Veganism and Moral Philosophy

I like to think my ideas can change the world. Mostly it is a vain hope. I write blog posts that are read by a few other like-minded people. On occassion there are theories that can change the way people think, that is what keeps me going.

Veganism is in definition a way of living, choosing and thinking that seeks to exclude as much as possible all forms of exploitation and cruelty towards all animals in terms of products and by-products such as food, clothing, cosmetics and entertainment. The modern day definition of a vegan was founded in November 1944, but according to the Vegan Society, veganism is a much older concept that can be dated back to 500 BC.

In the western world people have the financial means to own pets. We love our pets and wouldn’t want to see them suffer. And yet, those same people eat abused animals. This phenomenon is called cognitive dissonance. In psychology, (and I quote Wikipedia) cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values at the same time; performs an action that is contradictory to their beliefs, ideas, or values; or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values. If you apply the above mentioned on meat eaters you will see that they try to resolve this contradiction with avoidance strategies where people use the argument that it is natural and in accordance with the foodchain to eat certain animals.

“A full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” ~~ Jeremy Bentham

Both humans and animals can suffer, both don’t want to be mistreated. If I get tormented, why is it wrong? Because I suffer. Similarly, if an animal is tormented, it also suffers, therefore it is equally wrong for the same reason. To me this line of reasoning is conclusive, humans and animals are entitled to moral concern.

For the animals, the system of meat production causes suffering, because we do not need to eat them. Vegan meals are also tasty and nourishing. Therefore it is wrong to eat meat. We humans are in many ways special and we all acknowledge that. But we are among many just one species inhabiting this planet and through morality we must acknowledge this fact.


(Painting: Paulus Potter, De Stier (ca. 1647))



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