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The Double Standard of Vegan Ethics

by Dave

It's obvious, really from an objective point of view, that to accept one species' natural tendency to brutally slaughter another for their own consumption or even entertainment (i.e. cats), yet portray humanity's own natural tendency to do likewise as being the lowest form of barbarism, constitutes a double standard!

Likewise, the counterargument from the vegan camp would be that owning a pet such as a cat or a dog, yet consuming animal products like beef, lamb and milk equates to a double standard as well. Yet it doesn't, because we, like most carnivores, are to various extents selective about our prey, for varying reasons. Orcas, for instance, will prey on seals, birds, and even sharks, but seldom attack humans, particularly in the wild. In fact, it's well documented that bottlenose dolphins in particular will playfully interact with humans as if they were one of their own.

Looking from an objectively balanced perspective, the need to protect animals from suffering, despite its nobility, is ultimately a futile cause in the great natural scheme of things.

The underlying premise of my argument, therefore, is that idealism and ethics must inevitably give way to realism. And that is why I shall continue to eat meat, while at the same time respecting your right not to.

Editor's Note:

I understand where you are coming from, but I disagree that humans have a natural tendency to "brutally slaughter" other creatures. Most (close to all) humans cannot stand to see other beings tortured, and often the only way they can stand watching it is after a long period of desensitization to the act. There is a book called Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry that I think might interest you, as it documents hundreds (if not thousands) of testimonials from slaughterhouse workers who almost all admit it's an awful thing to watch and take part in.

The other thing to consider is that humans have the option to make other choices. We simply do not need to have any part of slaughter in order to eat and be healthy. Additionally, we do not live in the "great natural scheme of things" and our food system is as far removed from natural as possible. This is especially true in the United States, but I am fairly certain the same situation is arising in NZ as well as much of the rest of the world. The animals raised for food could not survive on their own, and the entire food industry is destroying our people, our earth, our water systems, our air, and defenseless animals. That, to me, is not realism.

Thanks for letting us know your opinion.


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Double Standard - yes and no
by: Aurelius

I'm a quasi vegan (I eat eggs from a local farmer's hens that I see roaming around) and don't believe most wool from sheep, or honey from local bee keepers, is a problem. I also don't believe we need meat to survive - and certainly not from the Earth destroying practices that have arisen with industrial livestock farming and the terrible treatment of animals who must endure a life of confinement and abuse in this system. This is, to me, unethical and immoral. That said, I don't believe all so-called anti-vegans take their position while they feel guilty. Probably not even most of them. Vegans can often be zealous (understandable), and many cross the line into being agressively judgmental, self-righteous finger-pointing name callers. Maybe the anti-vegans are responding to this - and not to any sense of shame or guilt or having less compassion. This simply seems to be human nature - to defend oneself when attacked (and many vegans are willing to oblige by attacking and criticizing). In the end, how can vegans get their point across successfully by calling milk drinkers, for example, murderers?...and closing down (really dismissing) a genuine discussion with, "you just feel guilty and are protecting your ego". In addition, many vegans are closed to legitimate criticisms of double standards by anti-vegans. They have numerous arguments which are often ignored with remarks about "guilt" on the part of the questioner - as the real reason for the question in the first place. Clever avoidance strategy. But it's a two-way street. If you want someone to be open to your message, you probably won't be heard if you're not genuinely open yourself. Both sides seem to provoke each other. There's plenty of ego to go around In both camps - and the message gets lost.

Vegans compassionate? Seriously?
by: Eli

I think most vegans are blood type A & are best suited to the agrarian plant-baaed diet that suited humanity maybe 7 to 10 thousand years ago. After meat-suited O bloods exhausted their game supply coming out of what's now Africa & learned to farm in the Fertile Crescent, people settled & civilized. Type B's became nomadic scavengers as civilization spread Eastward. AB's developed more recently with intermingling of cultures through trade & travel.
I am probably a B blood type.
A scavenger. My diet has consisted mostly of coffee, pizza, pasta & occasional fruits for a couple decades.
I used to run an organic produce department in a health food store. I became a vegetarian out of convenience (read: no meat on pizza). Learning more about the produce trade, I sought to become more involved in agriculture. I relocated to Hawaii from New England. I participated in agricultural work, remaining a "junk food vegetarian". I was poor, but enjoyed the hard work & simple lifestyle.
Then came time to get steady income, I applied for produce at a supermarket. They sell meat. I eat it on pizza.
I broke a 6 ½ year vegetarian run on frog legs.
Now, here's where I see double standards with vegan ethics:
Apparently some living things have more value than others. Humans first, large mammals next, then small mammals, reptiles, fishes, insects & microbes last.
Vegans seem to draw an arbitrary line right around the small mammal mark as what's acceptable to kill. Not puppies, buy rats, OK. Not invasive wild pigs, but TRILLIONS of insects die in agricultural genocide every day, OK. Not dolphins, not tuna, either & not lobsters or clams, even though they're basically bugs.
Oh, and the brown people whose lives are exploited &/ lost to mass produced bananas, cacao, coffee, sugar, nuts, everything harvested by Mexicans in the US, (& meats), well they're somewhere between humans & small mammals, but they may as well be insects viewed from a vegans dietary soapbox.
How many vegans would tell a farmer not to eat a chicken? Or make sure the eggs are un-fertilized?
Vegans may claim to support sustainable agriculture, but how many pounds of animal-based manure or fish meal fertilizer have they spread? (Kitchen compost won't support a farm's nutrient requirements.)
Ever seen a vegan after a long season of farm work?
Me neither.

One star for the "double standard" argument
by: Diana

1. Humans are animals, not plants. Any other view is a religious one, not a scientific one.
We are either compassionate towards other animals, or we aren't.
The lack of compassion is what we humans call sociopathy.

2. Both cats and especially dogs can be vegan. Better and better vegan dog and cat food becomes available all around the world, every year. Plus, there is no obligation for a vegan person to adopt any kind of pet.

3. The only double standard I can see is the one anti-vegans like the author of this argument apply towards animals on the one hand and humans on the other in order not to face the truth.

4. Living a vegan lifestyle is compassionate towards both animals and plants and humans, because the animals humans exploit eat so much grain... educate yourself.

5. It is not even necessary to kill plants when we eat their fruits. Educate yourself on vegan fruitarianism. It is possible and can be the healthiest way to eat, if done correctly.
(If not - you can't blame the lifestyle but only yourself.) One can always do things better, but vegans have started somewhere !

6. It's easier to see the truth than to make up excuses.
Humans can so easily be vegan, especially nowadays. You can even be an unhealthy, fat vegan and eat vegan junk food all day long if that's what your heart desires - but at the same time, you wouldn't be harming an(other) animal, apart from yourself.

7. Why do anti-vegans always take the time to heavily oppose vegans ? In my opinion, you are already assuming that you're wrong, and that this whole system of exploiting the defenseless is wrong. Acknowledging this would be too painful and life-changing, so you push away all arguments. Humans are afraid of change.
Also, I think you want to see how far the realization of "active" vegans goes, because you haven't allowed yourself to feel what compassionate vegans feel. (Not all vegans are vegan out of compassion, but most are.)
On the other hand, even though anti-vegans keep provoking vegans all the time, they never seem listen to the vegan response.
My conclusion is that anti-vegans are just plublicly protecting their own ego.
(You are not saving humanity by opposing vegans. If we look at global climate change and livestock's long shadow, probably quite the contrary.)

8. Compassion. Allow yourself to imagine yourself in the "shoes" of the animals you have been helping to exploit and kill with your daily choices. Just for once. Realization can go very deep.

What if you were in that place?

Plants have feelings?
by: Elisabeth

I really hope you were joking.
Plants have no nervous system. Therefore they don't feel pain. Unlike animals.

by: Anonymous

Some things to consider:
Yes, meat farming is not the best for the environment
But can you grow everything you eat where you live?
The fossil fuel expenditure on some plants is much greater than that on some meat.
I think Dave's arguement holds up if the meat were procured through hunting.
Speaking from an anthropological perspective, humans developed as opportunistic omnivores. This means we eat, or ate meat whenever we could manage to get some. Which worked out to be not that often. maybe 20% of the overall diet. If that. But still significant.
Also anthropologically speaking, the eating of meat is what allowed us to develop our brain to be as big as it is. Meat was the tipping point nutritionally speaking.
As far as not hurting animals, or not being part of the environment. That is a myth that started in and around the 1700's. Humans are part of the environment just as any living creature. And Maybe if we viewed ourselves as such, our environment wouldn't be in such a state as it is, and you wouldn't feel it necessary to rationalize acting contrary to our evolutionary history

Double Standard? Really?
by: Anonymous

I think the real double standard here is the one that vegans feel it completely appropriate to kill and use plants and microbes for enjoyment/survival yet scorn meat eating people. That's the real double standard! Plants have feelings too!

by: Alexandra

I completely agree with Cathleen's rebuttal of this argument. I feel that Dave's position on veganism is a total cop-out, a feeble excuse and merely a rationalization to combat his conscience for eating meat. I find this is a very common argument against veganism - people really tend to like to remove themselves as a factor in the situation, deeming the issue "inevitible" or "unavoidable", etc. It's nice to see some relatively educated dialogue though! Too often do I receive arguments against vegetarian and veganism in malice and anger.

Nobody's Fool (except your own)
by: Anonymous

Whatever helps you sleep at night, Dave.

You seem like a smart guy. I'm disappointed you'd take the easy route and rationalize your way out of the cognitive dissonance you feel. That cog dis is called a conscience.

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