What is it to hold an extreme position? I am a vegan and people tell me this is extreme. Am I not just taking things a bit too far? An extreme position is one which deviates most from the moderate. I would like to question the moderate.
My diet is a choice of the least effected. When people ask ‘Why are you vegan?’ there is always a simple answer.
‘Because I can.’
It is possible for me to sustain myself on plants. Never mind the perils of my nutritional deficit. Throw heart disease out of the window, so many deaths, after all, are caused by vegan malnutrition.
Let’s put aside the foggy uncertainties of nutritional science and focus on the fact that people can live good lives as vegans in this day and age. I recognise this as a privilege. To have choice and an ability to make moral decisions about your diet is a privilege. I respect this privilege by using it. I can be vegan.
Why then would I choose to continue to participate in a system which propagates systemic violence and slaughter to living beings? Either I am ignorant, ambivalent or apathetic. Through critical thinking and self-reflection we put aside the barbarism of our past and make a better world. If you do eat meat take a moment to interrogate the traditions of your society. If nothing gives you pause for thought then stop reading.
If you recognise the problems in the system but think that it is only natural to eat this way ask yourself – is it natural to grow animals specifically for slaughter? Is it natural to buy their bodies pre-cut and plastic wrapped in the chilled section of a supermarket? Eating meat may be natural but there is nothing natural about the way we do it.
I am a product of my society, parentage and evolution. The life I lead is not one of a predator. I do not recognise this in my psyche or my biology. Evolution and human progress have removed the necessity for animal consumption. So I choose to live a life as harmonious as possible with the natural world that we depend on.
With this in mind I find it hard to reconcile my position with one of extremism. To me the extremism lies in the human choices which subjugate a whole myriad of species to exploitation and abuse. Our disconnect from the process of animal agriculture is the only thing that explains our acceptance of it in a world that values peace, justice and liberalism. There is nothing moderate about this industry.