For anyone who’s a vegan (or seriously considering becoming one), questions about their dietary choice come with the territory.
While that’s only natural in our meat- and dairy-addicted Western culture, having to defend the decision would be much easier with the help of a fellow vegan skilled in the art of logic.
The sort of logic you’d expect from Cornell Law School’s C. S. Wong Professor of Law Sherry Colb. With skills she honed obtaining a Harvard law degree and clerking for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackburn, Colb tackles many of those questions in Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger? And Other Questions People Ask Vegans.
Colb’s passion for defending veganism has deep personal roots. Although her mother and father survived the Holocaust, the Nazis murdered her four grandparents and six of her seven aunts and uncles.
She wasn’t born until long after World War II, but the horrors inflicted on family members she never met have stayed with her.
Colb once shared a restaurant meal with her family and friends. A waiter eager to impress the diners with the freshness of the establishment’s food appeared at tableside with a thrashing, suffocating fish. Recalling how disturbed and guilty she felt at the sight of the suffering animal, Colb writes:
“The appearance of the thrashing, suffering individual creature made the moral implications of my choice of dinner both concrete and visible.”
Incidents such personally witnessing the torture of this fish have allowed her to challenge rest of us: “…we admit that by consuming the animal, we have taken what was his most valued possession and converted it to our own use.”
In other words, billions of times every year, humans take what every animal values most — its life — and converts it into a meal for pleasure. Ironically, the increased disease risks associate with these foods deprive us of the right to claim that ending animals’ lives extends our own!
As Colb clarifies, we’ve even structured industrialized animal slaughter to protect ourselves from its horrors — not much different from how the world ignored the Holocaust for so long:
“We usually see nothing of the suffering and slaughter that our choices occasion. The sights are concealed from our eyes and the sounds from our ears in well-hidden and soundproof slaughter facilities.”
Using case studies, logic, humor and its author’s life experience, Do You Mind If I Order a Cheeseburger gives vegans the tools to educate anyone questioning their dietary choice.
And if vegans won’t educate them, who will?