Hey, Veterinarians… We Need to Talk About Veganism

Millions of Americans trust veterinarians to care for their companion animals’ health and well-being. We often think of them as Dr. Dolittle, compassionate and loving toward all their patients, regardless of species.

But what about the animals on their plates?

We asked Amanda James, a vegan veterinary student at St. George’s University, to explain why vegan should be the future of veterinary medicine. Here’s what Amanda had to say:

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Men are considered a novelty in the veterinary field, but it’s even rarer to come across a fellow vegan. We’re basically unicorns. Sometimes I’m not sure if others even exist. I receive strange looks and unwelcome comments regularly. I’ve even been told that I shouldn’t disclose this information to potential employers, as they will think I’m unfit for the field. It can be daunting to feel like I’m in it alone, but I’ve jumped in headfirst and haven’t looked back.

I’m in this field because I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I’m a voice for animals of all kinds. My patients will be furry, feathery, scaly, and everything in between. They’ll come in all shapes and sizes, but that’s as far as their differences will go. They won’t be able to tell me where it hurts or what they’re feeling, but their stress, their pain, and eventual relief won’t vary across species.

Every veterinarian will tell you they love animals; it's undeniable. This process is too arduous to be done dispassionately and I would never argue their devotion to improving the lives of their patients. I will, however, ask my colleagues to look at where their patients are coming from and where they are going. Why are they here, and what is their quality of life? How can we save some of our patients yet send others to be slaughtered? The pig with a broken leg wants to be treated with the same care as the beloved family dog. A sick cow wants the same chance at life as a child’s lifelong feline friend. It’s impossible to look any of our patients in the eyes and say they don’t want to enjoy every day to the fullest; our animal friends improve our lives immeasurably, but they are not here for us alone.

This profession required us to dedicate our lives to the service of animals. We took an oath to uphold “the protection of animal health and welfare” and “the prevention and relief of animal suffering.” I would not have been able to do so consciously knowing that half of my patients would end up on my plate unnecessarily. As their healer, I will spend my entire career fighting for them.

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The truth is that the animals we raise and kill for food are just as sensitive and intelligent as the dogs and cats we consider family. Yet the meat industry treats them like meat-producing machines.

Vet or not, we can all agree that animal cruelty is wrong.

The best way to take a stand against animal abuse is simply to leave animals off your plate.

Click here for more information on transitioning to a compassionate vegan diet.