Has a torrent of emotion ever unexpectedly overwhelmed your entire being, halting whatever activity in which you had been engaged at that moment without your slightest knowledge of what on earth had inspired such a passionate outpouring? I may or may not have just undergone this inexplicable phenomenon, triggered by the playing of Beirut’s “Elephant Gun” on my Pandora account. While the song certainly boasts a powerful melody accentuated by almost haunting vocals, I’m loath to attribute my surprisingly intense reaction to it merely to musical proficiency alone.
Perhaps the universe’s karmic forces are attempting to communicate with me.
For the past couple of days, I’ve grappled with Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma while writing my second piece in a three-part series (the first of which you can find here) debunking Pollan’s justification of the acceptability of eating animals. In the essay, I employ much “them vs. us” language when referring to Pollan and his audience vs. the vegetarians and vegans of the world. While Pollan very clearly displays his disdain for veg*ns in his book and persuades his readers to disassociate themselves from that group of “animal people,” I realize that this separation comprises exactly what we in the vegan/animal rights movement seek to ameliorate. We don’t want to alienate current non-vegans or create an exclusive club of herbivores; indeed, these actions prove contrary to the movement’s ultimate goal of spreading the compassionate message to everyone. However, in attacking Pollan, I can’t help but feel that I’ve engaged in the very same processes that I actively wish to avoid in my everyday life. For example, when discussing veganism/animal rights with a non-vegan, I constantly remind myself that I once ate animals as well; this renders me capable of holding a meaningful, non-accusatory conversation with that person. While I do feel it helpful to expose the justifications that ardent omnivores employ to perpetuate the slaughter of animals for human consumption, perhaps concentrating my energies on doing so may not further the vegan movement in the most effective manner. Yes, I intend to finish this essay as well as the final one in the series, but I also intend to shift the focus of my activism in a more universally compassionate direction after I complete these works.
Ahh, gotta love the constant reconsideration of how to best cultivate a just world for the animals, both human and non.
Until next time, Ali.