Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dear Vegans

No, Elsa does not want to snuggle or pose for the camera.

As the operator of a chicken sanctuary, I often have to justify myself to the masses: No, it’s not a farm; no, I don’t sell the eggs; and no, she’s not an “it.”

These kinds of things are to be expected.

What has been less expected -- and indeed, heartbreaking -- is the constant need to justify myself to vegans.

Yes, I really did just spend thousands of dollars to save one bird’s life. No, she wasn’t a special pet who displayed a remarkable intelligence and affection for humans. She doesn’t like to dress up in human clothes or pose for photo ops on the couch. She doesn’t even like being touched, much less held.

But why does it matter? She is still an individual with a zeal for life and interests of her own that are every bit as worthwhile as those of a horse, pig, or dog.

“I know it’s being speciesist,” one vegan wrote. “But isn’t that a lot of money?”

Yes, it is a lot of money. Four nights of hospitalization plus four hours in surgery cost a fuckton of money for anyone of any species. Would you withdraw support from a horse sanctuary because it spent $2,500 on a surgery? Would you badmouth your sister for spending $2,500 to save her pet cat?

Or do you think that because her dead body sells for only $2 in the grocery store, the life of a chicken is worth less than that of a horse or cat?

Birds are incredibly complex and fragile, perhaps more so than any other animal. Domesticated chickens, with their generations of selective breeding to suit animal agriculture, have taken this fragility to a whole new level. Caring for them properly is a never-ending task that can only be accomplished with the support of the community – particularly, the vegan community that purports to love all animals equally.

Please don’t devalue them for not being snuggly or because they all look alike. Please don’t engage in the speciesism for which we criticize non-vegans.

Being an activist means appreciating others for who they are and realizing that, after all, it’s not all about us.