Vaccines for Vegans in the Pandemic Means Doing Our Best in This Imperfect World.
It saddens me that at this stage of things, we need to continue to reiterate that the coronavirus is not a fire drill. With well over four million deaths, many more cases of illness (including those who will continue to have disabling long-term effects), still in the thick of the more transmissible and deadly Delta variant, there are people who want to play keyboard “skeptic” over it when what they really are is gullible, gullible to the dis- and misinformation spread by self-appointed experts, thirsty wannabe influencers and actual propagandists.
Gullible, yes, and also shockingly callous.
Millions upon millions of the world’s poorest people would do anything to have access to the vaccines that those of us in the West look down their noses at despite the information being readily available that vaccines, imperfect though they may be, are the best tool in our collective toolkits for keeping this horrid virus from spreading more and further mutating. (Delta could be a walk in the park compared to what is down the pike thanks to those who are continuing to keep this virus well supplied with human hosts.)
If you are one of those people at this stage of the game, you are so far gone you still don’t believe that the pandemic is real. You scoff at those numbers. You smirk at healthcare workers, exhausted and desperate, pleading with us to please take this seriously. You laugh at those of us who are vaxxed and wearing masks again because while we are largely protected from the virus, we know we can still spread it. You take this last bit of information to mean that you were right all along. You weren’t right. You were stubborn, callous and cruel enough that you allowed this virus to keep spreading and mutating. During the Holocaust, there were also deniers.
Congratulations? People the world over, grieving the loss of family members and friends, neighbors and coworkers, you owe them nothing, I guess. The fact that you are the ones responsible for torpedoing businesses because, hey, who knew, economies don’t thrive when highly contagious viruses are running rampant during a massive public health crisis. You don’t see that, though. You try and try to deflect that onto those of us who are being responsible because, like so much of what you have continued to push that defies logic and rationality, why would you suddenly start to be accountable, think clearly and honestly?
But all that is not what I am here to say today.
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What I am here to say is for those vegans who we have disappointed by not being ideologues and zealots during this time. Yes, the life-saving vaccines were developed using animal testing -- far less than normal due to the quickness at which they needed to come to market -- but, yes, there was animal testing. The fact is that all medications and vaccines have to go through animal testing models before being approved, not just in the US. That inhaler that stops someone from dying during an asthma attack? The polio vaccine? HIV protease inhibitors? Anesthetics used in everything from dental visits to major surgeries? The current vaccines that are keeping people safe during this public health crisis? All were developed using animal testing.
This is not something we like. At Vegan Street, we support modernizing medical research and development to leave animals out of the equation. Not only is using animals in this way cruel, it is archaic. There are better, more modern ways and we must support this development. In the meantime, we have this messy, imperfect world. In the meantime, animal testing is still required for all medications and vaccines released to the public. In the meantime, the pandemic is raging as it ever has, threatening vulnerable lives and prolonging the suffering and miseries associated with it.
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When we started Vegan Street in 1998, we knew we lived in a very flawed world but we were going to keep shining a light on a better way. It is no different today: We live in a very flawed world and the vaccines, a product of this imperfect world, are still a key instrument to saving lives. I don’t know how people need this much convincing at this point. I don’t understand how someone can still waffle in the face of all this suffering and loss. It was never, ever about us being pure or perfect, though, and always about us doing the best we could in this very flawed world.
Please get vaccinated and help to stop this thing from continuing to mutate and kill. As the original definition of veganism in 1944 stated, vegans seek to exclude “as far as is possible and practicable” using animals. Shunning spread mitigation efforts during a massive public health crisis is not only irresponsible and cruel, it is not practicable. Built into the original vegan definition was an acknowledgement that we currently live in a non-vegan world. We are trying to change that, bit by bit. We have made some important strides. It is still a non-vegan world, though, and it is a world in the throes of a massive crisis. As such, we need to be less puritanical, more pragmatic.
We need to be vegans in a flawed world: Compassionate, responsible and modeling always that we stand up for one another, the planet and her inhabitants because, again, it was never about living on an island with our purity and always about us doing our best in this deeply imperfect world.
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