These days, if you hop on Facebook, Twitter, or any news site, you’re likely to see a story about discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, etc. It’s sad, scary stuff, and we all know that it’s WRONG. Let’s face it: We have a long way to go in recognizing and respecting everyone’s rights. And this isn’t just limited to human rights—the same applies to all species.

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FreeImages.com/quil 

Everyone should be treated equally, plain and simple. And everyone has the right to be left alone—including animals. Growing up, I understood that it was wrong to judge people by the color of their skin and that both my gender and sexual orientation had nothing to do with the content of my character. Once I saw how horribly animals were treated behind closed doors, it only made sense to speak out for them, too—because oppression of any kind is wrong.

Is a Meat-Eater More Likely to Be Racist?

Did you know that according to a new study by an international team of researchers, a person’s thoughts about equality among humans could be linked to whether or not he or she eats animals? In other words, if the idea of killing another living being for a meal doesn’t upset you, you’re probs not too bothered by other social injustices, either.

The study, “Rationalizing Meat Consumption: The 4Ns,” published in the journal Appetite, found that people who justify eating animals by claiming that it’s “natural,” “normal,” “necessary,” or “nice”—even though it is none of these things—are, in general, more tolerant of social inequality (including everything from slavery to homophobia). Think about it for a sec: If it’s easy for a person to decide that some humans shouldn’t have the same rights as others, it only makes sense that they may have the same theory when it comes to different species.

We Are All the Same

Eating animals only seems natural when we start to believe that “I” am important and “you” are not—and that “my” desires and interests are more valuable than the lives of other living beings.

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Bottom Left and Right images: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals 

When it comes to caring for others’ well-being, as philosopher Jeremy Bentham said, the question shouldn’t be whether or not they’re the same as us in their ability to reason but rather are they like us in that they can suffer? After all, animals feel.

They love.

They want to live.

They crave freedom.

They experience pain.

Why Deny What Is ‘Natural’?

Be honest with yourself—could you ever kill a cat or a dog? Could you kill anyone for that matter? The answer is likely no, and that’s because you have a conscience and a heart. Yet every time we sit down to a meal, we’re conditioned to disconnect ourselves from the reality that millions of animals suffer tremendously for the meat, dairy, and egg industries. If we know it’s wrong, if it’s too hard to watch the video of it, WHY do we pretend that none of it happens and still choose to eat animals? As long as we continue to buy meat, dairy products, and eggs, we’ll continue to fund and support these industries.

Cow-and-calf

But there’s always hope. Thanks to the Internet, more and more people are becoming aware of where their food actually comes from. Plus, eating animals does all kinds of damage even beyond ending lives directly—it’s also one of the largest contributors to climate change and world hunger. So, you see, going vegan helps humans, too. It’s a win-win for everyone on this Earth.

Compassion Isn’t a Competition

As humans, we have a conscience and are much more compassionate than we give ourselves credit for being. And compassion isn’t a competition. Just because we care about one issue doesn’t mean we can’t care about others. Our hearts are big enough to care for everyone.

Change can happen once we begin to recognize that all oppression, prejudice, and cruelty is wrong—and that all are connected. We can start with our next meal.

Go vegan! 

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