Ecofeminists and many anarchists see vegetarianism (by which I particularly mean "veganism") as an essential response against exploitation of other beings. Many religious people see vegetarianism as consistent with a message of peace.
Unfortunately, most people who call themselves progressive (let alone liberal) do not see the defense of all animals as relevant to their concerns about human society.
Yet the way that humans treat other animals is one of the most conspicuous indicators of how we treat the environment and each other. Eating, hunting, wearing, poisoning, abusing animals is one way everyone participates in a social organization based on exploitation and jealous protection of power.
Besides hunting and fishing and fur farming and beings tortured and killed in labs, in the U.S. one third of what is spent for raw materials and half of all our water are used just to produce food for the animals of the "meat" industry -- 26 billion individuals killed and eaten every year.
Like the reality of our invasion of Iraq, the reality of the meat and other animal-exploitation industries are hidden behind euphemistic doublespeak and outright lies. To speak the truth is considered treasonous, a threat to traditional values and the cohesion of society. People would rather not hear it. Yet the pursuit of meat, as with war, is ridiculously wasteful, counterproductive, and self-destructive.
If there is to be an anti-war movement, vegetarians, those who understand the intersection of all violence against another, should join it openly as vegetarians.
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