I've perhaps become a bit preoccupied with other things of late, and whilst I've been plodding along nicely with my own veganism I've forgotten about the fact that I'm a part of something bigger.
On 'Sunday Morning Live' yesterday they had a debate about killing animals for sport (triggered by the news of the shooting of a giant red stag last week). What was interesting about this discussion is that out of it came an awareness of the potentially hypocritical nature of being against hunting for sport but then for the eating of animals for pleasure.
If you're in the UK, you can watch the programme on BBC iPlayer (the debate starts at about 31 minutes in):
Poet Benjamin Zephaniah does us proud by representing a vegan point of view, as does Brian May from Queen who they manage to get on the phone (what an absolute legend!).
The contradictory nature of being a meat-eater who is against blood sport came from the views expressed by Christina Rees (General Synod of the Church of England).
When asked by the host, Susanna Reid, 'What is the difference between killing for food and hunting for sport?', Christiana replied, 'Well, if we eat it for food, then it has a purpose.' What she failed to recognise is that that purpose is none other than our own greed and pleasure, which is exactly what motivates hunting. Susanna responds by picking up on this point, asking 'Is there not a purpose in hunting for sport? There's an entertainment purpose...' and Rees fails again to make the comparison between the two, and says 'No, no, it's [hunting is] only for the benefit of people...'
Her argument becomes even more ridiculous when she admits that we do have urges to shoot at something, but that we can satisfy these urges in a way that does not cause suffering (for example, by shooting clay pigeons or taking up archery). If only she applied this logic to her own appetite!
Brian May had a really balanced and fair approach to those who felt compassion towards the stag, but who still ate meat:
Susanna: 'A lot of the people who might object to what happened to Emperor the stag will carry on eating meat. What do you think of those people?'
Brian: 'I think if you're starving and you have to kill an animal to survive, maybe you can justify that. But there really is absolutely no necessity to be eating meat at all.'
Susanna: 'Do you think it's hypocritical then, for people who eat meat, to find this abhorrent?'
Brian: 'I think, actually, no, not necessarily, I think there's a line along which we travel, and I've been travelling along it for a long time. I actually did eat meat for a very long time...at the moment I still consume milk and cheese and stuff, but I'm really beginning to doubt if that's okay as well, because that also causes an immense amount of suffering in the world, and as factory farming increases, I think you have to ask yourself these questions more and more and more. I do not think we should be doing this; it would be much more efficient for the planet for us to be eating non-animals.'
Brian May basically sums it up by arguing that it is indefensible to end an animal's life 'for fun', and this is what it comes down to when we think about diet, clothing, and lifetstyle. The way we live is ultimately an expression of what we value.
Christina later says 'We're all agreed, that even though we're not in the same position about eating animals, that killing an animal for sport is not alright. I expect, fast-forward several hundred years, and we will have found a way to eat in a way that does not involve eating animals.'
I have news for you Christina: We've already found that way, and it's called veganism! Wake up, for goodness sake.
I was very pleased to watch this debate, because I actually felt like - for once - veganism came across well to those watching (it does help when you have a rock legend fighting your corner...)
A word from Gandhi to finish (because it's world vegan day and I'm feeling the need to quote):
'It ill becomes us to invoke in our daily prayers the blessings of God, the Compassionate, if we in turn will not practice elementary compassion towards our fellow creatures.'
Amen to that.
Peace and love.