeah. I've seen
this. It's a really good booklet.
I got 4 or 5 of my friends to stop
eating meat with it."
Miranda leaflets at DeAnza College; photo by Victor Tsou.
At CSU Fresno, a
professor cheered as she received
the Even If. When she passed
by a second time during a later
class change, she offered to distribute
the lit in her classroom. A student
walking by pointed at the Even
If and said, "You know,
that book really got to me,"
while another said, "That's
a really good book. My brother works
in one of those slaughterhouses.
Before I read this, I didn't think
much about it. But now, I can't
see how anyone could possibly do
this to the animals." He then
went on to make the connection between
the suffering of farmed animals
and people who are suffering. We
both agreed that no one deserves
to suffer regardless of the form
At the University of
Virginia, one man
talked about how it was pretty much
impossible for a vegetarian to get
an adequate supply of B12 through
totally "natural" means.
I mentioned that I got to the university
today by car, that I communicate
with most people through email,
and that I see nothing wrong with
getting my B12 through fortified
foods and supplementation. I mentioned
that I'm fine not living a totally
"natural" life given how
the world is, and I (he interrupts
me), "just do what you can
to reduce the amount of suffering."
I told him that was exactly right.
He really liked this approach.