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The Vegan Network Kaat Pype Vegan Erno Eskens

Erno Eskens

is a philosopher.
Photographed by Kaat Pype.
Follow Erno on Twitter, Website

Q:

Do you think being vegan makes a difference?

A:

Sure, you cannot save the world by becoming a vegan. But it will help a little. It helps to prevent climate change – meat eating is one of the major contributors to methane gas pollution. Your health may benefit a bit also. Vegans and vegetarians are usually more healthy, which is the reason why insurance companies are now offering cheaper insurance policies especially for vegans (so much for solidarity there). You may find some comfort in the idea that your body has not become a grave. And of course, you may enjoy the idea that the animals benefit from your choice. Eating meat is cruel habit and it is about time we kicked it all together. Dairy product are a less cruel, but still. Just look at the calves, that are being separated from their mothers. It is not very animal friendly either. And eggs are produced in sheds were thousands of chicken are packed together and where new born cocks are being thrown in the shredder. Consider also that the cows and chicken are being bred in a such a way that all their energy is directed to the production of milk and eggs, and that they are not able to live a normal live span, and you know something is wrong there.
Now, I have to be honest with you, I’m still not completely vegan. I have lived as a vegetarian for the last 25 years or so, and the last 10 years or so I’ve managed to be vegan most of the time. But becoming vegan completely, is not all that simple. That is, if you live in a family that is not all vegan, and if you do not possess the mind-set of a saint. My family is vegetarian but likes to eat pizza’s once in a while. The restaurants don’t deliver pizza’s with vegan cheese at this point, so they bring them with cheese, and yes, I have to admit I’m weak when it comes to it. My weakness reminds me of the words of Saint Augustine, who apparently was not a saint himself too. He said: ‘Lord, o Lord, give me chastity, but don’t give it to me yet’. I have the same with pizza’s: give me veganism, but please, in a while. I know I have to change, and I find just a small comfort in the idea that I’m progressing in the right direction by eating less and less dairy products. But I’m painfully aware that moving in the right direction, is sometimes an excuse for not jumping to the end point.
I hope one day politicians will make my live easier, simply by prohibiting all products that are being made in a cruel of unfair manner. Why is it we can still buy and thus are being seduced by these strange, unnecessary, stolen, cruel and thus immoral animal products? Why are they still in our shops and in our pizza’s? The answer is that our society has comforted Itself with the false idea of ´taking good care of animals´. If we treat our animals humanely, we say, we may use their meat and milk. We keep on hearing this phrase over and over again, and for most of us it is soothing, even though we all know something is wrong here. The wrong is, of course, that the humane treatment of animals presupposes that we, humans, have the moral high ground and can set the standard for the treatment of animals. And of course we do not take the flawed ideal of humane treatment itself very seriously. If we were to do so, we would have to grant animals a humane treatment including most of the humane, human rights. At this point we do not give animals – sentient beings with clear interests – even the most fundamental and most basic human rights, such as the right not be tortured or mistreated. Eating animal products is a violation of these basic rights. As for myself, even if I am sometimes weak round dinner time, I find it quite easy to demand of myself to be strong every few years, at the election box. My vote goes to the Dutch Party for the Animals, the first party that is not a one issue - humans only - party. Fortunately more than 15 countries at this point have a Party for the Animals that fight for animal rights, including the right of animals to be represented as civilians in our parliaments. I hope the party will one day find a majority at its side. Till that time, I´ll do my best to resist the pizza´s, but don´t paint a halo above my head yet.

More photos by Kaat Pype