To declare our pride at refusing to have animals killed for our consumption
To refuse to rob sentient beings of their sole possessions, of their very flesh, of their very lives; to refuse to take part in a concentration camp system which turns their short lives into perpetual torment; to refuse to do all of this for the mere pleasure of the palate, for the satisfaction of a habit, of a tradition: To refuse to do such things should be just plain decency.
However, history does show how difficult it is, when barbarity is the social norm, to simply say No.
We wish to declare our pride at saying No.
To denounce vegephobia
Instead, they want us to feel ashamed. Vegetarianism is concealed, ignored, mocked, marginalized and even defamed.
Vegetarianism challenges the legitimacy of the confinement and slaughter of billions of animals. Just by existing it breaks the law of silence. This is the reason behind vegephobic mockery and hatred.
Of course vegetarianism is tolerated when it is the harmless sort that claims to be no more than a private choice, a matter of distaste for meat or of concern for personal health or the environment. But woe betides us if we openly challenge the barbarous order!
At first we are laughed at. Caring about chickens and cows is supposed to be ridiculous. Laughing at a disturbing idea is a way to get rid of it without having to find logical arguments against it.
But if we do not give in, the laughter turns sour. At first they found us funny, now they call us monsters. We are traitors to the human species since we would limit its rights. We are unworthy parents for not teaching our children the joys of dead flesh. If we care for animals we must be Nazi sympathizers since Hitler too loved dogs. Our ideas are those of an intolerant cult since they are different from what others believe.
We are called terrorists; accused of worshipping nature or of breaking its laws. No argument is too farfetched when it comes to misrepresenting our ideas, putting us to shame and symbolically rejecting us from society.
We refuse to apologize for our compassion. We are proud to declare that we are vegetarians. We are no longer willing to feel shame for refusing to kill. We are here; we are well alive and thinking and will speak out.
To proclaim our existence
All over the world we are millions of humans saying No to this carnage. Few civilizations have actually taken for granted that eating animals is justified. But when do you hear about those debates? Mentions of vegetarianism are systematically missing in textbooks and biographies.
"The man who eats meat or the hunter who agrees with the cruelties of Nature, upholds with every bite of meat or fish that might is right." - Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel prize in Literature.
By stepping forth we also prove that it is possible to live without meat. We live without eating cows or pigs, chicken or fish or prawns. And we are as alive and healthy as anyone else, despite those media-promoted "specialists" whose science consists of denying the facts. Neither vegetarianism nor Veganism (which rejects all animal products, including milk and eggs) has any particular negative effects on health - indeed; current studies tend to show the opposite!
There is no spell that says that to live one must kill. We are not obliged to do so, neither individually nor collectively. Animal husbandry does not provide food, since farm animals eat much more than their dead flesh can render. Despite this, massive public funding supports animal farming and fishing.
To defend our rights
No rights are granted to the animals that are raised and killed for food; but we who stand on their side do have rights, in principle. We are determined to exercise our rights in full, because they are our rights, and because they are theirs - the only rights that they may today, indirectly, enjoy.
We have the right to receive decent meals at workshop canteens, in prison, at school, in hospital and wherever meals are collectively served. We have the right to raise our children without forcing upon them the products of the slaughterhouse.
We are not willing to have our taxes used to support the raising and killing and the fishing for the tastes of others.
We are no longer willing for our actions and our ideas to be systematically silenced. We no longer accept that the only public voices should be those of the corporations and intellectuals who defend the consumption of flesh.
We demand an open debate.
We are the mirror of your guilty consciences
and this mirror will no longer hide
Faced with images of heaps upon heaps of animals "destroyed" for BSE or foot-and-mouth disease, we alone felt no shame. We were not shameful for ourselves. But we felt shame for all others.
Above all, we were sad. However much we insist on asserting our pride in saying No to barbarity, this brings us no satisfaction. The animals are slaughtered by the billions. They are held to be dumb, their cries do not count. We shall speak out for them until the massacre halts.