Veganism as Progressivism

Our recent Three Reasons post over on our Patreon — on what our respective vegan utopias look like — got me thinking a little more about a few common arguments against veganism. These include:

  • Poor people can’t be vegan
  • People in third world countries would starve without meat and/or animal products
  • There has never been a vegan society — and, by implication, for good reason

Let’s grant all of these. As I’ve written before (link above), nobody should really be in the business of telling poor people what to eat; as vegans, we are better off reaching out to the relatively privileged. I have heard both that people in the third world would starve if forced to go vegan (as if anyone is going to force them) and that many or most of them are already vegan or vegetarian. I don’t know enough about this to have a strong opinion — but for the sake of this piece, let’s just presume that everyone in the third world would die without meat and animal products. And I also am not aware of a society that has entirely abstained from meat and animal products, so let’s assume that’s true as well.

Not only can we accept all of these claims as fact and remain just as resolute in our belief that veganism — for those who are able — is a moral imperative. If our goal is for the world to go vegan (or something close to it) — as it should be — then we can view veganism as another checkpoint on the never-ending march of progress. That is, one that the first world has not yet reached, but will, if all goes well.

Think about it. As countries become more prosperous and escape poverty, they are able to implement programs for the greater good — social safety nets, government-maintained infrastructure, and so on — from which we all benefit (even if some of us deny it — looking at you, libertarians). What if we, at some point, pool enough money via taxation that we can not only take care of our fellow humans, but start thinking of how to use it to benefit animals?

If poor people can’t be vegan, wouldn’t a sufficiently prosperous society — one that actually abolishes poverty through a universal basic income or some other arrangement — eliminate that barrier?

And if it’s true that people in third world countries cannot go vegan, then this obstacle will be dismantled as the nation moves, hopefully, from the third world to the first.

There has never been a vegan society, but what if a sufficiently rich one saw fit to use their resources to eliminate all barriers to veganism? It’s an interesting thought experiment, at least.

Maybe the future is vegan, after all.

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