Over the past many years I have talked with lots of people about why I became vegan. It usually starts off with me saying, “No thank you” to someone’s offering of an animal “product”. That’s when the question of “Why?” generally comes up. It’s at that moment no matter what I’m doing or how tired I am that I put on my advocate hat and try my best to explain why I’m vegan. Sometimes depending on the circumstances and/or how well the person knows me things go well. Whereas, sadly, other times things go horribly wrong.
By things going well I do not necessarily mean the person I was chatting with declared they were going vegan right there on the spot. Although I have had that happen, more times then not things going well simply means they heard my story and I heard theirs and no one became offended. That is, the seeds of veganism as a social justice movement working towards the day when no sentient being ever has to legally be property regardless of their species, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, et cetera were planted.
By horribly wrong, although the use of “horrible” here is debatable, I mean someone became offended and thus resorted to labeling. One such label that comes to mind is the term “elitist”. Interestingly, Dictionary.com defines “elitism” as “The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.”
I say “interestingly” here because at the core of veganism is the idea that all sentient beings are equal in matters of justice simply because they are sentient. Whereas the person labeling me an elitist almost always follows up their name calling with the idea that us human animals are “superior” in some way to other animals and thus suggests that justifies the horrific things we humans do to other animals.
This thought, that human animals are “superior” to other animals, is of course speciesist. That is, just like the racist who thinks his race is “superior” to other races and uses his racism to justify his evil deeds, the speciesist uses speciesism to justify enslaving, torturing, and stealing the lives away from other sentient beings. Beings, from a vegan’s perspective, that are every bit as equal as we human animals are.
So, as the title of this essay asks, “Who’s being elitist?”
Think, then Go Vegan!