This is Why I’m Not #1: Now and Again

I considered responding to every single objection to my public leaving of veganism on VoC individually in the comments section. But! that sounds invasive to a place I no longer belong, and it is way more fun to contemplate the objections in my own forum.

So post number 1 will deal with the following:

That’s called rationalization. When given a choice between causing suffering and causing less suffering, shouldn’t we always choose the latter when we can? That’s what veganism is – choosing less suffering because we can and because we should.

To know what occurs on farms, to be intimately familiar with the very real harm eating meat, dairy and eggs cause, to know the nonhuman and human suffering it inflicts…and to go back to doing it “now and again”? That IS sad and terrible.

Which was in response to my poorly edited:

And how sad for the multitude of beings who suffer so that I may live the lifestyle I live regardless of my whether or not I eat a bit of flesh now and again.

Rationalization

People do what they will, and everything else is rationalizing. Veganism is also a rationalization, albeit for a repulsion in regards to the consumption of animal products always/usually tied exploitative processes.

I’m trying to avoid rationalizing my consumption of animal bodies as anything other than a desire that may originate in the body, but is also mental. But impossible, my rationalization is that I desire it.

Is Veganism about Suffering

I don’t mean to be tautological, but veganism is about veganism. It is about not consuming animals economically and biologically. The choice isn’t between suffering and less suffering. It is between attempting to not consume animal products ever and not attempting.

But what if veganism is “choosing less suffering because we can and because we should.

Are there situations where following the tenets of veganism (not consuming animals) could result in more net suffering? A question I keep circling around. Does their potentiality warrant a strong questioning of veganism as an ideology? It does for me if veganism is crafted around the idea of preventing suffering.

Knowledge

Do I know what occurs on farms? I have competing narratives of what occurs on farms: idylllic pastoral images of sheep in large fields. Sci-fi renderings of warehouses lined with cages. Urban homesteads with roofs full of chicken roosts. And so many others. The fact is I will never have precise knowledge of the actualities of most farms, but I’m comfortable acknowledging that most of the flesh consumed in this country comes from farms closer to my sci-fi narrative. I’m just not comfortable using the fruits of my labor to purchase said meat except in the rarest of situations.

That said I also have the knowledge that all of the animals that I have and will consume in my life did not live in such conditions. That wild and semi-wild animals also will or have touched these lips. That entomophagy is an idea I find intriguing for environmental processes, etc etc. I, personally, feel fine with the idea of eating animals that lived free.

Now and Again

Now and Again I consume flesh. Not all of that flesh came from wild, or even pastoral animals. Some of them lived and died in a box. Now and Again I consume, but always these animals are produced.

One of my biggest problems when I was vegan was the intense focus on the individual. I was never one of those vegans that believed that my personal abstention would help bring about the end of animal exploitation (my liberal days ended a few years before my veganism). The truth is, most vegans (myself formerly included) are not as outraged at the exploitation and suffering of animals as we claim(ed).

Otherwise there would be some 600,000 (estimates place vegan population of US at .2% of the whole) folks breaking cages and torching factory farms. If all the vegans were serious about how absolutely horrible they consider animal exploitation they could make it impossible. But they don’t.

Veganism is liberal. It attempts change through the avenues provided by liberal democracy. Veganism is millenial (One day we’ll all be vegan). Veganism is individual. It is about minimizing one’s personal consumption to zero, or as close as late capitalist structures allow. And so it becomes about purity. This is why one is either vegan or supports the exploitation of animals, or “choosing less suffering over suffering.” (Excuse me, can I have less soymilk instead of soymilk?) (Can I have more happiness, because right now I’m just happy). How does one quantify suffering?

Why focus on personal suffering quotas? Why not focus on the issues of production that make it

Sad and Terrible

Sad and Terrible is not that I consume flesh. Sad and Terrible is the systematic production of flesh that rewards the most suffering conditions. As I learned from freeganism, sometimes it makes sense to look at consumption and production differently. Every time I eat meat from a factory farm I consume the by/product of animal exploitation, it isn’t the same as producing the exploitation.

xo

Royce

ps

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3 Responses to This is Why I’m Not #1: Now and Again

  1. Jeanette says:

    I’ve been following VoC for just a short while, perhaps 9 months??.. I would’ve identified as a vegan of colour when I started reading, but ironically enough my falling off the vegan bandwagon was in part inspired by VoC, and just thinking about the complexity of it all!

    So yeah…I wouldn’t worry about the haters. Whatever we eat or don’t eat, we’re all just doing what we do and anything can be justified or condemned if we try hard enough.

    • Royce says:

      I’m not so much worried about the haters as I am intrigued by their objections, which gives me a space to explore my own thinking.

      I’d like to hear more about you falling off (jumping off maybe?) the bandwagon due to complexities.

      • Jeanette says:

        Well, looking back, falling off the vegan bandwagon could have been predicted even before I got on. I was volunteering/working in a non-profit vegetarian (mostly vegan) restaurant/cafe and surrounded by the usual propaganda, and certainly knew that I didn’t need animal products. But I was still an omnivore and didn’t feel the need to justify it. I guess when I started forcing myself to justify it, I couldn’t, so went vegetarian, then vegan — with all the conviction of the most hardcore vegans!

        Falling off the bandwagon was more like…slipping off then scrambling back on, then slipping off again, chasing it, scrambling back on, etc… but I’d say I’m well and truly off now.

        This probably sums up the complexities I’ve been thinking about: http://asen.org.au/publications/germinate-publications/2010/07/30/veganism-racism-culture-identity/
        I think after all that I just concluded something like “You know what? No diet or lifestyle is ever going to solve all the problems. I’m just going to eat what I want to eat.” Simple really!

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