You Don’t Even Have to Love Animals

It’s often said that vegans don’t care about humans — we care about animals, but not people, so we direct our attention toward helping animals rather than humans. Of course, vegans don’t eat humans, so the accusation that we care about animals (which most people eat) and not humans (which most people do not eat) is a baseless presumption that humans and animals are treated as equals, give or take.

This presumption is then elevated to an inaccurate heuristic that allows people to dismiss veganism as simply “not for me.” The idea that vegans care only about animals contrasts sharply with the understandable (and perhaps reasonable) bias that we humans have toward other humans. In other words, we are born with an innate preference for other humans, and the extent to which vegans are understood to not have this preference is the extent to which vegans are weird and not like me. This opens the door to the belief that veganism is not for me.

But the reality is quite different. Vegans are driven by social justice, including helping both animals and humans. We’re driven by a desire to make the world a better place, and it makes sense to make improvements where suffering is the worst: animal agriculture. It also makes sense to do what we can to help people, including by making donations to organizations like the Against Malaria Foundation. Not only can we do both of these things, and much more to help humans and animals, but the desire to make the world a better place is what underlies both.

Moreover, I am not aware of any systematic research on the matter, but I suspect that vegans are more likely to make charitable donations towards organizations that strive to save human lives than is the average person. This, of course, probably goes double for animal charities.

But you don’t even have to love animals to be vegan. Like vegans who don’t consume human flesh, non-vegans should be able to see the logic in not consuming animal flesh: it’s just unnecessary.

As I’ve said before, believing that humans are superior to animals and thus have a right to kill and eat them makes about as much sense as believing that the Red Sox are superior to the Yankees — and thus have a right to kill and eat them. It simply doesn’t compute because we’ve been trained to think of animals as food.

You don’t have to love animals to be vegan. You just have to understand that not killing animals is preferable to unnecessarily killing them. Once we cut through the mess of propaganda we’ve been raised with, it becomes much easier to see how flimsy are the excuses for omnivorism.


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