I came across an article by Eccentric Vegan at Vegan Soap Box titled, Can Vegans Have Pets, and it got my thinking about my pooches and the pivotal role they've played in my veganism. Having those guys around really helped me understand the value of an animals life and the role they play in mine. There are a lot of subtopics we could discuss here, but I think that focusing on caring for a species other than your own is most appropriate.
I don't remember the point in my childhood when I realized that a chicken was a McNugget, but I imagine that it was fairly early on. Seeing animals as living, breathing entities with feelings is something that some folks have a hard time doing. We're trained from early on to separate and curb our feelings towards animals in order to justify their use in food, testing and exhibition (defined as speciesism by Peter Singer). This is a part of the seafood vs. sea animal debate. Just because they're another fishes food, doesn't mean they're our food. I'll tackle that one in another blog...
Knowing that a pig feels pain and is as smart as my alarm clocks that jump on my bed every morning to wake me up reinforces my veganism. Caring for an animal lowers that barrier between seeing animals as tools and as sentient beings. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a dude once about why I was vegan, and I responded with, "because I wouldn't eat my dogs." Obviously, eating dogs is extreme but when all animals are held in the same regard as we hold the ones who live by our side cruelty will disappear.
This isn't a call for everyone to rush out and adopt a puppy. Do your homework first, make sure you have the time and resources to give your new family member a great home. Don't cause more suffering by not being able to provide everything an animal needs. To quote the blog linked above:
Vegans do not want to put animals in bad situations or remove animals from good situations. We just want to save lives and protect animals.Well put.
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