One of the books I'm reading right now is The Longest Struggle by Norm Phelps as I think the adage of "to know where you're going you have to know where you've been" is so true. And because reading about the long history of humans treating other sentient beings badly (which is an understatement if ever there was one) was depressing even if informative, I snuck a peek at the conclusion to see if he would at least be able to end on a cheerier note. Well, encouraging is probably a better adjective, so here are his last two paragraphs:
For more than 2,500 years--since the days of Lord Mahavira, the Buddha, the later Prophets, and Pythagoras--men and women of compassion and goodwill have sustained the struggle for a world in which no sensitive being is imprisoned, enslaved, tortured, or killed simply because it suited humankind to do so. And the end of that struggle is not yet in sight. Today, we still face the same twofold challenge that has existed since the Axial Age: first and foremost, to bring closer the day when all sentient beings will live securely in a world without cruelty; and in the meantime, to relieve as much suffering as we are able.
Our strategy, therefore, must be to accomplish the possible while inspiring those who will come after us to achieve the impossible. We must dream the impossible dream and broadcast that dream so that every year, every decade, every generation, there are more and more of us who share it. All the while, we must never retreat from doing what we can. To abandon either the dream or the work is to abandon the animals, because it is this union of the impossible dream with the possible work that will bring success. Nothing else will. At some time that we cannot yet see, the dream and the work will merge, brought into reality by generations of dedicated dreamers and workers, and the animals will be freed forever from what George Orwell's philospher pig called by its true name: "the tyranny of human beings." p. 310
Amen, brother! If, like me, the negative reaction of those who don't get it yet and the seemingly monumental task ahead of us sometimes discourages you, I think these are good words to keep in mind. Other books if you're interested in exploring vegan and animal rights history while trying to keep your eyes on the better future ahead include: A Vegan History: 1944-2010 by Erik Marcus (Kindle Edition) and For the Prevention of Cruelty: The History and Legacy of Animal Rights Activism in the United States by Diane L. Beers.