Sunday, August 28, 2011

Top 10 Vegan Wars - Fighting the good fight


Everyone knows that vegans are mellow, peaceable, anaemic, skinny and limp whispering incense waving meditators.  Right?  Anyone else remember the Comedy Company's Vegan Cooking skit?  (Please post it if you can find it.)

In real life, we're a violently opinionated lot.  More like Monty Python's "I'd like to have an argument please..."

And when we can't get enough arguments and abuse from animal exploiters, we energetically seek them from each other.

Ten Steps to VMAD (Vegan Mutually Assured Destruction)

Step right up and choose your side.

10.  Vegan cats

It's unethical to support the meat industry, even when feeding cats.


Cats are obligate carnivores; it is animal abuse to feed them vegan food; don't impose your own vegan values on your cat.

9.  Non-vegan partners

How can any vegan live with a partner who refuses to accept their fundamental values?   If your partner won't go vegan, you're enabling their meat-eating by staying together.


How do you expect everyone to find a vegan partner when most vegans are women?  If you have a supportive partner, you may be able to make a big impact even if the partner does not go vegan.

8.  Abortion

Vegans believe in quality of life for animals and humans.  It would be better for an animal never to be born than to live and die as a farm product, and sometimes it is better for a human not to be born either.


Any compassionate vegan will be pro-life - vegans value the lives of animals, so it's hypocritical to allow a helpless human baby to be murdered.

7.  Having children

How can a vegan decide to breed more children into this high-consuming culture in an overpopulated world?


Having children is an important part of being a human animal, and children can be taught by the good example of vegan parents and carry this lesson into the future.

6.  Activism

Vegans teach and reach best by being a great example while delivering positive messages.


Unless we're in their face all the time, we won't make any progress.  People want to ignore the facts about animal products - don't let them!

5.  Vegan diet vs vegan lifestyle

You can't just have a vegan diet - vegan means against animal exploitation so you have to avoid using all animal products, not just avoid eating them.


If you're not eating any animal products, then surely that's a vegan diet and we should support that as a great effort?

4.  Health vegans

Giving up eating almost all meat and dairy products for whatever reason is a very strong and admirable commitment.


Being vegan for your own health is selfish when the real issue is how badly humans treat animals.  It's not really vegan anyway - they only worry about their diet (see #5) and some of them still eat honey and animal byproducts.

3.  Vegan meats

Fake meats are a great stepping stone in a transition from meat-eating to veganism and an enjoyable ethical treat.


Fake meats glorify meat and are not very healthy or environmentally friendly.

2.  Vegetarians

Vegetarians are still on a journey and doing a lot of good already.


Vegetarians are just as guilty as meat-eaters of animal cruelty because they eat eggs and dairy.  We need to remind them of that every chance we get.

1. What Vegan Really Means

I give up.  Google returns more than 4 million hits for "vegan definition".  One for each vegan?

And everything in between

Go on, admit it.  I bet you are burning to give me the Right Answers.  I'm sure I haven't managed to hide entirely which "side" of each argument I favour.

Making a real difference

All of these are compelling ethical dilemmas.  But as you spiral into a quagmire with an equally argumentative vegan, ask yourself:

Even if I won, what difference would it make?
If you have strength, a power, some wisdom and logic, a biting wit, charm and persuasion - should you concentrate it on those who already agree with you on 99% of this stuff?

If we agree to disagree on the 1% amongst ourselves, then all of us might have the energy to turn on the light for our own vegan vision to the meat-eating majority. 


  1. You TOTALLY forgot the question oh whether it's unethical/cruel to let cats outside. Otherwise, really well done.

    And why is it always 10? Seriously.

  2. Seriously? Could easily have made it 11 or 12. Gotta leave some room for other valuable contributions from commenters. :-)

  3. Brilliant... :D I totally agree with the "concentrate your energy on the right targets" -issue... And yes, of course there could be many other dilemmas added. For example, all things that have to do with insects, mainly the honey issue, but also silk, about which I have once read someting among the lines: "To use silk is not even vegetarian per definition, still it could be seen as a 'moral luxury' for a vegan to avoid silk." O.o Other thing I came along: "...if one still eats cocoa (!) you can't be serious (about being vegan), because cocoa plants are sticky and many insects die attached to it..." o.O
    Other discussion I witnessed: "Is it ok for vegans to eat oysters?" The question was if they are maybe more like plants because they lack a nervous system and they cannot move...
    Many valid points that can and should be respectfully discussed and looked deeper into. But often I wish discussions would move away from this border-regions of veganism, where a clear definition is still lacking. (By what do we define? Nervous system (how big/developed/functional/there at all??) or cell type (plant cell/animal cell??)...)
    Instead maybe focus in the center of the topic, there where all is chrystal clear.

  4. It is amazing how the human condition inspires us to beat each other with the deck chairs on the Titanic while it is sinking. :-)

    Like any important project, the arguing over refinement needs to happen after the major goals are already achieved.

  5. Oysters do have a nervous system...

    3.2.9 Nervous system

    The nervous system is laterally symmetrical and has three pairs of ganglia, (1) the cerebral ganglia at the sides of the oesophagus, (2) the pedals joined to form a single ganglion at the base of the foot and (3) a pair of large visceral or parieto-splanchnic ganglia lying upon the anterior surface of the adductor. The stout paired cerebro-visceral connectives link the cerebral ganglia with the parieto-splanchnic ganglia, while a pair of cerebro pedal connectives join the cerebral ganglia with the pedal nerve mass. The cerebral ganglia are supra-oesophageal in position and a nerve cord or commissure forms the two parieto-splanchnic ganglia (Visceral ganglia). The cerebro-pedal connectives arise from the posterior and outer sides of the cerebral ganglia and run downwards within the visceral mass just behind the levator muscles of the foot to the pedal ganglion. Three principal nerves arise from the pedal ganglion and innervate the foot and the byssal gland. Each of the visceral ganglia receives from above the stout cerebro-visceral connective, the two ganglia themselves being united by a single transverse visceral commissure. Each branchial nerve leaves the ganglion at the anterior lateral corner, turns down into the base of the gills and then backwards to the posterior tips following the afferent vessels. The posterior pallial nerves emerge from the posterior end of the visceral ganglion. From the base of each, a stout nerve passes straight back and reaches the pigmented pallial sense organs of its respective side, a little anterior to the anus. The ramification of the pallial nerves in the muscular marginal region of the mantle and their anastomosing forms a complex network of nerves, the “pallial plexus.”

  6. Thanks for that info! Also,

    "When oysters release larva, the larva travels with the water currents until they land on the bottom. Then they move by extending a muscle, like a foot, out of the front of their shell and drag themselves along the bottom until they find a resting spot. Once they find their resting spot they do not move again."

    So for pure debating purposes, clearly an oyster can move and does move just enough for its particular life cycle. Not plant-like.

  7. Well, that is what some people said about oysters in this discussion I witnessed. Thank you @ the 2 above commenters for the exact info. It's not my point of view, for me they are animals, end of story. I would never eat them, as I'd rather be on the "safe side" and make my circle of compassion rather too big than risking it to be too small...
    Just wanted to point that out.

  8. I think its admirable for people to invest in making conscious choices that are considerate of the living beings involved. I hope that more vegans realize that humans are animals and that the principles of compassion and consideration are the lesson in this and that ..consider this analogy:

    I decide that migrant mexican workers are treated unfairly and decide to stop supporting their exploitation. (Step 1)

    Yet I purchase products made by young thai children who are being exploited ...

    With animal exploitation the same dilemma comes up if we are inconsitant. I think its a great first step to maintain consideration for animals but to stop their is to perpetuate the same injustices one is "fighting against" just in other arenas, Supporting plastics,cars, computer products, cell phones all based in wars killing millions in the middle east.
    Supporting economic injustices and double standard legislation that persecutes blacks and mexicans. Being kind to cuddly kittens and not looking twice at a homeless human who is hungry etc...

    Just some food for thought...

    One more for me is when a person will reject that healthy relationships between humans and animals can exist wherein it is not exploitation for someone to have beehives or their own chickens or goats or sheep and take care of them and also benefit from their wool or honey etc.

    This seems to me to be ... impractical and self destructive as one cultivates a negation of natural human living without industry and industry is the root of all factory farming, mass production, mass destruction, dehumanization etc... To support it and not support people living on a small farm and supporting themselves in the mountains of nepal seems um... retarded.

    Last one:

    "I will be kind to animals by not eating them but will gorge myself on junk food and destroy my own health"

    Granted, most of the vegans I know are at least making efforts to be aware or health, its a necessity for serious vegans or you will eventually have real health problems and break down and blame the diet and then go back to eating meat and dairy and eggs as a result.

    Dont treat your neighbor like a king and yourself like crap. Make sure to honor and respect your own body as much as the body of your cat or dog by feeding yourself healthy food. DONT EAT NON ORGANIC POISON FOOD! It is factory farmed and results in destroying ecosystems, your body, causing cancers, killing local insects and bees and much much more!

    "This is bigger tan hip... hop..."

  9. All that being said... This is one of my favorite postings/blogs I ave ever read on veganism.

    These are the types of posts that bring us out of duality and back to reality.

    1. Hueman, thanks both for the compliment and the valuable food for thought!

      There's so much to be considered in our journey through the modern world - what it seems to offer and what it actually costs.

  10. Haha, I notice you avoided the companion issues of fluoridation and immunisation - very wise!

    1. Funnily enough, I hadn't encountered the full fury of the immunisation war at the time of writing, and I still haven't seen us face off over fluoridation :-)