Faulty Arguments Against Veganism, pt. 5

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Faulty Arguments Against Veganism, pt. 5

Check out parts 1-4 here.

Argument: “…stop worrying about animals, when there are tons of hungry PEOPLE out there!! PEOPLE!”

Response: Really? No, seriously. Is this real?

I’m kidding, of course; if you’ve been vegan or an activist for any period of time you’ve probably heard this comment or some variety of it (depending on what the tragedy du jour is on the news) more times than you can count. I’ve always found it a little confusing, as if compassion is something we only have a limited amount of. In reality, I’ve found that a vegan lifestyle dramatically changes the way one looks at the world. I know that I never cared about Fair Trade chocolate and coffee or avoiding sweatshop labour before I started to learn about the suffering of animals.  It just sort of opened up a world of compassion for me.

True, we do only have a certain number of hours in the day, and some of us choose to spend those hours volunteering to help animals. Others–and I speak of people who I know personally–volunteer not only to help animals, but with the elderly, at soup kitchens, and against human rights abuses. In fact , over the last 5 or 6 years I’ve discovered that vegans tend to be more concerned about suffering of all types than the general population.

Check out this related quote from Peter Singer, in which he discusses far more eloquently than I ever could the “humans come first” phenomenon:

Among the factors that make it difficult to arouse public concern about animals, perhaps the hardest to overcome is the assumption that “human beings come first” and that any problem about animals cannot be comparable, as a serious moral or political issue, to the problems about humans. A number of things can be said about this assumption.

First, it is in itself an indication of speciesism. … One can claim to know this only if one assumes that animals really do not matter, and that however much they suffer, their suffering is less important than the suffering of humans. But pain is pain, and the importance of preventing unnecessary pain and suffering does not diminish because the being that suffers is not a member of our species. What would we think of someone who said that “whites come first” and that therefore poverty in Africa does not pose as serious a problem as poverty in Europe?

If you feel like it, read more about this issue at Vegan Outreach.

And check out these links which discuss the connection between the consumption of animal products and world hunger.



July 16, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I never understood that argument. It’s as if you support the torture animals you’d save humans. Doesn’t really make any sense, does it?


July 17, 2009 at 11:18 am

There is no greater system of oppression in place for any beings on Earth than animals. Even if we have immaculate human rights in every country, if we are still confining and brutalizing animals in factory farms, we are still not a compassionate planet. Animal activists lobby for the compassionate treatment of all living things, including humans (and especially those humans involved in the many horrific facets of the animal industry, who inevitably suffer as they inflict suffering)


July 18, 2009 at 7:20 pm

There is always the humanitarian side of the issue as well…remind people of how much feed goes to the feedlots and how little goes to feed the hungry. Not to mention the antibiotics pumped into animals as well that is helping create drug resistant strains of bacteria. Caring for the animals also means caring for yourself and others!


July 25, 2009 at 11:28 pm

I’m no fan of Peter Singer, but that’s an appropriate quote for me right now as I early tonight had a pointless “discussion” with some speciesists who completely ignored that I called them speciesists in order to argue that something was disrespectful of humans because it suggested that the suffering of animals had any significance comparable to that of humans who have greatly suffered. These are Buddhists… you’d think they cared about suffering, but they’re more concerned with their speciesism than with actual suffering.

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