I do not find guilt a satisfactory reason to hold a moral position, however. I need a an-overarching ethical plan, planted only in principles I can respect--something like actively loving, or at the very least, not causing pain.
There is something else, though--pleasure. I never feel as warm, as cozy, as safe, or as human as when I am wrapped up in some animal substance--under a pile of fleecy down, sheathed in leather, cozy in a yak-hair coat. And I've always been against fake--in idea and in substance: fake flowers, fake wood, and fake leather deaden my soul. There is something about being connected to the real and the animal that affirms that I am an animal. I feel wrapped in the embrace of the world, in the embrace of my planet. I remember the green things more when I eat leaves and berries. And I remember the mammals more when I wear their skins. I also remember the crucial role they played in the survival of my ancestors.
I cannot take a position because it is popular. And I cannot take a position because someone tells me it is "right." I have to feel the rightness inside of me. But these are things that I am thinking about. I have made a point of eating less meat because I little desire it, because I don't really need it, and because I might decide that it's wrong. And I haven't purchased any new leather products, because I don't need them, though I do desire them, and because I might decide it's wrong.
I am for pleasureful living, but not when my pleasure suspends that of another, or worse, harms another
(October 2014: So in way of an update, I have had periods of complete vegetarianism and even complete veganism, or as my brother would accuse, complete flexitarianism, in the intervening years. This may be one of the slowest transitions in the history of humanity, but you're welcome to join me. I suppose I'm of the school that some change is better than no change. I've pretty much given up eating mammals, unless my Grandmothers make it, and then I eat it because I won't always be able to eat food that my Grandmothers make, because this food connects me to the past, and because when my Grandmothers cook food made from animals they knew a different sort of farm. I'm still debating internally the fish question. I've eaten some poultry, more out of perceived need for protein. I do not have at present much in the way of a grocery budget nor do I have my own kitchen. My parental hosts have been very kind to purchase cage-free eggs and to accommodate my gluten free diet, and buy the occasional Boca burger. I want to explore the dietary merits and demerits of veganism--chiefly my ability to obtain the nutritionally essential amino acids from non-animal sources, and will share my thoughts when I get around to doing that. I have had some considerations on veganism and poverty. For instance, there are parts of the world, even parts of the United States, where veganism seems a nutritionally dubious option. I would like to explore this further. Also, there are parts of the world, like the part where I live, where prolonged exposure to the cold can actually be dangerous. It has been my experience that evolution has prepared animal materials well to handle climate conditions. Persons without personal vehicles and the luxury of moving from heated garages to heated car seats, may be much benefited by having winter gear of these better materials. Aside from the fact that moving away from factory farming is imperative for the health of the planet and thus all life, I am inclined to think that veganism is a luxury for those with nutritional options. It is my perhaps naive belief that addressing human poverty is prior, and my hope, that when our species no longer suffers from regular food, housing, educational, and healthcare insecurity, we may do a better job of looking out for the suffering of others. Look for the "all creatures" label for posts pertaining to animal ethics.)