“Would you eat a burger if someone gave you a million pounds? How about just like a bite? How about a chicken nugget? Okay then, what about some cheese? What? Not even cheese? Fine, how about just an egg? Not even an egg?! Fuck off I don’t believe you.”
This is the type of questioning that vegans (and vegetarians for the earlier questions) face on a regular basis. It’s also the kind of default bewildered responses someone who eschews animal products saying that they wouldn’t eat them under any circumstances receive from between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of the UK population who eat meat (depending on which study you believe). It is understandable that someone who has eaten meat their entire life would fail to understand why another may choose not to. Most have been brought up conditioned to believe that killing other sentient beings to eat their flesh is justified, so why would they ever think any different?
I believe the use of animals by humans, and thus, the consumption of animal products, to be unjust. The problem is that once you know something, you can’t unknow it. I can’t unknow that male chicks, which the egg industry has no use for, are ground up alive. I can’t unknow that male cattle calves born to mothers in the milk industry who are raised for veal are kept in dark, small containers so keep their muscles undeveloped, then are slaughtered. I can’t unknow that piglets’ tails are cut off and their teeth are clipped, all without anaesthetic. And, once I finally broke free of the societal conditioning normalising all this and had the epiphany that this is just completely and categorically wrong, it’s not something I can just unrealise.
It is, quite frankly, a simple case of morals over money. I’m not saying that all people – or all vegans for that matter – would refuse such a sum of when faced with these questions, but yes, I certainly would. I will not be part of something that endorses murder, slavery, and torture of other sentient beings. If the price of a million, or a hundred thousand, or even just one single pound is the death or abuse of another sentient being, then it’s a price too high to pay.
Don’t believe me if you don’t want, and frankly I don’t really care whether you do, but morally, using animals is not something I’m willing to do under any circumstances. Many people – again, I’m not saying all – would refuse to murder another human. Well, I believe animals and humans to be equal, so if you wouldn’t kill a human, why would I kill something I believe to be the same? It’s a largely hypothetical question anyway. I live a life without meat, and it’s incredibly unlikely that anyone would ever offer me such a sum just to do so. The same for the desert island conundrum, and fuck me you’d think I was on permanent vacation the amount of desert islands people have pictured me on. It’s a scenario that’s never going to happen, so why would I ever need to do it?
I’m not going to place a monetary value over a life. So no, I’m never going to eat a burger. Not even for a million pounds.
Veganuary is a campaign, based in York, which encourages people to try the vegan lifestyle for the month of January. In January 2017 the campaign grew by 260 per cent to 60,000 people, with 67 per cent of survey respondents staying vegan after January. For more details or to take the pledge for January 2018, visit veganuary.com.