Giving Compassionately: Ethics vs. Need

by Susan M. Landaira, MS, VCLE

Our world has seen many devastating tragedies of late. We are all called to action to help one another. What happens to our belief systems in a time of need? I’ve had this question brought up to me numerous times recently. In a time of need, can we ask people to donate vegan items? Can we cook vegan food? Can we offer vegan cleaning supplies and products? The answer is yes. When people are moved to volunteer, they are moved out of a sense of compassion. Funny, how that’s what the vegan lifestyle is all about, compassion. It wouldn’t make sense to give in any other way.

As someone living a vegan lifestyle and teaching people about this lifestyle, I sometimes come across resistance. We all know this. There are cultural issues, there are different beliefs about the ethical treatment of animals (that’s another post altogether) and there are people who’ve just “grown up that way.” As educators, it is our duty to inform people about the ethics, about why we live our lives a certain way and about why we want them to hear about it. However, in a time of crisis, we may find it hard to stand true to our beliefs. It is difficult to turn someone away who wants to donate non-vegan food, but if I wouldn’t eat it myself, why would I feed it to someone in need? If I collect boxes and cans of food that, in my eyes, are unethical, how can I be compassionately donating my time and energy? I felt this personally. The dilemma between ethics and needs. Really, though, it’s not a dilemma at all. It’s a reality that some organizations collect money, some collect medicine, and some collect vegan food.

In a world where we are donating, collecting, and volunteering because of tragedies, isn’t that more of a reason to demonstrate compassion? We see countless volunteers risking their lives to save animals. How can we consciously bring animal products to these people? Is there a difference, in the eyes of humans, between allowing an animal to suffer the tolls of a hurricane vs. allowing an animal to suffer to be put on our plates? I look at this as an opportunity to teach. There’s no doubt that we would all save an animal who needed our help. We constantly see videos about people saving animals from cars and traps, etc., yet, there is an extreme disconnect from the idea of saving a live animal to the idea of eating one that has been killed for us to consume. Why is that? Is it because, as humans, ignorance is bliss? If we don’t listen to the vegans of the world, our lives won’t be disrupted. If we don’t take time to figure out that a Mama Cow cries when her babies are taken away, we won’t feel empathy towards her. If we don’t learn that animals are skinned alive, we can still wear leather.

Why not take every chance to teach people? If you’re cooking a meal for a family in need, make it a vegan meal and show them how hearty and delicious it can be. If you’re donating food, show them how many options there are for an ethically chosen meal. If you’re donating time, stand by your values, know that what you are doing has meaning and teach compassion through doing. So, you see, vegan-ethics and need go hand in hand, they both are acts of kindness.

Susan M. Landaira, MS, VLCE, is a Special Education and ESL teacher. She is the CEO/Coach of Vegan Teacher LLC and a Main Street Vegan Academy Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. Susan writes for various blogs, newpapers and websites. Vegan Teacher’s offerings are individual and group coaching via skype and in-person; on-line courses; in-person courses, lectures and workshops. They have launched their new Vegan Night Out, a culinary experience hosted by you for your friends/family. Susan can be found at Vegan Teacher on FB, @TeachVeganism on Twitter, and

Susan M. Landaira, MS, VCLE
Vegan Teacher LLC, Coach/CEO
Vegan Teacher on FB
@TeachVeganism on Twitter