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Why We Need To Redefine Luxury

by Sarah E. December 19, 2012

Today, I saw this video of Alicia Silverstone (created by PETA) showing the horrors of the down industry. Yesterday, I flew first class on U.S. Airways (I snagged some miles that were set to expire from a family member) and the seats were leather, the airline forgot my vegan meal, and didn’t have any vegan options on board (the airline provided their first class passengers with a “food” option of either feminized animal protein-laden pasta or dead chicken carcass slathered in barbeque sauce).


Today, I’m thinking about those who wear fur, who eat foie gras, who buy  “gourmet” meats to celebrate holidays or promotions. Everywhere I look, especially around the holiday season, I see ridiculous examples of the skewed ways some in our culture envision luxury.

Why is it that the most coveted things in our society are often those sourced from cruelty towards human or non-human animals?

foie gras(2)

Why has luxury become synonymous with cruelty in so many cases? When I think about the true meaning of luxury for me, it has nothing to do with exerting dominance over another creature or person.

My definition of luxury includes: getting to spend time with loved ones, feeling creatively inspired and having the time to act on this inspiration, getting to travel several weeks or months of the year, enjoying really special gourmet vegan meals at restaurants sometimes, having the freedom to choose my schedule, sleeping on an organic mattress, etc. Notice that my definition of luxury does include some material things: I would certainly survive and would be quite happy without gourmet vegan meals and designer vegan apparel, but since we’re talking about luxury and not “necessity,” this is my list. What my definition of luxury does not include is exploiting and killing innocent creatures for my personal benefit. It does not include eating “fine” chocolate sourced from child slavery. I call for a culture-wide re-examination of what we consider to be luxury–for the animals, for our fellow humans, and for the planet.

What does luxury mean to you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments . . .

Note: I realize that flying is terrible for the environment and while I can say that I’m trying to fly less these days, it’s still a big deal. Just because I’m vegan doesn’t make it innocuous.

Sarah E.
Sarah E.


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