Why Conservatives Should Go Vegan

I’m no conservative, and I won’t pretend to be one. But I’d like to make an appeal to the conservative-minded to consider the merits of veganism. Though the animal rights movement is closely affiliated with liberalism and other left-leaning ideologies, there is no reason veganism shouldn’t appeal to those who fall in a different camp. Just as Republicans and Democrats and liberals and conservatives all agree that murder is wrong, so too can they all agree that veganism is right.

What follows are some reasons to go vegan that conservatives may find persuasive.

Veganism is cleaner

You probably grew up eating meat and animal products. It’s normal. But this normalcy can serve to hide something rather gross: meat and animal products are quite dirty. For example, Consumer Reports tested 458 pounds of ground beef and found that all of them contained fecal matter:

The results were sobering. All 458 pounds of beef we examined contained bacteria that signified fecal contamination (enterococcus and/or nontoxin-producing E. coli), which can cause blood or urinary tract infections. Almost 20 percent contained C. perfringens, a bacteria that causes almost 1 million cases of food poisoning annually. Ten percent of the samples had a strain of S. aureus bacteria that can produce a toxin that can make you sick. That toxin can’t be destroyed—even with proper cooking.

Although only one percent of ground beef samples contained salmonella, this isn’t a trivial amount. However, it’s not as bad as chicken: 71 percent of store-bought chicken contains harmful bacteria, including salmonella. Moreover, the “free-range” birds were the most contaminated.

But also consider the biological reality of what’s on your plate when you chow down on meat: muscle fibers, tendons, blood, and more. If you’re like me, the thought of quite literally eating a body is rather unappetizing.

It’s not just meat: the USDA estimates that 1 in 6 dairy cows has mastitis, or inflammation of breast tissue often caused by infections. This can and does result in pus entering the milk supply. Why drink that when you can have almond milk instead?

And the egg industry in recent years has been plagued by disease — mainly salmonella.

This is not to say vegetables can’t be contaminated. They can be, typically as a result of runoff from livestock farms. But they don’t contain blood or pus, bacteria within them doesn’t need to be cooked off as a matter of course, and no one needs to put out of their mind the anatomical constituents of vegetables. Vegetables are much cleaner.

The same is true of plant-based meat products. Sure, they are “processed,” but is this not a worthy sacrifice for cleaner meat? There are many vegan meats out there that are high in protein, satiating, and every bit as delicious as animal-based meats.

Animals deserve liberty

The Founding Fathers were big on liberty — or Liberty. Chances are, freedom from oppression is something that speaks to you. Unjust laws, tyrannical governments, endless bureaucracies — you probably think we’d be better off without those things, and you are right. You might even feel that vegans and environmentalists are trying to take your meat from you, effectively eliminating your ability to make choices about your personal life.

But what if consuming meat and animal products isn’t just about your own personal choices? After all, there is an animal that must live in rather grueling conditions in order for you to order what you want off the menu. You might think that is fine because it’s an animal, not a human, and humans are superior. But isn’t this the mindset of a despot? You don’t know what’s best for you, so I decide your fate. Livestock animals have personal lives — they have emotions, they have friends, they have likes and dislikes. Is forcing someone to live an uncomfortable life in which they inevitably end up on your plate not the pinnacle of oppression?

Maybe humans are superior — but maybe this is in large part because we have a sense of moral duty. Are we still superior if we eschew our moral senses?

Livestock farming is unnatural

A common reason why people hesitate to go vegan is because it’s unnatural. Humans are omnivores. We consume meat, animal products, and plants. If we don’t, we might be unhealthy. But the truth is that we can do just fine eating plants, and modern farming is so far removed from natural conditions that this appeal to nature sets up a false dichotomy. To label the consumption of meat and animal products as “natural” in contrast to veganism being “unnatural” is to ignore the profound unnaturalness of modern farming.

More than 95% of livestock are raised on factory farms, where the animals live uncomfortable lives that are just a fraction of their normal lifespan. It’s not natural for baby male chicks to be killed instantly, it’s not natural for dairy cows to grow massive udders, and it’s not natural for hens to produce as many eggs as they do. Cattle aren’t meant to eat corn and soy, and aren’t branded in the wild. In nature, there is no tail docking or debeaking, and there are no giant barns into which stressed chickens are crammed. There are no slaughterhouses. The entire process, from insemination to death, is extremely unnatural.

Sometimes it makes sense to buck tradition

You probably grew up, as I did, consuming meat and animal products. You most likely also thought that people who didn’t were weird — as I did. But traditions sometimes change, and in this case, it makes sense to move in a new direction.

We don’t need to cause unnecessary suffering, so why should we? The suffering of animals (other than a pet) might not be something you consider very often, but you most likely agree that less suffering is preferable — even if it’s suffering you don’t typically think about. And we don’t need to keep livestock animals locked in cages or crammed into tiny spaces, so why should we continue to do this if we recognize that it’s wrong?

If you think about it, most animals probably just want to live their life and be left alone, just like you. But as long as you purchase meat and animal products, you are unfortunately contributing to a system that ensures they remain oppressed.

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