As I start a vegan blog in the middle of a pandemic and a few weeks after the murder of George Floyd, I wanted to begin by saying, Black Lives Matter.
Saying Black Lives Matter does not mean other lives don’t matter. I am a vegan. I believe even animal lives matter. Rather, Black Lives Matter is a stance against the violence and systemic racism that has oppressed Black people in this country for centuries.
I am not a resource or an expert on the history of slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow laws, or the police brutality, race discrimination, and modern slavery of today. I have linked below a few recommended books that I plan to read and for your reference.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
- Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
I just wanted to begin my blog by saying there is no place for racism or oppression or injustice in the humane future I am working toward. I will work toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues this country. Foremost, I am a Bahai, and the Bahai writings directly and explicitly reject any notion of white supremacy. Baha’u’llah says:
“O CHILDREN OF MEN! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest.
Before we have a world that cares about the suffering of animals, we have to care about the suffering of our fellow humans. I am sure you have heard the saying, he/she “wouldn’t hurt a fly” to refer to someone who is so gentle he/she would not hurt anyone, even a fly (let alone a human). Mahatma Gandhi said:
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
Imagine a nation mature enough to treat even animals with respect, kindness and compassion. Where we don’t slaughter them by the billions every year. If we have advanced enough to have empathy for the suffering of even animals, then logically we have empathy for all human beings. To believe in animals rights, but not human rights is nonsensical. The vegan movement is centered on empathy for all sentient beings.
I also want to suggest that we can stand, protest, advocate for more than one cause. As I like to explain, we can multitask.
I was protesting against elephants in the circus and was asked by one of the circus goers, “Why aren’t you out there protesting for all the hungry kids in the world?” I don’t know what he is doing for all the hungry kids in the world, but I found his comment incredibly ignorant. Little did he know that I fundraise money for UNICEF or that I went through weeks of training to become a court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem attorney and advocate for abused and neglected children or that I dedicated hundreds of pro bono hours to representing women and children seeking asylum and fighting for education equity in our classrooms.
In turn, while I was walking to an event on a university campus on the persecution of Baha’is in Iran, I was handed a pamphlet to go vegan. I told the protestor, “I already agree with you.” 🙂
My point is that all these social issues are all premised on the same underlying issue, injustice. As a vegan, I support all of them. I fight for all of them. I am working toward an empathetic world where we stop the oppression and exploitation of people, animals and the planet.
We are incredibly advanced beings that can send humans to space. We did that just two weeks ago. We are smart, innovative and industrious. But those are matters of the mind. We need to start with the heart to build a better world.