Vitality of veganism


Grant Levinson, Staff Columnist

Throughout the past seven columns, we have discussed important topics surrounding the conversation of animal rights. From animal sentience to the Cambridge fur ban to the convenience of eating plants, we have covered a lot of ground. My goal with my final column is to wrap up our conversation with some final thoughts and tips on why people should avoid eating animals.

The questions I am asked most often are, “Why does veganism matter?” and “Why do you feel the need to spend so much time thinking, talking, and writing about it?” To most, it seems like a secondary conversation, because at face value, most of us agree on some key principles, one being that factory farming is immoral and cruel. But, even though we may agree, there is still much work we can do as a society to move away from factory farming. But what I want to explain in this column is why I believe animals deserve more moral consideration than what we currently give to them.

When I look into the eyes of my dog, I see him as another intelligent being—one that is experiencing the world in a way that I will never know. He may not understand math or science, but that does not diminish the complexity of his existence. He is not here for me, or anyone, rather he is here in the same way I am.

I have always gravitated towards animals. When I was around ten years old, I went to a sleep away camp during the summer. While most people remember their counselors or those who lived in their cabin with them, I remember the pigs. Throughout the month I was there, I would sneak away every chance I got, hop the fence, and sit with the pigs. They had an incredible enclosure with woods they could venture into, stumps they could scratch themselves with, sun they could bask in, and water they could cool off in. When the last day of camp came around and my parents arrived to pick me up, I insisted on bringing them to meet my pig friends. When I got there, however, they were gone, and it didn’t hit me until minutes later that they were killed and eaten at the end-of-summer banquet the previous night. This is when I first realized that for me, humane conditions were not enough; these animals’ lives should be respected more than our banquets are, and pigs (who are smarter than a three-year-old child) should not equate to a good dinner.

I always wonder how future generations will look back on our society. While there are many things to look down on, how can our treatment of animals not be one? We slaughter approximately 60 billion farm animals a year with the number of sea animals killed landing somewhere in the hundreds of billions. Since the time you started reading this column (roughly two minutes) approximately 210,960 farm animals have been killed in the U.S.

Many parts of the world eat animals out of necessity, but what about those where they do not? What about those places where people have access to grocery stores and restaurants? I struggle to see how hundreds of years from now people will not be appalled by our collective treatment of animals.

Of course, this is my belief, and it’s perfectly fine to disagree, but I always go back to Paul McCartney’s words: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” Before you disagree with me, try to expose yourself as best you can to what actually goes on behind closed slaughterhouse doors.

While I believe wholeheartedly in my convictions, I understand that I represent only one view on this complex and nuanced topic, but at the end of the day, the worst thing we can do to animals is be indifferent toward them and their suffering because as George. B. Shaw stated, “That is the essence of inhumanity.”

At the end of the day, there is only so much I can say about the importance of this topic. Just like in any conversation, there will be disseminating views, but that’s OK. However, what I would reiterate is that in order to know where you stand regarding the treatment of animals, you need to actually face what is going on.