[I just found this blog entry had been sitting in my drafts folder for over a year, better late than never, I guess]
As I was reading On PETA and Weekday Vegetarians, I was reminded of a story I heard a long time ago: A guy did a rolling stop at a stop sign, and immediately got pulled over. The police officer told him that he failed to stop, to which he answered “But I slowed down!” The officer ordered him out of the car, and began beating the man, after a few seconds of this, the officer asked “do you want me to slow down or stop?”
I guess Ingrid Newkirk would condemn the law’s “all or nothing” attitude about stop signs? But just like those who “bend the rules” at stop signs, her inability to tell the difference between stopping and slowing down is endangering far more animals. Her “all or nothing” strawman and her “screw the principle” attitude is leaving those who would try to go vegan adrift, with no clear destination; no clear reason for doing so. Such people may end up remaining vegan, or, more likely, they may end up buying grass-fed beef and cage free eggs and feeling that this somehow makes animals’ lives better.
I am certainly not denying that one must be pragmatic or that “all or nothing” is unreasonable. To combat something as deeply entrenched as our pervasive use of animals we have to take an incremental approach. But without a principle guiding us, we won’t know which increments to pursue. We won’t know where we are going. We have no hope of getting anywhere near “all”, we are more likely to wander aimlessly and end up with “nothing”.
The only way we will end animal suffering is to stop using them. That is the principle we must stick to. That isn’t to say that everyone must become 100% vegan tomorrow. If someone can be vegan on weekdays (or one day, or even one meal), that is a good thing, and a step in the right direction. But knowing the principle is what will make them take the next step.