In a morality debate between vegans and meat-eaters, such as this one here, what do meat-eaters really want vegans to consider or to accomplish with their actions?
I encountered a meat-eater’s attempt to warn other meat-eaters about entering such a debate with vegans. At the end of the article, the ex-vegan author writes, “Good luck! You’ll need it, corpse munchers!” Overall, he does a pretty swell job dissuading meat-eaters from feeling too confident about their winning the debate.
However, he sneaks in a few arguments where he managed—superficially—to get a foothold against the vegans. He writes,
As for veganism not causing harm, vegans know this is false, it’s just that they equivocate between “no harm,” and “causing less harm,” as [Gene] Baur did here. Even when they fess up to this, they have problems, because they have to show that a standard vegan lifestyle causes the least amount of harm that a human can possibly cause.
First of all, and most obviously, vegans do not claim to live a life that causes the least amount of harm possible. Period. We do know that sounds ridiculous.
Vegans strive to cause the least amount of harm possible given their current circumstances in the modern world. Vegans want to cause the least amount of harm possible, so vegans should really be rewarded for their capacity for tedium. There are vegan factions that passionately YouTube over which vegan lifestyle is more sustainable—cooked vegan carbs like potatoes, or raw vegan fats like avocados? Two of the most prominent vegans in the high carb movement actually got kicked out of the peace-loving Woodstock Fruit Festival because they started promoting low fat cooked vegan food. It’s real. It’s happening.
You say potato, that guy screams avocado.
The ex-vegan then supplies the “freegan” example as being truly “harmless” and “altruistic,” which is when you’re a dumpster diving vegan who essentially scavenges for your food, therefore subverting the dominant paradigm of, you know, driving a car to purchase your potatoes from the local supermarket.
Is it realistic for most? No. But you know what else is equally as unrealistic? Meat eaters hunting and killing their own animals, which most would agree is the “less harmful” option in meat-eater world (although, you’re still killing someone, so “harm” is severely relative here).
And yes, of course there is always room to reduce harm more—that is what vegans are attempting to do within the context of their modern existence. By not eating meat they are causing less harm than a meat-eater, but our goal is not to negate our individual needs by “donating most of their resources to relieve the suffering of others.” We want to cause as little harm as possible, but within the context of our modern world (where this debate is also taking place) we are only able to cause less harm than say, someone who chooses to eat meat and wear leather, for instance.
This raises an intriguing point—one that could potentially cause a new split in the vegan and meat-eater debate.
Do humans, at their core, believe that attempting to cause less harm is better than not even attempting to cause less harm?
Vegans might get around to planting a vegetable garden one day, but if they can’t do it, they still plan to cause as little harm as they are capable of given their current circumstances by choosing not to eat living beings, which removes the act of directly harming the beings.
If a meat-eater won’t stop eating animals, and he can’t raise and kill his own animals, he resigns to buying grass-fed beef—essentially removing himself from having any responsibility for his consumption of another being at all: someone else raises the animal, kills it, butchers it, and then slaps a happy label on it so he can feel good about his “effort.”
If a vegan, on the other hand, absolutely had to plant her own potatoes, it would very likely not be that big of a deal. She can even grow them inside large buckets in her house. So that removes the need for a garden or an acre of land somewhere in the magical countryside.
If a meat-eater absolutely had to hunt and kill his own meat, he’d probably just ask the vegan if he could have a few of her potatoes for dinner.
In other words, it is not logically consistent for vegans to volunteer to maintain more stringent standards than meat-eaters and then be taken to task by the less stringent meat-eaters for not holding more stringent standards.
This is what I like to call the “Double Standard of Stringency,” or DOS. And it’s rampant in meat-eater world.
The ex-vegan goes on to say,
Vegans have to admit that a vegan lifestyle causes wild animals some harm through habitat destruction, harvesting of plants, drifting pesticides and so on, and once they do this, they’ve confessed that the ethics of eating is a balancing act, not a clear-cut set of rules. Eating just enough food to survive puts our interests above those of other animals, since we’re taking food from them or using land they could have lived on, so it’s arbitrary to say that veganism harms animals the correct amount and eating meat—even from small farms—harms animals too much.
We as human animals do not have to apologize, or feel guilty for “placing our needs above those of non-human animals,” because we are not placing our needs above non-human animals. We are eating our evolutionarily prescribed diet, just as the lion does when he chases and kills the gazelle. Just as the horse does not have to apologize to the grass, nor the insect to the leaf, nor the cat to the mouse.
The earth can indeed support every living being on this planet—and in fact, it currently supports enough consumption on all levels that we would need two and a half earths to support the same consumption rates just a few years down the road. And, in all those instances of the food chain doing its thing, bugs and other innocent wild life are accidentally being mauled to death—it just happens.
The peaceful, vegetarian Buddhists helpfully refer to otherwise innocuous, but lethal to some creatures, activities such as sweeping, dusting, walking, or eating plants as “trimming the fingernails of the earth.” Ahh, isn’t that pleasant?
At this point, a can of worm-substitutes could also be opened regarding what really is “human food”? Not everyone agrees—so having to apologize for eating “natural” food and the indirect suffering it causes could be seen as apologizing to the bugs you pull from the ground because they lived on your potato, or apologizing to the throat of the cow you are going to slit. (I’d rather apologize to the potato and the bugs than have to apologize to the cow.)
But yes, within the confines of our modern agricultural systems, some wildlife is going to be harmed.
Most vegans are not trying to be pristine butterfly saving warrior-martyrs, even though we wish nothing had to be harmed ever. All species attempt to thrive on this planet—unapologetically and without malice. Slitting the throat of an animal on purpose when you do not have to is malicious and causes direct harm, whereas eating a potato might cause only indirect harm.
Humans know better, so are obligated to do better.
And now my favorite argument from the meat-eaters.
Saying that vegans cause harm by growing plants on the land that animals could have lived on. This one is rich.
Since our world supports 65 billion domestic animals per year—ten times the human population—vegans could say that clearly, we have the feeding of animals covered. What about wild animals, you say? Well, large scale agricultural enterprises such as raising livestock are much more damaging to natural habitats than large scale production of plants, mainly because livestock’s by-products are toxic waste and plants’ by-products are oxygen and phytochemicals that support the health of our planet.
At this point, vegans argue that their use of land will feed more people—because on one acre of arable, sustainably managed land
“[…] we can grow twelve to twenty times the amount in pounds of edible vegetables, fruit and grain as in pounds of edible animal products,” says Dr. Richard Oppenlander in his book Comfortably Unaware.
Plus, this argument of “giving back the land to the animals” implies that vegans wander around kicking animals off their own land because vegans believe they are better than the animals. All while meat-eaters actually INGEST THE BODIES of animals while robbing them of their lives and their habitats.
Since we are already in this weird hypothetical space, try this: If the animals were already on that plot of land, I imagine a ruminant band of vegans would not desire to make the animals leave. The vegans would just go elsewhere to plant their potatoes, or they would benevolently befriend the animals and then use their magical manure to fertilize their gracious garden.
This brings up an interesting point.
It always seems that because vegans already are attempting to cause less harm within the modern world context, meat-eaters are always asking them to cause even less harm.
How is it that people who choose to kill and eat sentient beings are always the ones who are coming up with more and more interesting ways to reduce harm? If they know better, shouldn’t they be doing better, too?
Again, this is the Double Standard of Stringency rearing its ugly head.
If you don’t eat animals, then maybe you shouldn’t eat plants because eating plants also causes unnecessary harm to other creatures and natural resources.
If you don’t eat animals, maybe you shouldn’t drive a car because you could hit an animal, and what about the insects that smash into your windshield.
If you don’t eat animals, maybe you should go dumpster diving because then you would not use any resources and you could be a scavenger.
But what this desperate argument from the meat-eaters really boils down to is a fear of sacrifice—more plainly, what I like to call, the “Fear of Deprivation” (FOD).
This argument comes out when meat-eaters are truly scared of being forced into deprivation, so they want vegans to feel deprived, too, by coming up with ways that they would indeed feel deprived. But, like non-vegan people, vegans only feel deprived on a physical level when they don’t get enough calories—and most “vegans” who consistently don’t get enough calories, go back to eating animal products.
This point can be further illustrated via the meat-eater’s view on the definition of what is “necessary.” The ex-vegan says,
Whenever vegans talk about meat being unnecessary, as [Gene] Baur did in the debate, ask them to define “necessary.” This will force them to attempt to come up with a definition that leaves meat eating as “unnecessary” while allowing all the harms that a vegan lifestyle causes as somehow “necessary.”
Like most humans, vegans believe that eating food is necessary to survive. Since we can truly thrive on a vegan diet, and that causes less direct harm to sentient beings than eating the sentient beings directly, vegans believe eating meat is “unnecessary.” It still seems so simple to me.
Plus, eating food to live is necessary, but the harm that happens in that case is circumstantial, coincidental, not necessarily “necessary,” which implies intent and purposiveness to cause harm to someone.
Vegans are not giving up a great “need” for the taste of flesh becaue they are replacing that false ideal with a much greater expression of true love.
As in, you care for beings you love, you don’t eat them.
Your “missing the taste of meat” and “feeling better eating animal products” are not really valid arguments within the vegan philosophy because we already believe your taste buds are not superior to the deliberate, purposive, intentional ending of the life of another being. Plus, we have found ways to celebrate food that both nourishes our bodies while avoiding taking away the bodies that belong to other beings.
The ex-vegan writes,
If [Gene] Baur means that eating meat is not necessary for being healthy, he would need to prove that everyone can be healthy on a vegan diet: such proof does not exist, and there are many people whose direct experiences have suggested otherwise.
We already know that eating only plants reverses heart disease and diabetes and helps prevent a host of other diseases, too. The vegan does not have the burden of proof here—because we already know that meat-eating causes chronic diseases. We have enough evidence to show that eating only plants is supremely beneficial to those who transition properly and eat enough calories. That’s all the evidence we need.
Also, if meat-eating is so healthy, why not eat only meat and animal products all the time? If you say that you need some plants to get some nutrients, surely then eating all plants to get all the nutrients would be the best option? From a health perspective, of course.
As for some people believing they require meat to thrive—that has indeed been touched on by Dr. Michael Klaper. He validates meat-eaters’ experience of “failing to thrive” on the vegan diet. It is actually a very real thing akin to a drug addict attempting to get off drugs. He purports a couple possible theories, one of which deals with what we are raised eating and how that actually affects our digestive development.
Dr. Klaper goes on to explain that,
Food has such a dynamic effect on our bodies that the food we eat determines the bacteria down in our guts. If you’re eating a high meat diet and dumping a lot of carnitine down there, that carnitine will summon up a population of bacteria that will digest that carnitine as best as it can. That bacteria can’t help it, and their waste is called trimethylamine—and this is nasty stuff your liver will not tolerate in the body so it oxidizes it to trimethylamine oxide (TMAO). And this in turn drives cholesterol into the artery wall setting you up for plaques.
The conclusion that Dr. Klaper goes on to make is that if we have created in our bodies this over-abundance of toxic waste (TMAO) caused by eating meat, that this is the same reason why we feel deprived without that constant input of meat when we go vegan—because our bodies have learned not to create our own creatine and carnitine. So we literally start to experience the “lacking” of it when we quit eating animal flesh.
To put it plainly, meat-eaters’ simply do not have these nutrient stores to draw on, nor the ability to absorb the correct nutrients, when they dramatically change their diets from meat-based to plant-based.
Dr. Klaper’s presentation continues,
If the person stops ingesting carnitine [when they go vegan], and draws on their carnitine stores, they will begin to experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms—which are alleviated by the ingestion of animal flesh.
People are not born this way, explains Dr. Klaper—after a third of your life (or more) eating a meat-based diet, the meat-eater is not equipped to absorb the nutrients from the vegan diet, and then feels terrible consequently.
This is the definition of addiction.
Dr. Klaper’s suspicions are confirmed through his research and tests done on people who have been raised vegan since birth. He says their
levels of minerals, amino acids, vitamins are sterling. They are different metabolic creatures entirely. And it confirms that this addiction is exactly what we are looking at.
As Dr. Klaper explains, it can be hard at first to get over this hump without animal products, but you can taper your meat consumption and your amazingly resilient body will recover so you can thrive and eventually feel better than you ever knew was possible.
So now that the “I require meat to live” argument has been tidily debunked, we can get back to what the real question is.
What is it that meat eaters want vegans to consider or to accomplish? And what is it that vegans want meat eaters to consider or to accomplish?
Aside from letting vegans know we are actually supposed to be gathering a ruminant band of freegans who use mystical manure to grow magic mushrooms and hang out with butterflies in dumpsters, meat-eaters have yet to clarify what they want us to consider or accomplish. So, I will just explain what I know vegans ask of meat eaters.
We just want you to eat plants instead.
We don’t want you to stop eating because plants might be sentient.
We don’t want you to suffer or be hungry.
We don’t want you to apologize for anything.
We don’t want you to worry about using land that other animals could have used.
We don’t care what you would do on a deserted island after you had made a pledge to cause as little harm as possible (and maybe there was a pig and maybe you were starving).
We are not asking you to stop driving your cars or to stop accidentally killing birds or bugs in the harvesting of your crops.
We aren’t asking you to consider all the ways that your food may or may not be sentient (even though the animals you currently choose to eat are indeed sentient).
And we are not asking you to think about all the ways that your lifestyle could potentially hurt others (even though your current lifestyle already demonstrably does hurt others and you are aware of this, too).
We just want you to eat fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes, legumes, sprouts, tofu, pasta, and even vegan junk food sometimes if you want. (We’d rather your decision to get morbidly obese happened without sentient beings having to lose their lives—so dig right into those vegan sausages and pizzas.)
And we want you to stuff your fucking face with them until you are about to pop.
We even want to help you succeed with guidance, support, and kindness. And by telling you helpful things like, “Oreos are vegan,” and “Twizzlers are vegan, too.”
Because we’re vegans, we don’t want to see anyone suffer—not even you, our dear meat-eaters, because you’re earthlings just like the rest of us.