Vegetarianism is a step in the right direction, but the logic
of the vegan ease is absolute. No-one - whether nutritionist, physician,
sociologist or churchman - can refute the veganic argument in any
important respect. Veganism is part of the most civilised concept
of life nian has been able to envisage. More than laeto-vegetarianism,
veganism "speaks to the condition" of our modern world. That still
only a minute number of Western people put its principles into practice
is evidence of nothing but our reluctance to break with habit and
to place conscience before social inconvenience. - from a speech
at Animals' Rights Symposium given at the Commonwealth Institute,
London, May 1980
I see no realistic long-term alternative to a world whose natural
resources are regarded as factors with which we have to collaborate
- not dominate - in order to take our proper place in the scheme
of things. I suggest the reasons for this are not only expedient,
but evolutionary . . . it is surely our role to envisage and work
toward a world which is sanely and humanely controlled, not exploited,
by those with the vision and humility to question established mores.
I say "humility" because it is the airogance born of long habit
and entrenched prejudice that seeks to defend behavioural patterns
that have long been a matter of comfortable acceptance for a privileged
minority at the expeuse of the rest of the world. - Animals'
Rights: a Symposium
Flying fish would land on board, sometimes being caught by the
sails and dropping on deck, sometimes hitting the coach-roof or
stanchions. He retrieved them, sharing the sea's gift with Seamew.
But one day he found himself studying a fish that landed by the
forward hatch. He noted the helpless lifting of its strange "wings"
as it sought to return to the life-giving sea. He picked it up,
feeling the tremulous proof of its humble being, the vibrating will
to survive, and in what might have been idle curiosity he held it
over the side, watching the eager response of its fins to the dousing
of a passing crest. - So Say Banana Bird
axtracts from 'The Civilised Alternative: a Pattern for Protest':
Cruelty, like kindness, is indivisible. Children and men cannot
safely be taught to take delight in cruelty to some living things
and to abhor cruelty to others - . . sincc we accept the obscenities
of cruelty, in whatever form, we must also accept the impossibility
of arguing degrees.
Man cannot claim an instinct for aggression if many of his species
show no such instinCt and manage to live normal and unfrustrated
lives without killing their fellows, hunting, fighting, persecuting
minorities, thrashing their wives and dogs or tormenting their children.
Indeed, if only one member of the human race displayed no urge to
indulge in violent aggression while being in normal health, it would
be enough to disprove the assumption of Homo sapiens' ineradicable
instinct of violence.
Western man is schooled in violence and greed from the moment
he is bom. The society into which he arrives is incessantly concerned
to persuade him of the merits of violence. From the moment that
his scarcely co-ordinated fingers try to push away the 'nice beef
stew' and the small gobbets of flesh that most anxious and deluded
mothers try to push into his system (all those battles of the high-chair
would hardly be necessary if man was naturally the carnivore that
some still claim), the Western baby is learning that his society
rests squarely on the credo of 'I kill, therefore I am'.
The case against vivisection is the same as that against war and
all other forms of cruelty - that violence does not produce long-term
... it takes no great degree of education to detect the monstrous
and callous absurdity of a society that chooses to over-indulge
and pollute its way into physical and mental ill-health, and then
tortures millions of animals in order to find answers to diseases
that could so often be prevented by a change of habit. Perhaps the
twenty-first century's symbol of contemporary insanity will be the
twitching tail-ends of a dozen imprisoned white mice being compelled
to inhale tobacco smoke until they develop the cancers that human
beings invite in preference to the rejection of an addiction no
self-respecting mouse would give skirting room to.
... the only argument against vivisection that will be seen to
have lasting power - that we do not improve human society by means
that debase human character.
extracts from 'Food for a Future: The Ecological Priority of
a Humane Diet'
We must develop a better sense of responsibilty towards our total
environment ... this better sense cannot any longer exclude from
revision the staples of our diet.
. . not only have other creatures a right to live . . . they have
the even more critical right not to be born at all at the whim of
man. . . in our half-baked thinking and incessant ferocity towards
the countless creatures whom, alive, we imprison, mutilate, maim,
trap, strangle, shoot, hook, chase, snare, de-limb, behead, suffocate,
flay, disembowel, stab, crush, over-feed, burn, drown, boil, freeze,
cut up, make sick, terrorise and by numerous other means mercilessly
exploit day in and day out for no better reason than that we wish
to devour them, we are shamefully forsaking that one obligation
which above all others we should recognise - to put our unique knowledge
of the difference between good and evil, between mercy and cruelty,
before our heart-hardening greed.
Unless one subscribes to the primitive and shocking belief that
animals, being without souls, are fair game for whatever treatment
humans wish to inflict on them, the obligation to show pity towards
all sentient life is universally recognised as religious in the
widest and best sense of that all too often narrow word. There are
few religious beliefs that fail to emphasise the need for compassion.
Unfortunately there are few scientific specialisms which grant it
the least attention. While no theist who conceives of his god as
aligned to the smallest degree of mercy can logically dismiss the
right of all sentient beings to expect from man more than from the
other members of creation evidence of the divine values of pity
and love, the scientific mind has as yet shown little sign of Iawakening
to this realisation. Yet without it mere knowledge is nothing more
than contaminated dust.
Here, in the wide field of our treatment of other living beings,
religion and science are capable of finding a nuity on the very
highest level of their separate specialisms. Here the balance born
of humane eclecticism can bring about a vital and applicable ethic
. . . But it is vitally important, if there is a shred of reason
for believing that mankind is working out some evolutionary pattern
and accepting an obligation or profound need to grow spiritually,
that we do the right things for the right reasons rather than for
expediency or lack of alternative.
Dietethics - that is, the study of the ethics of diet - relate
not only to the animals we eat, but also to the world's malnourished
and starving human millions . . . if we abandoned the grossly wasteful
habit of eating our plants via the bodies of animals, there need
be no starving people in the world to-day.
from a Talk for Writers Against Experiments on Animals at St.
James's, Piccadilly, London, 24 April 1985:
Of the animal rights issue, some would say it is a minor, irrelevant,
even ridiculous concern. "Man must come first" is the cry, as though
it was an either/or matter.
What they really mean is that man must come first and last and
that nothing must be done in the animals' cause apart from the occasional
cover-up job where the evidence of our -abuse of other sentient
life is too painful for more sensitive humans to tolerate.
I believe such diehards to be wrong on every count. Wrong not
only to be indifferent to our treatment of animals, for those animals'
sakes, but wrong because sl]ch callousness helps substantially to
prolong the worst aspects of the human predicament. Cruelty is indivisible.
Violence is indivisible. What has variously been called karma, the
Golden Rule, and so forth, cannot be side-stepped by our tricky
minds. It is something that just happens, just ''works'', like night
Until we establish a felt sense of kinship between our own species
and those fellow mortals - those "other nations", as Henry Beston
put it - who share with us the sun and shadow of life on this agonized
planet, there is no hope for other species, there is no hope for
our environment, and there is no hope for ourselves. The writing
is on the wall - large and clear.
More extracts from Food for a Future: