EDIT (March 2016): In the nearly 3 years since I wrote this blog post, the main replies I get to it are things like, “You want the truth about animal abuse kept a secret?” This is a logical fallacy. Wanting to never see a picture of an animal (or person) in pain doesn’t mean I want all animal and human pain to be a secret.
We don’t need to see pictures of people being raped to know that we need to stop rape. We don’t need to see pictures of children being beaten to know that children shouldn’t be beaten.
Similarly, we don’t need pictures of animals in pain or death to know that animals should be treated better. You can “get the truth out” without pictures of horror and abuse. People and charities do that every day, usually by focusing on images of the previously-abused victims having a better life now. It’s a “be the change you want” rather than “look at the problem” type of approach.
To the people sending me rants that include complaints that I “just can’t handle it,” you sound like YOU just can’t handle what I’m saying. I was hoping you’d consider that if I “just can’t handle” pictures of abused animals, maybe there are others like me… and maybe there is a better way to get your message out. There are certainly better options than sending me rants about what a bad person I am. That just makes you look like you’re in a club I definitely don’t want to join.
EDIT (April 2016): Additionally, it appears that I’m not allowed to have an opinion. My opinion on the merit and message of pictures of abused animals or children is just WRONG! Wrong wrong wrong and I shouldn’t be allowed to have this opinion. The comments I get here from vegans basically say that without pictures of abused animals, there appears to be NO way to spread the vegan message. This is evidently your only thing and you guys sure get defensive when someone suggests it shouldn’t be a thing.
Given the comments I get from vegans, maybe this post needs a trigger warning. Then again, I think they are coming here TO be outraged… like an ultra-conservative visiting liberal blog posts to comment on how everybody is wrong.
In other news, people who agree with me also comment and pass this blog post around Facebook. May this remind vegans that there are always multiple opinions on a topic and some people actually agree with me.
EDIT (Oct 2017): I’m evidently still the worst human on the planet. This blog post gets passed around veg*n communities so people can be outraged.
The most recent hate mail was someone telling me that if I don’t like pictures of abused animals, don’t look at them. Oh, I don’t do well with illogical stuff. I would have to SEE the picture to KNOW it’s an abused animal, and then I’ve seen it and can’t skip or ignore it.
Again, the point stands: if you think you are converting people by showing and sharing these pics, you are probably preaching to the choir AND alienating other friends who can’t stand these pics. You wouldn’t post a picture of someone being raped to tell people we need to stand up against rape. Change can be made without graphic images.
I am asking for the graphic images to go away. And for people to be more solution-focused. What can any of us do other than go veg*n? Most of us can’t or won’t, and that’s just reality. All your articles on how plants are the future and the only sustainable thing… and all your pics of abused animals… and how many of your friends have converted?
So let’s be honest. The tactics aren’t working. How can you reach someone and connect with that person without gore and violence? How do other groups do it?
And now back to the original blog post from July 2013. Enjoy! 🙂
Lots of things get posted to social media sites like Facebook. There is one “class” of image I would like to see nobody share ever again: abused animals. These fall into three types of images:
- Animals being abused and killed by farming and food production.
- Animals being abused and killed by horrible sociopaths for fun.
- Animals who are hurt, dying, or dead in puppy mills, shelters, or hoarders’ homes.
None of these should be posted or shared anywhere. Could you post images of children in those situations? Can you post a picture of a person or child being tortured? Would anybody want to see that? Would it get removed by Facebook? Would it get you arrested? Would it help children anywhere if we posted pictures of that?
If you wouldn’t post a picture of a child in that situation, don’t post a picture of an animal in that situation.
Children are being abused and killed every minute, but you don’t post pictures of that. I don’t want to see it. And there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t stop sociopaths from being sociopaths. Take one off the street, and another is ready to start his insane crap.
The same is true for animals and pets. If you post pictures of them being hurt or killed (for food or for some other reason), you only succeed in upsetting me for the rest of my life. That picture will be in my head the rest of my life, and it will haunt me. And what can I do about it? Nothing. There will always be someone, somewhere killing an animal for food, hurting an animal because they think that’s fun, or ending an animal’s life for some other reason.
I can’t do anything about this. Nothing I boycott or stop eating will change anything. It just won’t. I know you think it will, but you would need millions of people if not billions of people to stop eating animals, and that’s just unlikely. I know you think that if you post a picture shocking and upsetting enough, we’ll all go vegan, but that’s really unlikely. How many of your friends have gone vegan (and stayed vegan) specifically from your influence? A few? Over how many years? Most of us are not natural herbivores. We’re animals. Our bodies generally operate well with some meat in them.
That only addresses the animals kept and killed for food. I definitely can’t do anything about the animals being hurt or killed for fun. I definitely can’t. Nothing I can do about that. Nothing I can do about animal hoarders or shelters. Nothing I can do about puppy mills other than not get a puppy there.
I love animals. Super love them. Usually more than people. But my body works best with animal protein in it. I’m basically non-functional after a vegetarian or vegan meal. And as someone avoiding all wheat, rice, starches, and most dairy and beans there goes most of what a veg/vegan person mostly eats. I’m against poor treatment of animals, but I am not going to stop eating them. I’m going to hope we evolve into a more respectful society that treats animals humanely.
So you’ve only succeeded in upsetting me and distracting me for literally the rest of my life. That picture you posted of that guy hurting that animal and being proud of it? It interrupts my day to upset me. On multiple days. Not just the day you posted it. And what can I do about it? Nothing. What can you do about it? Nothing.
The only thing you can do is stop posting those. If you wouldn’t post a picture of a child in that situation, don’t post a picture of an animal in that situation.
Bonus: As a bonus, please consider that the above is also true when you post/share news articles with headlines that basically tell absolute horror stories. Once I’ve seen the headline, I can’t unsee the headline. Even if I don’t read the article (and I won’t), just the knowledge of what someone did to someone else is so awful. And these headlines are WAY worse than the stuff they put in horror movies. WAY worse. Who needs to see that or read about it? How did that make your day better or empower you? Why would you want to read that, and why would you want other people to read that?