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Overcoming Speciesism

What is Speciesism?born to be eaten

According to the Oxford Dictionary, speciesism is the assumption of human superiority leading to the exploitation of animals.

To raise awareness of how speciesism plays a major role in today’s society, I am going to share Jay Quigley’s TED Talk on “Overcoming Speciesism.”

In this sixteen minute presentation, Jay Quigley provides hope and some practical advice on how to end animal suffering. He also offers some practical ways to bring our food choices more in alignment with our values. (For more information you can also refer to last week’s article on 101 Reasons to Go Vegan.)

Jay shows speciesism as another form of discrimination and based on judging others not for who they are but for what they are not. With speciesism, the lives and experiences of nonhuman animals are usually considered less important than those of human beings simply because they are not like humans. Yet nonhuman animals have emotional lives and feel pain, pleasure, fear and joy. Devaluing their lives simply because they don’t have some characteristics that most humans have is discrimination.

Many people tell me over and over again that “man” is “better” than other nonhuman animals and that is why God gave man dominion over the animals to do with what he pleases but I say this; 

When we come to know God/Love from our heart, everything we do and all the choices we make on a daily basis become conscious. We begin to evaluate our life, our behaviors, our perceptions and all our daily choices on a deeper level. We decide day by day how it is best to walk with Him by walking in His mercy, walking in His grace and walking in His love.

Instead of citing, for example, what Jesus was said to have possibly eaten in Biblical times, it would be far more relevant to ask, What would Jesus do today, if he lived in the age of industrialized agriculture where billions of animals are bred through artificial insemination, treated like mere commodities and processed like worthless pieces of meat — used and killed not from necessity, but just to satisfy our tastebuds and to line the pockets of wealthy industrialists?

Would he praise humankind for respecting his creations? Or would he instead invoke The Golden Rule? Would he not insist that, when given a choice between mercy and cruelty, the true energy of Love is compelled to choose compassion over violence?

After I reflected long and hard on these questions, I chose to take the path of mercy because He first showed us mercy.  This decision to spare the innocent life of animals feels better on my heart and is congruent with my core values.

When we are fortunate enough to live in an era and a culture that provides plentiful access to plant-based foods year round, and a “choice” between sparing life or taking it, I have come to the realization that there is nothing logical or ethical to me about rejecting compassion, and choosing death for animals just because we like the taste of their flesh.

With this new insight, I let go of my old habits (eating meat) and adopted a new habit (eating a plant based diet) that support the integrity and wellbeing of our current era and culture. (For more on the protein myth, check out this explanation from Dr. Reed Mangels.)

Farm animals that are raised for food are gentle, defenseless, sentient beings (capable of being aware of sensations and emotions, of feeling pain and suffering, and of experiencing a state of well being.) They cannot fight back or defend themselves so in my humble opinion, might DOES NOT equal right!!

ego vs eco

When given the choice between mercy and mercilessness, vegans (people who do not eat meat, dairy or eggs) are compelled to choose compassion over taking the innocent life of animals for food or clothing.

To me, living an ethical life means we strive to thwart our baser instincts – those that cause harm and injury to others – and cultivate those behaviors and attitudes that promote peace and the wellbeing of ourselves and all beings.

Enjoy Enjoy Jay Quigley’s TED Talk!

Jay Quigley recently completed his PhD in philosophy at Florida State University. He has published on moral theory, and his dissertation was on the role of caring in discovering moral values. During his time at FSU, he has pursued his interests in practical ethics through teaching philosophy courses, coaching an Ethics Bowl team, co-founding Students for Ending Poverty (STEP) in 2013, and initiating an outreach wing of the FSU Ethical Food Association in 2014. He frequently presents in community forums on ethical issues pertaining to global poverty and animal welfare.

See you next week!

Peace be with you, and may you always find light on your path, good health, and true friends to make the journey with you.

Gena Livings


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