Humanity is over-hyped.
Their early work was great: communalism, monumental architecture, writing, mathematics, medicine. All classics.
Their new work however: capitalism, ocean death, climate change and a post-antibiotic era, is all a little too ‘new wave’ for my tastes.
I think we can agree, it’s all gone down hill, both comercially and artistically.
We could try to fight it all but why bother. The death of civilisation is inevitable. I say, we accept our fate and accelerate the process to achieve the utilitarian dream of zero suffering by means of human extinction as soon as possible. If there are no humans, there is no suffering.
So what’s the plan?
Well, if everyone continues to eat fish at the current rate then the world’s oceans might well become bereft of life in the next hundred years. I think we can cut this figure in half if we really try, which is a great start since if the oceans die, humanity dies.
Animal agriculture provides us with a great accelerating mechanism to catapult ourselves into the midst of post-antibiotic era too. If we keep eating more meat then we can get there faster, which is great because if we get there fast enough science might not catch up with good alternatives to antibiotics. Great news for those of us awaiting our inevitable demise!
We can kill two birds with one stone here too since animal agriculture is a major cause of deforestation. If we’re lucky we can destroy the remainder of the world’s rainforests in less than a century.
I know what you’re thinking, “a century? I can’t wait that long!”
Well, thanks to capitalism you don’t have to! We can simply eat more meat, providing more demand for it, increasing the amount of animals we breed and the amount of the antibiotics we use, while simultaneously cutting down more rainforests at a faster rate to clear more land to grow food for all the animals we plan to eat. It’s amazing really.
If we really put our minds to it then the utilitarian dream of zero suffering will be achieved sooner than we think… I mean, after a lot of suffering obviously.
Is this cheap reverse psychology? Or is this all a totally serious post-modern approach to veganism embued with the ethos of antinatalism?
Let’s find out together at the end of civilisation.
As a vegan you’re going to be challenged to defend your position on a near daily basis. The prospect can seem daunting but I’m going to give you all you need to defend yourself against nearly every argument you will encounter. You don’t need to know endless facts and figures pertaining to the impact of animal agriculture. You don’t need to have memorised hundreds of studies on health outcomes. You don’t need to be able to construct complex ethical arguments or even understand the difference between objective and relative morality. All you need is one sentence. Sound too good to be true? I’ll prove it.
The following is the definition of veganism:
“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
This is all you need to defend your position. It defeats nearly every argument against veganism that exists. Why? Because most people don’t even know what they’re arguing against. Let’s look at some examples.
Argument: Vegans are hypocrites, they kill animals too by accidentally stepping on bugs… etc.
Response: Veganism isn’t about never causing harm. It’s about ensuring that where it’s possible and practicable we exclude cruelty and exploitation from our lives. That isn’t to say vegans necessarily succeed. It is of course impossible to live your entire life without ever harming directly or harming indirectly. Most vegans recognise and accept that fact of life. Vegans go to great lengths however to ensure that the only harm they cause is unavoidable harm. So yes, you’re correct, vegans do kill animals but that doesn’t make the basic position, that we should seek to exclude exploitation and cruelty as far as possible and practicable wrong. It also doesn’t make vegans hypocrites because we never said we cause no harm or stated that as a goal.
Argument: Vegans wear leather so they’re hypocrites.
Response: Given that definition of veganism above, it’s possible to wear leather as a vegan, if the leather was purchased before the person became a vegan. If they did not hold those principles when they bought the leather then it’s hard, if not absurd, to hold them to them retroactively. If the leather was purchased after the person became a vegan then they would be a hypocrite however this would have no bearing on whether the vegan position (that we should seek to exclude cruelty and exploitation from our lives where possible and practicable) is true. That statement would remain true regardless of one person’s hypocrisy.
The unfortunate reality of life is that none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, we all do things that fail to comply with our own ethical standards from time to time. Failure is natural; it’s human. There’s nothing in the definition of veganism that says you need to be inhumanly perfect, consistently adhering to the standards of a saint and never making a mistake. If there was it would be quite the oversight, as such a lifestyle is impossible. Citing a single vegan’s failure to adhere to the principles of veganism does not invalidate veganism anymore than citing a Christian’s failure to adhere to the ten commandments invalidates the ten commandments. Whether you agree with the ten commandments is largely irrelevant, the point is, you can’t invalidate a principle by attacking a person who fails to adhere to it for failing to adhere to it.
Argument: I’ve known vegans who eat unhealthily and even smoke.
Response: Some people may adopt a vegan diet for health but there is nothing in the definition of veganism that mandates good health.
Argument: Vegans cause more environmental damage than omnivores because of the transport of their food.
Response: While environmentalism is important and we should all strive to minimise our environmental impact, there is nothing in the definition of veganism that mandates we be environmentalists. That said, there is also nothing in the definition of veganism that precludes us from being environmentalists. There’s nothing to stop us buying locally and taking efforts to reduce our environmental impact. A vegan lifestyle can be as environmentally friendly or unfriendly as you want it to be so long as it still seeks to exclude exploitation and cruelty where possible and practicable.
Argument: Humans are animals and by buying quinoa and avocados vegans provide demand for human suffering. This violates the principles of veganism.
Response: There’s nothing in that definition that mandates we eat avocados and quinoa. You can be vegan without eating those foods.
By now you probably get the idea. Most arguments against veganism are knee-jerk defensive responses brought about through internalised guilt or a desire to deride perceived ‘do-gooders’ in an effort to preempt judgement that is believed to be imminent. They are not well rationalised positions that have considered what veganism is, what it strives to achieve or how the actions of individual vegans relate to the principles themselves. Most arguments against veganism are fairly simply dismissed because they aren’t really even arguing against veganism, they’re arguing against some warped version of it which is a product of ignorance.
There are a collection of arguments which do not fall under this umbrella but it’s incredibly rare that you will find yourself face to face with a utilitarian consequentialist who wants to cite the social contract in an attempt to justify slaughter or a deontologist committed to arguments precluding non-humans from having rights, and far more likely you’ll be dealing with somebody who has only ever encountered veganism through memes…