What Happened to Animal Rights?

Hello to the people out there,

This is Garageland.

I’ve been vegan for ten years. I was vegetarian for a year before that. Needless to say, animal rights is a topic close to my heart.

When I first started to consider vegetarianism/veganism, I had a mentor. My oldest sister, Jamie, had been vegan for most of my life and vegetarian for all of it. When I started to get into the world of punk rock as an adolescent and become conscious of the world around me, I started to ask Jamie questions.

She began to tell me about the injustices surrounding the animal goods industries. This led to me educating myself the way my generation knows how to. The internet. I watched short documentaries, read articles and heard from some of my favorite musicians as to how the issue of animal rights prompted them to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet.

I gave a shit about animal cruelty. I felt compassion for the animals. I didn’t think it was morally responsible to eat meat or purchase products that existed because animals suffered.

The stereotype of a vegan in the mind of the public consciousness was a hippie who threw red paint on people wearing fur coats. The prospect of someone becoming vegan or vegetarian for any reason besides animal liberation or legitimate health reasons wasn’t something that even occurred to me.

So, what happened?

When did the stereotype switch to an overly-wealthy, overprivileged white liberal who does cross fit?

Make no mistake, veganism is growing. There have been countless studies to show that more people are vegan in the US now than ever before.

I think I’ve met more vegans in the past two years than I cumulatively had in my first eight years.

Here’s the problem. Some, not all, of these people don’t give a shit about animal rights. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that just became vegan and “used to be paleo” or are vegan because they think it will help them maintain a hot beach bod.

There are also people becoming vegan because they are conscious of the scarcity of the meat industry. Our species is reproducing at so high a rate, that we soon won’t have enough meat to feed the people that want it.

“What’s the problem with that?” You might be asking.

Well, look. If more people are vegan, that’s great. Every animal saved is a +1 in my book. And I don’t mean for this post to come across so harsh. If you want a hot beach bod, go for it. If you do cross fit and make a ton of money, that’s great for you. Seriously. Do your thing. Live your life. I’m not nearly as judgmental as I might sound in this post. I love meeting new people from all walks of life and actually find hanging around the same type of person all the time to be boring. And if you want to be vegan purely for practical reasons, because you know that humans > meat, that’s fine too.

I don’t think I’m better than any of you. However, as someone who’s been in this fight for over a decade, I’m asking that you try to show the animals a little love while you’re at it too. Go to a protest, throw up a “meat is murder” sticker, hell, even just write some angry YouTube comments. Whatever it is.

Because animals have just as much of a right to live full lives, free from suffering, as we do. And if our entire species becomes vegan without recognizing that, will we actually have made any progress as a people?

“The truth is only known by guttersnipes.” – Joe Strummer


Mission Statement

Hello to the people out there,

This is Garageland.

I want to start with talking a little bit about the mission statement for this series. I consider myself a part of the burgeoning leftist movement in modern America. I support the DSA and the tenets of Our Revolution. I am a fan of the leftist alternative media that’s springing up, but there’s a gripe I have with a lot of the perspectives being offered. They’re too Jolly Ol’ America. They believe that the institutions of American government are functional. They look back at the “glory days” of our country. To quote Laura Jane Grace, “They have faith in the elephant and jackass.”

I’m of the opinion that our government needs complete structural reform. I’m of the opinion that this country has never had any “glory days.” Let’s make one thing clear, America is NOT a democracy! Never has been. America is an institutional republic and our school system propagandizes us into thinking that we live in a “democracy” with more power than we actually have.

What would a democracy actually look like?

The people would be able to vote on bills. The people would be able to propose new laws. Elections would exist, but not be the extent of our power. The two-party system would not exist. People would be elected on an individual basis, not by their party affiliation. Having the country be in the hands of a select few wealthy elites would not only be a thing of the past, it would be impossible to recreate.

If the people are in power, their rights and needs will be represented by their government.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating silence in the short term. Vote. Go to marches. Join activist organizations. Demand your rights. We should exercise all the power we are given to make everyone’s lives better.

But, the amount of power we have as a citizenry could be, and should be, so much more.

Let me make another thing clear.

This country has never had a “golden age,” it has never been the multicultural melting pot of tolerance and “liberty for all” that high-soaring rhetoric likes to glamorize.

This country was founded on the principles of racism, conquest and elitism. I don’t know how one could look at our country’s founding and see it as anything else.

However, a place where people of all cultures, genders, sexual orientations, religions and races are treated equally and have their basic human rights represented sounds pretty great, right?

Yeah, just because our history is soaked with the blood of Native Americans, African Americans, women, LGBT folks, immigrants and our surrounding natural landscapes doesn’t mean America can’t BECOME that idealistic place.

In fact, this isn’t something exclusive to America. Shouldn’t we be looking to make the entire world a place where everyone is tolerated?

If America turns out to be the first country to make that step, I’m all for it. I mean, I’m an American citizen and I’m going to do everything in power to see that vision become realized. But it isn’t something we should feel nationalistic about. We shouldn’t say, “America is the best country on Earth because ____” about anything, really. We should be seeking to make all countries a safe place for all people. World peace is only utopian if you don’t believe in it, and nationalism is a surefire way to never achieve it.

Thanks for joining me this week on Garageland for this vague manifesto of my political ideals. I assure you, not every piece is going to be like this. Join me next time when we dig into specifics on the topic of the animal rights movement.

“The truth is only known by guttersnipes.” – Joe Strummer


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