russell simmons
by Ali Berman
Categories: Causes, Vegan
Tags: .
Photo: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Vegan and animal activist Russell Simmons posed a question to the twitterverse yesterday about the ethics of eating animals.

He wrote, “To my vegan friends what’s worse 4 people eating 16 shrimp or 50 people sharing one cow ? F if I know?”

I remember an animal activist who argued that if a person was to eat meat, that they should choose a cow over smaller animals like chickens. His reason was because in that instance only one animal faced pain and death verses the many lives of chickens that would have to be taken to equal the amount of food a cow provided.

But for a vegan, that argument doesn’t quite work either. First, because cows contribute to climate change through their methane production and because so many trees are cut down to graze the animals. (Ultimately harming all life.) Second, the idea of sacrificing any animal for another is an ethical disaster zone for a vegan.

So, Russell, I think the answer to your question is to keep inspiring others to choose veg options. Let’s work towards this slightly altered phrase: No animal left behind.

Or, as one of his twitter followers responded, “@unclerush depends on if you are the shrimp or the cow… everyone’s life is equally important to them. regardless of species.”

Do you have an answer for Russell Simmons?

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is a writer, teacher and activist. She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Ali is also a fiction writer. Her published work can be found on her website at aliberman.com. In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

View all posts by Ali Berman →
  • unethical_vegan

    seriously??? its simply ridiculous to equate an organism that has the equivalent of a few peripheral ganglia with an intelligent higher mammal. i’d kill millions of shrimp to save the life of a single cow. vegans need to drop the woo and get a freaking clue.

    • Rish

      I guess it would depend on the quality of life one is living…I tend to think wild Shrimp are much happier than domesticated, corn/meat-fed, crippled/stressed, Cows. Plus, you forgot to mention the Wolf pack, the Coyotes, the Elk, and the water quality that will be killed because of your Cows’ meat/life. That’s just the start of this inconsistent post…so many things to think about, none which you did. It seems there’s more than one person at this table who needs to get a clue.

    • Dhali Hoka

      One might think that an intelligent mammal would come to see a point after all that knowledge on its own. Yet, after all those information about how it effects the planet, how our digestive system is NOT suitable for eating meat (raw, that is), still, there are people who can actually make equations where they end up placing themselves somewhere ‘higher’ and try to justify their parent-taught and/or marketing-driven habits. These discussions are not to prove which party is right, they are about giving a clue; not to brag, but to inspire.

  • Jenny Kropik Lim

    There is no difference between killing and eating one cow or 16 shrimps. All lives are equal and precious. “Humanity will not be whole as long as we remain partial”

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcella.smith.771 Marcella Smith

    It is like asking if we would rather eat dog shit or cat shit, I would never eat either so the question is mute…

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcella.smith.771 Marcella Smith

    …and there is never a situation where either cow or shrimp would need to be eaten, that is a choice. It is as if you are asking ‘should I eat a full grown man or two infants’, a vegan would never eat either, but a meat eater might! You should ask THEM this question and hear their rationale!