Welcome to the Ethics section of our Learn page!
Whether you’ve got questions about veganism, or you’re a vegan looking for a great resource to point your family & friends towards – you’ve come to the right place.
This is an FAQ page to help tackle all the common misconceptions around the ethics of what we put on our plates.
Credit: Clay Bennett, The Christian Science Monitor, 2006
We are social creatures, and human nature dictates that we do not enjoy having our world view challenged. This need to belong to our tribe, means it’s much easier to listen to a reassuring lie. Many media publications may demonize something that could threaten the status quo, in order to appeal to their core readership. Always take things with a pinch of salt and do your own research. We leave you with this article as food for thought.
Our ancestors have done unspeakable things throughout history. Each generation has hoped to become better than the last, so why do we cling to animal cruelty for tradition?
This question is best answered with another question – how can you ‘humanely’ kill something?
Say someone slaughtered your pet in a quick & painless way, would you be OK with it? Would reassurance that your pet had a high quality of life when it was alive, make you feel better?
There’s no need to treat farm animals any differently from domesticated pets, and it’s cruel to do so.
As consumers, we vote with our money and by not buying meat & dairy products we can send a powerful message. Consumers may not kill animals with bare hands, but as long as we create demand with money, the supply will be met by the animal agriculture industry.
Caring about animal rights and caring about humanitarian issues are not mutually exclusive. In many cases the world would be a much better place for humans if we were to all go vegan. For example, nearly 85% of the world’s soya beans are grown to feed livestock. We could be using that space to grow food to feed the 1 in every 9 on this planet who are malnourished.
It’s a commonly held opinion that morality is a man-made & subjective concept. Scientific studies suggest that even animals are governed by moral codes. Morality is deeper than simply being a societal norm. Morality comes from empathy for other living things, and veganism is simply aligning your actions with your true morals. It’s really that simple.
The law has been changing, evolving and improving ever since we humans decided to govern ourselves. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was only adopted by members of the United Nations in 1948. Does this mean all the terrible things that happened to humans before 1948 were morally justifiable? Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it’s ethical (and vice versa!)
Plants don’t have a central nervous system and they don’t feel pain in the way mammals do. By the broken logic in this argument, plants are equal to all living things, including humans. Does that mean humans should be food too? There is a clear distinction between animals and plants, and eating plants is not murder.
This argument is an ‘appeal to nature’. It suggests that all natural things are good and all unnatural things are bad. It’s difficult to deal in absolutes in this way. By this logic it’s wrong for humans to take antibiotics when they’re sick or give birth by c-section. There is nothing ‘natural’ about breeding billions of animals injected with drugs to feed millions of people. This is not a ‘circle of life’.
Vegans are aware that the world could never go fully vegan overnight. So no, the farm animals will not be left en-mass to go extinct. In any case, these animals have been genetically modified and aggressively bred into existence to fulfill one purpose. This purpose has made the animals heavily domesticated and reliant on our care. There are already wonderful charities rescuing farm animals – perhaps this would become a wide-scale solution.
Yes, you do have freedom of choice, in just the same way you are free to choose to murder, rape and abuse others – does freedom make these actions right? Just because we have the choice to do something, this doesn’t make the action morally justifiable. If there is a victim involved in your actions, you are affecting their freedom.
Funnily enough, I (Sam) was vegetarian for 25 years and was raised in a vegetarian family.
Whilst it is a small step in the right direction, it unfortunately doesn’t make sense to be vegetarian if you care about animal rights. Taking milk and eggs still causes immense suffering and unfortunately the animals are still killed in the process.
Learning about the dairy and egg industries was a monumental eye-opener for me and when I learnt how cruel they were, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was crazy to me that society could hide something so morally wrong, so easily.
The ‘Crop Death’ argument refers to the small insects and rodents unintentionally killed as part of the crop farming process. This can be caused by pesticides and machinery. While it’s true that plant-farming does cause accidental deaths, there are issues with this argument. It is impossible to eradicate all harm, and the definition of being vegan is to eradicate as much harm as possible.
If a non-vegan is concerned that plant-farming causes death, then they should go vegan anyway, as their food had to die to be eaten! This argument really only works as a criticism of intensive farming processes.