The devils of past religions have always, at least in part, had animal characteristics, evidence of man’s constant need to deny that he too is an animal, for to do so would serve a mighty blow to his impoverished ego. -Anton LaVey
Today’s quote comes from the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. LaVey was an eccentric character; he easily took the aesthetic value of Satanism to its extremes to grab headlines and get attention, while still preaching the anti-Christian, anti-theist nature of Satanism and its accompanying decadence. Whether Satanism (LaVeyan satanism, that is, not Luciferianism) is valid is not something I want to debate right now. While there may be merit to some of its principles, the quote above deftly sums up the resistance most people have to veganism: our long held belief that we must be above the animals, or else our precious ego might suffer, as LaVey alludes.
Why else is the devil a goat? Why are pigs and pork products considered “unclean” in Muslim and Jewish tradition? If the devil is in them, then it cannot be in “us.” But are we really that much different from the goat, the pig, or the animal with the “cloven hoof?” No, of course not. Sentience is the criteria for moral consideration – whether pain matters – not some arbitrary maxim on high from a divine entity. LaVey’s quote is inspiration to me because it cuts through the bullshit about our relationship to the world. We are just another species, another group of mammals trying to survive, and while we may have done a “decent” job by some standards, we’re wrecking the world for the rest of our fellow animals. Orangutans are being murdered for palm oil, bees are dying from crop pesticides, and the fish of the world continue to die off in massive numbers. Some will say, “so what?” but a healthy earth relies on a diversity of species – us included – and humans have a penchant for saying “me first” almost exclusively.
So remember, we are animals. We love, and want love, just like dogs and cats, pigs and chickens, cows and whales. If we’re going to pet one (see: dogs and cats), why it is okay to breed, abuse, and kill others (see: all farm animals ever)? I would argue it’s not, and to believe otherwise is speciesism. If that topic sounds interesting to you (as it did to me!) then keep an eye out for Speciesism The Movie which should debut later this year.
Note: This is Day 2 of WEGOHealth’s “Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge!” I’m 2/2! Today’s prompt was to pick a quote that inspires me and “free write” for fifteen minutes. Mine turned into an hour…oh well! Here’s to staying on track! Photo via f. bearclaw.