I think that is the worst possible title I could have come up with, but what can you do? Sometimes you need something that rolls off the tongue and do not have the time to think about it (and hope that the reader does not think about it either). Word of warning: this is a very aggressive post, but a fair reading – ie bracketing certain social attitudes – will allow me to seem quite reasonable.
There is no moral justification for not being a vegan – this is simply a matter of fact. For an overview of common arguments and why they are mistaken, feel free to check out this link and see Norcross’ excellent paper. The preponderance of animal products and animal testing has everything to do with societal acceptance and nothing to do with ethical living; in fact, a look at factory farming is a beautiful example of what a capitalistic end looks like: literally killing other sentient beings in order to sell their body parts for profit, and not only that, the only “need” being met by these atrocities is the preference of a person’s taste buds. This is a contemporary holocaust (a comparison that “only renders [Jewish] suffering ‘banal and trivial’ if the animals’ suffering is considered banal and trivial;” to object to this term is specieism), and that is the fact to keep in mind when evaluating the actions of groups like the (leaderless and diffuse) Animal Liberation Front. And note that the ALF is considered by the FBI as a domestic terrorism threat, despite the fact that they have not killed a single person and take large precautions to keep it that way.
How would we characterize the activites that the ALF, and similar “organizations,” fight against? To be succinct, it is subjecting billions of non-human animals, creatures that have personalities, emotions, and experience extreme physical and psychological pain, to: torture, murder, ‘dehumanization,’ and a laundry list of specific acts that include suffocation, mutilation (without even anesthetic), and even being boiled alive. The above is all industry standard and, in addition, the non-human animals are regularly abused by workers. Imagine your dog or cat experiencing this – because some people like the taste of their flesh. This is not even mentioning the ridiculous acceptance of medically useless animal experimentation. Like I said, there is no justification for not being vegan. Dietetic organizations agree that vegan diets are healthy and appropriate for all ages. And further, vegan diets are cheaper than non-vegan diets, even with the animal product industry being subsidized.
So we have an organization that is liberating farmed animals (you cannot steal what is not property), destroying equipment and engaging in other forms of sabotage, and does all of this while making sure that human and non-human life is not harmed, even when anyone would condone that sort of violence against Nazi guards – on what planet is this unacceptable behavior? Unacceptable enough to be given the honorific of “domestic terrorism?” Individuals and groups who carry out actions in the name of the Animal Liberation Front and other similar organizations should be commended for their heroic (non-gendered term is escaping me, I’ll edit later) efforts and will be treated with the same respect that those involved in the Underground Railroad are given today.
It does remain to be seen if animal rights activists will recognize that this is all a product of capitalism and work toward revolution in that sense as well (the concept of animal rights is within the system). Any attempts at reforms that protect an oppressed group at the expense of a much more powerful class will be unsuccessful so long as the class hierarchy remains in place.