President Donald Trump: Bad for Animal Rights, Animal Welfare, Animal Activists, Vegans, the Biosphere

Donald Trump, his two oldest sons, and many of his top political advisors are blatant enemies of innocent animals.

Let’s examine what a Trump presidency will do to animals and the biosphere…

To see a perfect symbol of Trump’s attitudes towards animals and ecology, look at Trump’s sons Eric and Donald, Jr.

They’re notorious for staged trophy hunts during which they’ve killed an elephant, leopard, buffalo, alligator, waterbuck and other animals in Africa.

Montana media outlets report that businessman Greg Gianforte, the Republican politician who assaulted a journalist and won a House seat anyway, took Donald Trump Jr. on a Montana hunting expedition to shoot Black-tailed prairie dogs.

March through June is peak breeding season for prairie dogs, and Trump Jr. will be shot pregnant females along with males.

When Donald Trump has been asked about his sons’ proclivity for killing innocent animals, he said he was hugely proud of them for doing it.

When Ringling Brothers circuses bowed to pressure from animal welfare lobbyists and ended its elephant entertainment acts, Trump tweeted that he was disappointed.

Trump is a developer.

Developers bulldoze and pave open spaces, springs, rivers, creeks, meadows, wetlands, forests and the animals who call them home, replacing them with asphalt and concrete.

Trump is also a golf course developer, which means his employees demolish native ecosystems, geologic features, and native species, replacing them with non-native grasses and artificial terrascaping and landscaping.

His golf courses are maintained through massive water waste, and require hundreds of tons of herbicides and pesticides per year.

Trump’s inner circle includes mega-millionaires who make money abusing, exploiting, and killing animals.

One of these people is Forrest Lucas, a billionaire whose organization Protect the Harvest works to block and repeal any laws or regulations that limit cruelty in the meat, dairy, pet, and poultry industries.

Lucas also fights against regulations that protect animals in the so-called animal entertainment industries such as circuses, SeaWorld, and zoos.

He even opposes anti-cruelty laws that seek to protect pet animals like dogs and cats.

Also in Trump’s inner circle influencing the new administration’s USDA policies is Brian Klippenstein, executive direct of Protect the Harvest.

Trump is in bed with the gun industry, people who profit from GMOs and chemical-laden industrial agriculture, and people who oppose food quality and organic farming.

Forrest Lucas is only one of several members of Trump’s inner circle who enjoys harming animals and is an advocate of animal cruelty.

Trump is also influenced by Republican Iowa Governor Terry Branstad– the first governor to attack the First Amendment right to free speech by signing a law stipulating prison sentences for people who expose cruelty and criminal behavior in the animal food exploitation industry.

Trump wants Branstad to be his ambassador to China, a country known for brutal treatment of animals and humans.

Branstad’s pro-Big Ag laws are called “ag-gag” laws.

The laws criminalize people who try to expose how factory farming operations harm animals and their human employees.

Trump advisor Republican Ann Sweeney sponsored the Iowa ag-gag legislation.

Another Trump advisor, former Nebraska governor Dave Heineman, vetoed legislation to end sport hunting of mountain lions.

He’s a staunch defender of animal cruelty practices such as cages that cause electric shocks and “gestation crates” that imprison pigs in spaces so tiny that the animals can’t move at all… for their entire life!

Former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s anti-environment choice to head the EPA, has long advocated animal cruelty and worked against factory farm regulations.

When the Humane Society of the United States fought an Oklahoma ballot measure that would give “farmers” the right to do whatever they want to animals, Pruitt tried to destroy the organization.

The Humane Society sued Pruitt for harassment and defamation. Pruitt finally backed off.

Pruitt is a hero to the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association.

He doesn’t believe in anthropogenic global warming, and he seems intent on dismantling the EPA.

Trump’s failed choice for Labor Secretary was Andy Puzder, CEO of the parent corporation that owns Hardee’sand Carl’s Jr. junk food chains.

He’s famous for creating advertising campaigns showing women in bikinis eating dead cows!

Donald Trump’s highly-publicized chauvinistic views on women are signs of the human impulse to dominate, exploit, harm, and even kill weaker beings, including other humans.

Recall that during the presidential campaign, Trump explicitly stated torture would be an integral part of U.S. military policy.

Consider the fact that vice president Mike Pence looks at women the same way factory farmers look at female cows and pigs.

Pence’s extreme anti-abortion policies would force women to gestate against their will, even in cases of rape, incest, and severe fetal abnormality.

Trump’s now-famous confession that he’s a serial sexual predator goes along with predatory capitalism and other dominator memes that people use to justify harming “weaker” humans and animals.

Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is a lifelong Exxon Mobil executive.

Credible reporting indicates that Exxon knew 30 years ago that fossil fuels when used as directed cause climate change.

Instead of warning the public, Exxon created front organizations that use propaganda against global warming science and scientists.

In Trump’s first months in office, he’s deactivated regulations that protect air, land, water, parks, ecosystems, and human health.

Trump openly says he doesn’t “believe in” climate change.

He’s already removed mining regulations governing the foulest of fossil fuels: coal.

He yanked the USA out of international agreements that fight pollution and global warming.

He wants to sell millions of acres of federal wilderness and other protected lands to developers, miners, loggers, and fossil fuel extractors.

As a sign of how brutal Trump’s police are for animals, he instructed the  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to remove public access to thousands of reports on Animal Welfare Act compliance for animals kept by research labs, companies, zoos, circuses, and animal transporters.

The same blocking of public access was extended to reports mandated by the Horse Protection Act.

In an act of Orwellian irony, the USDA said it’s blocking access to formerly public reports “based on our commitment to being transparent.”

It’s obvious that Donald Trump will accelerate the cruelty and death inherent to the way humans treat animals.

Those of us who care about innocent sentient beings have a duty to be a voice for the voiceless, to oppose Trump if not have him impeached or forced to resign.

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ZOOTOPIA: A Sweet 3-D Movie Vegans Will Love

Rest assured this article is NOT in any way a spoiler article about the fantastic new, animated Disney movie Zootopia.

This review  will enhance rather than take away from your enjoyment of this must-see film.

Here’s what I can safely tell you without spoiling this delightful cinematic adventure…

Zootopia is Full of Cute, Charismatic Animals

This movie has the highest cute animal quotient I’ve ever seen. From the opening scene to the rocking credits finale, you’re going to be saying “Aww, how cute.”

I saw Zootopia 3-D in a theater crowded with children of all ages, including tiny babies.

They laughed and squealed with delight at the animation’s vibrantly stylized, beautifully conceived renderings of animals from bunnies to elephants, and their astoundingly fanciful city habitat.

Zootopia is All About Biodiversity

The mainstream reviews (most of which are spoilers) say the movie’s about prejudice and human ethnic diversity, and I can see why they say that.

But they don’t even mention animal rights, biodiversity, animal liberation… all of which are embedded in Zootopia.

The film gives human-like characteristics and cultural habits to dozens of non-human species, but also showcases the actual species-specific talents of animals in ways that educate us that every animal species is as amazing as we are, in its own way.

Viewers leave the movie with way more appreciation for animal diversity than if they’d have gone to an animal imprisonment facility such as zoos and aquarium.

Zootopia is a Female Empowerment Film

In its choice of female protagonist, this sweet movie reminds one of another stellar animated movie: Inside Out.

The female lead character is an inspiring role model for all of us, especially young girls.

She’s a lot more admirable than Hannah Montana aka Miley Cyrus.

Zootopia is clearly making a vivid case for gender equality among all species!

Zootopia is Against Animal Experimentation & Vivisection

Part of the plot is driven by a theme about experimenting on animals, and contains warnings about greed, ego, and political corruption.

Zootopia is Eloquently Voiced By Top Actors & Actresses… And the Music is Great Too

The entire ensemble cast that voices this delightful movie is in top form.

With luminaries like Jason Bateman, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, and Shakira, you’ll enjoy listening to this movie’s dialogue as much as seeing its flawless animation.

The musical score by Michael Giachhino is powerful and hip.

Shakira brings the house down with the cutest animal music video ever in the dance-friendly hit song Try Everything.

Zootopia is Receiving Rave Reviews & Big Box Office

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone calls Zootopia “subversive,” and that’s exactly what it is.

Especially for an animated film not released during school holidays, it’s grossing big at the box office, and both critics and audiences are giving it rave reviews.

One critic said it’s the best Disney film since Beauty and the Beast.

Others describe Zootopia as fascinating, thought-provoking, compelling, hilarious, extraordinarily imaginative, as meaningful for adults as for children, and revolutionary.

The film’s plot is funny, sassy, and non-stop fun.  There’s not a boring moment in its entire 108 minutes.

Don’t leave the theater until the last frame has run, because this high-quality movie keeps on delivering until the last word of the end credits!

That’s why I’m going back to the theater soon to see Zootopia 3-D again.

I didn’t even do that for Avatar.

Please support this adorable animal-loving movie by seeing it in 3-D on the big screen before it leaves your local theater!

 

The Most Radical Vegan Activist Ever

Vegans are often accused of being angry, self-righteous, and offensive.

Such accusations are familiar to anyone who tells the truth in a corrupt society like ours.

The vegan activist who has been slagged more than any other vegan spokesperson is Gary Yourofsky.

His hard-hitting YouTube videos, essays, and in-person lectures are the most unforgiving condemnations of carnism and animal exploitation you’ll see.

But Yourofsky isn’t just a vegan media activist. He’s also been an animal rights activist who had the courage to engage in direct-action animal liberation.

Gary Yourofsky has been arrested more than a dozen times for animal activism.

He spent months in a Canadian maximum security prison for being part of an Animal Liberation Front action that invaded a mink farm and released hundreds of mink.

Yourofsky is  hardcore and uncompromising, and openly states he’s not a pacifist when it comes to defending animals.

In fact, the high-energy animal rights campaigner has gotten into physical altercations with people who were promoting animal exploitation.

Yourofsky was an official spokesperson for PETA for several years, but insiders say he became “too radical” even for PETA.

He now focuses on his own animal rights and vegan organization–Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow (ADAPTT).

One very inspiring aspect of Gary’s work is that he doesn’t limit himself to just promoting veganism.

He actively, physically confronts developers, animal exploitation facilities, politicians, and others to protest various animal harms, including hunting, circuses, fur farms, and habitat destruction.

The governments of the United Kingdom and Canada permanently banned Yourofsky from entering their countries, alleging that his beliefs and actions constitute “terrorism.”

For vegans who want to hear someone articulate the most uncompromising, indignant critiques of animal exploitation, Gary’s videos are powerful and compelling.

He definitely isn’t “politically correct,” or polite.

In one video embedded in this article, he speaks of his wish that people who eat animals or engage in animal exploitation be treated as badly as animals are treated.

He sometimes gets very worked up and appears to wish violence upon those who participate in or support animal exploitation industries.

Yourofsky is probably the most polarizing figure in the animal rights, animal liberation, and vegan movements.

You may watch these videos and come away saying, “I totally get where he’s coming from and appreciate his passion.”

Or you might say: “He’s way too angry and mean.”

I urge you to watch the videos regardless.

Sometimes I wince at the directness, fire, and in-your-face style he uses, but Gary Yourofsky has risked his life and freedom for innocent animals.

He truly embodies the qualities of a Vegan Samurai– he’s strong, unafraid, and willing to risk his safety and freedom to defend the defenseless.

The man well articulates the atrocities of the animal exploitation industries, and the feelings of outrage that most vegans feel when confronted with the brutal reality of what humans do to innocent animals.

Carnism & Speceism: The Violent Beliefs We’ve Been Brainwashed Into Believing

There are many “isms” worthy of our protest. Racism, militarism, fascism, sexism, ageism, totalitarianism and more.

But for those of us in the vegan community, by far the worst isms are speciesism and carnism.

These two isms are the most destructive dominant paradigms taught to humans.

Here’s why…

First, let’s define these two paradigms.

Speciesism is the parent of carnism.

It’s a belief long held by humans that we’re by far the most valuable and important species on the planet.

Specieism tells us all other species are inferior to us. That they don’t count anywhere near as much as we do.

They have no rights at all. They’re just property. They’re just “dinner.”

Speciesism includes the belief that the earth itself, and all its biosphere processes, can and should be exploited by humans.

Specieism is the parent of harmful actions against animals including animal experimentation, using animals to make leather, fur coats, and similar materials, circuses, zoos, SeaWorld abuses, and on and on.

A very direct child of specieism is carnism.

The term was first used by heroic scholar and psychologist Dr. Melanie Joy and her must-read book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.

Carnism is the belief that it’s morally acceptable for humans to use animals for food.

The destructiveness of these two dominant paradigms is worldwide and horrific.

For humans, speciesism and carnism cause delusional thinking that leads to violence, biosphere mass extinction, and human health degradation.

Let’s be honest: there’s absolutely no rational evidence that humans are “the best” species.

That would be like saying an apple is better than a carrot, or Classical music is better than Celtic music.

It’s always an opinion and value system installed by society whenever someone believes that humans are the best and most important species on the planet.

It’s always scientifically inaccurate too.

In fact, speaking from a purely ecological perspective, humans are the worst species on the planet.

Why is this so? Because unlike all other species, we’ve jumped past evolutionary biology and ecosystem integrity so that wherever we go we create a net loss in natural biodiversity and ecosystems health.

Every other species in an undisturbed native ecosystem—from ants to lions to birds to trees and fungi—is an integrated part of the ecosystem that contributes to biodiversity and ecosystem services such as aerated, nutrients-rich soil.

But when humans come into those systems, they utterly decimate them.

Clearcutting, ranching, agriculture, fracking, use of fossil fuels, technology, machines, chemicals, urbanization, bulldozing, paving, and other common human activities wipe out native ecosystems and the species that depend on them.

Human activities create pollution and extinction. They leave dead zones in their wake.

Here’s the stark truth: the earth is dying because of how we live.

And when you look at carnism, you see a worldwide genocide of BILLIONS of sentient beings per year all so humans can choose to eat animal foods that we don’t need to eat and that are bad for our health!

You absolutely have to get and read Dr. Joy’s book, and also watch the embedded videos in this article, to see the earthshaking scope of carnism’s violence towards animals.

In the short time it takes you to read this article, tens of thousands of animals are killed for food in the USA.

Ten billion animals are killed every year in the USA alone.

This mind-blowing total doesn’t even include fish and other sea creatures.

Many of these innocent animals are killed in ways that humans don’t kill each other. They’re skinned, sawed, chopped up, tortured, boiled… alive.

Faced with these facts, a Vegan Samurai is a warrior against the dominant paradigms of speciesism and carnism.

Yes, many other isms are horrible too.

What Hitler did to the Jews, wars, oppression of women, minorities, the poor… all are terrible.

But only if you subscribe to specieism would you say the bad things humans do to each other every day are more worthy of protest than the monstrous things humans do to tens of millions of animals every day.

A Vegan Samurai realizes that every animal humans harm has personality, emotions, a desire to live a safe and happy life. We see animals as having personhood.

Thus, the scale of the bad things humans do to animals dwarfs the harms humans do to each other.

More animals are killed by humans every year than all the humans who’ve been killed by other humans since humans evolved on this earth.

Please stay tuned to VeganSamurai.org for more articles based on Dr. Joy’s research into the roots of carnism and what carnism does to Nature, animals, individuals, and society.

In the meantime, consider it a point of honor to go beyond being a vegan.  Become a vegan activist who works with all your heart to purge humanity of its brutal, uncaring, and violent actions based on specieism and carnism.

Defending the defenseless is what being a Vegan Samurai is all about.

What Every Newbie Vegan Should Know

I became a vegan in December 2015 for the main reasons that mirror why most people become vegan.

First, I realized it was morally wrong for me to subsidize industries and individuals who exploit, harm, and kill animals.

I love animals, and finally after many years of “trying” to give up eating animal-derived foods, my conscience won, and I gave up all animal-derived foods.

Part of the Vegan Samurai code of honor is to refuse to give one penny of my money, or my dietary complicity, to those who produce animal-derived food.

As a deep ecologist who wants a beautiful earth replete with healthy biodiversity and biosphere, I oppose “animal agriculture” because it greatly harms the environment.

I also became vegan because my vegetarian diet hurt me.

Obviously being vegetarian was not as harmful to me as when I was an omnivore, but my vegetarian diet included dairy and eggs that made me fat, and impeded my digestive process, and were produced via animal exploitation.

I went vegan and so far I’ve shed nearly 40 pounds while saving lots of money on food and avoiding the moral wrong of being an animal-derived food industry customer.

But there are things I as a newbie vegan wish I’d known ahead of time.

Number one is I experience cravings for animal-derived foods.

These cravings are so strong physically and emotionally that I realize I was addicted to foods like milk, cheese, and ice cream.

One reason I developed the Vegan Samurai concept is that being vegan means I’m engaged in spiritual warfare with my food addictions.

The good news is that wholesome organic vegan foods now taste way better than any of the processed and animal-derived foods I used to eat.

The cravings are still present and probably always will be, but they’re receding.

Another thing I as a newbie vegan wish I’d have known is that it’s hard if not sometimes impossible to find vegan food when traveling by highway or airplane.

Because I’ve long been dedicated to eating organic food so I can avoid poisoning myself and subsidizing toxic agriculture, I realized as I became vegan that what passes for “vegan menu options” at places like Chipotle and airport restaurants are perhaps free of animal products, but definitely not free of processed, chemicalized ingredients.

I’ve learned the joys of fasting, which in a culture like ours where overeating is rampant was as hard to learn as being vegan.

Indeed, I’d never experienced true hunger until I fasted.

Fasting is a part of many spiritual traditions, and I see why. You choose to sacrifice to be true to your principles.

As a newbie vegan, I had to fast during business travel because I hadn’t brought vegan food with me and couldn’t find any to purchase.

What’s really cool is that hunger, being digestively empty and light, feels natural and energetic.

I love it, and I plan to fast more often!

The other thing a newbie vegan should know is that not all friends, family, partners, co-workers, and society are all that supportive of you being a vegan.

I hope you have people in your life who are sincerely, genuinely glad you’re a vegan and totally support you in it.

But be aware that some people may say they support you, but if they themselves are omnivores or even vegetarians, your newbie vegan status could well be making them nervous and somewhat resentful.

Why?

Because you being a newbie vegan covertly challenges the cruel immorality of their dietary choices.

Your veganism exposes their complicity with industries that commit moral wrongs against innocent animals.

It’s not that you’re preaching at them, trying to convince them to also become a newbie vegan, although many vegans do feel a need to tell the truth to non-vegans.

Just the fact that you exist in their lives is perceived by them as a silent condemnation.

It’s not your fault they feel guilty. It’s that they are guilty, and deep down, they know it.

But they’ll try to turn it around on you.

You’ll likely find that some harass you about being a newbie vegan, trying to bait you into arguments, accusing you of being “self-righteous,” judgmental, too radical, weird, or otherwise annoying.

But you’ll stand strong. It’s all part of being a moral person– a Vegan Samurai.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights protestors demanded that society stop exploiting and abusing people based on race, the racists responded with hostility and violence, as if people pointing out a societal wrong were wrong to do so.

The strange fact is, whenever anyone challenges the human herd by pointing out its moral failings, the person doing the challenging faces pushback.

But take heart… as you read articles on this website and watch the embedded videos, you’ll learn why and how to stay strong as a Vegan Samurai so your veganism is lifelong and you never again participate as a customer and/or consumer of foods derived from harming animals.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians, Pescatarians & The Vegan Samurai Golden Rule

As a vegan, I’ve had conversations with vegetarians about why they’re not vegan, and every one of those conversations left me with a sad feeling.

Many vegetarians have some of the same ideas that vegans have. They want a healthier diet. They may share our disapproval of food industry abuse of animals.

They may consider themselves lacto-ovo vegetarians—people who consume dairy and eggs but not meat.

They may consider themselves pescatarians—people who consume fish, dairy, and eggs, but not meat.

What I try to help vegetarians and pescatarians understand is that their food comes from exploited, abused animals.

I ask them to consider the clear fact that if they became vegetarian or pescatarian because of moral concerns about animals, that only veganism fully addresses those concerns.

But I’m shocked when vegetarians and pescatarians argue vociferously to defend the exploitation and their consumption of dairy, eggs, or fish.

Pescatarians claim “fish feel no pain.”

Biologist Victoria Braithwaite has definitively shown that not only do fish feel pain, but also they’re intelligent and social animals.

Her book “Do Fish Feel Pain?” accurately and convincingly shows that from a moral and ecological perspective, fish should not be on the menu.

Dairy-consuming vegetarians claim dairy production isn’t as abusive as “meat” production.

I ask all people who consume fish, dairy, and eggs to adopt the Golden Rule of the Vegan Samurai.

This rule is as simple as it has been throughout the ages: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In the world of the vegan samurai, “others” includes all sentient beings, not just humans.

I’m sure that lacto-ovo vegetarians wouldn’t appreciate having done to them what humans do to dairy cows.

Let’s take a brief look…

First of all, dairy cows are engineered by humans through selective breeding.

Female cows are force-impregnated starting when they’re less than a year old.

Given that cows can never give explicit consent to anything humans do to them, it’s accurate to call this a form of rape or at the very least, sexual abuse.

The force-impregnated female cow carries her baby for nine months, just like a human mom!

Within a few minutes, hours, or days after the calf is born, the “dairy farmer” steals the baby calf from its mother.

This causes the mother cow and her calf serious emotional distress.

Baby cows are often kept under cruel conditions in veal crates.

They’re rarely allowed to see their mother again, and are fed processed “food” instead of the milk meant for them.

In the factory farming dairy businesses that produce the vast majority of dairy products used as milk, cheese, yogurt and other items, female cows are subjected to very rough handling of their “breasts,” aka, udders.

The most sensitive parts of a female cow’s body are subjected to gross abuse in the dairy industry, which is why many dairy cows have infected and damaged udders.

Some vegetarians talk about “humane” dairy farms where lactating female cows are treated a little better.

In rare cases on so-called humane dairy farms, baby cows are allowed to be around their mother, at least for a few weeks until they’re weaned.

Even on so-called humane dairy farms, the simple fact is that a machine or a person handles the cow’s udders, which is totally unnatural… the udders are designed by Nature to be used only by baby cows.

Lactating cows are fed a vast array of chemicals and hormones, and many are sprayed with toxic pesticides.

In factory farms, cows are kept in prison conditions, standing in stalls, separated from their young, suffering from infected udders, totally unable to live the life Nature intended for them.

And of course, dairy cows are force-impregnated over and over, until they reach the end of their productive life, after which they’re slaughtered for meat.

When vegetarians who consume dairy products are confronted with the facts about how female cows and their babies are treated, they struggle to justify their continued use of dairy.

Sometimes they get angrily defensive. The same holds true for pescatarians and people who eat eggs.

At that point, I ask the person:

If a group of cows imprisoned you, force-impregnated you, pumped you full of hormones, sprayed you with poisons, stole your baby from you at birth, and attached machines to your breasts to take milk meant for your human baby and give it to a baby cow, would that be acceptable to you?

If the person is a pescatarian I ask:

If someone put a hook in you or netted you, captured you, hit you over the head or suffocated you, and then gutted you, would that be acceptable to you?

If the person consumes eggs, I ask:

If someone reached into your ovaries and took your eggs and fried them or scrambled them, would that be ok with you?

If the person I’m speaking with is a male, I ask him to imagine these scenarios being done to his wife, sister, mother, or other female he cherishes.

The lacto-ovo vegetarian or the pescatarian quickly says it’s not acceptable for those abovementioned scenarios to happen to them.

I then ask: if it’s not ok for someone to do it to you, how is it ok for you to pay someone to do it to another animal on your behalf?

As you can imagine, there’s no answer they can give that’s consistent with moral logic, ethics, or compassion.

That’s why one of the main tenets of the Vegan Samurai code is the following, and I urge you to remember this always:

Being vegan is the only wholly ethical dietary choice.

Who Does the Vegan Samurai Protect?

As you become familiar with the Vegan Samurai warrior code, it’s useful to remember that original ancient samurai were sworn warriors who served the most powerful individuals or social organizations, such as emperors or clans.

This was centuries ago. Crucial differences between today’s vegan samurai and ancient samurai are that a Vegan Samurai isn’t sworn to serve a patriarch, emperor, or military commander.

Nor does a Vegan Samurai use an arsenal of deadly weapons and other martial arts to fight actual physical battles.

So why do I say a vegan samurai is a warrior, and on whose behalf does the vegan samurai fight?

I became a vegan samurai after seeing “undercover” videos and photographs taken at facilities where animals are raised, entrapped, killed, or processed for food, for animal experimentation, or for animal entertainment.

I could relate to the helplessness and suffering of these animals because as a child I was a victim of violent bullying that resulted in physical injury.

I still vividly remember how it felt to be powerless, small, hemmed-in, attacked by cruel humans.

Classmates and even some adults stood back passively while I was attacked.

I cried out for help, but witnesses turned away and left me to suffer alone.

Later on, when my parents reported the incidents to school administrators and even the police, none of the witnesses had the courage to come forward to identify the bullies.

When I saw animal abuse videos and photographs, I immediately identified with the animals, and wanted to be their protector and defender.

Giving voice to the voiceless and defense to the defenseless is a saying I’ve heard and repeated as I’ve gotten more into animal liberation and animal rights.

People with conscience rush to the aid of someone who’s being victimized, especially if the victim is clearly unable to escape or fight back.

So when I decided to give up my weak attempts to be a vegetarian eating mostly organic foods from health stores and take the plunge by going 100% vegan, my resoluteness was bolstered by my desire to protect and defend animals.

The original samurai used martial arts hand-to-hand fighting, along with samurai swords and other war hardware.

They faced extreme physical danger as a matter of honor, and in service to their emperor or other master.

Vegan samurai don’t fight that way. We use words, ideas, images, political lobbying, and lifestyle choices on behalf of animals.

We do face danger and staunch opposition because we’re vegan, but it’s usually not physical danger.

It’s the danger of being an empathic, morals-focused person defending a group of exploited beings in a society that generally scoffs at morals, empathy, and the rights of non-human animals.

In some cases, a vegan faces subtle or overt forms of social ostracism or logistical exclusion.

Vegan travelers, especially in air travel systems or hotels, often find it impossible to source a wide range of vegan food items.

In some families, marriages, or workplaces, vegans are viewed with suspicion, scorn, or even hostility.

We’re tagged as being “scolds,” “judgmental,” “OCD,” “food cops,” party poopers or weirdoes because we refuse to be customers of those who exploit and harm animals.

In fact, vegans are relentlessly slagged on YouTube and in other media venues, and are often subjected to harassment when they make a stand on behalf of innocent animals.

This  may sound blunt or harsh, but people who deliberately harm innocent animals, or whose dietary choices support such harms, could well be described as enemies of those animals.

Given that those animals are the beings I fight for, I see being a vegan means I’m participating in an epic battle between good and evil.

How else can you describe a battle in which your opponents just don’t care that they’re inflicting terrible suffering on other beings?

A vegan samurai also fights internal battles.

We struggle with our own food desires. For example, I was raised eating meat, dairy, fish, and eggs.

When I’m hungry after exercising, and walking past steakhouses and other animal-exploiting food businesses that export their cooking smells into the air, I sometimes feel intense craving for animal-derived foods.

I feel like an alcoholic sworn to never take another drink again, lest I fall off the wagon and lose the battle with alcoholism.

But I won’t give in to those food cravings. I owe it to the animals to stay true to my vegan samurai code.

The main thing to remember is that the vegan samurai’s honor code includes this tenet:

I’ll always stay true to my vegan principles, because I’m defending those who can’t defend themselves.