Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them
to Jo using this easy form.
She would be happy to address your individual concerns
as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy,
practical applications, and living compassionately.
Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or
answer questions that have already been addressed in
Jo will make every attempt to answer each question
personally, however, due to her schedule, this may not
be possible. If a reply is forthcoming, it could take
up to a few weeks, so please be patient. It is also
possible that your question will be answered directly
in the "Ask Jo!" column rather than an individual
If you'd like to view previous questions Jo has
answered, visit the Ask Jo! Archives.
There seems to be a lot of pride in
humans -- pride for our abilities to invent, create,
and think rationally. But when I consider how we treat
animals, it makes me feel that we are a plague upon
our planet and all its inhabitants. Whatever accomplishments
we congratulate our species for seem to be worthless
compared to our cruelty and lack of compassion. Things
that I regard as wonderful -- such as beautiful music,
inspired artwork, romance, and literature -- lose their
luster when their creators are monsters. I find I have
very little empathy or patience for meat-eaters. Is
open their eyes and hearts to so much of the world's
suffering that goes unnoticed. We are acutely aware
of the pain that animals endure at the hands of humans
and of their needless torment and slaughter. We would
have to be made of stone if these rampant and senseless
tragedies didn't touch the very core of our being. The
hurt we allow ourselves to be exposed to is the very
reason most other people deny its existence.
Because vegans choose to live with conscious
awareness, we do not turn our backs on the suffering
masses. As a result, we are vividly cognizant of the
depravity perpetrated against animals in the name of
human greed. We have permitted ourselves to see this
sordid side of life, and it is heartbreaking, especially
because we know it is unnecessary.
With this in mind, it is not surprising
that you feel callous toward those who eat meat. It
is often extremely difficult for vegans to believe that
others are unwilling to see the truths that for us are
so apparent. People who shut their eyes and refuse to
acknowledge this reality can make us angry, frustrated,
and cynical. Yet those same feelings can bind our hearts
and thereby limit our compassion.
We each have our strengths and areas
of weakness. Just because vegans are willing to witness
and expose the horrors of animal suffering does not
necessarily make us paragons of kindness and purity.
There are undoubtedly aspects of our personalities and
lives that fall short of others who might display great
acts of courage, generosity, and empathy but who are
not vegan. Eating meat does not inherently make a person
"evil" any more than shunning meat makes a person virtuous.
People who are not vegan can still have powerful insights
and dynamic, altruistic perspectives. Their artful expressions
are no less valuable or beautiful than those created
by vegans and should be appreciated with equal awe and
When we put limitations on our empathy
for meat-eaters, we are forgetting the "all" in "all
life" for which veganism has reverence. Our compassion
becomes stunted, hierarchical, and myopic, paralleling
the meat-eaters' lack of compassion for all animals.
Being merciful toward those who least understand our
values is one of the most formidable aspects of being
vegan. In many ways, it is much easier to empathize
with the plight of animals than with our meat-eating
fellow humans. Nevertheless, if our reverence for life
is to be all-encompassing and sincere, then we have
no choice but to challenge ourselves to open our hearts
even further. If we do not, we are not fully employing
the ethic to which we lay claim.
Copyright © 1998-2015 by Jo Stepaniak
All rights reserved.
Nothing on this web site may
be reproduced in any way
without express written permission from the copyright