The word "vegan" was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson (1910 – 2005) of the Vegan Society of the UK.
He explained his motivation as ethical concern for sentient animals:
“We can see quite plainly that our present civilisation is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilisations were built on the exploitation of slaves, and we believe the spiritual destiny of man is such that in time he will view with abhorrence the idea that men once fed on the products of animals' bodies.”
Most of us were raised to think of certain animals as pets or members of our families, other animals as resources for food, clothing and entertainment, some as “pests” and others as irrelevant to our lives. In all these cases we are seeing them in terms of their usefulness to us as humans, rather than as individuals whose interest in their own lives is more important than our interest in using them.
Veganism is an ethical position which rejects all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, entertainment, medical research or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.
In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals, therefore meat, eggs, dairy and honey. Using animals for clothing is violent and completely unnecessary. Thus, vegans do not wear animal products like fur, leather, silk, wool, cashmere, etc. Vegans wear clothing made from a wide variety of natural and synthetic materials.
Ethical Veganism is based on opposition to speciesism, the assignment of value to individuals on the basis of species membership alone. Speciesism like racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, ageism, etc., is a form of discrimination, which involves inequity, unjust treatment and bullying of vulnerable sentient individuals. If we recognize that it is wrong to act violently to a dog or cat just for enjoyment or convenience, how can we justify the horrible things we do to other animals? The animals being used, exploited, abused and killed for food, clothing, medical research, etc., are not different from the ones we love. We all agree that it is morally wrong to inflict ‘unnecessary’ suffering or death on animals and yet our behavior does not reflect our beliefs. This contradiction is known as cognitive dissonance.
We can overcome this social affliction and respect all beings by going vegan. Ethical veganism is the baseline of the Animal Rights Movement.
To be continue.. Part II