Well this is gonna be interesting. At the moment I have holidays so I have the time to write so after years of leaving this blog dormant I figured I could use the time to write something.
As you can see from the title today I will be talking about veganism. Now, one really easy answer to the question why I am not vegan is because I enjoy the taste of meat.
But obviously that won’t fly with a person that is really committed to his or her veganism. Now, if you are a reader and are plant based and don’t mind other people eating meat, then you are not the type of person I am addressing here and who I am arguing with. I am specifically arguing with the philosophical type of vegan. I take issue with one specific claim that these people espouse, the claim that it is a moral obligation to not eat meat.
Now one thing I am gonna say is that IF vegans were right and not eating meat would be a moral obligation, then I would no longer eat meat. At that point it would not matter to me, that I enjoy the taste of it. But why do I reject the claim that morally speaking we must not eat meat? My answer to that is threefold:
- Morality is subjective
- The act of eating is beyond the scope of morality
- Vegans are wrong about the concept of complicity and supporting an act
So let’s go through these. The first point is the least interesting. I have written about it a lot in other articles so I won’t bother here. Besides if I am correct on morality being subjective then the other two points need not even be addressed. So for the purpose of getting to the actual meat (see what I did there), I wanna skip this point even though I think it is true. If you disagree or wanna find out what my reasoning is for thinking morality is subjective, you can use the search engine on my website.
So on to point two: Why do I think that the act of eating is beyond the scope of morality? Well one thing we gotta realize is that eating is for every human an absolute necessity. Just like drinking sleeping or even using the bathroom. Without eating we cannot survive. Now, no one would argue that there is a right or wrong way to sleep or that there is a right or wrong way to use the toilet or a right or wrong way to breathe or to drink. Not a right or wrong way in a moral sense anyways. So why would we assume that in the case of food consumption?
Moreover let’s get to what morality actually is and how it is defined: Morality is about the behavior towards other people and also the behavior towards animals (really towards all sentient beings if we would wanna throw aliens in there if they exist). An act is morally right if it promotes the well being of another being and diminishes their suffering, an act is wrong if it diminishes their well being and promotes their suffering.
Now you will notice that I outlined “behavior towards other people and also the behavior towards animals. The issue here is really simple: Eating is not a behavior towards other people or animals. There is no interaction going on with another human (barring conversation in a shared dinner or lunch) and there is no interaction going on with a sentient animal or any sentient creature at all. To give but another example there is no right or wrong way to watch TV or a YouTube video etc. . There is no right or wrong way to observe things. I simply use my vision. I can’t control it, it’s not a behavior I am not interacting with anyone purely by observing. Now I may interact with a YouTuber by typing a message or leaving a like or dislike to give feedback but not by merely watching. And eating is not a behavior towards another being either. Just like sleeping, drinking, breathing, using the bathroom etc. . So it is not a part of morality. It lies beyond its scope.
What a vegan is gonna argue, and I will address this further in my third point, is that I am still supporting the meat industry when I buy meat in a store or order a steak in a restaurant. Well there is a simple, albeit illegal, way to rectify this: I could, in theory, from now on just steal the meat I am consuming instead of buying it. Sure in that case I would behave immorally towards the store or the restaurant (when I escape through the bathroom window without paying) but I would not only not give the meat industry money I would in fact damage them. My behavior would also I think not be wrong towards the meat industry because from a vegan perspective if it is wrong to consume meat then it is definitely wrong to sell it. They have no right to do so, so they have no right towards a revenue and I am doing nothing morally wrong in denying them revenue. But maybe I am wrong on this and a vegan would disagree.
The point I am making is this: It’s not actually the eating that is wrong from a vegan standpoint , the industry is atrocious and really the buying that precedes consumption is the issue.
Now on to the third and most important point. Vegans are wrong about the concept of complicity and supporting an act. Vegans often argue that if we eat meat (or buy it) we are being complicit. We are supporting the meat industry and doing so is wrong because the meat industry is evil because it murders animals. I would argue that the meat industry is to some extent necessary because I know people who for medical reasons, by recommendation of their doctors, need to have meat in their diet. But I don’t wanna pursue this further. Now here is some harsh truth for all of us and especially vegans:
The meat industry is so dominant it is so big, there simply is no way you can live in the western world and not support it. Even if you do not want to, you cannot help but support it.
Let me give a few examples: If you sit at home and watch TV and suddenly there’s an add for sausages on sale, you just supported the meat industry. If you scroll through Twitter and find an ad that promotes McDonalds you just supported the meat indsutry. You are (intentionally) giving viewership to them and that is financially valuable to them. Views are a financial asset.
Furthermore you go to your local store and decide to buy vegan meat balls and potatoes. You just supported the meat industry because that store also offers meat and part of their earnings are gonna be used to buy more meat. Furthermore many companies which do offer vegan meals as an alternative are also part of the meat industry and some of their earnings they get through selling vegan products are gonna be used to promote their market. It’s inescapable pretty much.
But this is not and should not be an Earth shattering surprise. I think most vegans are aware of this and would readily concede my point.
So all people, at least in our western society support the meat industry in one way or another. But obviously the argument doesn’t end there. While this may be true I am more directly supporting it because I am giving money directly to the companies whereas vegans don’t (ignoring here for a minute that many members of the meat industry offer vegan options which they buy). Now what I will do is the following: I will give a series of examples, a sample size, which are similar to the relationship of the costumer buying meat but in which case we would not argue that the costumer is behaving immorally. We will then decide whether we should change our mind on these examples I am about to give and conclude that in these examples we are immoral through complicity and support or we will decide that these examples are not immoral behavior and we will instead conclude that buying and eating meat is not either.
I have a question, dear reader: Do you like energy drinks? Have you ever consumed a juicy unhealthy can of Red Bull? If yes congratulations you have given money to a Nazi who uses that money to promote fascism, disinformation about COVID and anti-democratic ideas and ideologies in Austrian TV and other platforms.
Knowing this can we coherently argue that it is immoral to drink this energy drink? Would you blame a friend if you saw him with a can? Would you blame him if he knew what I just told you, yet he would continue to drink the beverage? If yes, just how petty are you? Or can he no longer watch Formula 1 because it features that brand? Or what about football (soccer) in the German Bundesliga? They are there too. Must I miss out on University parties for instance which are very often sponsored by them and which rely on products that they allow us to use that come from them?
Next example (and this one is meat related): My own personal favorite football (club) has a sponsoring deal with a company called “Wiesenhof” . It’s a factory farming company. If I buy jerseys of the club I love I am promoting this company. Must I therefore not buy jerseys? Must I even quit being a fan of the club altogether because of their sponsor? What about other clubs like Schalke who used to promote Gazprom a Russian company who uses their money to an extent to help Putin. Must one throw the old jerseys in the trash because Gazprom is on them? What about Paris Saint Germain? They are sponsored by the state of Qatar. Qatar is a country where modern day slavery is a thing. Must you quit the club you love because of this?
To be clear this isn’t a question about whether or not it’s a good thing to boycott for instance PSG because of this. It’s also a good thing to not watch the world cup in Qatar. But is it a moral obligation? Are you a bad human if you do not do this? Furthermore are you a bad human if you live in Europe and heat up your apartment with gas which these days comes from Qatar or is the morally obligatory choice to freeze?
One last example: You go to the stadium. They offer three things there. Sausages, beer and lemonade. If you don’t buy sausages but beer or lemonade you are still significantly contributing to the meat industry more so than you are in your neighborhood store where there are a million products. The percentage rises significantly. Arguably they have significantly less costs than the factory farming companies: They need not pay rent, they pay the employees and buy the products. That’s it. Now with factory farming the machines need to be paid. Rent needs to be paid. They have countless insurances. They have a vegan production etc. . I could easily argue that buying a beer in a stadium contributes more (or at the very least not significantly less) to the actual meat industry than buying a steak in a store does. So I cannot drink beer when I am at the stadium of my club?
In closing we have two choices: Either we buy the rational bullet on the examples I gave and conclude that all the behaviors are listed are in fact immoral. I think that is irrational. Or we can conclude that eating meat is not immoral. This is I think the rational option here.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t eat plant based. That doesn’t mean you must consume meat. Eat what you want, drink what you want I really don’t care. Just don’t blame me when I do the same.
Goodbye from yours truly,