Long considered an advisement to allow others to do as they please regardless of consequences, the slogan "live and let live" was recently employed by a group of animal rights activists who exhorted humans to eat only plants and let other animals live - i.e., go vegan. Many accused the vegan radicals of subverting the traditional message of conflict avoidance in order to promote their own selfish agenda of ending animal suffering.
"Honestly, it made me lose a lot of respect for the vegan movement," said Jeff Millsap of New York City, a self-identified libertarian. "If they want to make a certain dietary choice out of pacifism or obsessive-compulsiveness or whatever, that's fine. But don't twist the libertarian premise of looking the other way into an excuse for interfering with our personal food choices. It's very manipulative."
His face darkened as he added, "Not to sound all conspiracy theory or anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're secretly trying to get everyone on the entire planet to stop eating animals. I wouldn't put it past them."
Millsap further noted that most farmed animals wouldn't even exist if humans hadn't forced them to breed into the billions.
"I'm not in favor of slavery, of course, but the same is true of many African Americans," he said. "They wouldn't be here today if the slave owners back then hadn't forced them to bear children in order to increase the slave masters' wealth. Again, I'm certainly not saying slavery is a good thing, but just like black people today owe their lives to those slave owners responsible for bringing them into existence, farmed animals are lucky to even be alive. If you ask me, that's the true 'letting live.'"
Even so, a free-speech defender to the core, Millsap said that he makes a point of not making vegans feel uncomfortable about their food choices.
"I'm very tolerant," he said. "I'd just ask that they show me the same respect."