Dear Charlotte Cunningham,
I am writing in response to your open letter to vegans.
Extremists, by definition, typically advocate and engage in illegal, violent or extreme action. All we’ve done, for the most part, is shared videos on social media and debated the ethics of exploiting non-human animals for their products. I won’t deny a small minority of vegans have name called and been generally unpleasant but that hardly meets the criteria required to be labelled an extremist.
It was clear within only a few paragraphs of your open letter that I was going to be reading yet another trite diatribe about all the good things farmers do with selective blindness to the bad.
Nobody denies farmers do good things but doing good things doesn’t negate the bad you do. If I punch a new born baby but then I go and give all my earthly possessions to charity does my giving to charity negate my having punched a baby? No. Doing good things doesn’t cancel out doing bad things. That’s not how it works.
You wrote about how farmers looked after non-human animals in cold weather and defrosted pipes to make sure the cows could be milked. That’s great but if humans hadn’t have applied a programme of systematic eugenics to non-human animals in order to maximise their milk production perhaps they wouldn’t need milked so urgently. Furthermore, if humans hadn’t have been owning non-human animals as property, treating them as mere resources and as a means to a financial end and exploiting the reproductive organs of these non-human animals for their milk in the first place this wouldn’t be an issue at all.
Milking a cow in cold weather and defrosting some pipes doesn’t magically make the issue of killing male calves go away; it doesn’t make the issue of antibiotic abuse in farming go away; it doesn’t make the issue of greenhouse gas contributions from your industry go away; it doesn’t make the loss of biodiversity go away; it doesn’t make exploitation go away; it doesn’t make the slaughter of non-human animals for food when we can live a perfectly long and healthy life without them go away.
This isn’t about what the industry does that is good, nobody denies there are things which are done which are good, but our concerns and our criticisms are regarding all the things which are done which are not good. You cannot address our concerns or our criticisms by ignoring them and telling us completely unrelated stories about dealing with harsh weather conditions. On that note, your industry isn’t the only one working tirelessly throughout the poor weather conditions. You’re not a hero because you went out in some snow, lots of people, all over the UK did that.
Finally, you mention that farmers are receiving hatred. If you can’t wake up and see why that is and recognise the legitimacy of criticisms levied against your industry; if you can’t take the blinders off and stop only seeing the good then there’s no point writing vegans open letters.
I will continue to make the argument that farmers are inconsistent in their position of claiming to care about welfare while simultaneously slaughtering non-human animals themselves or sending non-human animals to be slaughtered. The two positions are incompatible and only reconcilable through compartmentalisation and wilful adherence to bad reasoning.
All the best,
An ‘extremist’ vegan.