After watching the Vice-Presidental debates last night, I insist that the pro-life demographic—those who would vote to impose their beliefs on the entire nation—go vegan on principle so that their eating habits fully align with, rather than contradict, their morals and values.
Otherwise, for example, when Paul Ryan states that Life Begins At Conception in order to justify his Right to Life stance, it only triggers my imagining of him consuming a daily breakfast of remnant bodies—scrambled fetuses and strips of pigs’ loins, if you will—who not only had no right to life, but who were systematically brought onto Earth for the sole purpose of their end (that’s 10 billion “aborted” lives—conscious ones, no less, per year in the U.S. alone).
Now, as the majority of the vegan population is made up of liberals, and as the majority of liberals are pro-choice, we vegans are often called hypocrites for this contradiction in our own politics and eating habits. We are often accused of “loving animals and hating humans.” Here’s what I say, speaking for myself, of course:
I am both pro-life and pro-choice. Due to both diligence and neuroses, I’ve never had to consider abortion, thank God/Jesus/Buddha/Moses/etc. I personally find abortion gruesome, but feel that a woman’s choice is inarguably a right that requires protection. I felt, when pro-lifers protested at my uber-liberal UC Santa Cruz campus—dead fetus photos and all, secretly glad. I think all young men and women should know the reality of the procedure as much they should know what happens at factory farms. I feel sex-ed classes should emphasize that abortion is not to be used as regular birth control. And, I feel, most every day, that meat should be banned for the very real and mass destruction it causes. But hypothetically, I would not vote to shove this belief down someone else’s throat. My work is rather to educate people so that they themselves might stop shoving things down their own throats.
People should inform public policy, not the other way around. That is democracy, that is politics, and that is why I am vegan—for the lifestyle’s power on the public realm, with or without legislation. And that’s the great thing about how Roe v. Wade stands now: all sides may continue to publicly exercise their beliefs.
As for the question of abortion in last night’s debate, and Paul Ryan’s response—“I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith”— I must say that I think his answer disqualifies him as a VP and potential Presidential candidate. We citizens should exercise our political passions publicly, but a politician, ideally, is hired to stand in an entirely different position. I’ll refer to the words of David Mamet, who wrote the following in an old essay titled “A Speech for Michael Dukakis” (it is the imaginary speech he wished Presidential candidate Dukakis would have given during his first TV debate with George Bush in 1988):
A lot of mystery and ceremony has become associated with the job of President…But the job was designed, and the job should be, to preside, to preside over legitimately opposed factions in such a way as to represent the interests of the people as a whole...I believe that the job of Chief Executive should be performed, and is performed best, by a man who is not a zealot; who refers his decisions to the rule of Law, always in the knowledge that he was elected not to enact his own whims, his own “passions,” but to represent his constituents; and to put the rule of law, and the will of the People as expressed in Law, above his own will.
Whatever your political leanings, I hope you will go to the ballots next month and voice your position. No matter what anyone says, your vote still counts—at least as long as the other side is still voting, too.