1. We believe that we need to create a fairer relationship with animals.
Our current relationship with the rest of the animal world is unfair. We have been on the wrong path for a long time, one in which we have been using our superior intellect to exploit animals for our benefit instead of finding ways to coexist with them harmoniously. This selfish way of treating animals must change. Abusing animals, killing them for food or for sport, using them for our clothes, research, or entertainment, abandoning pets - all of these things have to be left behind if we want to progress as individuals and as a society.
2. We believe that there are negative consequences to mistreating and killing animals.
We believe in cause and effect, and that positive actions will have positive consequences, while negative actions will have negative consequences. The great amount of suffering that we cause to millions of animals around the world daily creates a lot of negative energy. This negative energy is responsible for many of the problems that we face in our lives. As long as we keep causing animals to suffer and die, and as long as we keep ignoring their suffering, our lives will not become better.
3. We believe that helping animals has positive consequences.
Helping animals is very important. In the same way that the bad treatment of animals creates negative energy, the act of helping them creates positive energy. This is especially true because animals are innocent beings, and helping an innocent being is one of the most noble things one can do. The more positive energy one creates, the more positive consequences there will be.
4. We believe in the importance of "animal empathy enlightenment".
"Animal empathy enlightenment" refers to type of compassion that resides deep inside you, one that makes it easy to make decisions about what is right and what is wrong when it comes to our relationship with animals. This is true empathy, a realization of the suffering of animals, and the desire to do all one can to help build a better relationship with them. We believe that with the right guidance, and with the right choices, most people can attain AEE. There are three things that you can do to help you get there: cut down on or (preferably) stop eating meat, to investigate and to contemplate the way animals are mistreated, and to do all you can to help animals, in any way you can. These are noble actions that will help in fostering the type of compassion that will help you to eventually attain this higher level of understanding.
5. We believe that vegetarianism and especially veganism represent progress for the world.
The fact that we kill animals for food is one of the biggest problems in our current relationship with the animal word. Doing so is both ethically wrong and physically unnecessary. Most of the animals whose meat we currently eat, though not as intellectually advanced as we are, feel pain and have emotions just like we do, which is reason enough not to kill them. The meat industry downplays or ignores this fact, and often even causes these animals to suffer in terrible conditions before slaughtering them. By eating meat, we are saying that all this doesn't bother us, when in fact it should. We should spread the word about the benefits of a meat-free diet in order to help others attain a higher level of consciousness.
6. We believe that hurting, abusing, or killing animals in the name of religion, culture, research, or sport is unacceptable. Sports in which animals are made to suffer and die should be prohibited.
7. We believe that any step in the right direction is a good step.
We value every step that someone takes to improve his or her relationship with animals. It is important to remember that most people don't attain a higher level of consciousness overnight. For many people, the road to a compassionate way of life is a gradual one, involving many such steps. While we should always encourage people to take even more steps towards a better interaction with the rest of the animal world, we should not forget to acknowledge and praise the progress that someone has already made.
BELIEFS ABOUT A PLANT-BASED DIET
1) Going meat-free is healthy.
You can lead a perfectly healthy life without eating meat. All of the basic nutritional elements that your body needs can be found in a vegetarian or vegan diet. In fact, a well-balanced meat-free diet can actually help you avoid and counteract some of the serious diseases caused by a meat-centric diet. There are plenty of healthy vegetarians and vegans out there who are living proof that it is possible to live without animal products.
2) It's not "unnatural" to not eat meat.
Most societies are meat-centric, so eating meat seems natural to most people. We should understand that this is mostly a question of perspective and conditioning. For people raised in a vegetarian/vegan household, for example, eating meat seems unnatural. What's more important is to focus on the consequences of eating meat, on all of the suffering and death caused by the meat industry. We believe that you shouldn't use the word "natural" to justify bad choices, especially since there are more and more ethical alternatives out there.
3) We don't believe that humans should be part of the so-called "food chain".
The food chain argument is another justification of bad choices. "Other animals kill each other all the time for food, so why shouldn't we?" Unlike animals, we were given the ability to think, the ability to make a choice. Other animals don't have that luxury, they just go on instinct. As a "higher" life form, we shouldn't lower ourselves to the realm of instincts, as if we didn't have a choice, but should, instead, use our power of choice to choose a more moral, compassionate way of life.
4) Eating a vegetable and eating the meat of an animal is not the same.
Plants and vegetables are also living things, but they don't have a brain or a central nervous system, therefore they are unable to feel pain or other emotions like humans and animals do. Even though plants sometimes appear to feel "pain", since they have no nerve-endings, brains, or hormones, it would be incorrect to compare this physical reaction to the pain felt by humans and animals. In fact, this is a dangerous comparison, as it undermines the predicament of the animals we kill for food.
5) There are situations in life when one has to eat meat, but these are extreme situations that don't apply to the vast majority of people.
If you are faced with a situation of either starving to death or eating meat, then you will obviously eat meat. Also, there are some isolated regions of the world where, due to geography, infrastructure limitations, etc., it is very hard to get by being a vegetarian. That said, the above-mentioned situations only apply to a small minority of the world's inhabitants, so unless you belong to that small minority, you should do your best to follow a plant-based diet.
Below are some common reasons that people give for eating meat. Each response if followed by our rebuttal:
1. "Not eating meat would be unhealthy. We need meat to survive."
Our Response: There has been tons of research conducted on this topic in the recent and not-so-recent past - on whether or not vegetarianism is healthy or not. Although most of these studies show that it is perfectly healthy, there are some that conclude that it may be unhealthy. So, whatever your dietary preference, you'll find something to prove you are "right". It boils down to choice. We believe in the results that will prevent more animals from suffering and being killed instead of the results that promote the killing of animals. When faced with moral decisions, you should always make the compassionate choice. Remember: One of the great things about our ability to choose is that it allows us to choose an ethical path.
2. "I like the taste of meat. I can't imagine giving it up completely."
Our Response: Many people who eat meat find it very tasty. However, the fact that meat is tasty doesn't make it OK to eat. We shouldn't forget how this meat got to our table. We at EFFA believe that the taste of meat is actually part of the temptation, part of the test of how advanced we are in our compassion. A conscious, empathetic individual will realize that the life of the animal is more important than this taste, and that just because something is pleasurable doesn't make it right. When pleasure comes at the expense of a sentient being's life, this pleasure will have negative consequences. Also important to remember is that while it's best to give up eating meat completely, any step you take to minimize your meat consumption is a good one.
3. "If God didn't want us to eat meat, He would not have made it so tasty!"
Our Response: By using the same logic, - If God didn't want us to overindulge in alcohol, He would not have made it so tasty. If God didn't want us to get addicted to cocaine, He would not have made it so pleasurable. If God did want us have sex with our friends' wives or husbands, He would not have made them so attractive. Using these examples, we can see how flawed the initial argument is.
4. "I don't care if a cow dies... or a pig, let alone a chicken!"
Our Response: This type of thinking usually comes from a lack of empathy for the suffering of sentient beings. Humans are, in many cases, more intelligent than animals, but this does not give us the right to make them suffer for our benefit. Over the course of many centuries, we have created and clung to the belief that animals are here to serve us and to be our food. We believe this because it allows us to continue killing them and making them suffer. We are here to remind you that animals suffer and feel pain, fear, and depression much like we do. We believe that it is very important to open our hearts to the suffering of others, especially innocent beings (which is what animals are) and to help them in any way we can. Concentrating only on our immediate problems might seem alright, but, in fact, it will lead to a wasted life. Even if you're not interested in growing your compassion towards other sentient life-forms, we encourage you to at least respect their right to live. All animals have the right to live, not only humans. These days, there are many alternatives to eating meat, ones that do not involve causing suffering and death.
5. "Becoming vegan/vegetarian is too much of a hassle/too hard/too expensive."
Our Response: Becoming vegan (or vegetarian) is not hard. The hard part is to break free from one's habit of eating meat. It's not easy to leave behind something you're been doing your whole life. This can be done more easily if you have the motivation of compassion behind you, and the desire to end the cycle of suffering. Finding meat-free alternatives to your typical meat dishes is fairly easy these days, and there are lots of tasty and healthy recipes online that you can try. Even if you have to make a bit more of an effort to get food, the positive change you create by not having animals killed in your name will be worth it. Sometimes, we have to go the extra mile to create a fairer relationship with animals. As for cost, a plant-based diet does not have to be expensive. There are many websites out there which provide ideas for tasty, low-cost cruelty-free dishes.
GOOD HABITS FOR TRUE ANIMAL LOVERS
Here is a list of lifestyle choices that will improve our interaction with the animal world:
1. Respect all animals, and act to help them.
Not everyone comes to the realization that animals, just like humans, are sentient beings that should be treated with respect, not as toys, commodities, food, or entertainment. The fact that you have come to this realization makes you special. But being special, being aware about the way things are is not enough. You have to act on your principles in order to give them power. The current way we interact with animals is just plain wrong. It's up to us as individuals to do all we can to try to change the state of things as much as we can. If you don't know where to start, check out our HOW TO HELP ANIMALS
2. Don't think it's naive to believe in change.
Many of us hear phrases such as "what you're doing is just a drop in the ocean", or "things will never change". In fact, things do change. Take a look at the past 100 years. Sure, we don't live in a perfect world, but there have been positive changes in the way we interact with one another, in the way we work, even in the way we treat animals. 100 years ago "animal rights" as a movement was virtually non-existent. Now there are more and more laws protecting animals from abuse and mistreatment. It's up to us to make sure that this trend continues. Apart from that, there's another important truth to remember: helping just one animal makes it all worthwhile. If you manage to save just one animal from suffering and/or death, you have done a very good thing.
3. Do not eat meat, eggs, or dairy.
One of the biggest deceptions is that there's nothing wrong with eating meat, eggs or dairy. This goes hand in hand with the myth that "veganism is unhealthy". All of this is simply not true. Since eating these products involves the acceptance of the killing and suffering of sentient beings, it is one of the worst things you can do both for yourself and for the world. Making animals suffer and killing them for food (or having others kill them for you) is ethically wrong, and doing so results in direct negative consequences both for the meat eater and the world s/he lives in. Adopting a plant-based diet is the most direct and effective way to communicate that you don't accept our current unfair treatment of animals.
4. Do not wear fur, leather, or any other part of a dead animal.
Also avoid wearing wool, as this industry involves a lot of animal suffering as well.
5. Do not support any sports/activities in which animals are made to suffer, or are killed.
Examples of such sports/activities include bullfighting, dog fighting, cock fighting, hunting, fishing, etc. We do not believe in the "overpopulation" myth. We believe that when left alone, nature is able to control the population of species without our help. It is when we interfere with nature that we disrupt its balance, often leading to an overpopulation of a species (such as deer). Then, to make things even worse, we start killing them. We also do not support any religious ritual that involves killing or hurting an animal.
6. Stay positive.
This is not an empty slogan, but a very important part of our philosophy. Many people who feel true empathy for animals are overwhelmed by the massive amounts of animal suffering in the world. Any compassionate person will feel disgusted and appalled by the type of cruelty that exists in the world today. Often, such emotions lead to negativity, and the person either becomes violent or (in the majority of cases) depressed. Instead of focusing on "how awful the world is", let's focus on how great it is that we are aware of the injustices that animals face, and can do something about it. This is very important. The fact that you have been given a gift, the ability to feel compassion for animals, and to see beyond the status quo, should not be wasted on sulking and complaining. It should manifest itself in direct, positive action to help as many animals as possible.
7. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
This is another important guideline that we encourage people to live by. Laziness is a powerful force. It makes you think that it's OK to wait until tomorrow, or the next day, etc. The truth is, if you have to do something to help an animal, do it today. If you know what has to be done, do it. Don't put it off. People who kill animals, who make life miserable for them, who treat them cruelly don't wait until the next day. You shouldn't either.
8. Put aside at least 10% of your disposable income every month to help animals.
If this sounds like a lot of money, it isn't. Many of us spend a lot of money every month on going out, on new clothes or gadgets, and other forms of entertainment. We should set aside a little bit of this money and donate it to animal shelters or any other organizations that help animals in need. It is a simple concept, and, more importantly, a very easy and very rewarding way to help. While it's important to pressure government (on all levels) to provide more funding to organizations and programs that help animals, we should also actively help as well, and this is a perfect way to do so. If these animals can't depend on conscious people like us, who can they depend on?
9. Do not be afraid to speak your mind.
Do not be afraid to show people that you care about animals, and that you are willing to stand up for what you believe in. Many people in the world believe that the current way we treat animals is acceptable, when in fact it isn't. We believe that many of the negative things that happen in our world are partially caused by the mass suffering that we inflict on animals. The fact that animals deserve the right to live (and to do so without suffering) is a powerful realization. If you have come to this realization, you should be proud, not afraid. One thing to remember, however, is to make sure you know what you're talking about. That's why we encourage everyone to inform and educate themselves as thoroughly as possible before entering into any debate about animal rights, vegetarianism, etc.
10. Stay focused.
You are the voice of the animals. By coming to the realization of the suffering that millions of animals have to endure on the streets, shelters, and slaughterhouses of the world, you have assumed a very important responsibility: to let people know that we have to improve our relationship with the rest of the animal world. When you lose your focus, the animals lose their voice, since they can't speak for themselves. We're not saying that you should devote all your time to helping animals, but that it's important to not lose sight of the goal. Helping animals is an extremely satisfying experience, especially when you help out of compassion and love. Remember, knowing the truth is not good enough. One should also act to help create a better world in which humans and animals coexist peacefully.