I read Joseph Byrd’s recent column with mixed feelings (“Table Talk,” Oct. 8). While I enjoyed hearing about Byrd’s adventures with (and obvious affection for) his new ducks, several of his comments bothered me.
When Byrd used the terms “radical” and “militant,” it was unclear to me whether he was referring to PETA specifically, to the idea of veganism in general or perhaps both. I am not a huge fan of PETA either; I find their sensationalist tactics often strange, distracting and/or non-productive. But I take issue with the idea of veganism being radical or militant; it is, in fact, neither.
Animal rights and veganism are philosophies deeply rooted in nonviolence and compassion. For most people, adhering to a vegan lifestyle is a personal embodiment of the peace and kindness that we all wish could be reflected more often in the larger world. The simple fact that humans have no inherent physical requirement to consume animal products is reason enough, in my mind, to make killing sentient beings an amoral activity, and one from which I choose to abstain. My veganism is a personal, ethical decision to not cause harm or suffering when I don’t have to. It seems like the most logical, compassionate thing to do, and to have that labeled as militant is just silly.
Sure, there are vegans out there who fit the “radical, militant” profile, just as there are non-vegans who do. But I think if Byrd, or anyone else, took the time to get to know some real-life vegans, he would find that the vast majority are just normal people who are doing the best they can to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment.
If Byrd (or any of the Journal’s readership) would care to test my theory, please consider attending any of the Humboldt Vegetarian Society’s upcoming community events www.HumboldtVeg.blogspot.com
Tamara McFarland, Loleta