So I was recently asked by someone why I was vegan. Oddly, this hadn't been something I had thought about recently, so I decided to go through my reasoning. I wanted to keep it short, but you know me! The point is, I'm trying to capture the bigger picture within a linear narrative that, while simplified, still captures some nuance. Let me know what you think I may turn this into a pamphlet. Am I missing something?
1. Nonhuman animals are sentient
2. Nearly all animals raised for food today suffer tremendously.
3. The problem is institutional and of use, not merely cruelty.
4. Discrimination and Contradiction.
5. Killing animals for food involves either self-deception or habituation to violence.
6. Meat is a symbol and legitimator of power and hierarchy.
7. One cannot meet the global demand for meat while fairly feeding the world.
8. The current world consumption of animals is unsustainable.
9. Veganism is the practice of social and ecological justice.
10. It doesn’t matter whether eating animals is natural.
11. Veganism is fun and delicious!
11 Reasons to Consider Veganism
1. Nonhuman animals are sentient—they yearn for pleasurable experiences and suffer from bad ones. Thus, they share a similar interest in not suffering and being killed needlessly with humans.
Farm Animals and Us
"Animals Can Tell Right from Wrong"
2. Nearly all animals raised for food today suffer tremendously. Today, 95% of animals in the USA and 50% of seafood in the world are produced in “factory farms.” Most animals live short lives of suffering for quick profit: they are institutionally torn form their families, mutilated as children, sexually assaulted, often abused or neglected, and betrayed by their care takers. Because of the dizzying rates and massive number of animals being slaughtered, hundreds of millions will be scalded and/or skinned alive, or otherwise have prolonged agonizing deaths.
Meet Your Meat
3. The problem is institutional and of use, not merely cruelty. The above conditions are “standard industry practices,” all of which are unquestionably legal. The problem isn’t merely the treatment of animals, but their exploitation as “property” and their cultural characterization as deficient inferiors. This requires more than just reform and eating “humane meat;” it requires abolishing the ownership of animals, complete reproductive control, and pre-calculated killing, just as well as developing a new vocabulary and consciousness for re-thinking our relationship with animal others.
4. Discrimination and Contradiction. To justify their suffering and premature deaths for human want because they are “just animals,” is speciesism—to put the interests of one being over another being simply because they belong to different species. While most Americans are opposed to eating dogs and cats because they are social and sentient beings, they will eat others like pigs and cows (animals who are not eaten in other cultures) simply because it is traditional to do so—what has been called “moral schizophrenia.”
"All Animals are Equal"
Animals as Persons
5. Killing animals for food involves either self-deception or habituation to violence. Presently, there is a “war on pity” being fought in politics and in ourselves over how we treat animals. We cannot help but respond to animal suffering because it literally disturbs us from complacent habits. There is no choice but to choose to deny our emotional response to suffering, to self-deceive, or affirm it and become responsible to it. To ignore it, is only to habituate ourselves and accept violence where it is least necessary; it is to stop caring, to end ethics.
"The Animal Therefore I Am (more to Follow)"
6. Meat is a symbol and legitimator of power and hierarchy. Studies have shown that people prefer fake meat over real meat if they think the former is real and the latter fake because taste is partially a matter of social values like hierarchy and authority. Since meat symbolizes social power, The wealthier people get, the more meat they eat; this reinforces the association. It is no wonder that the so-called “natural” hierarchy of animals—the (food chain) of being—has been used to justify genocide/colonialism and capitalism/slavery by dehumanizing other humans.
Meat: A Natural Symbol
The Sexual Politics of Meat
7. One cannot meet the global demand for meat while fairly feeding the world. About 30% of the Earth’s land surface is devoted to feeding and rearing land animals who outnumber humans 10 to 1, who are fed 40% of the world’s grains. Feeding animals grain raises food prices and squanders nutrients, meaning certain people can no longer afford to adequately feed themselves. In several countries stricken by famine, millions of tons of grains and fish are exported to whiter and wealthier countries to feed the wealthy’s appetite for flesh, while the poor local people starve. In the future, demand for meat and dairy are expected to nearly double with the rising middle class. Already most of the world’s arable land is used for animal production, and the majority of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, so how is everyone going to eat the same animal-based diet as Americans?
Diet for a Small Planet
8. The current world consumption of animals is unsustainable. In a global context, eating animals (at least the way we do now) is unsustainable overconsumption. The livestock sector is one of the greatest contributors to ecological degradation, including: global climate change, biodiversity loss, water pollution and use, and deforestation. Ecologically, raising animals for food requires a lot more land and water than plants, and beef and dairy cows are one of the largest contributors of GHGs in the world, largely due to their burps and the clear cutting of the Amazon for pasture and feed. Eating low on the food chain is the most apt way to lower one’s food’s carbon footprint—more than eating locally.
Livestock’s Long Shadow
Spoiled: organic and Local are so 2008
9. Veganism is the practice of social and ecological justice. The injustices inflicted upon animals are not isolated, but intimately entrenched in institutions that also produce injustices against human beings—such as racism, colonialism, sexism, nationalism, ableism, etc. Injustice is shared by and distributed across all, which is why MLK Jr. said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” No surprise, some of the greatest writers and social activists were vegetarian advocates: Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Paine, Henry David Thoreau, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Coretta Scott King, Alice Walker, Cesar Chavez, etc.
Fast Food Nation
10. It doesn’t matter whether eating animals is natural. Whether eating animals and their products is natural or part of history is mostly morally irrelevant. Just because something is the case, doesn’t mean it ought to be. As animals with moral deliberation we can evaluate our actions in light of the above problems. With the variety of plant-based foods we have access to, and the knowledge that vegan diets are more than adequate nutritionally, there is no argument from necessity.
ADA’s Position on vegetarian Diets
11. Veganism is fun and delicious! Besides, it is a lot more easy, fun, delicious, wholesome, and liberating than people think. I’ve never had such a diverse diet, love of food, and as much fun cooking and baking as I’ve had while vegan.
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World