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Ethics & Integrity

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While many individuals claim to be against animal cruelty, it’s common for people to contribute to harm unknowingly.


Despite caring about animals’ well-being, our food choices often indirectly or directly cause their suffering and death. This isn’t to label anyone as ‘bad’ but to raise awareness about the impact of our choices on non-human animals. The intention is not to pass judgement or induce guilt but to encourage making food choices in line with personal values, traditions, and cultures.

How can we claim to oppose something while supporting it every day? When it comes to eating animals, many of us grapple with cognitive dissonance—the mental discomfort of holding conflicting beliefs.


While we profess a belief in respecting animal well-being, our actions of killing them for taste pleasure contradicts this ideal, creating what is known as the meat paradox.

Living in societies that shield us from the reality of animal farming, we are fed a fairy tale of idyllic farms through adverts, packaging, and even children'’s media.


To avoid discomfort, we've altered our language. We’ve altered our language to avoid discomfort, distancing meat from its origin. We say ‘"beef’" or ‘"steak,’" not cows, we say ‘"pork’" or ‘"sausages,’" not pigs, we say ‘“meat’”, not ‘“body parts’, " although this is what meat is about in the first place.


Yet, when we do confront the process, the humane narrative often unravels. Once arrived at the slaughterhouse, animals are so frightened that they often try to escape as they can smell the blood and hear the screams of others. Unfortunately for them, this facility is specifically designed to make sure they don’’t come out alive.


While the religious ways avoid stunning the animals, the standard non-religious practice involves stunning before slaughter. They are either electrocuted, shot in the head via a captive bolt gun which perforates their skull, or locked up in a gas chamber. Upon losing consciousness, though they frequently regain awareness, they are then hung upside down so workers can slit their throat and behead them. Regardless of the method chosen, can we truly label it ‘“humane’” to unnecessarily kill someone who would rather live?

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To avoid answering this question, we like to tell ourselves that we shouldn’’t use the word ‘“someone’” since they are not humans. However, if they are not someone, what are they, something?


Sadly, this fate befalls over 3.8 billion animals daily worldwide, constituting the largest massacre in history, by far. To give some perspective, if a ‘higher’ species would treat us the way we treat animals, the human race will would go extinct in less than 2 days. Irrespective of their welfare standards, most farmed animals face the same gruesome end.


Many people unaware of these realities may choose vegetarianism, yet this alone doesn'’t spare animals from this unimaginable suffering, as dairy cows for cheese and hens for eggs are sent to slaughterhouses when they are no longer profitable. In addition, both male baby cows and male baby chicks are killed since they cannot produce milk and eggs.


To alleviate cognitive dissonance, aligning our behaviour with our belief in respecting animal well-being necessitates a shift toward veganism. This lifestyle seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation and cruelty to non-human animals for food, clothing, and any other purpose.

Does being vegan mean causing no harm at all?


Certainly not, as simply being alive can inadvertently result in harm, even in the cultivation of certain crops.


However, conscious intent matters. Distinguishing between purposeful harm and accidental harm. For instance, there’s a clear distinction between accidentally hitting a dog on the road and deliberately harming one.


The issue arises when we purchase animal meat, as someone intentionally takes the animal’s life on our behalf for consumption, unlike the accidental impacts in crop production. Adopting a vegan lifestyle directly eliminates this cognitive dissonance, aligning our behaviour with our morals.


Yet, humans resist behavioural changes that challenge their identity and cultural norms, often revealing conditioned responses rather than true principles.


Remarkably, industries have devised a system shielding consumers from the grim realities, outsourcing the dirty work to marginalised individuals. This allows consumers to enjoy their food without confronting cognitive dissonance directly.


However, if ethical reasons deter us from wielding the knife ourselves, can we morally justify having someone else do it on our behalf? And if we’d be willing to perform the act, can we ethically justify taking a life when it’s unnecessary?

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Our brain often employs creative strategies to mitigate cognitive dissonance. One common approach is viewing animals as objects or commodities.


Yet, deep down, we acknowledge their distinct personalities, akin to our pets. Another tactic involves belittling animals, convincing ourselves they can’t truly feel pain or lack intelligence, although we know we cannot morally justify taking a life based on intellectual abilities.


However, our perspective changes when it comes to other animals, like pets or wild ones, recognising their sentience and right to be live. Yet, there’s a double standard in how we treat certain animals, a phenomenon termed ‘speciesism’.


While most people reject poaching and trophy hunting for causing unnecessary harm to animals, a similar act in a slaughterhouse is often accepted, reflecting the inherent bias in our treatment of different species.

What exactly is speciesism?


While racism, sexism, or speciesism are complex and different in many ways, these forms of oppression are rooted in the same hierarchical mindset: the idea that certain groups of individuals are superior to others because of arbitrary criteria such as race, gender, or species, which is the root cause of some of the biggest crimes against Humanity, especially the crimes against Black people throughout history such as slavery, colonisation and neo-colonisation.


While the motives are different, the justifications used back then remain the same ones we currently use today to justify unnecessarily owning, exploiting, and killing farmed animals: “They are bred for that purpose”, “They were put here for us”, “God said it’s ok”, “They are different”, “We are more intelligent”, “We are superior”.It’s easy to overlook, but amidst our differences from various species, it’s crucial to remember that we are one of them—Homo sapiens. In simpler terms, we, too, are animals.


While it’s widely accepted as morally wrong to commodify humans, the question arises – why would it be morally acceptable to commodify non-human animals? This is the essence of speciesism: the belief that we have the right to choose which species are to be protected and which ones are to be exploited or killed for profit, simply because they are not human.


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What about African communities that rely on the consumption of animals?


While we believe that the consumption of animals is justified in cases of necessity, particularly in specific rural areas, it’s crucial to note that most of us, especially in African cities and in the West, do not depend on animal products for survival; rather, our consumption is driven by personal preference.


Pleasure, notably the taste of meat, milk, and eggs, stands out as a primary motivator since we would never eat these products if we didn’t like the way they taste. However, the ethical question arises – can any action be morally justified solely for pleasure, especially when it involves the exploitation, harm, commodification, or killing of someone?


While we all know the answer to this question, the challenge rather lies in how farmed animals have been marginalised to such a degree that they are not even recognised as victims, simply because they aren’t humans or iconic species like elephants, giraffes, or lions. We believe that it’s imperative to draw lessons from history and remember that normality does not equate to morality.


To achieve moral consistency, we believe justice must be blind to race, gender, and species. As Afro-feminist and social justice activist Alice Walker aptly stated, “animals were not made for humans, any more than black people were made for whites, or women for men.”


As previously stated, our intention is not about passing judgement; instead, it is an invitation to embrace more conscious choices that resonate with our souls.

Whether discussing white supremacy, male supremacy, or human supremacy, we are essentially addressing the fight against the systemic oppression of a group denied the right to live and be free through political, economic, and institutional means. In simple terms, it’s a struggle against the idea that one race, gender, or species should have the right to dominate, control, exploit, humiliate, abuse, or kill another with impunity.


All forms of oppression are interconnected, and justice must be blind to race, gender, and species to be morally consistent. It’s a contradiction to claim to be against oppression while selectively supporting it. As Black liberation activist Dick Gregory, who embraced veganism in the 60s following Martin Luther King’s non-violence principles, aptly put it, “because I am a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and vicious taking of life. We shouldn’t be a part of it.”


Noteworthy figures such as Coretta King (Martin Luther King’s widow), Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, and Alice Walker also abstained from consuming animal flesh for similar reasons, just like many non-Western cultures too, including Buddhists, Hindus, or African cultures like Rastafaris. Their ital (vital) diet is integral to a wider philosophy that emphasizes health, ecological harmony (MAAT), and African sovereignty (Pan-Africanism), inspired by Jamaican Pan-African leader Marcus Garvey.

Alice Walker

As previously mentioned, avoiding unnecessary harm to non-human animals is not a Western trend; it is rooted in ancient moral philosophies across the world since the beginning of civilization in Africa.


In Kemet, for instance, the 42 Laws of Maat included the directive "thou shalt not kill." This moral principle, written thousands of years ago and shared across many religions, suggest that life should not be taken needlessly —a concept perfectly aligned with veganism.

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