Do you really believe that inflicting pain and suffering on animals is justified because you were raised to believe that consuming animal flesh and secretions is normal, natural, and necessary?
Or do you realize, somewhere deep inside, that vegans might be on to something? Do you realize that you do love animals and that it doesn’t make any sense to love dogs and eat pigs? Do you realize that you don’t need to eat animal flesh and secretions in order to be healthy?
Or do you just want vegans to shut up so that you can continue living in your fantasy world where animals are treated humanely on their way to your plate?
Most vegans grew up much like you did. Our parents fed us meat, eggs, and dairy, and our teachers (and sometimes doctors) told us that we had to eat them in order to be healthy. We were (and still are) bombarded by advertising that reinforces those ideas.
Many of us associate our parents, teachers, and doctors with strong emotions. Advertising intentionally plays on our emotions.
In order to understand the role of emotions, we need to take a brief look at how your brain works. Your primitive brain (sometimes called your lizard brain) is part of your limbic system, which governs emotion and controls the 6 F’s: fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing-up, and fornication. Within the limbic system, there are two structures called the amygdalae. You have one amygdala on each side of your brain.
When faced with a stimulus, the amygdala instantaneously turns your emotions on, without your having to think about it. This helps you respond to a threat even before you’re consciously aware of it. Think of ducking when something flies by your head, or jumping at the sound of a loud bang.
Here’s the problem: your amygdala responds to intellectual threats the same way it responds to physical threats.
The amygdala is also responsible for forming and storing memories associated with emotional events. And because our early memories are more emotional than rational, they are stored in the amygdala.
Your core beliefs are the beliefs you cherish most deeply. They usually develop from childhood and are compounded by life experiences. Core beliefs are inflexible, rigid, and extremely sensitive to being challenged.
Over time, your amygdala helps you form these core beliefs and build a worldview out of them. Linguist George Lakoff called these core beliefs frames, and wrote that, “To be accepted, the truth must fit people’s frames. If the facts do not fit a frame, the frame stays and the facts bounce off.”
Your amygdala helps you protect your worldview by rejecting facts that do not fit. The defense that it mounts causes you to more than reject the message, but also to reject the messenger.
When an uncomfortable truth is laid in front of you, all you can do is turn a blind eye and try to forget about it before your next meal, and of course hate the person who is making you feel so uncomfortable.
But no justice movement has ever succeeded by staying silent and letting the oppressors stay comfortable.
Rather than acknowledge the truth and accept that supporting cruelty is wrong and selfish, people have a tendency to curse the messenger for trying to protect animals from suffering. They verbally attack vegans, who are only trying to spread kindness and compassion, as a “preachy,” annoying threat. They attribute violent intent to the vegans, complaining that the vegans keep “shoving” their views at non-vegans.
The next time you see that a vegan has shared a message on Facebook asking you to go vegan, instead of getting angry with the messenger, take a look at yourself. If you are not yet vegan, you are complicit in this cruelty. This truth is hard to swallow when you realize that your actions are causing pain and suffering on a daily basis.
Then get angry with the meat industry: the lobbyists and shareholders who keep the truth hidden for their own selfish gain. Get angry at the government for subsiding the cruelty with your tax dollars and telling people that animal flesh and secretions are necessary and healthy to consume. Get angry at the fashion industry for promoting the skin, fur, and feathers stolen from defenseless animals. Get angry at the gun industry, which promotes hunting animals for fun and “tradition.” All of these people are responsible the perpetuation of this systematic injustice. Do you want to part of it too?