The Holocaust is one of the most egregious examples of human’s capacity to look away and disregard injustice. After hearing about it, many wanted to know, “How did so many seemingly average people allow it to happen? The classic experiment by Stanley Milgram sought to answer this. His data showed that under certain conditions, half of us will go along with things we know harm others. Milgram stated, "Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process." Some cultures (and by implication their cultural practices) appear to be less vulnerable to this. So it’s worth asking, what practices might make us less likely to ignore injustice threatening someone else?
Increasingly our main vote is how we spend our dollars. But the greatest contribution of veganism is not its boycott of intentional violence. Rather, it’s the ripple effect resulting from someone standing firmly in solidarity with justice, nonviolence and compassion. This inspires those around them to consider their own choice of where to stand. The fact that human beings have the capacity to ignore injustice happening to those we have been taught to “otherize,” is what has enabled every human-caused tragedy. One group (in terms of number of individuals impacted) has been more victimized and exploited by this phenomenon than any other: The non-human beings we’ve been, “taught” to eat, hunt, experiment on and use for entertainment. So why not “teach” something else?
To embrace a vegan ethic, is an important step if one seeks to avoid being complicit in violence and exploitation against the vulnerable. This effort encourages critical thinking and compassion – the very things we most need if we wish to see justice flourish. Modeling for the next generation a conviction to practice non-violence in our diet, what we buy, and what we endorse, may be the single most powerful action any of us can take at this time in history. Please join the peaceful revolution.