World Vegan Day: What If We Loved All Animals Like Pets?
rē•thinking the unequal treatment of animals.
Veterinarians are so passionate about helping animals that they go through years of rigorous and competitive schooling to do so. After meeting the vegan veterinarian Dr. Daisy Tigler, Associate Veterinarian at VCA TLC, we cannot help but think that her lifestyle is a testament to the human potential for more empathic living with our sentient cohabitants.
Tigler always knew that she wanted to work with animals professionally, but she decided to become a vet at eighteen. Once in vet school, she discovered a fundamental inequality in how different animals are viewed as pets versus commodities, simply by virtue of the global economy we live within.
This World Vegan Day, we are keen on rē-thinking the inherent divisions in how we view animals. In honor of the plant-based path, we wonder what would happen if we loved all animals like pets?
The Decision to Go Plant-Based is Never Easy
“I became a vegetarian when I was around twenty,” she tells rē•spin. “I had already decided to go to vet school, and I could not justify wanting to relieve suffering in some species, like cats and dogs, while contributing to the suffering of another, like cows, pigs, and chickens.” If you have ever tried to eliminate anything from your diet — sugar, gluten, dairy, et al. — you know this is not an easy decision. Plus, by twenty, your lifestyle habits are already well-ingrained.
But she had her reasons. “I always say that anyone can find a reason to go plant-based. If you can’t do it for the health of animals, you can do it for your own health!” Referencing The China Study, Tigler shares that diets high in red meat are more closely linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. “Even if those reasons don’t resonate with you, do it for the planet,” she continues. “The meat industry is unsustainable, and its impact is about the same as every gas-powered vehicle on the planet.”
Because her emotional reasoning makes a lot of sense for a future vet, we expected a greater number of veterinary students to be plant-based than the general population. But we were wrong. “Out of a class of about 140, there were a few vegetarians, and I think, two vegans,” she says.
rē•thinking The Unequal Treatment of Animals
Learning that future veterinarians were not more likely to be vegetarian or vegan than the general population was puzzling. After all, these are people making tremendous sacrifices to specialize in animal healthcare—the reason comes down to a fundamental inequality in how certain animals are viewed.
“The doctorate of veterinary medicine degree is interesting because, with it, you are technically qualified to work with large animals like cows, pigs, sheep, and horses, as well as small animals like cats and dogs,” Tigler explains. “But the directives of each industry are almost in direct opposition.” She rē-veals that small animal medicine focuses on prolonging life and reducing suffering, but large animal medicine prioritizes profit margins for the farmer. In other words, the wellness of large animals (aside from horses) is not based on their inherent worth but based on their value to humans.
Where she went to school in Glasgow, Scotland, it was common for vets to work in practices combining both small and large animal care. “I never understood how ethically you could do both,” she muses. “I personally do not see the difference between cats, dogs, pigs, chickens, and cows. I think eating meat is normalized in our society to a fault.”
What if we loved all animals like pets?
Without judging, let’s rē-examine the conditioning that assigns animal value based on their utility to humans. Perhaps, in a world with factory farming and animal testing, viewing meat as separate from the fuzzy and docile prey animals it comes from is a necessary coping mechanism. But does this rē-flect the values you would like to embody? These are the perfect questions to get you thinking on World Vegan Day.
In honor of World Vegan Day, here are some of our favorite pet-themed goodies to treat your furry children.
Dyson Pet Grooming Kit, $69.99