Veganism is like a Religion

I start my text with Logic using the what I call the vegan paradox:

If everyone in the world were to be vegetarian only drinking one drop of milk per year each, the world would be totally sustainable without harming any animal, and though there would not exist any vegan in the world.

Veganism in this sense uses the same methodology as any religion, it gives one plausible and truthful arguments so that one can act radically in their habits, hence simply and totally stopping eating and consuming any animal products, regardless of how they were collected. For the sake of understanding my point of view, we might give alcohol prohibition as an interesting comparison. It is known that alcohol provokes a series of social and health problems to several communities and individuals and that's why there was a prohibition in the United States. Several other Christian cultured countries, in some periods of their histories, also forbade the consumption of alcohol. Whereas in western societies such problems regarding the consumption of alcohol were ruled by civil and criminal laws, in Arabic countries, such alcohol prohibitions were set by religious laws and inquisitional traditions, but the causes for such forbiddance of consumption are exactly the same, whether a religious or a civil law is applied. Forbidding anything for being evil is much easier for transmitting a rule to other individuals, than explaining how one should act and how the consequences of an action might be harmful to oneself or others. It is believed that it is due to the same scientific reasons Muslims and Jews don't eat pork, since pigs were animals that during several centuries, mainly in hot climates, were transmitters of several diseases, said diseases at the time more present in animal blood; explaining also why the religious practices demand that they pour the blood out from the slaughtered animal before the meat is prepared for eating. Sacralizing those habits, acts and prohibitions into the religious frameworks, canons and rules, was the most effective method to transmit the public order and the healthy habits into the non scientifically cultured and illiterate population. Religion always played an important role in that sense, since it is very effective in transmitting good habits to the population without the usage of police enforcement units. One might call it mass behavioral control when television and mass media didn't even exist.

I abstain myself from eating meat for several years. I simply don't eat it because despite the environmental and health issues, I don't think there is a fair usage of meat, since it always demands in any case, animal killing. If I eat a portion of pork or beef, I immediately and directly contribute to the slaughter of an animal. Though if I drink a glass of milk per week, the direct link is much harder to logically sustain, as theoretically it is possible to have cows just for the unique purpose of milk production. In that sense the problem, as investigators sustain, is not milk per se, it is though the amount of milk and dairy products our society consume and how the livestock industries are organised. But a vegan simply and radically abstains himself from drinking any drop of milk, or eating any egg, facing such rules, as a Muslim religious believer faces the rule of not drinking alcohol, even if said alcohol is totally inoffensive, like the one it is used for marinating same dishes.

Nevertheless these critics, I partially understand those radical approaches. I, for example, smoked one pack of cigars per day for several years, and I am perfectly aware of the harm that such consumption provoked on me, and I am also aware that the tobacco consumption provokes a strong neurochemical addiction. In that sense, my own personal "religion" dictates me, that I shall never again smoke any cigar in my life, even a simple blow, because I am already aware of the health damages and addiction. Having a binary or an on/off approach to habits, is much simpler and easier to follow than rule oneself on the consumption, usage or acting on several different aspects of life. Take another example, for instance the sexual relations. According to several theological works written by Christian men in the past, mainly in the Middle Age, delivering oneself to lusty practices was immoral, since those actions would destroy the pillar of the family and would therefore rotten the society. Practically what those theological men wanted, in a time where child mortality was very high, was population growth. And instead of proposing moderate sexual habits before marriage for example, the theological writers simply linked those deeds with sin and totally forbade them, creating the notion of the lusty sin of fornication, i.e., sexual intercourse before marriage and hence punished by God.

I truthfully respect vegans, because they are a powerful counter-force in a world dictated by profit where animals are nothing but transmissible money-measurable assets or commodities in a global economy. Sometimes we need extreme counter non-violent actions in a world dictated by extreme generalized habits. But the vegans chose the path that religious men have for many centuries chosen in the past, they abandoned reasonable and wise consumption habits and they adopted the radical approach, i.e., the total abstinence of animal products consumption even if that consumption, theoretically, is completely sustainable and it does not harm any animal. In that sense, they adopted the same behavioral technique that Muslims, Christians and Jews adopted in the several periods of their lives, because as said before, it is much easier to pass and carry on an habit with simple binary rules than learning how to have a moderate, frugal and sustainable life style.

3 comentários:

  1. I think you should see it purely from an animal rights perspective, just as we would do with human rights. When we just drink one glass of milk per week, we still consider the milk for us, which is actually for the calves only, perpetuating the belief that the cows are here for us. A theoretical belief of some utopian cow world that feed both calves and us (which still means the calves themselves get less milk, and if there is money involved, then the calves get killed for sure to sell even more milk) cannot substitute the practicality/problem. The cow did not consent, the cow is not here for us. A child cannot consent to some things either to something a child does not understand. We don't allow certain people to do "little things" to children, even if it would not harm the child and the child had no guardian. This same reasoning should be applied to all sentient beings.

    A lot of vegans abstain themselves radically from any drop of milk or egg, not just because the belief that it is, but because they don't want to have anything to do with the product of victims, or perpetuate the current idea that it "does not harm the animal" or something. It simply is because we morally have no right to. Based on this you create actual reasonable and wise consumption habits, contrary to a "slightly more convenient" 99%-plants based consumption habit.

    When talking about rights of an individual or a group of sentient beings, when there is no need to infringe the right, the radical one is the only reasonable one. Everything else is just a dilution of their rights, which is nothing else than an unfair rights violation.

    1. You are assuming that all milk production from a cow (or a female mammal) is always consumed by the calf (or the offspring in wilde life), and that is simply not true. Even women after pregnancy sometimes share milk with other non-related babies, simply because they produce too much milk. Furthermore that's exactly the way scientists believe we started to drink milk, on an evolutionary perspective, many thousands of years ago. The proto-indo-Europeans simply started to consume the leftovers from cows that had given birth.

      You again assume that the animal is always a victim and that is a logical fallacy. Vegans don't eat an egg even if they know that the chicken is preserved at home and treated well as a pet.

      As I said, I understand the efficiency of the radical approach. It's efficient but it's not reasonable.

    2. Thank you for the response. That is an interesting point, and I did not know that. Could you provide a source? Googling "animals giving milk to other species" gives me mostly articles about birds stealing milk from mother mammals.

      You are right about that. I should not say victim. But keeping an animal as a "pet" just so people can eat their excrements is not the reason why people should have a pet, and in the case of chickens, this happens a lot. Certain animal sanctuaries will gladly give away chickens for people to keep as pet, since these sanctuaries are full and need space for newly saved animals. People come there to get a chicken to keep as "pet", but when these same people are offered an old hen who doesn't lay eggs anymore, they decline. It's that exact mindset that most people have, it's greedy and they care more about the eggs than about the chicken. This mindset is the problem and vegans don't want to feed the mindset by example. Of course as a vegan one can respect the chicken AND eat her eggs, but in this society that is not what people see. Most people will only see a person with a chicken-pet eating eggs, comforting their belief that chickens are here for us (unless you do it without anyone noticing you eat eggs, or you lecture anyone who does notice about the rights and nuances, but that will most likely not happen).

      If it's efficient and no one suffers from it, then I think it IS reasonable. It's like making racist jokes around other people, some non-racist people choose not to make them (even if no one suffers from it), because making these jokes helps with the continuation of the problem. It's creating the facade that the problem doesn't exist and makes people comfortable with racism. Maybe some day when most people are vegan and animals have their fundamental rights not to be exploited by humans, if that ever happens, then sure, drinking a droplet of milk and eating a nestless egg will be a reasonable thing to do. But right now it only makes people comfortable with the idea that animals are semi-sentient production units.

      Conclusion from my part: you made me think a lot about it and slightly reconsider my position. I retract my statement about rights being infringed: a person can have a pet and eat her excess excrements and still care about the animal and her rights. But I still think in a non-vegan world, doing so is holding back the progress of animal rights by comforting other people with their bad habits, and therefore not consuming animal products at all and leading by this example is the most reasonable thing to do.