May 18, 2017 by Cláudia
Animal rights is a part of my daily life, a big part of my identity and something that I want to deepen and develop in the future. However, it’s not very present in this blog. The reason for this, I think, is that I feel like I am not a “perfect” animal rights activist so I have no legitimacy to be preaching to other people. I do care a lot about animal welfare, but comparing to other people that I know, I do a lot less, I still do a lot of things that are probably not considered vegan so I guess I feel like there is no point in writing about animal welfare because I don’t feel like I can be a role model or inspire other people.
But I should start following my own advice. Everyone has a personal path. I do have things to say even if I’m still not where I want to be. Most importantly, there is no such thing as a perfect animal rights activist. All of our actions have so many consequences, some of them unpredictable, that it is impossible to account all the ways our actions might affect the animals and the environment.
This is obviously not an excuse to not do anything. If we care about animal welfare, we should do something. I do strongly believe that not taking any action is taking an action per se. Knowing how a cosmetic is tested on animals and still buying that cosmetic is contributing to animal suffering.
But I also think that change doesn’t happen overnight and that’s okay. Some habits are ingrained in our daily lives, more than what we could have realised. Despite what people might think, changing my eating habits was actually the easiest, but thinking of every other action that might harm the animals turned out to be a lot harder than what I anticipated. But for some people, I am sure, stop eating animal produce will be a lot harder. It will vary from person to person and it will also vary in time. Some days I am so much more aware than others.
A lot of vegan activists will criticise other people for not being 100% vegan (as I’ve said, being 100% vegan is impossible, but the goal is to come as close as possible) but I think that’s not the way to go. Every step towards veganism is a victory and if someone is considering animal rights, we should encourage them and support them. Not a lot of us were born vegan, we were born believing that eating animals is just the natural thing to do and that there is nothing wrong with it. So if someone is considering animal rights (in whatever extent) that is already a break with the values that they grew up with.
Living among meat eaters is not always the easiest thing, especially when I am most aware of animal suffering and what is happening “behind the curtains”. When I talk about animal rights and people answer “I love my meat” or “But bacon!” I do get discouraged and annoyed. But it is not my place to preach and to tell people how to live their life or criticise them for their life choices. I can only explain why I feel the way I do and they can do whatever they want with it. To attack others or try to make them feel guilty really is the worst policy ever. We just have to respect everyone and accept that a lot of people will probably never consider veganism.
Tolerance doesn’t mean that I will give up what I think is right. I will write about it, I will talk about it if the person is willing to listen but I will respect if the person is not interested. I still dream of a future where every animal is free. I do think that future is possible if everyone is informed and aware. But a lot of what I’ve seen from the veganism movement I cannot backup. Insulting people, saying they’re bad people because they eat meat, threatening them or wishing them wrong is not acceptable. I care about animals very deeply, but I care about people too. Even if someone is not interested in listening, there are so many other topics that we can discuss and agree on. Let’s not let one topic prevent us from connecting with other people.
In my personal experience, everyone around me is an omnivore. My family, all of my friends and even my boyfriend. And it is hard sometimes, and I do want to have people in my life that care about animal welfare because it is always nice and comforting to meet people with the same beliefs. But that doesn’t mean anything in terms of my relationship with the people around me. It doesn’t mean we cannot connect on so many other levels. It does not mean I will like vegans more.
Animal rights is just one part of my identity. It is something that sometimes alienates people but it shouldn’t. It is a growing movement with so much potential for development but it is being subverted if we are using it to state our superiority or to release anger and be offensive.
Veganism is a movement of peace: for the animals. So let’s share it through peace. If you are interested in reading my thoughts on veganism, more developed and explained, please read my other post: I will be talking about veganism – but give me a chance!.