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Romantic Relationships That Assume Animals Are Things

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It seems incomprehensible to us that people can entertain the idea of a serious relationship with someone who does not share a respect for fundmental rights. What’s even more disturbing is when it’s the non-vegan who’s concerned, and not the vegan. Not about the conflict of ethics either, but the self-indulgent notion that they somehow miss out on something for being with someone who doesn’t exploit animals.

An article in Munchies tells the story of a “meat eating chef” and his “vegetarian almost-vegan” partner. The article, written by the chef himself, tells the story of how he met his wife and the initial reservations he had over her not consuming animal flesh. It’s worth pointing out that as a non-vegan, his partner’s position is no different to his own as an omnivore, but the same reasoning with respect to relationships still applies.

The article talks about how the secret to a good relationship is “accepting, embracing, and respecting each other for who we are and what we eat.” The “meat-eating chef” boasts that they’ve “never had an argument about food” and that it’s “not worth walking away from your potential soulmate just because of diet beliefs.”

But in order to come to such conclusions, you first have to assume that animals are things. You have to deny their inherent value as sentient beings and accept as legitimate the idea that we commit no moral wrong by using them as resources. These sorts of self-indulgent arguments only work when those involved deny the personhood of the victims of their actions. They only work when animals have been otherised to the point that they are not seen as victims.

The reality is that animals, as sentient beings with preferences, desires and wants, are moral persons. They are not things. There is someone there who is the victim of our actions when we are not vegan. This is why non-veganism cannot be “respected” as a “personal choice.” Whenever there is a victim as a consequence of someones actions, we are no longer within the realms of personal choice. We are squarely within the realms of morality. Within that realm, our actions first need to be justified, and where animal exploitation is concerned, there is no moral justification

The chef talks about finding your soulmate, but would you consider your soulmate to be someone who engages in the exploitation of vulnerable sentient beings? Once again, in order to maintain that “diet” isn’t an important consideration when looking for love, you must defy logic and assume that animals are things with no moral value.  In the case of the chef and his wife, this assumption becomes even more obvious when he states that they both decided their daughter was “going to eat meat.” But it’s all good, he goes on to say that “If she decides to stop eating meat when she gets older, I’m going to support her with that decision, too.”

Well that’s just great isn’t it. The only problem is he left out one important group from his moral calculus. The animals.

To every defiant non-vegan: If your love is contingent on the acceptance of unjustifiable exploitation, then we don’t want it, thanks.

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  • Violeta Alonso Mañanes

    Interesting points. I’ve struggled with them myself.

    When I became vegetarian, then vegan then macrobiotic (using food as medicine), then macroneurotic, then back to finding my own balance..I went through numerous phases.
    First, I questioned my friendships, because none of my close friends from the past, or family members, had doubted of the animal consumption as a basic thing to do for survival.
    I always told them that I would do it for as long as I felt healthy. Eventually I lost my balance as a vegan, so I had to go to a general macrobiotic diet.

    I believe it is a personal choice, if people can live with using animals for their own satisfaction. Most of the time, I can’t live with that choice, so I don’t make it. If I become ill, then I research, I get second opinions and I do what I believe I need to do.

    We are all trying our best, and people who are still not vegan-vegetarian-macrobiotic are just not accessing the right information; or they are simply not ready.

    Now I have friendships with people who eat meat, drink alcohol, take drugs even…
    but I wouldn’t have a relationship with someone who doesn’t live consciously, mindfully, in harmony.
    Nor I want a radical neurotic, thanks (or becoming that myself, again!)

    It’s all about balance.

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