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"Each To Their Own"

(Content warning: this post contains graphic imagery).

There are certain responses in conversations about veganism that just hit me like no others. They’re delivered as variations of the following:

"It’s my personal choice"

"Each to their own" (shrug)

"I respect your choices, you should respect mine"

Anyone who’s ever delivered these lines to me should know that whilst I might have smiled and moved the conversation swiftly along, on the inside I was desperately fighting the urge to cry; out of frustration, rage, or some messy combination of both.

Here’s why these are the most triggering phrases I can hear . . .

They’re dismissive and they either come from a place of denial or from extreme callousness, and what is there to respect about unnecessary cruelty? If the response stems from ignorance, I’m sad and frustrated that that person doesn’t want to consider the truth about where their food comes from. But if said person is aware of this truth, I just find it impossible to comprehend the level of entitlement and superiority involved in thinking a fleeting desire for a particular flavour – the enjoyment of which will last a matter of minutes – justifies this:

Or this:

Or this:

Because here’s the thing. What you eat may be your personal choice, but the other living beings involved in that choice literally pay for it with their lives, and they have absolutely no personal choice in the matter whatsoever.

Can it really be that we feel such a degree of superiority over our fellow beings that we believe the 10-15 minutes of satisfaction we have when eating a meal is reasonable grounds to end another's existence? Half of the things we eat are grabbed on-the-go, eaten entirely absent-mindedly, in a hurry, whilst our minds are on something else. I don’t think many people believe that someone should die for their substandard, supermarket sandwich, if they really think about it.

Yet animal agriculture is so engrained as the norm in our culture, many are utterly unaware of what it took to bring their chosen product to the shelf. Let’s take a Tesco BBQ Chicken, Bacon & Cheese sandwich as an example.

It contains chicken, bacon, egg, milk, and honey. So in one meal, priced at less than £3, you have at least two dead chickens, (one for the meat, one for the egg), one dead pig, a dead or suffering cow and some exploited bees.

Every one of these creatures had a desire to live. They felt fear and distress as they were dragged, crying out, into a slaughter chamber. And all for a sandwich that’s labelled in the product reviews as ‘vile’, ‘grim’, and ‘a big mistake’.

When vegans ask you to leave animal products off your plate, they’re not asking you to starve, eat less or eat badly, or even sacrifice your favourite meal….they’re just asking you to switch it up. Have a plant-based burger instead of a meat one. Use oat milk instead of dairy. Try vegan mayo instead of egg mayo. Every product has a vegan alternative that is made without suffering and death.

Anyone switching to plant-based alternatives in 2023 is spoilt for choice – there are substitute products on the market now that are so realistic you can barely tell the difference. And even if things do taste slightly different to what you’re used to at first…I’ll bet there’s no one reading this who can’t think of at least one thing they hated when they were a child that they now love – because our tastebuds change, and our preferences change.

The bottom line in this case is that our awareness changes. If you realise the true cost of your choices as a meat-eater, but choose to look the other way simply because it’s too tasty, then sorry but no, I can’t respect your choices. This is a level of indifference I’ll never understand.


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