I Don't Love Animals
You read that right. I am not an animal lover.
Very recently, my partner and I contemplated the idea of rescuing a dog. I felt uneasy because most of the reasons that made us decide not to have a child (nothing to do with veganism) are the ones that would make me not want to rescue a dog. I don't want the responsibility, the constant involvement required for their mental health, etc. The companionship of an animal does not deeply improve my quality of life, and when it comes to a dog, I think the responsibility outweighs the benefits.
And Yet, You're a Vegan?
Now, yes, I am vegan, and I didn't need a lot of convincing to go vegan. All I had to do was to sit and watch Earthlings to the end. Really, there is no argument against it. I don't need to have a natural, intrinsic empathy for the animals being abused to agree that what is done to them is horrendous, and needs to stop as soon as possible. All I need to do is to think logically about the issue, regardless of how I innately relate to the victims.
The sheer amount of cruelty that is done to non-human animal victims in the industries in which they are abused should be enough to have any one of us want to tear our eyes out and forget we saw it. Ask any carnist to sit through Earthlings or Dominion, and 99 out of 100 times the answer is: "I don't want to see it. It will make me feel bad about my food choices".
(Not to mention clothing, cosmetics, entertainment, etc.)
Yet, when a carnist sees a vegan, they'll often think that "those animal lovers" don't understand that this is a natural thing. In their mind, we vegans are above all a group of people who love non-human animals so much, who emphasize with them so much, that we put their well being above ours, and their rights above humans'. And that we should be fighting for other human causes that still need fighting for, instead of for "a bunch of animals". But this is far from the truth.
I am fine in my urban environment; I don't feel the need for a "reconnection with nature"; I don't think a non-human animal companion is absolutely required for my well-being; I don't think there is "true innocence and love" in the way a non-human animal cares, etc, etc. Yet, I know I don't need their flesh and secretions to stay healthy and properly nourished. So, why finance the tremendous abuse these sentient beings go through? For simple 10 minutes of pleasure? When I have even alternatives for that same pleasure? It's not even like I am giving up anything - the pleasure is still there even if I don't partake in financing animal abuse.
An Issue of Justice - And Abuse in a Scale without Comparison
If you are not vegan and you are wondering why I am referring to obtaining animal products as abuse, please, watch both the documentaries I mentioned above. I won't do you the disservice of describing the atrocities to you, as that would only diminish their cruelty. I really need you to see them for yourself, like I once did myself.
Now, if I don't love animals, why do I engage actively in this cause, when there are so many others where humans are being harmed?
Because in none of them the level of cruelty and depravity is so widespread, accepted, and encouraged by society. We are talking outright breeding, murder, torture - physical and psychological -, in industrial proportions. So bizarre it dwarfs any other injustice happening in the world. You'd need to harm a thousand times the human population to reach the same order of magnitude (billion x trillions) of what is done to non-humans in a single year. I am not exaggerating. (You really need to watch those documentaries for you to understand the depths of the depravity I am talking about. Do not chastise me for comparing human and non-human suffering - first, see it for yourself.)
Because in demanding animal liberation, we will achieve human liberation. Because when we do not think of ourselves as superior to the point of breeding, torturing and murdering a sentient being for the simple take of sensorial pleasure, we will think twice about using superiority to justify any prejudice towards a fellow human.
All Systems of Oppression Begin with Speciesism
I cannot, without being a hypocrite, demand an end of prejudice and bias based on human characteristics, and stay silent about the one based on species. I just cannot demand trans rights, black people's rights, native people's rights, women's rights, and stay silent about animal rights. The core logic of all these plights is based on the system of oppression that starts with: "humans are naturally superior to animals". From there, "dogs are superior to pigs", "men are superior to women", "whites are superior to black", etc. Therefore, yes, I will speak and engage on all human causes. But intersectionality is moot if animal rights are also not part of the fight.
When we care for a fellow earthling, it shouldn't matter that earthling's skin color, gender, wealth or species.
And I don't need to love any particular set of species to be aware of that. I just need to be able to care. So no, I don't love animals. Yet I must be the voice they don't have.