Dear Facebook Friends ...

The killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist has one vegan writer wondering how his Facebook friends could be so right—and so wrong.

July 30, 2015

Dear Facebook friends,

As you probably already know, I’m a big fan of your cat posts blowing up my Facebook feed. In fact, one could argue feline memes are pretty much the only reason I’m on social media. I mean, who can’t get enough of Pumpkin riding an invisible bike or lil’ Thumper hiding in a mailbox? No one. That’s who.

So, this request might come as a surprise, but could you please stop posting links to stories about Cecil, the 13-year-old lion killed in Zimbabwe by a Minnesotan dentist? I ask not because I don’t care about the senseless murder of a gorgeous creature (I do) but because many of your posts make you seem hypocritical. The vegan in me really wants to reply to your comments, but I’m afraid you’ll think I’m just another crazy herbivore spouting animal-rights rhetoric. You’d probably be right, but then again, so would I. This would lead to an argument and, as a general rule, I’m not interested in arguing with my friends. Still, I got some stuff you need to know.

Similar to you, I am appalled by the senseless murder of a sentient being who was lured out of his sanctuary because he smelled food (a shady move on the hunters’ part if you ask me). And we’re on the same side—perhaps I wouldn’t care so much if this hunter went eye-to-eye with Cecil, killing him with his bare hands in a struggle to save his family from a lion because maybe I, too, would kill a lion if he was attacking the wife and children I don’t have (then again, if pitching a tent in lion country sounds like a good idea, perhaps I get what’s coming to me). But he didn’t. The dentist shot Cecil with a crossbow, which remained for nearly two days before the hunter killed him with a gun. I might weigh 155 pounds, wear nerdy glasses, prefer reading to watching television, and live with two cats, yet even I’m aware that shooting a defenseless animal with a crossbow and later a gun is the exact opposite of what it means to be a man.

But if you’re so offended by this horrific act, may I ask what you’re having for dinner tonight? And what you had for lunch? How ‘bout breakfast? Or a snack?

I ask because even though my 20s have rendered my short-term memory useless, I know nothing I ate today, yesterday, or for more than the past decade has had a face, has cared for their offspring, or has swish-swashed their tail as they casually stroll a grassy field. My meals didn’t feel the stress of knowing they were going to die, never had to listen as their brethren were sent to slaughterhouses, never flip-flopped back and forth—desperate to breathe—after being pulled from their natural aquatic habitat, never screamed, squealed, or squeaked as they were sentenced to death for crimes they never committed. 

Many of yours did.

If you’re so upset regarding Cecil’s death, good. You should be. Just like you should be upset about the pepperoni topping on your pizza, the grilled chicken breast you have every night because you’re trying to “eat healthy,” the fast food milkshake you slurp while stuck in traffic, and the candy bars, cheesy potato chips, turkey dogs, bacon maple doughnuts, and everything else you eat that came from animals.

Simply put: if you feel anger for what happened to Cecil but continue to eat/wear animal products, you are being a hypocrite. Put your money where your keyboard is and do something about it. Stop eating meat. Stop consuming dairy. Stop wearing leather. And stop supporting companies that produce these things.

Sorry. I got a little activist-y there for a second. Again, we’re friends. I enjoy our time together and I don’t want to fight. Instead, I come with a question: Ask yourself why you’re reposting and commenting on Cecil’s vicious, needless death. Then ask yourself how you’re any different than the dentist who killed him.

Your friend,


Ryan Ritchie is the senior editor of VegNews.

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