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Vegansexualism: It’s not perverse for vegans to prefer sleeping with vegans

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Is anyone else uncomfortable with the idea of non-vegans discussing who vegans should and shouldn’t sleep with?

Vice shared a piece called “Inside the World of ‘Vegansexualism’—the Vegans Who Only Date Other Vegans,” that made me want to cross my legs a little tighter. Though the exploration of vegan sexuality isn’t new, their look into it’s evolution as the number of vegans grow is. And whether they’re discussing bodily fluids or sharing an entree at a blind date, there’s really no mystery to uncover in the preferences of vegans to flock together. And there’s nothing wrong with that. 

The discussion began back in 2007, when a curious New Zealand doctor surveyed 157 vegans and vegetarians on cruelty-free living and didn’t sugar coat the sex questions. Reasonably, dead-animal breath ranked high as a reason a vegan would avoid a carnivore. So with the vegan population rising, Vice proposes that the world must be crawling with vegansexuals by now. But since the term hasn’t climbed to the ranks of metrosexual or even tacosexual yet, the opportunity to berate vegans for ranking their morality above their sexual escapades seems trivial.

The author goes on to interview a handful of vegans, coincidentally pulling responses that fit the “easy going” vegan stereotype and the “militant” vegan stereotype to a tee. A participant named Kirilee makes it simple and says “an environmentalist wouldn’t be involved with a coal miner.” That’s quickly contradicted by another participant named Ben, who claims “I could be in a relationship with any non-vegan. My belief is it is best to lead by example rather than preaching my personal views.” Save for compromising and being stuck with salad, he doesn’t see the problem. These two camps very accurately represent the group that believes veganism is about themselves (a diet for health, the earth, etc.) and their contrasting compadres who consider veganism a moral imperative (yo). One highlights veganism as something they’re doing, thus making it unnecessary for their partner to partake. The other believes veganism is about the victim, and couldn’t comfortably bed anyone who currently takes part in the exploitation. Again, it’s not new material, but no matter the popularity of veganism, vegans are going to be drilled for making vegan choices above normative ones.

That’s when one comment ups the ante, and calls non-vegan bodies cemeteries, describing the smells of carnivores as being unpleasant for vegans. I believe it’s the portrayal of this emotional response that has lead us to vegan advocacy that inappropriately and often inaccurately stereotypes the sexuality of vegans to be of one way- namely better than non-vegan. When the focus falls on the act of spending time intimately with a vegan instead of veganism itself, it risks falling asunder as a legitimate moral entity to a person’s whole being. When we write-off physical traits and habits as being a carousel of dating wishes and wants, instead of an ethical due-diligence, non-vegans can compartmentalize the beliefs of vegans again into those passive or aggressive camps. Then, being with someone vegan can be further subjugated by vegans and non-vegans alike.

When Vice says “just because you don’t want to eat meat, doesn’t mean you have shut out anyone who does,” they shut down the significance of veganism, and cateogorize it as being as frivolous as having a preference in a partners hair colour or physique. They negate whether we’re comfortable getting into someone’s leather-seated car, their silk sheets, and if we’d be happy to meet up with them at the zoo for a date- not to mention their choices day in and day out. Dating a non-vegan is more than what they bring to your family potluck, just as dating a vegan is more than how they should look, act, or ick- taste. Exploration of sexuality doesn’t need to be conflated with veganism in mainstream conversation, and “vegansexuals” need not be villainized or fetishized.

Still, i’ll never understand vegans who actively seek out non-vegan partnerships. While the premise of converting those close to us is often unjustly recommended as the only way, partnerships are best formed when people are themselves, and when ethical identity is tied to issues and not individuals. I don’t think the conversation should swell around what non-vegans think vegans should do. Instead, the resources available to vegans who wish to date other vegans, and the material that helps illustrate the need for veganism should be discussed. Although we know sex sells, there’s absolutely nothing sexy about compromising our own integrity and mental health in the pursuit of acceptance, physical gratification, or a partner. While many reading may have had the experience of helping guide a non-vegan over to a full transition, it should still be the overwhelming majority (not the originally represented 60%) that are putting veganism at the top of their list of spousal wants. And we shouldn’t feel shamed or singled-out for doing so. 

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0 Comments
  • Maria

    People Who eat meat as part of their diets are not called carnivores but omnivores, thanks.

    • Mark Caponigro

      “Carnivore” may be used as a sociological term, to refer to those technically omnivorous human beings who expect a portion of meat with most meals.

  • stewart lands

    What about self-proclaimed vegan who invites you to “vegan” Octoberfest, apparently unconcerned about the animals killed in the production of hops, barley, etc. in return for a sip of beer? Can we justify death of this sort simply because no part of these dead animals wind up in the beverage? Or is this sort of selfish indulgence no different from that which draws criticisms of those who consume meat?

    • M4rk0

      LOL. What?

    • *All* human activities, including beer production, indirectly harm both humans and non-humans alike. We build freeways and predict accurately how many humans will die as a result, yet we would never justify deliberately shooting humans by the fact that more humans are being killed on freeways. If ethics were defined by reducing harm, it would be perfectly fine to sacrifice one human as a forced organ donor in order to save twenty other humans. We are morally obliged not to intentionally harm others even if we benefited from doing so. Ethical veganism is not about consumption of meat either. Ethical veganism is about rejecting all animal use, and someone’s right not to be used as resource. For more information on ethical veganism visit HowDoIGoVegan dot com.

    • *All* human activities, including beer production, indirectly harm both humans and non-humans alike. We build freeways and predict accurately how many humans will die as a result, yet we would never justify deliberately shooting humans by the fact that more humans are being killed as a result of us driving cars. If ethics were defined by the amount of harm reduced, it would be perfectly fine to sacrifice one human as a forced organ donor in order to save twenty other humans. We are morally obliged not to intentionally harm others even if we benefited from doing so. Ethical veganism is not about consumption of meat either. Ethical veganism is about rejecting all animal use, and someone’s right not to be used as resource. For more information on ethical veganism visit HowDoIGoVegan dot com.

      • stewart lands

        Yes, but you have missed my point, which is it is unethical to consume alcohol for the reasons that you mention. In order to grow our food we must destroy every living thing inhabiting those lands converted to agricultural purpose, therefore ethics demands that we eat only as necessary and then only in such fashion as minimizes our impact. Alcohol (and many other “vegan” favorites) do not rise to this level of need. They are as selfish as using animals directly for food.

        • You are saying that there is no moral difference between eating animal products and drinking alcohol because both actions are unnecessary and involve harming animals. I argue that there is a moral difference; eating meat, dairy, eggs, honey, wearing wool, leather, fur, and exploiting animals for entertainment and other purposes all perpetuate using animals as resources, while drinking (vegan) alcoholic beverages, eating grains, driving cars or using computers do not.

          • stewart lands

            Using animals as resources is no worse than eliminating animals in order to usurp the resources upon which their lives depend.

          • Bringing an animal into existence with the intention of torturing and eventually killing him/her is morally worse than ploughing a field, just like executing an innocent person with a gun is much worse than building a freeway knowing with certainty that people will be killed.

            Because we value human lives, we endeavour to lift safety standards and minimise human casualties successfully. When it comes to animals, with our speciesist lenses on, though which we see selective breeding, forced impregnation, separating families and killing as same as ploughing the fields, of course we do not look for solutions beyond pest control and poisoning. Human population with a vegan mindset would look for solutions to minimise unintentional animal deaths. As long as we eat animal products, nothing changes; once we stop eating animal products, everything changes.

          • stewart lands

            I agree with your first paragraph, but that comparison really does not relate to my point which is not a general criticism of veganism, but rather an effort to point out its inconsistencies which are inevitable since there can be nothing other than a subjective answer to the question of “how much”death is warranted in feeding ourselves. If we are truly looking for solutions to minimize unintentional animal deaths, then why do we not consider the unnecessary nature of those killed in order to produce extravagant favorites we label “vegan” simply because they do not, themselves, contain animal parts?

          • StrangerThingsHappen

            You’re going to have me living in a cave and absorbing energy from the air… while feeling guilty about whatever microbes might be dying in the process…

          • No, I do not think that Steward Lands wants us living in a cave and absorbing energy from air. He argues in favour of retaining agriculture with strong emphasis on fishing and hunting. He wrote:

            “…I am not suggesting that hunting and fishing can feed the entire Earth population. Clearly, it cannot and so must also be supplemented by agriculture. My point is that those resources that hunting and fishing CAN provide may be acquired with less cost to animal life and environment than any form of agriculture and should therefore be our first choice in acquiring our food…”

            The entire discussion may be viewed on Ecorazzi essay Why Body-Shaming Has No Place in Animal Advocacy (Or Anywhere Else).

          • Steward Lands: “If we are truly looking for solutions to minimize unintentional animal deaths, then why do we not consider the unnecessary nature of those killed in order to produce extravagant favorites we label “vegan” simply because they do not, themselves, contain animal parts?”

            I am all in favour of reducing unintentional animal deaths as long as it is in line with rejecting all intentional deaths for any purpose. You, on the other hand, are looking for solutions to minimise unintentional deaths by intentionally killing sentient beings. I could not disagree more. We are all absolutist when it comes to the core principle of not intentionally harming one innocent human in order to avoid the loss of ten human lives. The question we need to ask ourselves is why we consider not intentionally harming humans to be a matter of our moral obligation while we consider not intentionally harming animals to be a personal choice. What is the difference? No one has come up with a logical answer.

            One thing is agreeing on the starting point that using animals is morally wrong and then searching for better solutions to minimise unintentional harm and environmental degradation; it is another thing to point a finger at the unnecessity of alcohol and other specific plant foods in order to justify the continuation of deliberately raising, torturing and killing sentient beings. I am specifically referring to your comment under the Ecorazzi essay I’m a Millennial, And I Want Veganism to Be More Than a Trend: “…Certainly, compared to the standard American diet, veganism is a step forward, but it is not the best solution, overall. In fact, the standard vegan mantra is acknowledged to be a step in the wrong direction in comparison to other options. It is recognised, for example, that a low-meat, plant-based diet is better for the environment than any diet that excludes animal products entirely…”

            One may argue that human rights “mantra” is a step in the wrong direction (and selfish) because eradicating one billion humans would be beneficial for the environment. Of course not many would suggest violating human rights. Rights act as protective boundaries unacceptable to cross, even if crossing them were beneficial to the majority.
            Overall, plant agriculture is far more efficient than animal agriculture for the undeniable fact that it takes many kilos of plant material to produce one kilo of animal products. We could reverse climate change overnight by simply getting rid of the animal agriculture and using a fraction of the land we are currently using.

            Most importantly, ethical veganism and human rights issues are *not* about establishing what the most efficient system of agriculture is. Ethical veganism is about our moral obligation not to intentionally harm non-human animals even if we benefited from doing so. Even if the animal agriculture were not the number one cause of global warming, pollution, oceans’ dead zones, soil erosion, drinking water shortages, species extinction and destruction of rainforests, and even if our actions did not jeopardise the survival of our own species, intentionally bringing into existence, torturing and killing billions of farm animals and pulling trillions of sea animals out of the oceans each year would still be morally wrong.

            I encourage shifting the debate to the abolition of animal use altogether, with the starting point that sentient beings are not “resources” and not “food”. The bottom line is that it is not necessary to eat animal products in order to be healthy, and the animal agriculture is an environmental disaster. There is not one good reason not to be vegan.

          • Steward Lands: “If we are truly looking for solutions to minimize unintentional animal deaths, then why do we not consider the unnecessary nature of those killed in order to produce extravagant favorites we label “vegan” simply because they do not, themselves, contain animal parts?”

            I am all in favour of reducing unintentional animal deaths as long as it is in line with rejecting all intentional deaths for any purpose. You, on the other hand, are looking for solutions to minimise unintentional deaths by intentionally killing sentient beings. I could not disagree more. We are all absolutist when it comes to the core principle of not intentionally harming one innocent human in order to avoid the loss of ten human lives. The question we need to ask ourselves is why we consider not intentionally harming humans to be a matter of our moral obligation while we consider not intentionally harming animals to be a personal choice. What is the difference? No one has come up with a logical answer.

            One thing is agreeing on the starting point that using animals is morally wrong and then searching for better solutions to minimise unintentional harm and environmental degradation; it is another thing to point a finger at the unnecessity of alcohol and other specific plant foods in order to justify the continuation of deliberately raising, torturing and killing sentient beings. I am referring to your comment under the Ecorazzi essay I’m a Millennial, And I Want Veganism to Be More Than a Trend: “…Certainly, compared to the standard American diet, veganism is a step forward, but it is not the best solution, overall. In fact, the standard vegan mantra is acknowledged to be a step in the wrong direction in comparison to other options. It is recognised, for example, that a low-meat, plant-based diet is better for the environment than any diet that excludes animal products entirely…”

            By that logic, one may argue that human rights “mantra” is a step in the wrong direction too, because eradicating one billion humans would be better for the environment. Rights act as protective boundaries unacceptable to cross, even if crossing them were beneficial to the majority.

            Overall, plant agriculture is far more efficient than animal agriculture for the undeniable fact that it takes many kilos of plant material to produce one kilo of animal products. We could reverse climate change overnight by simply getting rid of the animal agriculture and using a fraction of the land we are currently using.

            Most importantly, ethical veganism and human rights issues are *not* about establishing what the most efficient system of agriculture is. Ethical veganism is about our moral obligation not to intentionally harm non-human animals even if we benefited from doing so. Even if the animal agriculture were not the number one cause of global warming, pollution, oceans’ dead zones, soil erosion, drinking water shortages, species extinction and destruction of rainforests, and even if our actions did not jeopardise the survival of our own species, intentionally bringing into existence, torturing and killing billions of farm animals and pulling trillions of sea animals out of the oceans each year would still be morally wrong.

            I encourage shifting the debate to the abolition of animal use altogether, with the starting point that sentient beings are not “resources” and not “food”. The bottom line is that it is not necessary to eat animal products in order to be healthy, and the animal agriculture is an environmental disaster. There is not one good reason not to be vegan.

          • Steward Lands: “If we are truly looking for solutions to minimize unintentional animal deaths, then why do we not consider the unnecessary nature of those killed in order to produce extravagant favorites we label “vegan” simply because they do not, themselves, contain animal parts?”

            I am all in favour of reducing unintentional animal deaths as long as it is in line with rejecting all intentional deaths for any purpose. You, on the other hand, are looking for solutions to minimise unintentional deaths by intentionally killing sentient beings. I could not disagree more. We are all absolutist when it comes to the core principle of not intentionally harming one innocent human in order to avoid the loss of ten human lives. The question we need to ask ourselves is why we consider not intentionally harming humans to be a matter of our moral obligation while we consider not intentionally harming animals to be a personal choice. What is the difference? No one has come up with a logical answer.

            One thing is agreeing on the starting point that using animals is morally wrong and then searching for better solutions to minimise unintentional harm and environmental degradation; it is another thing to point a finger at alcohol and other specific plant foods in order to justify the continuation of deliberately raising, torturing and killing sentient beings. I am referring to your comment under the Ecorazzi essay I’m a Millennial, And I Want Veganism to Be More Than a Trend: “…Certainly, compared to the standard American diet, veganism is a step forward, but it is not the best solution, overall. In fact, the standard vegan mantra is acknowledged to be a step in the wrong direction in comparison to other options. It is recognised, for example, that a low-meat, plant-based diet is better for the environment than any diet that excludes animal products entirely…”

            By that logic, one may argue that human rights “mantra” is a step in the wrong direction too, because eradicating one billion humans would be better for the environment. Rights act as protective boundaries unacceptable to cross, even if crossing them were beneficial to the majority.

            Overall, plant agriculture is far more efficient than animal agriculture for the undeniable fact that it takes many kilos of plant material to produce one kilo of animal products. If, as you said, “agriculture is the foremost cause of extinction, world-wide as well as the single greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions” it is logical that the animal agriculture overall contributes far more to greenhouse gas emissions because the reality is that the largest proportion of crops we grow today are used to feed farm animals. Some forms of animal agriculture may cause less unintentional harm and may have lighter environmental footprint just as growing alfalfa sprouts in window seals does, but I am not the slightest bit interested in discussing the environmental impact of individual products or practices in order to justify looking for the right right way to do the wrong thing. The bottom line is that we could reverse climate change overnight by simply getting rid of the animal agriculture altogether and using only a fraction of the land we are currently using.

            Most importantly, ethical veganism and human rights issues are *not* about establishing what the most efficient system of agriculture is. Ethical veganism is about our moral obligation not to intentionally harm non-human animals even if we benefited from doing so. Even if the animal agriculture were not the number one cause of global warming, pollution, oceans’ dead zones, soil erosion, drinking water shortages, species extinction and destruction of rainforests, and even if our actions did not jeopardise the survival of our own species, intentionally bringing into existence, torturing and killing billions of farm animals and pulling trillions of sea animals out of the oceans each year would still be morally wrong.

            I encourage shifting the debate to the abolition of animal use altogether, with the starting point that sentient beings are not “resources” and not “food”. The bottom line is that it is not necessary to eat animal products in order to be healthy, and the animal agriculture is an environmental disaster. There is not one good reason not to be vegan.

          • stewart lands

            Hello. I have enjoyed thinking over your comments, and would have responded more quickly had time allowed. Perhaps predictably, I disagree with the premise that “we” (society?) abide by the principle that saving the lives of many people (or, substitute animals) does not warrant taking the life of a few if such is required. In fact, in saving the lives of a hostage crowd, law enforcement may risk or even take the lives of a few in order to neutralize the threat to many. I believe this outcome is consistent with societal expectations, including the expectations of many who label themselves “vegan.”

            I believe the suggestion that we consider intentional harm to animals to be a matter of personal choice is mistaken. In fact, I consider it inescapable and not really a choice at all. As I have already argued, when we choose to adopt agricultural practices (plant ag included), we choose to kill whichever animal stands in our path. Their deaths are predictable and unavoidable, and we know this full well before we begin. When we “intend” to farm, therefore, we also “intend” to kill. It is no different than if we knew beyond any doubt that we will kill a human if we elect to drive a car and then proceed to do so. If we intend to drive, knowing that death will result, then we intend to kill. The fact that we regret that death does not excuse it as unintentional.

            Also, in noting the similarities between plant agriculture and the “deliberate raising, torturing and killing” of animals, I am not trying to excuse the latter. Rather, I am trying to compel action to improve the former. I do speak strongly in support of the well-regulated, sustainable consumption of wild fish and game with the understanding that the single source of meat is far less destructive of life than is any form of agriculture.

            I do understand that veganism does not equate to environmentalism, and that the effort to assign rights to animal life forms may run contrary to pro- environment interests. I make an effort to expose these differences, where they exist, and advocate for environment and lives over untenable distinctions between “intentional” and “unintentional.”

          • Steward Lands, if the society did not abide by the concept of rights but instead embraced the concept of utilitarianism (sacrificing a few human lives in order to save many), we would be expected to experiment on humans in order to save millions. From medical point of view, it would be far more beneficial to experiment on humans rather than on mice, rats and primates in order to find cures for human diseases. We do not do it because the entire world is in agreement that using humans as resources is morally wrong regardless of the benefits for the society at large.

            We had the controversy of Guantanamo Bay where prisoners were denied legal rights that normally everyone would be entitled to including serial killers; they were held indefinitely and tortured without charge, supposedly to prevent future terrorist attacks and potentially save thousands of innocent lives. The reaction of the whole world was an outrage. Why was there so much secrecy around it if the society abided by the principle that sacrificing a few innocent lives in order to save many were acceptable?

            Killing a few humans in a hostage situation in order to save many is not the right analogy about respecting or disrespecting rights. These are out of ordinary emergency situations such as when a surgeon is in a position to save one patient only and has to make tough choices.

            When it comes to animal exploitation, there is no either/or situation; it is not a choice between the life of a cow, the life of a mouse or our own lives. We created the cow and now we claim that we must kill either the cow of thousands of other creatures in order to survive. Even though we may know with certainty that the modern agricultural practices will take sentient lives, eating plants in itself does not require deliberate killing. For example, I may grow vegetables in my own backyard, use rainwater and deter insects in a natural way. On a commercial level, veganic gardens on already cleared land and indoor vertical gardens are emerging. We have the technology to create much more complicated things. On the other hand, fishing and hunting, no matter how “sustainable”, will always require taking lives in a calculated and deliberate way.

            If we are considering fishing and hunting on the ground of less lives lost, and if we are prepared to use the methods of pre-historic times that cannot sustain our current population level, then why not push for gathering wild berries and edible leafy vegetables, foods that have the highest nutritional value per calorie and require zero lives lost?

          • stewart lands

            I see your point about the hunting v. farming on those plots that have already been destroyed ecologically. Hunting kills; re-purposing fallow land kills less than would otherwise be necessary if we were establishing farms where native systems previously existed. However, I will continue to take issue on two counts: to start, even the act of cultivation does kill. If I take an elk from the field, I kill one creature. If I take an equal amount of protein from a soy field–even under the most productive conditions requiring synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and genetically engineered seeds–it will require 1/8 acre to produce. The cultivation and harvest of 1/8 acre of even the most desolate field is likely to result in greater loss of life than one single animal. And certainly so when one considers the impact of pesticides traveling off-site into waterways, etc. Secondly, agriculture continues to expand. We do not simply re-purpose fallow fields and blacktop into orchards, and so the loss of habitat remains very real.

            I can predict at least part of your response: that we would not need to convert native lands if we would simply quit animal agriculture. I agree and support this, as I am not trying to support animal ag. However, until this happens, plant agriculture will continue to carve away at wild lands, with catastrophic loss of life. Even assuming that one day we reach the point that our land footprint shrinks rather than grows, then hunting and fishing may remain our least deadly options, considering the death resulting from cultivation.

            Of course, I know that you regard these deaths differently than I. I see ag deaths as intentional while you do not. I see the preservation of many lives as more important that the preservation of animal rights. I agree that this is not necessarily the case for humans, and so I acknowledge that I accept a double standard. Of course, so also does veganism accept a double standard when it draws the line between animals and plants,etc. rather than between humans and other animals and plants, etc.

            In short, I am beginning to perceive that veganism is more about lives lost than lives saved. Rather than kill that elk in order to preserve the dozens or even hundreds of birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals that inhabit the wild lands that we will lose to agriculture in order to produce an equal amount of soy protein, veganism insists that the right of that elk to life is paramount. Instead of re-purposing asphalt to wild lands capable of supporting many new lives, some of which may be consumed as food, veganism would prefer the establishment of gardens, with fewer lives restored.

            This has been very instructive to me. I have long complained that veganism is out-of-step with environmentalism, and now I am beginning to understand why. We do appear to have entirely different interests.

          • Stewart Lands, please note that I edited my previous comment before realizing that you already replied. If I do not hear back from you I wish you well.

            Here is one last short reply to your observation on veganism: “…I am beginning to perceive that veganism is more about lives lost (or, more specifically, HOW lives are lost) than lives saved…”

            I am speaking here from the perspective of the Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights as set by Prof. Gary Francione. I strongly encourage people to get the information directly from him via his books, essays, podcasts and videos rather than relying on secondary sources.

            I would slightly rephrase that veganism is *more* about lives lost than lives saved. We, (abolitionist or ethical) vegans maintain that *the least* everyone must do is not to deliberately harm others just like we are morally obliged not to kill, rape, discriminate against, or otherwise harm humans. That starting point is uncompromising and therefore we would never accept that it is better to kill a whale and eat whale meat for years than eating vegetables on a daily basis resulting in far greater number of deaths. Above that, everyone contributes in the area he/she is inclined to: advocating for veganism as a moral baseline, rescue work, human rights, environment, healthy lifestyle, and yes, reducing the number of deaths.

            I think where you and I strongly disagree with is in the interpretation of the word “intentional”, and that we have no choice other than engage in (intentional) killing.

          • stewart lands

            Also, remember that the first step in establishing a field is to eliminate all animal life on that place. This is, indeed, an intentional act. We eliminate them because they compete with our intended crops and we cannot sustain both on a single parcel of land. I am not just speaking of those lost during cultivation or harvest–I am referring to entire populations of organisms destroyed in order to produce the field itself. No “vegan mindset” can avert that loss, and so, as a matter of principle, we must eliminate this loss of life by eliminating the sorts of selfish behavior that lead to it. This may include alcohol consumption, but may also include almonds and cashews, asparagus, mango and papaya… The list goes on and on. Among our vegan favorites are many which are unnecessarily destructive as there are many superior alternatives. These are as worthy of criticism as is meat, for the simple reason that lives may have been saved through avoiding their consumption.

          • T.A. McDonnell

            Stewart Lands: Are you familiar with veganic permaculture? It is by far the most sustainable *and* humane method of farming; it is the wave of the future. As others have indicated, once we accept the fact that animals are members of the moral community as a *society* – we would then naturally do everything possible to minimize so-called “collateral damage” in any sort of agricultural endeavor, just as we presumably do when human lives are those at risk.

            Moreover, just as with those who try to argue that plants are “sentient” and that veganism therefore makes no sense, even if your argument about “collateral” damage *was* sound (which it is not), eating a plant-based diet will always require ****far**** fewer acres under cultivation.

            An abolitionist colleague, Foppe de Haan, describes this very clearly: “As
            a general matter, it is useful to keep in mind that, e.g., cows require up to
            16 times the amount of plant protein as they can be “turned into”;
            pigs require roughly 6x as much, chickens at least twice as much, and that
            non-ruminant livestock animals eat precisely the same kinds of plant foods that
            we can digest (mainly corn, wheat, soy, grown on land that could also be used
            to plant plants intended for human consumption). Something on the order 80% of
            the corn produced and 80% of the wheat used in the US is used as fodder. On top
            of that, between 18 and 50% of worldwide GHG emissions are related to animal
            agriculture (and grass-fed cows require much more land, and produce much more
            methane because of the lower nutritive value of grass as opposed to
            grains/legumes). The long and short of it is consuming a diet that consists of
            plants only is not only preferable in that we no longer use animals without a
            justification other than (palate) pleasure/habit/convenience; it is also far
            less wasteful and environmentally damaging.”

            Prof. Gary Francione takes it even further, illustrating the ultimate absurdity of your argument taken to it’s logical conclusion: “It takes many more pounds of plants to produce one pound of flesh (or other animal product) than it does it you eat those plants
            directly. So the incidental and unintended deaths are many times fewer for a
            vegan. . On your. . . reasoning, we cannot eat because we know animal are killed when we grow crops. So driving is really a side issue. Not committing suicide is the primary problem. Life in the material world *****necessarily***** involves harm. If you want to
            commit no harm to others, you kill yourself. If you don’t kill yourself, your second-best option is to refuse to participate in the institutionalized exploitation of nonhumans and to not deliberately commodify animals. You try to be careful in all of your behavior but you accept that you will unintentionally or incidentally harm. If you have a problem with
            that, you are back to suicide.”

            Honestly, it seems like you are merely seeking justification for consuming animal products, rather than getting to the root of the problem, which is speciesism. Veganism, rather than speciesism, must become the “norm” before we can realistically expect the collateral damage issue to be adequately addressed. This is yet another reason for all of us to make creative, non-violent vegan education our absolute priority. As Nelson Mandela stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon we have to change the world.”

          • stewart lands

            *When* the inefficiencies of veganic permaculture are resolved, then we may be onto something. Until then, it will still require more land than otherwise necessary to support the human population, with the result that more wild habitat remains under cultivation and so devoid of animal life. I am completely in favor of converting animal ag operations to organic permaculture, but this still does not resolve either of the actual points which I have made above.

            “…illustrating the ultimate absurdity of your argument taken to it’s logical conclusion: “It takes many more pounds of plants to produce one pound of flesh (or other animal product) than it does it you eat those plants directly.”

            You never even read my argument, did you? The argument favoring plant agriculture over animal agriculture is one I understand perfectly well, and I am not advocating for meat production or meat consumption, except where such meat is acquired in a sustainable manner from unspoiled lands.

            As Nelson Mandela stated, “Education (and attention span) is the most powerful weapon we have to change the world.”

          • Steward Lands: “…You never even read my argument, did you? The argument favoring plant agriculture over animal agriculture is one I understand perfectly well, and I am not advocating for meat production or meat consumption, except where such meat is acquired in a sustainable manner from unspoiled lands…”

            Putting aside the ethical issue of using animals as resources, you must be well aware that, for example, greenhouse gas emissions from grass-fed animals are far greater than from factory-farmed animals. Here I am quoting T.A. McDonnell’s response to you about grass-fed: “…and grass-fed cows require much more land, and produce much more methane because of the lower nutritive value of grass as opposed to grains/legumes…”

            With all due respect I want to clarify that you strongly advocate not only for meat consumption from “sustainable” fishing and hunting we mostly talked about in this thread, but you also strongly support production of meat, dairy and eggs. You wrote:

            “…By using every scrap of the plants we grow–even for the purpose of raising meat, dairy or eggs–we are able to reduce our acreage in production and so spare the myriad wild creatures that depend upon wild lands for their existence…”

          • stewart lands

            Yes, you are correct. Where plant waste material can be used as fodder for animals, assuming that such use will reduce animal death and suffering that would otherwise occur to raise vegetable crops, then I do support it. In writing my response to TA McDonnell, it appeared that she believed that I supported animal agriculture on a far grander scale.

        • Linda McKenzie

          If you want to forego drinking alcohol or any other activity you deem unnecessary, in order to minimise the harm you cause to nonhumans and/or humans, then no one is arguing against that and that’s your decision to make. Veganism is the moral baseline, meaning it’s the least we need to do as a moral obligation if we regard animals as more than just things. We are not arguing against doing more than veganism, but it certainly makes no sense from a moral perspective to do less than veganism. And to eschew alcohol or any other plant product because of the unintended consequences of plant agriculture while intentionally engaging in actions that cause direct harm and death to animals, i.e. such as eating and wearing them, really is very confused and incoherent.

          • stewart lands

            YOU suggest that it is the least we should do. Of course, that is a subjective decision. Some will say you are morally obligated to do more. Others will say you are morally obligated to do less. The fact is, there is no baseline that applies to all.

    • StrangerThingsHappen

      Okay Stewart. You’ve made me think.If we’re talking about the difference between avoidable, intentional harm vs unavoidable, unintentional…. and we don’t “need” alcohol (and most of the foods we eat and liquids we drink, plant-based or no, or the clothes we wear, etc, etc…), then we can’t justify the harm caused in the production of alcohol. Technically true, yes.. but where do we draw the line, and why?

      • stewart lands

        You are one of the few interested in this sort of conversation that has not rejected my point out-of-hand simply because it runs contrary to the mantra we so often hear repeated. Thank you for that.

        To begin (and perhaps you understood this), I do not count the lives lost in plant agriculture as “unintentional” simply because they are regrettable. We understand, with each meal we take, that some living creature will pay the price with its own life, and yet we proceed because we have to. But, where we indulge unnecessarily we also kill unnecessarily. Knowing this, when we decide to take that bite, we act with intent–we are willing to trade another life for our own pleasure. To be true to our principles, we must consume only such items that are very efficiently grown and humanely harvested. Yet, none of us is willing to live a life so austere. We all compromise our principles as a matter of personal preference. Sometimes we excuse our behavior by suggesting that certain life forms much simpler than ourselves cannot share the pain that we image more similar creatures must have. And so we eat plants, pretending that no animals lose their lives in their production. Or, we deny that any such death occurs as the result of farming. Or that such death is unintentional, etc.

        Certain of these assumptions are not only self-indulgent, but also dangerous. To pretend, for example, that anything can be grown without harm to animal life ignores the fact that millions of acres of beans, broccoli, etc. are completely devoid of animal life. Our natural community demands that we recognize our true impact. Agriculture is the foremost cause of extinction, world-wide as well as the single greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

        So, what must we do? To begin, we need to get real and take responsibility. We must accept that our current mantra is misleading and seek true, nuanced, and environmentally sensitive solutions. Counterintuitively, for some, these may include limited meat consumption. A wild animal taken in a sustainable manner, for example, has no impact on animal populations or on the habitat that sustains life. No agricultural product, plant or animal, can make that claim. We must get beyond simple and flawed rules to arrive at greater understanding, and then we must act on our own, informed, volition. Certainly, some will choose not to act unless compelled. But this is true whatever our approach. I would rather hold true to my principles rather than rules–especially where they are counterproductive to principle.

  • jsruby22

    I have dated many who suddenly became vegan after meeting me. They all slowly went back to eating meat because their motivation was to stay in the relationship, not for ethical reasons. I no longer date non-vegans.

    • StrangerThingsHappen

      Then they were never ‘vegan’ unfortunately.

  • StrangerThingsHappen

    Love your work!

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