The Culture of Denial

27 Jun 2016

Excerpt from The World Peace Diet by Dr Will Tuttle, from the section titled "The Culture of Denial", explaining how deeply humanity's denial of the suffering of animals affects us and our society.

The more forcefully we ignore something, the more power it has over us and the more strongly it influences us. Looking undistractedly into the animal-derived foods produced by modern methods, we inescapably find misery, cruelty, and exploitation. We therefore avoid looking deeply at our food if it is of animal origin, and this practice of avoidance and denial, applied to eating, our most basic activity and vital ritual, carries over automatically into our entire public and private life. We know, deep down, that we cannot look deeply anywhere, for if we do, we will have to look deeply into the enormous suffering our food choices directly cause. So we learn to stay shallow and to be willingly blind to the connections we could see. Otherwise, our remorse and guilt would be too painful to bear. The acknowledged truth would also conflict too strongly with our self-image, causing serious cognitive dissonance and emotional disturbance. We choose to ignore, and thus choose to be ignorant and inattentive.

Being unwilling and unable to see, confront, and take responsibility for the hidden ocean of horror that our most basic activity causes to those who are as sentient and vulnerable as we are, we have split ourselves into a schizophrenia of politeness and civility that lives uneasily with the remorseless cruelty that surfaces whenever we obtain or eat animal foods. I believe this split is the fundamental unrecognized wound we modern humans suffer, and from it many other wounds and divisions naturally and inevitably follow. It is so deep and terrible that it is taboo to discuss it publicly.

Choosing to be blind to what we are actually doing when we shop for, prepare, and eat food, we blind ourselves not only to the horror and suffering we are instigating and eating, but also to the beauty of the world around us. This acquired inability to actually see and appreciate the overwhelming loveliness of this earth allows us to ravage forests and oceans and systematically destroy the natural world. Becoming insensitive to the pain we cause daily to defenseless animals, we also become insensitive to the beauty and luminosity of the creation that we oppress and from which we disconnect at every meal.

The desensitizing of millions of children and adults - on the massive scale that consuming millions of tortured animals daily requires - sows countless seeds of human violence, war, poverty, and despair. These outcomes are unavoidable, for we can never reap joy, peace, and freedom for ourselves while sowing the seeds of harming and enslaving others. We may speak of love, kindness, freedom, and a gentler world, yet it is our actions, especially those that are habitually practiced, that determine what future outcomes we and others will experience. The cycles of violence that have terrorized people both historically and today are rooted in the violence of our daily meals. Though animals cannot retaliate like other people can, our violence toward them retaliates against us.

Source: The World Peace Diet

Vegan Australia is an animal rights organisation that campaigns nationally for veganism. 
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