Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Veganism vs. the Animals


In a recent blog post, Jack notes this important distinction:

"[Neither] Matt nor I care about veganism as anything more than a tool for protecting animals and the environment."

It is true: I only care about what will help the most animals / prevent the most suffering. Period. Vegans can debate among themselves what they find to be the optimal diet for them, but this is, at best, irrelevant for the animals.

That is -- the vast, vast, vast majority of people don't make their food choices based on what is nutritionally optimal for them. They eat what they like, what is familiar and convenient, and what their social circle eats. And this won't change -- it is ingrained human nature. Instead of complaining about human nature, I focus on helping animals in whatever way has the greatest impact -- appealing to another aspect of human nature: revulsion at cruelty to animals.

If we understand human nature, insisting that raw, or low-fat whole foods, etc. is "the healthiest" or the "ideal" is actively harmful to the animals -- it cuts off the majority of people from ever considering taking steps that will help animals (as well as reinforcing the idea that we should only do what we think is in our best interest).

I can understand wanting to optimize our own personal diet. I also understand wanting to believe and trumpet anything and everything that seems to make our veganism sound good.

But if we want to do our best to help animals, then we must understand and reach out to people where they are, rather than scream at them from where we want them to be.

-Matt