The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

The Notion “You Must Care About Animals More Than People”

Posted on September 28, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Whitney Gray, VRG intern

Sometimes I think to myself that people are strange, but I’ve realized we’re mostly all the same. We like to compartmentalize. There’s so much to take in throughout our lives that it’s easier to make ideas black and white, to label, or to “other” each other based off of the knowledge of a few traits or beliefs. One perplexing comment you may have heard as a vegan is, “Oh, you’re vegan? You must care about animals more than people.” I know I have a few times. Somewhere along the way we’ve been labeled as misanthropic plant pushers, which is at best comical and at worst a little disheartening. It sounds trivial, but what does it mean for veganism if all people hear when they hear the word “vegan” is a self-righteous tree hugger who cares about a cow more than the homeless? Here a few of my points to counteract this accusation that might help you as well.

We’re all Multidimensional
Who said caring about animals cancels out any concern one might have for all of the world’s injustices and social ills? You wouldn’t say that loving your mom has to mean that you can’t love your dad. It’s much like the child in first grade who dumps you because they found another kid to play with and for some reason they believe that they can’t have more than one best friend. It’s always interesting when one of those mournful infomercials with sickly and fragile cats and dogs comes on and someone interrupts Sarah McLachlan’s “In the Arms of The Angel” to say, “Why would I donate to that when there’s plenty of starving children to feed?” (meanwhile doing nothing to feed starving children). I, like many others, have the capacity to care about a variety of causes with animal rights being just one not pertaining specifically to humans.

People are Animals???
I’m sure mostly everyone has heard this in a science class at some point in their life. Humans are animals. We may walk upright, wear clothes, create technology, and enjoy a spoken and written language, but we’re still animals. You don’t have to get into an argument with anyone on whether humans are more important than other animals or not (or weird hypothetical questions on whether you’d save your dog or a toddler about to drown in a river). The main point is that we all contribute something different to this world. Different animals have their different traits and qualities that we don’t, even if some label those as insignificant. Also, let’s not forget that we are the ones senselessly killing each other and killing the planet. And while there can be a lot of anger in such a statement, we are all a part of society, so no individual can be put on a pedestal or condemn the rest of humankind. If I were to hate humans, I’d have to hate myself as well.

Veganism is about Compassion
It is for me personally at least. If anything, veganism has strengthened my patience and understanding towards others. I find that when many people become passionate about an idea, they become angry, vicious, and practically insufferable when they were in the opposite position just moments ago. Because of this, I understand why vegans get type casted at times. However, I want to extend kindness to all sentient beings, including humans that may or may not lead a similar lifestyle or eat a similar diet. Of course nothing is perfect and there are various arguments on whether any of our efforts with veganism or any other cause make a difference, but in my eyes, it’s worth a try.

Bottom line is be confident in why you made this decision and don’t let others place you in a box where you don’t fit. Often times when we are confronted with a concept far outside our worldview, we reject not only the concept as extreme, but also the person. What the people who say, “You must care about animals more than people,” don’t realize is that I’m just their neighbor like anyone else, and not some radical on the fringe of society trying to start an animal revolution a’la George Orwell’s Animal Farm. My advice is let the naysayers know you care for them…and the cows of course.

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