Tbat link is to a Youtube video of comedian Louis C.K. delivering a routine about the immorality of eating meat, all the while admitting that he eats meat on a daily basis. (Go watch it…I’ll wait). I know many people might be repulsed by his acknowledgement of the immorality of eating animals and yet his comfort with still eating them, and that repulsion is justified, but I think this acknowledgement and expression also lays bare the obstacle we as vegan activists (if you associate with that identifier) need to overcome in order to be more effective in convincing people of the “rightness” of veganism and in convincing them to stop taking animals lives.
That obstacle, if we must simplify it, is DISCONNECTEDNESS. For someone to be able to think about eating animals, come to the conclusion that doing so is essentially wrong and harmful, but still continue to consume them speaks of a terrible disconnect between the acknowledgement of the issue and the actual life of the animal. It speaks of an understanding between cause and effect, but a disconnect between being part of the cause and not seeing the effect. It is, again, a tragic disconnect.
This awareness is nothing new in the vegan arsenal. We’ve constantly pointed out the disconnect at the grocery store when we see refrigerated cases full of packaged substances that look nothing like the animals those substances once were. It’s a true argument and is part of the overall disconnect our culture has produced between animals and our plates. Most, if not all, vegans have bridged that gap of awareness between food and animal, but for most of society, it’s simply not a consideration. The disconnect is so great that it’s just not a topic of discussion, despite it being a part of everyone’s lives a few times a day.
Even as aware vegans the disconnect becomes a part of our lives in ways we sometimes don’t recognize. We are so removed from the horror that is factory farming and the individual lives of the animals trapped within that system that we become, not desensitized, but disconnected from a sense of empathy we would have if we were exposed and connected to their lives on a daily basis. Commercials on TV that show hyper detailed images of an animals body sold as a commodity have no effect on us. Jokes about animals being killed or tortured don’t offend us, and cause some of us to laugh. Any sense of urgency to remove these animals from such horrible conditions is negated by the size of the task, other daily responsibilities, and a lack of connection to each individual animal. We all succumb to the disconnect that conveniently protects the oppressors bank accounts and allows them to continue doing what they will with the animals.
But there is hope in understanding that one, like Louis CK, can make a stand-up routine about the immorality of eating animals, but continue to eat them. There is hope because, I believe, it lends importance to the strategy of focusing on that disconnect and bringing the terrible reality of animals lives to those that contribute to that terrible reality. There is a place for debate and there is a place for philosophy and there is a place for statistics, but I know of no more convincing argument than truly showing others the reality of factory farming conditions. If I could, I’d bring people on tours to the farms so they can see the suffering and filth first hand. I’d take them to the fur farms so they could see the animals swinging their heads back and forth trying to fend off mental insanity from the confined conditions. I’d take them to the farms so they could feel the burn in their nostrils from the build up of manure, ammonia and stink. I’d connect them as directly as possible. Of course, the oppressors have safeguarded against such actions so as to deliberately disconnect us as widely as possible.
They deliberately separate us from the reality by walling off their farms. They do it by packaging their foods with idyllic scenes of smiling animals in open pastures. They do it by releasing manipulated and false information about the reality of factory farms. They do it by pressuring lawmakers to make it illegal to film the conditions of their farms. They do it in so many ways because they KNOW if we are connected to the lives of these animals that we would see part of ourselves in them and part of them in us…and then the interests of the farmers would be in jeapordy. And they are not immune to the connection, despite their reliance on the animals for financial gain. Farmers see what they do to the animals first hand and it keeps them up at night. Some have abandoned the business when the connections overwhelmed their desire for a livelihood.
So for us, the goal is to bring back the connection. We can have the discussions and debates and philosophical masturbation, but most importantly we need to bring the lives of these animals to everyone else. We need to bring the photos, the videos and the experiences of these animals into the public realm and engage people until they are connected again and again, keeping it in the open and not letting the food corporations continue to widen the disconnect between us and our effect on these animals.
Let us take these actions with respect and consideration towards our audience, but with an equal respect and consideration for the victims of our culture’s selective morality and disconnect. With that in mind, if you are new to the discussion of veganism and consideration of animals lives, please watch the following video. It’s not pretty, but it is real….