Faulty Arguments Against Veganism, pt. 7

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Faulty Arguments Against Veganism, pt. 7

Parts 1-4 here.

Argument: I keep hearing people argue that some of the more omnivorous among us would flagrantly protest animal cruelty, but that we’re very fond of tearing off huge, tasty pieces of our living cows while they scream for mercy. And I am very much against animal cruelty. I love animals. But guess what? There’s a gigantic difference between shooting your neighbor’s cat and eating pork. Smacking your dog isn’t the same as killing a chicken for the purposes of eating it.

Response: Uh yeah, in one case, you’re abusing the animal yourself. In the other, you’re paying someone else to abuse the animal for you. Oh, and the animals you want to defend are pets, while the ones you want to eat are what are commonly known as “food”. What kind of stupid idiot wrote this thing, anyway?

Oh right. That would be me. Like, eight years ago.

I think it’s pretty common knowledge that often, the angrier and more defensive a person gets when presented with the concepts of veganism, the guiltier they feel about it.

At the time I wrote that absurd diatribe, I had long since stopped eating fish and pork because I was particularly fond of those types of animals and couldn’t justify killing and eating them.  I didn’t even wear leather, because I felt it was wrong to wear fur, and the two seemed too similar.  Since childhood I’d considered myself a major animal lover.  As a little kid I’d run lemonade stands in an attempt to raise money for the local animal shelter.  Some of my best friends were the neighbourhood cats.  I’d seriously considered a career in veterinary medicine.

Whenever presented with the idea of giving up cows and chicken and turkey, though, (I hadn’t even heard about how cruel the dairy and egg industries are) I would feel vaguely uncomfortable and try to think about something else.  So what in the world inspired me to get so irrationally angry?  I’d found a website that discussed BSE and in an abrasive way suggested that it was the fault of people who were “cruel” enough to eat cows.   I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I do know that I felt defensive and infuriated because I knew I loved animals.  How dare these people suggest that I was cruel to them?

And what brought me around to veganism only a year or so later?  A few volunteers at my university who had a table of literature and stickers, who listened patiently when I told them I didn’t think I could really go vegan, or even vegetarian, because of my food allergies (wheat, soy, and nuts, for anybody having similar concerns), and who cheerfully answered my questions about why people go vegan in the first place.  Hell, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stop eating animals.  I wasn’t convinced that it was necessary–couldn’t I just eat free-range meat?–and besides, fried chicken was one of my absolute favourite foods, and had been for years.   As of this May, I’ll have been vegan for 6 years.

Think of it this way–every single person you talk is a potential vegan, a potential animal activist. Treat them that way. Be kind. Respectful. Try to remember how veganism was explained to you–what made it seem reasonable and realistic?–and answer their questions accordingly, and politely.

Just don’t wear yourself out.

duty_calls(from xkcd.com)



January 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Thanks for reminding us about being effective activists first and foremost. After all, we were all once meat eaters. Not because we were cruel, but because we didn’t know and we feared change.


January 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

A good reminder not to get into the debate, and present solutions instead.

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