I am vegan because in looking into the eyes of a pig on the way to slaughter, I feel its pain as my own. Not because I am sensitive or naive — as some would suggest — but because empathy is one of the most useful tools I have. It allows me to place myself in the perspective of others, and in any exploitation or tragedy, we must look at the world through the eyes of the victim. Our natural empathy gives us this ability; it allows us to make judgements and decisions based in morality. Humanity has always progressed toward a better world because of our empathy and our evolving sense of right and wrong.
Humans have what my dear co-worker would refer to as ‘special snowflake syndrome’. We tend to think of ourselves as above every other species because of our intelligence and high functionality. We think we are the best, the most wise, the dictators. The truth is that we share this planet with species that have fought just as hard in their own ways to survive and stay afloat amid evolution’s tireless tests. While we might have more complex intelligence than other animals, it does not mean that we have more of a RIGHT to anything. We do not have the right to dominate, exploit, or enslave another species simply because they are different from us. It’s the same reason why we can’t enslave other races, place lesser value on women, or persecute those of different religions. When we believe different means lesser we lose our humanity.