Darcy Reeder
Aug 29 · 3 min read
Photomontage Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

“You’re vegan? Oh, so you must reeeeally love animals, huh?”

I hear this all the time when someone learns I’m vegan.

(Other first responses include
“People need protein though.”
“I could never give up cheese.”
“So you don’t have any leather shoes?”
“You eat fish though, right?”
“So, like, you don’t eat wheat?”
“I had a veggie burger once; it was actually pretty good.”)

So, do I love animals?

First off, animals is a really broad category.

Some animals — bunnies, I’m lookin’ at you — never fail to make me squeal with joy. I also reliably get heart-eyes for rats, pigs, and elephants. But I wouldn’t be thrilled to meet a shark while I was out for a swim. I don’t eat bunnies, rats, pigs, or elephants. But I don’t eat sharks either.

My opinions on individual species aside, there are countless types of animals I’ve never even heard of. If I ever come upon an animal I don’t recognize, my reaction won’t be to find out how they taste. Not because I love them. I don’t even know them!

I don’t memorize animal facts. I don’t have a degree in animalology, or even know or care what you’d call such a thing. I don’t write love poems to animals (except my husband… and my daughter… and my dog).

I’ll say it: I prefer cat videos over actual cats.

Humans are animals. I wouldn’t eat a human, whether I loved them or not. Nope, not even Hitler. Not even Trump. I don’t eat any animals, whether I love them or not.

Meat-eaters, do you eat animals because you hate them? I didn’t think so.

So, no, I didn’t go vegan because I just looooooove animals.

Lemur baby clings to adult lemur’s back
Lemur baby clings to adult lemur’s back
These lemurs are pretty dang cute, though. Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

You probably love animals just as much as me. Maybe more.

Do you get giddy when you discover a birds’ nest full of little blue eggs? Of course, we all do. Do you read books with animal characters to your kids? They’re not drawing all those talking bears just for us vegans. I avoid the zoo — cages? no thanks! — but those of you who go there probably do it out of feelings of love or fascination for the animals there.

Regardless of my feelings for animals, I don’t eat them. I don’t cage them, or kill them. I don’t need to love an animal to choose not to kill her baby so I can drink her breast milk.

Some animals I love. Some I like. Some, it’s complicated. I’m afraid of many animals. Mostly, their wild lives have nothing to do with mine, and I think that’s fantastic. Their right to live freely shouldn’t be contingent on human love. Regardless of my feelings for animals, I don’t eat them. I don’t cage them, or kill them. I don’t need to love an animal to choose not to kill her baby so I can drink her breast milk.

That’s just basic respect. The love part is optional.

Tenderly

A friendly + radical vegan magazine dedicated to living well with kindness towards animals, care for the planet, and justice for all.

Darcy Reeder

Written by

Empathy for the win! Top Writer— Essays on Feminism, Culture, Relationships, Sexuality, Veganism, Politics, and Parenting. ko-fi.com/darcyreeder She/Her/They

Tenderly

Tenderly

A friendly + radical vegan magazine dedicated to living well with kindness towards animals, care for the planet, and justice for all.

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