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What’s in a word?

Flesh: living, feeling beings, who are alive in exactly the same way as we are, are slaughtered. They are forced into a slaughterhouse, have a metal bolt fired into their head, are hung upside down, have their throats slit and are left to bleed out.

We don’t have to use the word “murder” to convey the injustice. Milk: semen is taken from a bull, through force. Female cows are forcibly impregnated, against their will, using a restraining rack. They carry their baby for nine months, just like we do, give birth to them and then they are taken away from them. If male they are killed, either a few days later or a few months depending on what use we’ve decided to make of them. If female they go into the same system of total exploitation as their mothers. We don’t have to use the word “rape” to convey the injustice. Eggs: the unfertilised eggs of a hen, who we have brought into existence so that we can use her body as an egg producing machine. Bred to produce an egg a day from a body originally designed to produce a handful a year, she will suffer dreadful illnesses no matter what kind of “farm” she is on. Most will be slaughtered. The word “period” does nothing to convey the injustice. If we don’t need to use these words we should consider if there is any value in doing so. In my experience using these words with non-vegans can alienate them and cause them to consider us less credible and so they close their minds to what we have to say, or simply walk away. If they don’t yet think of non-human animals as persons with rights using words like murder will make no sense to them. There is the same issue with the word “rape” and, in addition, using this word will upset many people, for good reason. Why upset people unnecessarily when you are trying to engage with them? Rape is a very complex act of violence, involving the exertion of power, sexual gratification and many other factors depending on the context. Forcibly impregnating cows is a grave injustice but we don’t need to call it “rape” to make that point. Using the word “period” to describe eggs, putting aside all debate about whether or not that’s accurate, shifts the focus away from the injustice which is what we want to focus on.

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