I Don’t Love Animals

Posted on September 12, 2010

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“But you’re vegan!”

Ok, yes, I am a vegan.  I don’t love animals.  I find the whole sentimentality around the category of “animals” somewhat vacuous, perhaps insulting.  Unless you are a biologist who loves your work, a Nirvana-ed being, or prone to bestiality, the statement “I love animals” has little meaning, and is at least somewhat false.

(I am going to use the term “human” to refer to human animals and “animal” to refer to non-human animals.)

Let use examine what the average individual who makes this claim hopes to convey.  Let us even assume that this individual is veg*n and not speaking exclusively of non-farm animals.  What ey generally means is a) that animals are beautiful, b) that animals are fun to observe and care for, and/or c) that ey would never have any desire to hurt an animal.  I don’t have to look far for counterexamples to any of these claims.

A friend of mine says veganism is a neutral position with regards to animals.  I agree.  In our politically charged climate of farm subsidies and billion dollar food lobbies, and in our socially charged climate of patriotism and masculinity built around animal consumption, veganism is a political statement.  But with regards to how we actually treat animals, it is simple.  In an interview on her own veganism, Ellen Degeneres makes the point that “animal rights” is a misnomer because “rights” implies that we’re granting all beings suffrage.  The more accurate phrase is “animal welfare,” giving animals the “right” to be left alone.

I have never had the desire to have a pet, or other companion animal.  I find raccoons and bugs annoying.  I think many animals smell bad and misbehave.  But there are obviously humans who share these faults.  I don’t “love” or even “like” those humans either.

I don’t love all queer people, people of color, or women. I don’t love all animals.  I just give them each my respect where it is due.  I oppose brutality and suffering in the name of civilization.  This position doesn’t necessitate a great deal of compassion.  Moving beyond a vegan lifestyle, into activism, requires some passion (maybe compassion as well), but leaving animals be?  That is simpler. I don’t need to think of all those farmed and caged creatures as cute, or intelligent.  I don’t need to hear about chimpanzees who can speak sign language.  I don’t need sentimentality or love.  I only need clarity.  Does this make me cold-blooded?

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