Whenever I am asked why I am vegan, I usually respond with what I consider are my three major reasons for choosing this lifestyle. My list has three components. They consist of health, environmental and ethical reasons. I’m generally just fine explaining the health and environmental issues, but when it comes to my ethical concerns, I often feel quite uncomfortable. I find this a bit odd, since this issue is the most powerful and motivating one for me.
When I share my ethical beliefs with others, I’m often concerned that the other person is inferring that because they regularly frequent In and Out Burger, they are not moral people. I don’t want them to feel slighted or feel that I am claiming moral superiority, it’s just that I have strong opinions on this important subject.
Most people who are intrigued enough to engage in a conversation with me, have probably never considered how the ten billion farmed animals killed for food in this country are actually treated. I find this attitude quite understandable, since when I consumed animal products, it was never an issue that I thought about.
Even though I was as anti war and pro environment as any other progressive person that I knew, the morality of factory farming was never on my radar. I haven’t lost my concern for the poor, Darfur, Congo or wherever Nicholas Kristof is traveling to these days, it is just that I have added the exploitation of animals to my banner. I find it quite empowering to be able to make a tangible difference by choosing a Garden Burger over a Big Mac. Making a dent in the other items on my agenda have proven far more elusive for me.