Let’s Talk About Language
Language, it’s what we’re all talking about, am I right?
Words are kind of important when it comes to communication, and it’s helpful to try and make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to language, and hopefully this will help.
I try to avoid deviating from common nomenclature, books like Cultish highlight how cultish language utilize either variations, or entirely new works (or acronyms) to help indoctrinate victims, and that’s something I’m conscious of and trying to avoid. Veganism is a social movement, not a secret club, so let’s try and use language people can relate to.
That said, there are a lot of loaded terms as well, and here’s my take on them.
|Animal Rights||Generally speaking, animal rights mirror human rights, and the expectation is that similar considerations are given to ‘someone’, be they human or non-human.|
|Euthanize / Euthanasia||Euthanasia is the merciful killing of a terminal animal (including humans). This is when medical intervention will not save a life, and instead of suffering needlessly, they may be euthanized to shorten their inevitable suffering.|
It’s important to distinguish that you cannot euthanize a healthy animal. It’s simply killing. To claim otherwise is to be speciesist (see below).
|Pets||This is a pretty loaded term, and can be viewed as derogatory towards animals in our care. In a sense, it diminishes them, and furthers a speciesist hierarchy.|
That said, the reality is they’re completely dependent on us, and this is the relationship we have whether we like it or not.
As far as language referring to caretakers, guardian is also nice, pet owner is frowned upon (it doesn’t seem very nice to ‘own’ another being!)
Watch for a ‘Are Pets Vegan’ blog post!
|Speciesism||Similar to racism or sexism, refers to discrimination on species.|
Example: justifying animal testing is speciesist. If one is opposed to testing on humans against their will, it is speciesist thinking to try and justify this for non-humans.
Second example: ‘euthanizing’ pets at shelters. We wouldn’t kill humans at a human shelter if short on space, and it’s speciesist to somehow try and justify doing this to non-humans.
Speciesism is still deeply ingrained in our society, and even in the vegan movement. We should strive to avoid it as much as possible.
For a deeper dive take a look at the book Speciesism by Joan Dunayer.
|Vegan||I stick with the Vegan Society definition:|
“Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
Hopefully we’re on the same page when it comes to these terms, feel free to share your thoughts, or post if you think there’s another term that should be included!