In addition to promoting sound and reasonable thought, I'm going to use this blog as a platform to expose and discredit ideologies that I think are harmful. You may have already seen me take swipes at feminism and various forms of socialism. In this post, I'm going to knock evangelical vegans off of their moral high horse.
In case you didn't know, vegans are people who eat absolutely no animal products whatsoever. Some do it because they believe that it is healthier than eating meat, fish, eggs, milk, etc. These people are wrong. People who eat a strictly plant-based diet must rely too heavily on carbohydrates to supply necessary calories, which puts them at greater risk for diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. Plus, there is no plant that can do as good a job of providing high-quality complete protein as meat. For more info on the nutritional misinformation underlying health-based veganism, click here or check out "Free the Animal" on the blog links to your right.
Other vegans, the ones I'm directly calling out as "illogical" in the title, eschew meat for moral reasons. They believe it is wrong to inflict suffering on animals by breeding them in cramped conditions and killing them for meat. They want all animals to live free, happy lives "from birth until natural death" in the wild. Where do they get the idea that animal suffering is an evil? It's usually not from any religion, since most moral vegans are modern secular liberals who don't subscribe to any restrictive religious beliefs. This is too bad for them, since religion would give them a convenient justification for their practice: "I believe in Religion X, and according to Religion X, God says killing animals is bad, so I shouldn't do it." (If you are vegan/vegetarian because you are Hindu or for other religious reasons, this post is not about you. Your ideology is logically consistent, at least on this level.)
Instead, these vegans usually argue from a biological basis. They say that, because the theory of evolution demonstrates that humans evolved from other animals, and because we share a vast amount of our genetic material with other life forms (even those that seem only distantly related to us), humans and animals really aren't that different. We're just like them, but with bigger brains. Therefore, all the things we shouldn't do to humans also shouldn't be done to animals. If harming some humans for the good of other humans is bad, so is harming animals. If killing and eating people is bad, so is killing and eating animals.
Can anyone guess where the problem occurs in this line of reasoning? Here's a hint: humans aren't the only meat-eaters on the planet. If humans and animals are so morally equivalent, then carnivorous animals are committing a grave moral evil every time they kill and eat just to survive. Vegans might say that carnivores aren't sentient and can't reflect on the moral implications of their actions, but this is just an admission that humans and animals really are fundamentally different.
Vegans who accept that humans and animals are fundamentally different would likely argue from this angle: because humans have a capacity for conscious reflection, we can recognize suffering in other creatures. In doing so, we incur a responsibility to prevent that suffering whenever we can. Again, vegans' animal friends catch them in a trap. Not only would humans have to refrain from killing and eating animals for meat, we would also have to stop carnivorous animals from doing the same. Why? Well, to an animal, being killed and eaten is no different no matter who's doing it. In fact, being torn apart alive by a pack of wolves is probably a great deal more painful than dying of a single clean blow from a human rifle, mallet, knife, or other instrument. Therefore, humans would have a moral obligation to prevent such suffering by incarcerating carnivorous animals and put them on vegan diets.
Anyone can see how absurd such a proposition is. Vegans object to zoos because they believe caging wild animals does them a great deal of harm. Would they be willing to violate their own principles in order to uphold them? Is such a thing even possible? Furthermore, I seriously doubt that sharks, crocodiles, snakes, and other exclusively carnivorous species could survive on a vegan diet. To put them on one would likely kill them.
This is the whole problem with veganism. Despite their enthusiasm for "living in harmony with nature," vegans ignore the fundamental realities of living beings. Some animals, including humans, eat other animals for food. There's nothing wrong with it; it's just the way we are. Perhaps we should do more to make sure that the animals we eat are treated more humanely and subjected to as little suffering as possible, but we have every right to eat them.