But why you should also probably stop doing it.

Look; I don’t know you. Maybe you live deep in a rainforest. The afternoon sunlight seeps through the fractured branch patterns of the canopy layer as you crouch to the forest floor — your image obstructed by foliage — camouflaged by mud and dyes from red berries. An unassuming rabbit hops by and your stomach growls as you brace yourself to pounce. All you’ve had today is temptations from clusters of mushrooms whose toxicity you could not verify.

Just as you begin to spring from the bushes, a young bearded gentleman steps in your path. He is wearing suspenders, twill pants, and iPod earbuds dangle from his ears. The rabbit scampers away.

“Hey, man,” he says. “Animals deserve to live. Go vegan!”

The human person reading this article unlikely bears any resemblance to the homo erectus rainforest-dweller I’ve depicted earlier. It is likely, though, that animal products are a part of your everyday consumption. Perhaps you would hate the vegan who stops you from obtaining a much needed meal. But how do his arguments hold up in the presence of choice?

Choice in abundance

This is the year 2016, and we are living in an abundance of food. Beans, rice, grains, nuts, vegetables, legumes, fruits, herbs, tofu, cereal, seitan, tempeh, and potatoes are all widely available in grocery stores across the United States and other countries.

Virtually everyone in modern society can access these things. If you’re poor, see Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day. If you really really can’t otherwise you’ll starve to death, then it may be justified since either way one of you will die.

For the rest of you, though, the difference between “animal-based food” and “plant-based food” boils down to a grocery store selection. We often choose animal products, even though it’s not required to maintain good health.

Therefore, if we can choose to not eat animals, but choose to do so anyway, we do so only for pleasure. Essentially, we are eating animals “for fun.” But maybe that’s not such a good reason.

Animals are sentient beings. They are unique individuals with emotions, relationships, and a desire to be safe, happy and free — much like us. In fact, humans are animals, so suggesting that animals deserve the same basic respect is far from unreasonable. Yet we tear calves away from their mothers, milk them until their udders sag and bleed, and ultimately kill them on assembly lines via captive bolt pistols by the millions. Pigs, who are known to possess intelligence comparable to three-year-old children, are crammed into small rooms and deprived of food, water, and sunlight until they are hung upside down and have their throats slit.

I’ll spare you further details, but this is only a small glance at a widespread system of cruelty. Regardless, the manner they are killed in doesn’t affect the moral implications of the situation. A test to check whether something is “humane” is to ask yourself if you’d like it done to you.

Farmed animals killed in 2015 (United States)

  • Cows — 28,740,000 killed
  • Chickens — 8,822,695,000 killed
  • Pigs — 115,414,000 killed
  • Turkeys — 232,398,000 killed
  • Ducks — 27,794,000 killed
  • Lambs — 2,217,000 killed

Source: The Humane Society
View interactive version of this chart

Don’t take my word for it

There are a number of arguments for why humans should build a society free of animal cruelty. Regardless of your feelings towards cows, veganism is self-preservation through not destroying the entire fucking planet that you reside on. A controversial paper called The China Study suggests that meat endangers people’s health. But even if you’re a skeptic, it seems pertinent with the new-found knowledge released by the World Health Organization earlier this year that processed meat does actually cause cancer. There are enough reasons to go vegan that you don’t even have to agree with all of them.

It’s also better than what we’re currently doing in every conceivable way. So if you have any desire at all for improving the state of civilization, this should appeal to you.

Resources

This article is licensed under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 and does not require attribution.