This short essay by End Animal Slaughter contributor Paul Stevenson first appeared in the book ‘Why I Will Always Be Vegan: 125 essays from Around the World’ compiled by “Butterflies” Marcia Katz (Amazon, 2015)
I am vegan because it is the kind thing to do. I like the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I include members of other species as “others” because they have feelings just like us, experience the world like us and suffer as we do.
Kindness is central to the Golden Rule. Kindness is an essential part of justice, and justice of progress. Without kindness there is no justice, no happiness and no progress. The Golden Rule therefore obligates us to be vegan because there is no alternative.
‘We cannot live by the Golden Rule if we support this industry’
The entire animal industry, including food animals, and animals used for fabrics, research and entertainment, is monstrously brutal. Suffering is integral to it; it requires suffering. Anyone supporting the animal industry is therefore directly responsible for causing immense suffering. It is despicable that we should require others to suffer to satisfy our pleasure when there are alternatives that cause no suffering. We cannot live by the Golden Rule if we support this industry. This is why I will always be vegan.
There is more to kindness than at first meets the eye. It has consequences for both parties, perpetrator and recipient. Treating others unkindly is a lose-lose situation. The victims of our unkindness are harmed by it, but so are we. To be unkind is to act beneath ourselves. As a result we lose hugely. Unkindness degrades us and destroys our dignity. When we casually cause and ignore the suffering of others we become pathetic people indeed; we become small, hard and mean – ignoble. In the end we lose our umanity itself, the very essence of what it is to be human.
By contrast, being kind to others is a win-win situation. The recipients of kindness benefit from it, but the person who performs the kindness gains immensely. We feel elevated; we become bigger, happier people. Paradoxically, we gain even when we apparently lose, when donating blood for example. Kindness elevates and ennobles us. Kindness bestows undreamt of joy upon us. Our hearts glow. Only by being kind to others can we know true happiness. There can be no justice, no joy without kindness. In rejecting cruelty and adopting a life based on kindness we regain and expand our humanity. That makes the world a better place for all.