The growing debate over whether it is necessary for vegans to watch the behind-the-scenes footage in factory farms is spinning out of control. One argument posits that since we already know the horrors, and chose a cruelty-free lifestyle because of them, we don’t have to feel compelled to watch these films. On the other hand, some argue that the more we see and know, the more ways we can help these poor animals escape their torturous fates. I tell myself
: if you know you can help these animals in some way, and maybe watching a video or two a year can help you to be a better advocate, then why not watch them?
This is how I decided that my New Year’s resolution is to become a stronger, more active voice in the animal rights community, by caring more about the animals and less about how I may be perceived as “over-the-top” or even as a hippie. Throughout my life, I have learned that if I work on one project at a time, then I will be able to move on and successfully–being the key word–complete another and another. This can also be applied toward becoming better advocates.
I am first going to work on becoming more educated. Of course, writing for vegan blogs and reading hundreds of books on the topic has given me a strong foundation that will never crumble, but I want to know the details so that when someone asks me about the livestock industry, I can succinctly share about the horrors that occur.
Would you, peaceful dumplings, join me in this resolution? Here’s what I plan on doing:
Watch films, and read books and articles that cover all aspects of factory farming so that you are ready to defend any argument.
- Watch the incredible Forks Over Knives to familiarize yourself with the absolutely incredible effects a vegan diet can have on the body (like completely reversing diabetes).
- Read the book Animal Factory by David Kirby to understand more about the detrimental, and not to mention disgusting, effects the factory farming industry has on our environment, like untreated manure waste tanks leaching into local waterways.
- Read anything by Albert Schweitzer, an animal rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient who spoke volumes about why we need to care more about the animals who share the Earth with us.
The next step in my journey to better activism? Bolstering my confidence in my beliefs. The combativeness of some omnis who try to refute veganism comes from a rather surprising place: insecurity. We must be so confident and shine so bright so as not to bring the other person down to an unkind level, but to lift them up to a happy, positive, confident one. I love being able to say that I am helping save hundreds if not thousands of animals a year, just by living a cruelty-free lifestyle. How incredibly rewarding to give the gift of this feeling to someone else too? People unknowingly start to imitate traits in others so before you know it, you may be having a friendly conversation about veganism with an omni who is interested in learning more about the lifestyle.
Take a free class on public speaking or animal rights to boost your speaking and confidence skills.
- Saylor offers a free online public speaking course that would be useful for anyone in my opinion. It is sometimes difficult to not become wordy and nervous when approached about this lifestyle and by taking a class like this, you will be taking the first step in creating a concise and kind answer that will help inquiring minds understand.
- Through Coursera, Duke University is offering a class titled How to Reason and Argue. Although I do not support arguing about this topic, reasoning would be a good skill to learn. We should be able to defend any life choice we make in a strong and passionate way without feeling defensive.
I hope you will join me in renewing your passion for animal rights this New Year!
Also by Kate: Dispatch -VegFest Albany 2013
Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals
Photo Credit: Kellianne Kinane (Kate’s sister)