Just Say No to Seaworld, Zoos, Circuses, Animal Theme Parks

In a previous article here at VeganSamurai.org, we talked about being Vegan Lite versus being a Vegan Samurai. [Read Five Ways Being Vegan is More than Not Eating Animals].

In that article, I mentioned that a Vegan Samurai opposes all forms of animal exploitation and abuse, not just animal exploitation and abuse found in the food industry.

Circuses, zoos, aquariums, and animal theme parks are businesses that imprison, exploit, and abuse animals.

But because those facilities provide “entertainment,” and sometimes education, it’s harder for some people, even some vegans, to give them up and oppose them.

In a recent CNN article about the impacts of the movie Blackfish on SeaWorld, we read the following revealing segment:

But plenty of parents also feel like Laurie Marshall, a mom of two, who has no plans to stop taking her kids to circuses, zoos and aquariums. Marshall, whose kids are 6 and almost 10, just visited SeaWorld two weeks ago and said it was “startling” when you see “how big these creatures are and how small the tanks are.”

Still, her SeaWorld experience didn’t change her mind about bringing her kids to places where they can see animals up close.

 “First, I think it is OK to keep some of these animals in a contained habitat if it does not impede on their lifestyle,” said Marshall, who is the founder and president of Marshall Law Group. “Also, I am not the type to boycott as I don’t believe my sacrifice is going to make a difference and it would deprive my kids of their enjoyment.”

Laurie Marshall’s statements perfectly reveal the speciesism and deliberate selfishness that fuels most of the harms humans do to other animals and the planet.

Specieism is our belief that we’re the best species on the planet, and that this assumed superiority gives us the right to do whatever we want to other species and the planet.

Speciesism echoes the fact that humans are the most powerful, deadly, and consumptive species on the planet.

If by “best species” we mean to say “the species with the most power to imprison, exploit, and kill all other species,” then the description is accurate.

But might doesn’t make right, and just the fact that we can and do dominate all other animals and the earth itself provides zero moral justification to do so.

Marshall was being interviewed about notorious SeaWorld, which puts orcas and other marine mammals into small tanks.

Marshall is quoted as noticing how big the animals are, and how tiny their SeaWorld tanks are.

Thus, Marshall’s statement that it’s ok to “keep some of these animals in a contained habitat if if does not impede on their lifestyle” makes no sense at all.

The very definition of a “contained habitat” means the animals are having their natural lifestyle impeded.

I’m saddened by Marshall’s cluelessness and lack of empathy.

The article describes Marshall as the founder of a law firm. On the firm’s website, we read that Marshall for ten years was in-house counsel for Major League Baseball.

Surely an educated, wealthy woman like Laurie Marshall ought to have the brainpower to understand that if the imprisoned orcas were instead native orcas in ecosystems unspoiled by humans, the orcas would be swimming thousands of miles per year, enjoying all the benefits of open ocean and their natural social groupings.

How can anyone who even minimally understands wildlife biology believe that an orca in a tiny SeaWorld tank is living an “unimpeded lifestyle?”

We also see how Marshall’s statement reveals callousness, fatalism, a flawed sense of entitlement, and extreme selfishness.

For example, she describes it as a “sacrifice” if she was to choose not to bring her children to businesses where animals are imprisoned and harmed.

She wrongly says it won’t make any difference if she boycotts businesses where animals are imprisoned or harmed.

The actual truth is that the boycott of SeaWorld, just like boycotts that stopped rights violations such as South African apartheid, are often successful at achieving positive change.

Another animal imprisonment facility that should be boycotted is the Miami Seaquarium, where an orca has been imprisoned for many years in a tiny tank, exploited for entertainment.

Read here for more information.

In Marshall’s quest to provide “enjoyment” for her kids, she’s willing to be a customer of businesses that imprison and harm animals.

Marshall reminds me of parents who used to bring their kids to public lynchings.

Because American history has been sanitized, many of us don’t know that public lynchings of African-Americans used to be considered “family entertainment.”

Parents made picnic lunches, and a generally festive spirit abounded, similar to what you see at circuses, zoos, and places like SeaWorld.

Thousands of people partied and cheered as blacks and other minorities were tortured and killed.

There were popular postcards depicting lynchings, beatings, people tortured, dismembered, and burned alive.

When I hear someone defending zoos, circuses, SeaWorld, and similar businesses, I ask them the same question I ask people who consume meat, fish, milk, cheese, and eggs.

“If other animals did to you what you think is acceptable to do to them, how would you feel about it?”

I wonder how Marshall would feel if her two children were permanently housed in a small glass chamber where strangers paid to watch them perform tricks.

If Marshall objected to that, but doesn’t object to it being done to orcas, it’s a perfect example of speciesism.

You shouldn’t do it to her precious kids, but it’s ok to do it to other sentient animals… that’s her speciesist “logic.”

The true vegan knows that humans using animals for food is wrong for the same reason that SeaWorld, circuses, and zoos are wrong.

In all cases, it’s our species doing bad things to other species—things we wouldn’t want them to do to us.

The Vegan Samurai goal is to create a deep ecology, egalitarian world, where humans no longer feel the need to dominate, eat, imprison, experiment on, abuse, and otherwise harm animals.

It includes, but goes way beyond, dietary choices. It includes not giving your money to zoos, circuses, Vegas shows, SeaWorld, or any other business that imprisons animals.

Advertisements

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!

 

Five Ways Being Vegan Includes More than Not Eating Animals

There’s a form of veganism that a Vegan Samurai calls “Vegan Lite.”

Vegan Lite is…

A person doesn’t consume any food products derived from the capture, domination of, enslavement, torture, or killing of animals.

This includes eggs, dairy, fish, and meat.

The Vegan Lite person limits their vegan activism to their dietary choices.

In contrast, an authentic “Vegan Samurai” refuses to participate in any industry that exploits and harm animals.

Here’s what I mean…

The Vegan Samurai Opposes the Animal Entertainment Industry

The animal entertainment industry includes circuses, Seaworld, zoos, rodeos, dolphin encounter businesses, and other facilities that take animals away from their natural habitats, biological pathways, and social groupings.

The zoo and animal theme park industries claim their facilities educate people about and expose them to animals, but the most pervasive message animal captivity facilities implant in peoples’ heads is that animals have no rights to live as Nature intended, and are ours to capture, cage, and gawk at.

There are limited exceptions one could make for wildlife rehab centers and farm animal sanctuaries, although I’ve seen examples where both of these categories are actually exploiting animals rather than helping them.

The Vegan Samurai Opposes Using Animals for Clothing & Other Materials

For centuries, trapping of animals for fur has been one of the most brutal ways humans abuse animals.

In the modern era, so-called “fur farms” imprison, enslave, and often electrocute animals so their furs can be made into fancy coats for humans.

We also see cows, pigs, and other animals skinned alive so leather, pigskin, and other materials can be made into wallets, shoes, gloves, coats, and other items that instead could  be made with materials from non-animal sources.

Animals in the wild are hunted for furs, or for ludicrous uses such as “bearskin rugs.”

The Vegan Samurai Opposes Hunting & Fishing

Other than the few remote, indigenous native peoples whose cultures have no choice but to rely on hunting for sustenance, nobody on the planet needs to hunt to eat.

They do it because they like to kill innocent animals, not because they have to do it.

Hunting and fishing are nothing more than humans invading the homes of other animals, using vehicles, dogs, hooks, boats, overwhelming firepower and other means to murder animals that haven’t done anything wrong, and can’t fight back.

The Vegan Samurai Opposes Vivisection (Animal Experimentation)

The horrors of vivisection in some cases are more disgusting even than the terrible atrocities you see in undercover videos that expose the animal foods industry.

And the “benefits” of vivisection are vastly overstated.

In fact, the defense given for vivisection is that vivisection helps humans develop medical treatments and medicines, and is wholly based on specieism (the belief that our species is more important than all other species).

I’ve spoken to animal experimenters who actually say things like, “If I have to stick electrodes into the heads of kittens so I can help even one human, it’s worth it.”

The real truth is that most vivisection is unnecessary if not inapplicable to human medical needs, experiments can be conducted without animals, and a lot of animal experimentation is conducted for ridiculous purposes, such as the torture done to rabbits by eye make-up companies.

A Vegan Samuria also opposes transgenic experimentation, such as the creation of chimeras that are part non-human animal, part human animal.

We oppose Frankenstein experiments done with animals!

The Vegan Samurai Opposes Animals Used for Labor

Have you seen the incredible movie War Horse?

One of the most powerful scenes is when majestic horses are harnessed and used to pull heavy military equipment, which injures and kills them.

Contrary to the nostalgic way we’ve been taught to look at oxen and horses hooked up to plows and other human machinery, the Vegan Samurai opposes ALL use of animals for labor.

Why? Because animals can never give us explicit, non-coerced, voluntary consent to what we want them to do.

And yes, this includes “service dogs.”

I realize that people who are Vegan Lite may initially feel the Vegan Samurai paradigm is challenging, shocking, or “too extreme.”

But I can assure you the Vegan Samurai paradigm is well-analyzed and totally solid from the perspective of logical, ethical consistency.

If it’s wrong to be a customer of a food industry that imprisons, enslaves, and harms animals, then it’s wrong to be a customer of other industries (such as zoos, aquariums, circuses, animal experimentation labs, rodeos, animal labor, etc.) that also harm animals by imprisoning and harming them.

I urge everyone who’s a vegan to adopt the Vegan Samurai paradigm as described above.

It’s the most all-encompassing, morally-consistent vegan paradigm, and it cleanses you from being a participant in any system that harms animals.

What Happens When a Vegan has a Non-Vegan Lover or Spouse?

One of the most poignant conversations I ever had was with a woman whose deeply-held religious beliefs led her to become a vegan… but her husband didn’t share her views and loved to eat meat, dairy, eggs, and fish.

The marriage was falling apart because of the pair’s divergent dietary choices.

The husband labeled his wife a “looney” and “hippie” for recognizing that harming animals isn’t moral.

The wife labeled her husband immoral for not recognizing that his dietary choices support a system that egregiously harms and kills animals.

There were practical problems as well.

They had children; the woman wondered how she could make vegan meals the children would enjoy and that would also be nutritious.

The wife was eager to make vegan foods for her whole family, but her husband scorned veganism, and insisted she prepare flesh foods.

She ended up spending a lot more time in the kitchen than she wanted to, creating one menu for herself, and another for her family.

She solved part of the problem by using cookbooks such as Kitchen Divided: Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households, by Ellen Jaffe Jones.

Jones is rather controversial, in that she advises vegans make serious dietary compromises.

Another book she used was Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbookby Isa Moskowitz.

Specifically to please her kids, and to ensure they got good nutrition, she consulted Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes, by Dreena Burton.

But even though vegan foods are tastier and more healthful than non-vegan foods, those cookbooks didn’t solve the marriage’s underlying problems, one of which was that her husband didn’t share her religious view that it’s ethically wrong to harm non-human animals.

The other  problem was deeper and more revealing: the husband wasn’t sensitive to the pain he caused his wife by refusing to even consider going vegan.

The way she saw it, he cared more about satisfying his desire to consume meat, dairy, fish, and eggs than he did about his wife’s conscience and feelings.

This wasn’t the only way he showed indifference to her feelings– he smoked cigarettes.

She’d pleaded with him to give up cigarettes for the sake of his health, the children, and the financial cost of smoking.

But as with his flesh-eating, he didn’t care about the harms he was doing.

He said he liked smoking, it was “too hard” to quit, and he was going to keep on doing it whether she liked it or not.

The couple went to marriage counseling.

The counselor asked the husband to consider the win-win aspects of creating a vegan family, and of giving up cigarettes.

The family’s health would improve.

Their food costs would decrease.

The wife (who did all the cooking) would spend less time cooking.

And most importantly, adopting veganism would show the wife that her husband loved her enough to give up a bad habit in order to avoid harming innocent animals.

I wish there was a happy ending to this story.

The wife spent two years accommodating her husband’s non-vegan diet.

Fortunately, her children became vegan.

Immediately, their health improved. They learned to love vegan foods, and lost all their craving for the regular junk foods, fast foods, and flesh foods that most people eat.

But her husband became more and more intransigent.

Eventually, the woman realized he didn’t love her enough, or in the right way.

“It hurts to say this, but he loved his steaks, fried chicken, and barbecue more than he loved me and the kids,” she told me.

They’re now separated, heading towards divorce.

If you’re in an intimate relationship with a non-vegan, it doesn’t have to end or end badly, but it might.

Being a Vegan Samurai involves sacrifice, and hard choices.

If you’re a vegan intimately involved with a non-vegan, you have to question your own ethics.

If your spouse or lover was involved in dealing heroin, in child molestation, in Wall Street fraud and abuse, or other moral wrongs, would you continue being in love with that person?

Would you feel comfortable giving them the benefits of your body, love, partnership, and care?

Only you can decide if the person you’re intimately involved with is worth staying involved with if they’re a customer of the worldwide system that exploits, tortures, and kills billions of innocent animals every year.

There are many analogies I could use to summarize the situation often described as a “vegan mixed marriage.”

In the Christian Bible, a New Testament teaching advises followers of Christ not to be joined in marriage with an “unbeliever.”

During the American Civil War, families were fractured, brother fought in battle against brother, because some family members believed it was acceptable to own humans as slaves, but others opposed slavery.

When segregation and racist lynchings were still a part of the American experience in the 1960s, families and marriages split up when a family member or spouse refused to reject racism.

When Americans oppose immoral wars, such as the Vietnam War or the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, marriages and other partnerships were torn asunder when a person of conscience refused to be joined intimately with someone who lacked conscience.

Being a vegan is not just a dietary choice… it’s a moral, social, and spiritual issue.

The problems of a mixed marriage involving vegan and non-vegan aren’t just about a crowded refrigerator, logistical problems at meal-time, or a vegan having to see and smell dead animals being consumed at the dinner table.

It’s about right and wrong, empathy, and what people are willing to do to create peace with their own conscience and with those around them.

If you’re a vegan man or woman, sharing your body, sexuality, money, life, heart and mind with someone who eats animal foods, someone voluntarily complicit in the system of genocide and ecocide that torments and kills billions of sentient animals per year, you really have to consider your level of devotion to vegan principles, and to defending innocent animals against the human onslaught.

I personally have turned down explicit offers of sex and romance from attractive women, solely because those women consumed animal foods and wouldn’t consider becoming vegan.

I won’t intimately share my body, mind, or heart with someone who is so cold-hearted.

I hope your devotion to conscience, ethics, and innocent animals, will outweigh your devotion to a human who harms innocent animals.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Loved to Kill Innocent Animals for Fun

Deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was passionate about shooting innocent animals that had no chance to defend themselves.

In fact, when he died recently on a West Texas ranch during a gift vacation given him by wealthy ranch owner John Poindexter (who had had cases in front of the Supreme Court), he was there communing with members of the “International Order of St. Hubertus,” an elite, clandestine group that worships recreational hunting.

The International Order of St. Hubertus is a male-only organization organized around a supposed “patron saint” of hunting and fishing named Hubert.

Not only that, but the group’s logo contains a Latin saying that translates as “honoring God by honoring His creatures.”

I’d guess these hunters don’t get the irony of describing killing innocent animals as “honoring” them.

Their form of honor includes shooting pheasants, quails, and partridges that are kept in boxes and then released right in front of the hunters.

And on the last day of his life, Antonin Scalia was out killing little birds.

Scalia was accompanied on his free vacation by Washington, DC attorney C. Allen Foster, who is publicly known as an avid international hunter.

Media reports describe Foster celebrating his 65th birthday by flying his family and nearly 50 of his friends to Moravia, where they shot pigs and sheep in “canned hunts” while celebrating at night with masked costume balls, sumptuous eating and drinking, and wild dancing.

Scalia is known for his right-wing viewpoints, his disdain for the poor and minorities, his opposition to women’s reproductive rights, and his favoritism for the wealthy elites with whom he parties and kills.

Scalia’s judicial pronouncements reveal a cold-hearted man, which makes his fondness for killing innocent animals totally in character.

But you may be surprised to know that so-called “liberal” Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan went on hunting trips with Scalia.

“I shoot birds with him, fairly — you know, two or three times a year now,” Justice Kagan said. “We had been bird shooting four or five times. He said to me, ‘It’s time for big game hunting.’ And we actually went out to Wyoming this past fall to shoot deer and antelope.”

Vegans and animal rights people realize that hunting is just another example of the speciesism that also fosters carnism, animal experimentation, circuses, fur farms, and other animal exploitation.

Many progressives openly celebrated Scalia’s death because they view him as a regressive jurist whose presence on the Supreme Court swung the court even further to the political right than it would have been.

One thing is for sure–Scalia’s death means there’s one less person in the world who loves to kill for fun.

The quail, deer, pheasants and other animals Scalia loved to kill are safer today now that he’s gone.

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.

Living Vegan in the Death Culture

I went to a non-vegan restaurant with friends and was reminded how challenging it is to live vegan in a society founded on animal abuse and the psychological mechanisms that facilitate it.

The three people I had dinner with are all “good” people… a married couple who both had eminently statured careers in academia, and an engineer.

They’re interesting, personable, friendly people whom I respect and care about.

The restaurant was classy, full of diners. The interior had attractive aesthetics.

But I felt uncomfortable because my companions are non-vegans who ordered meals containing cut-up animal parts.

I haven’t seen non-vegan food for a while. It made me sick to see other animals’ breasts and other body parts on a plate.

I studied the menu trying to find vegan options. Out of approximately 25 main entrees or side orders, only two appeared to be vegan.

I asked the waitress if there were any animal products in the items and she said there were not.

My companions questioned me about being vegan. Why  had I done it? What about protein deficiency? Did I miss non-vegan food?

I recommended they read VeganSamurai.org for a full explanation of why I went vegan, but that the short answer is, veganism is the only dietary system that’s good for personal health, environmental health, and animal health.

And that’s when my companions’ cognitive dissonance, deliberate unknowing, and moral evasion became very apparent.

They agreed that veganism is the morally defensible dietary paradigm.

But they cavalierly talked continuing to eat meat, fish, eggs, and dairy even though the animal food industry, and animal foods themselves, are harmful to animals, Nature, and people.

Not only that, one of my companions is severely overweight because of his dietary choices, and suffers greatly because of it.

In an ironic moment, he talked about his addiction to foods that were killing him… as he ate foods that were killing him.

It was if I’d been sitting in a restaurant with companions who casually admitted they were shareholders in or employees of a company that committed genocide or other horrors.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a self-described “pacifist and anti-war activist” who worked for a military contractor making weapons of war.

I recalled the book and videos by Dr. Melanie Joy who explains that carnism–the belief system that supports the eating of animals– creates moral deadening, denial, and self-delusion.

When my beet salad and veggie burger main course arrived, I looked at them carefully to see if there were any animal components.

I couldn’t see or taste any, but to my dismay, at the end of the meal when I was asking if there were vegan desserts, the waitress told me my salad had had cheese in it.

This explained the queasy, heavy feeling I’d started to experience as soon as I ate the salad.

And I mused to myself that if there was a Church of the Vegan Samurai, I’d have to go to confession and tell the priest, “I need forgiveness, for I’ve eaten foods produced by harming cows,” and seek absolution.

But as of  yet, there is no Church of the Vegan Samurai.

I was left to feel guilt about my inadvertent “cheese sin,” and the incongruous experience of communing with nice people I care about… except they’re willing participants in the violent, dominant culture of speciesism and carnism.

To put it bluntly, my friends support the animal-killing system that to me represents the greatest moral failing of our species.

All of us who truly care about animals realize that living vegan in a death culture means we’re often forced to compromise, camouflage, and “be quiet” when we’re with people who participate in carnism.

We love our family, lovers, friends. We want to “get along” with people.

We don’t want to dislike people for the deliberate, needless sins they commit against innocent animals and the environment.

We grieve for the obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other maladies they create for themselves because they eat animal foods and processed foods.

Vegans are the dismayed witnesses to the core immorality that animal-eating represents.

Other than the animal victims themselves, vegans are the only people who viscerally recognize we live in a world dominated by carnistic people and systems that create massive harms and suffering.

This is yet another reason I created the Vegan Samurai concept.

A samurai is a warrior who works hard to stay strong and resolute no matter what battles are looming.

A Vegan Samurai is often alone in a cruel world, surrounded by carnistic people who participate in the genocide against animals.

All you have are your vegan ethics, honor, principles, and strength as antidote to the heartbreak of being part of the only species that enslaves billions of innocent animals, destroys its own health, and trashes the earth.