What is "Selective Compassion"?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Ah yes, the dreaded "V-Word."  I'm talking about Vegan.

The word itself elicits all kinds of stereotypes, groans, and eye-rolls. "Vegans think they're better than everyone who eats mean." "Vegans are tree-hugging hippies."  "Vegans are preachy and shove their beliefs down everyone's throat!"  Some of us may be "tree-hugging hippies" (who cares?) and some vegans are undoubtedly preachy which may have turned you, dear reader, off at some point.  But (most) vegans do not think they are better than anyone, and that's honestly kind of the point.

Yes, I'm going to be exploring aspects of vegan living and my beliefs on how that pertains to non-meat eaters and meat eaters alike, and you may not like what I have so say. But this is, above all, a vegan and plant-based lifestyle blog and it's going to come up at some point.

I have written about my choices to live a plant-based lifestyle, and I have been meat free for 2 years now, and I recently gave up the last of my dairy-consuming ways, and I often talk about how I've never felt better (honestly, it was the best decision I've ever made).  I've spoken a lot about my plant-based philosophy (which you can read here) and what that means to me.  But I would like to examine a particular reaction I get from meat-eaters when they sniff out that I don't eat meat.  It usually comes up if someone buys me a gift that doesn't align with my values, or if they offer to take me to a meal.  If it's a gift, I say thank you and accept it and simply find someone who isn't vegan to take it off my hands. If it's an offer for a meal, I simply mention I'm vegan and hope the convo stops there. However, it rarely does.  All of a sudden I'm asked a laundry list of questions about my lifestyle, why I chose this, where I get my protein, musings about why animals were put on this earth and what our ancient ancestors ate.  I would really love it if I could decline certain foods without being put on the spot...but whatever. I'll answer your questions politely and if I don't feel like answering I'll tell you it's a conversation for another time (politely, of course).

One thing that often baffles (and honestly frustrates) me, is the meat-eater response to my chosen diet and lifestyle that includes something called "selective compassion."  Selective compassion is when someone claims to be an animal lover, to love their cats and dogs and other pets, to be saddened when we see trophy hunter photos of dead lions on the news, when whales are put in captivity... But this compassion doesn't extend animals that are reserved for being "food."  Essentially, there are "food" animals and "not food" animals.  This is one of the main reasons why I have given up meat and dairy, and consume only cruelty free products and goods in my home. Forgive me for being blunt and graphic, but I simply do not believe that some living creatures are for killing and some are not.

By expressing this belief, I often times am met with great defensiveness of people trying to justify their choices to me, and also of course more groans and eye rolls.  But where does this disconnect come from?  It probably is so ingrained in us as humans to see some animals as food and some as worthy companions because that's how it has been for thousands of years.  When humans began cultivating crops and raising animals for meat, it was born from survival.  They reserved some animals, like dogs, as helpers with the animals they slaughtered for food.  However, I believe that we are now living in 2018 and don't have to rely on animals for food.

Another belief is that if you have a lot of pets and think some animals are cute and cuddly and could never imagine hurting your dog, that you are an animal lover.  I fail to see this logic as well, to be honest.  If you love animals, you love all animals. If you love all animals you don't want to see them suffer. If you don't want to see them suffer, you do not support the killing of them for meat and the inhuman treatment of them for dairy.  This is what I believe.  Animals that are sold for meat and kept in awful conditions, and animals that are reserved for the dairy industry are kept in equally terrible conditions and subjected to artificial insemination regularly and separation from their newborns, also regularly. This is not something you would support having done to animals if you love them, any of them. At all. Also, even animals that are "free range" and slaughtered on privately owned farms instead of factory farms, are still not slaughtered "humanely."  Is there a way to kill something humanely...?

All of this is selective compassion.

Once I decided not to separate animals into categories, I gave up consuming animal products.  I could no longer see a tasty burger on my plate for anything other than a poor animal who did not live a great life, and met their end so I could have 10 minutes of happiness and not appreciate it.

I'm not meaning to preach or to sit on a high horse (get it, horse...? ha.).  I merely want to reflect on my own choices, share those choices with others, and offer my help to anyone who is interested in becoming meat free.  That's the whole reason I started this blog!

Also, please remember, whether you order the veggie burger or regular burger, I would never think less of you or think you're a terrible person. We simply disagree about certain lifestyle choices. Everyone is different, and that's what makes the world great.

Thanks for letting me share,
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