Dear Friends and Relatives,
As the time to gather for holidays gets closer and gathering means eating, I want to explain what it means to be vegan to hopefully prevent misunderstandings. First, it is not a diet, per se. The reason to be vegan has nothing to do (for me) with eating healthier foods or losing weight, although those are two consequences of being vegan. Second, it is not a belief, like a religious belief, because as a matter of science humans are but one species of animal, and all animals suffer, just as humans do. I do “believe” that suffering is bad. I think you do too, if you consider it.
You might think that I shouldn’t care whether others eat meat or not, as long as I don’t have to, but a vegan does care, just as people care about dogs suffering that are chained up outside in the heat, or about monkeys stuck in cages for a lifetime for “science,” or as abolitionists in the past cared about slavery. As that last sentence shows, underlying veganism is the idea that we are all animals and the difference between the the human species and all the others does not give humans the right to inflict suffering on others, unless we adhere to the callous and unreasonable moral code of “might makes right.”
One way to get an idea of the effect of meat is to imagine that you had a Chinese guest who brought dog casserole to a pot luck dinner. You would not like the thought or the sight of a chopped up dog or even better puppy (the equivalent of veal, lamb, or certain pig dishes) on your table. So, if I ask you to please not bring those “pigs in a blanket” or if I decline the invitation to come to your house and “just eat the vegetables,” keep that visual of puppy fricassee in mind.
I just wish that my perspective would at least spark some curiosity so you would look into what goes on to produce that piece of meat on your plate: a loving, sociable creature lived a life of torment and died a terrifying death. Such suffering does not add to any holiday spirit.