“But what’s wrong with honey?”
(There are no graphic images or descriptions in this blog)
Like many vegans I get asked a lot of questions in my day to day life once people find out I don’t eat “normally”, more so sometimes because I have a vegan business. One of the recurring themes recently has been something along the lines of;
“I get the whole not eating meat thing, but what about honey? What about wool? What about milk?”
Funnily enough leather seems to be understood but wool is a bit of a stretch because the sheep get to live through it.
My standard answer these days is that “we cant ask permission.” We cant ask permission from the insects and animals to take the things they produce for our own gain because we don’t speak the same language for a start.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, especially today and trying to come up with some good analogies for comparison to hopefully help make it more understandable (and perhaps a touch less “extreme”)
Let’s say we are room mates. We’ve been friends for years, you need a place to live, I have a spare room, it makes perfect sense. We decide on rent and your percentage of the bills and you move in. Its all going great but then some weird things start happening.
You do a weekly shop for yourself, fill your part of the fridge with food to take to work and ingredients to make some hearty meals in the evening.
You get up, grab your lunch from the fridge and go off to do a good days work. On the way home you think about what you are going to eat that night, you’re tired, you want something quick and easy and know you picked up a ready meal – that’ll do. You get home and open the fridge…hang on, half the food is gone. Completely vanished. It makes no sense so you ask me if I know what happened.
“Oh yeah” I say “I was hungry so grabbed some lunch out of your stash. Oh and then a couple of mates popped over and mentioned they were out of food at home so I sold them your food instead of them having to stop that the supermarket on the way home. That’s ok isn’t it? I made a good profit”
It’s not really on though and you tell me so. I apologise and promise to replace the food and I do. I replace it with the cheapest options I can find, value brand everything.
You had shopped top quality that week but its ok because I replaced the food you had worked hard for, right?
The next week comes, you do your shop and I do the same again. I have my own food but I take half of yours too. I dont ask, I just take it. I give you a roof over your head so it’s all good. …isnt it?
You moved in in the winter and spring is now here, the days are getting hotter and summer is very definitely on its way. Its way too hot now for jumpers and big coats so you push them to the back of your wardrobe. You might even be extra organised and box up your winter clothes so you have more space for your new summer wardrobe. Its pay weekend so you decide to treat yourself.
A lovely long shopping spree later and you’re home with bags full of short sleeves and cool cottons and pastel linens.
You go to your room only to find all your winter clothes gone. Not even a scarf or single glove left. What the hell?
You confront me.
“Oh those? Well its getting so hot now you obviously don’t need them any more so I sold them on Ebay. Got good money for them too”
I don’t need to replace them because we’re about to have a heatwave and you should really be thanking me for getting rid of it all. I’m not going to give you the money I made because, well I earned it, Ebaying is hard work! It was just dead weight and sooo last season darling, let’s face it you can buy more when it gets colder. That’s ok right?
You have a lovely car. You worked hard to buy yourself something really nice, the car of your dreams. You get up one day to drive to work only to find the driveway empty and your keys gone.
You call me up, what the hell have I done this time?!
“Just popped out for the morning, it’s not like you were using the car or anything”
Oh and then I let slip that I’ve signed up to be an Uber driver and I’m planning to use your car because I don’t want to wreck mine. That’s cool though…
You call up a mutual friend for a rant. You can hear her newborn screaming in the background
“oh tell me about it” she says! You see I’ve already paid her a visit this morning in your car and she isn’t happy.
Our joint friend has been expressing milk for her brand new bundle of joy and had a good days worth in the fridge, she’s exhausted because the little cherub hasn’t been sleeping and was going to have a nap while her partner did the feeds.
Only she can’t.
While I was there I had loaded up a cool box with all the breast milk in the fridge! I’d left nothing for the baby who is now hungry and in full voice about it.
But it’s ok because I was selling it to a new pop up ice cream place in town who are really niche but super cool and paying a really good price and well, she can just make more right? It’s totally ok for me to sell it. Right?
I could go on and do for chickens and eggs too but it’s all going to get a bit too nasty there and I’m trying to keep this pre watershed, family friendly but you get the idea?
Now I know there are going to be some smart arses out there who say “try living with a teenager/toddler/husband etc etc, they do this all the time and it pisses me off but we just get on with it” That’s the point I am trying to make. It pisses us off. I’ve tried to come up with scenarios as relate-able as possible. I’ve tried to humanise it to make it more understandable. If we did this to each other we’d be furious.
It’s not the done thing. It’s our stuff, we have rights after all!
And that’s just it. To many vegans it’s not our stuff. Not ours to take, not ours to eat, not ours to wear and not ours to profit from.
Yes, there are some unfortunate circumstances now where human intervention or “management” is required. Sheep need to be sheered. But seemingly we’ve done that to them through selective breeding for a higher wool yield. Bees need keepers due to the prevalence of things like varroa mites.
We have a responsibility to look after all creatures especially if we have created the situation but do we have the right to take things from them on an industrial scale? Where do we draw the line? Definitely something to think about.
For me all life is equal, it’s quite a spectacular thing we humans do asserting ourselves as superior over another species and taking what we want. Imagine if they did the same to us…