Some thoughts on the Dear Vegan blogpost…

A recent blogpost by a young lady in South Australia unleashed a flurry of words about vegans and their sometimes forceful promotion of their views. You can read it here:

I guess without a record of the original conversation it’s hard to evaluate the truth of this post, but I hope that the vegan concerned didn’t really use such insulting language as is claimed.

That said, I can understand the passion that many vegans express – my wife is a vegan and I have many deep discussions with her about veganism and animal treatment.

The thing of it is that it’s very difficult to argue from a position of care and consideration for an animal if your object in raising it is to kill it for food. In doing so you are not working in the animal’s interests – that is, you claim to have its interests at heart by treating it well until such time as you choose not to treat it well.

Arguing that you kill it humanely doesn’t really carry any weight. Consider for example what it might mean to kill a human being humanely – to what extent is that in the person’s interests, regardless of how altruistically you acted towards that person up to that point.

Regardless, for me the critical issue is pretty simple, so let me explain why I think we can boil this issue down to a pretty simple consideration.

Pretty much all of life consumes other life. And I wouldn’t feel any particular concern at human beings doing that naturally. But when I say naturally, I mean as we lived thousands of years ago. And that is as hunter/gatherers living a natural lifestyle. We trapped and killed what we needed to eat because there weren’t too many other options. Today however, we do something rather different.

Modern people, in Australia and many other nations, have risen above our evolution. We don’t have to do what our natural heritage might demand (see my take on this in my earlier post “Let your pork walk”). Consequently we do NOT have to eat meat to survive. We can quite successfully get all our nutrient needs from other sources. It just takes more effort and thought.

In that light then, meat eating is a choice, not a necessity. Few people in Australia eat meat sparingly for sustenance and nutrition because there are no other options. No, most people eat meat, especially pork and bacon, just because it’s nice. The result is that quite literally millions, if not billions, of animals suffer awfully for our entertainment.

Now, most vegans know this, and they can’t quite see the value proposition in harming animals because we like to. Which is essentially what it boils down to. I think most people know this too, the sad thing is they don’t want to think about it. Vegans do.

Kathy, I don’t doubt your compassion and thoughtfulness in how you raise your animals, and frankly if all you did was raise a few animals to supplement your diet I’d have little disagreement with your views. But I assume as farmers you sell your animals to businesses who serve it up for people as entertainment. Not too many of their customers HAVE to eat meat.

So, I have to say that while I don’t agree with the vegan who allegedly insulted you, I understand why they may have acted that way. They weren’t really reacting to you, but to the bigger problem, the bigger inhumanity, the greater unconscious, unconsidered cruelty.

Personally, I have to sympathise with their point of view – I simply don’t understand why we have industrialised the torture and killing of untold millions of sentient aware beings just because we like their taste.

What I’d like to see is a ban on pig farming (because in Australia it is largely done on factory farms in awful conditions), a ban on killing of lambs and calves (who after all are babies – imagine your own child being treated so), and a far more thoughtful approach to just how much meat we eat (we could all just eat a couple of portions a week if health was the primary concern and completely move away from hamburgers, restaurant ‘experiences’ and so on).

Kathy, I respect your views, but I also respectfully disagree with your position that you are as caring and compassionate towards animals as you say you are. Because when it comes to animals, you simply cannot be compassionate if your end game is to kill them for fun.

2 thoughts on “Some thoughts on the Dear Vegan blogpost…

  1. This is a really well written blog! I agree with most of what you said. 🙂

    I was actually the person who made that original Facebook Post. And WAS called those things. Some to ‘me’ and some to ‘the industry’ who, with myself being a farmer… is me.

    I was also told that my eating local produce project I started was not only not going to work, but as it still involved meat eating, was actually harmful. Which I disagree with.

    The thing is – I AM that farmer you talked about in your blog. I am that person who raises a cow or two a year, a few pigs and has a dairy cow. We also grow our own vegetables and have an orchard. It all certified organic and other than the fundamental disagreement on whether it is ever OK to take a life at the end of it – my animals are treated BEYOND well. They are babied.

    We eat loads of veg, and not very much meat – when you grow it yourself you use it sparingly and use all of it. I also have horses, a dog and some cats.

    I’m super, if not firstworldembarrassingly over educated. Including a science degree. I Read widely. I view docos from BOTH sides. I may change my mind on eating meat in the future. I may not.

    Kathy DOES have a larger farm, but the people doing the accusing don’t know that. They also didn’t know anything about my farm. Or mine OR Kathy’s health circumstances. They didn’t know that I’m a wildlife carer and a passionate campaigner against factory farming. Or that I pay my organic certification every year and are audited to ensure that I walk my talk when it comes to the animal husbandry.

    So you say above, that in some circumstances, whilst you don’t agree with the killing part, you could see how someone who did these things might be in a different class to other types of animal people… but nobody asked. I offered to have the lady who said these things come to my farm and SEE what we did and was rebuffed.

    I did have another lovely lady say she’d love to come and have coffee and talk to me about why she believe that killing animals is wrong, which I gladly accepted. I have openly said I MAY change my mind if I was presented with information that was not presented to me by someone calling me wrong, cruel, uneducated, unenlightened, barbaric… without ever having met me. 😦

    To the people that followed it up by saying that eating meat made me no different to a child molester, rapist or murderer of humans… I pity you.

    I never went onto a vegan forum and asked about killing chickens. I have respect for people whose views don’t match up with my own. I went onto a permaculture group’s page, which is not a vegan page and neither promotes nor discourages the eating of non factory farmed meat.

    For someone to then go and put that up in a vegan page, and then have strangers come and comment on my way of life, not knowing a THING about how my farm is run, just seeing meat eater and making their own assumptions…

    It’s disappointing. Luckily, I don’t tar all vegans with the same brush in the manner that I was tarred. I will still be meeting with the lady who I mentioned who actually tried to approach me on a human level, RESPECTFULLY disagree with my views and offer to share mine.

    It’s what respectful, compassionate people do.


  2. Thanks for your comments Lia. It’s a funny thing these polarising views. My wife and I do disagree on this question often, but I must admit over time I’ve come more to see her point of view. I have to admit to being deeply conflicted myself. I accept that many people will always eat meat, I accept that it’s part of the way the world works, and I understand that for some people it’s a choice they make in full knowledge of what that choice means.

    There are a couple of things I observe though.

    The first thing is what I noted above, and I think it’s something Kathy may have misunderstood when I said it. My point is that modern humans don’t need to eat meat. If they must for health purposes, it should be in moderation. Apart from anything else, trying to farm and fish enough animals to feed 8 billion and increasing human beings is going to have an enormous impact on the environment. But the problem is that we are doing so much more than eating in moderation – we do it for fun. I wasn’t saying that farmers raise animals and have them killed because they find it fun – I mean that IF people eat meat because they like the taste or because they can’t be bothered looking for an alternative or because well, KFC is just so nice and easy, then they are eating meat for entertainment, not for nutrition.

    There’s a huge industry dedicated to ensuring people believe it’s nice to eat meat. Maccas, KFC, get some pork on your fork, feed the man meat, Nigella Lawson, Master Chef, It goes on. If you are eating meat because you just like it, not because you need to, then you are doing it for fun. You haven’t shown compassion at all. And if as a farmer, you sell your animals to this industry, then in effect you are supporting that. You can’t claim compassion for animals if you raise them to die simply to tickle some taste buds. What a trivial reason for a death.

    The other point is the one that most worries me. Science has shown us that mammals and birds have brains that have the capacity for conscious experience. Non-humans may not have the abstract thinking, language and other niceties, but they still experience. They feel pain, the suffer, they enjoy life, and they generally appear keen to stay alive. Just like us. There is little difference, in an experiential sense, between killing an animal and a human. We are all just animals. Of course when it comes down to it, I’d choose the human over the animal in a life or death situation (well, mostly… there are certainly SOME humans I am not keen on). But I am not sure I can justify taking a sentient life because I like a chicken wrap or a lamb chop. I don’t need to do it, I can choose otherwise. yet most of us, in our billions, never exercise that choice to the benefit of the voiceless lives…


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