Why Should I Be a Vegetarian?
This post, originally written by a friend of a friend, appeared many years ago in the Internet Infidel magazine. When it was first published in 1998, it caused a huge flame war online. I felt it opportune to revive this article in the context of answering a question about Atheism and Morality on Quora just now. With a breakthrough in the production of artificial meat on the horizon (Synthetic meat: how the world’s costliest burger made it on to the plate) this seems like a great time for it.
Atheism, Morality and Vegetarianism
KAY MARTIN, a secretary to a New Zealand Member of Parliament, got the fright of her life one day. According to the Auckland Sunday Star, she and a friend were chatting over a drink when they heard a chicken squawking. The bird sounded in some distress, so they went outside to investigate, thinking perhaps that it had escaped from one of the neighbors. But there were no chickens anywhere.
Then Martin realized with horror that the sound was coming from her own kitchen — coming, in fact, from the oven, where she had put a chicken in to roast half an hour earlier. “It was as if the chicken was shrieking at me from its grave,” she says. “It was so bizarre I just froze.”
As they approached the oven, the squawking reached a crescendo. They took the tray out, and as the chicken began to cool, the squawking died away. Martin chopped the neck off and threw it in the sink. She then noticed that the vocal chords were still intact. “Steam was coming up the neck from the stuffing,” says Martin, and this had caused the dead bird to squawk. She has not cooked chicken since.
Like Martin, people might have various reasons for their particular food preferences, particularly in idiosyncratic preferences like the above. But they are not always expected to justify them. Vegetarians, however, who exclude an entire kingdom of living things from their diet, have a much harder time. In an issue of the Washington Post, Alison Green writes:
My biggest problem as a vegetarian has not been the food — — which I’ve found to be delicious and every bit as satisfying as meat — — but the bewildering attitudes of my family and friends. Other vegetarians have the same complaints: the weird looks, the silly questions, the hostile interrogations. It seems vegetarians — — 12 million of us in the U.S. and growing daily — — are a sadly misunderstood minority indeed.
The situation is even worse for atheists, who typically tend to be ostensibly rational persons. There seems to be an implicit obligation on their part to justify any deviations from perceived normal behavior, at least among fellow atheists. Consider the following:
Graham and his friend Jack are both atheists. But while Graham is a vegetarian, Jack is a non-vegetarian. Although diplomacy prevents them from ever airing their views on the matter, Jack secretly believes that Graham is irrational in being vegetarian. He thinks that Graham must subscribe to some irrational belief system that prescribes his peculiar dietary restrictions. So Jack doesn’t accord Graham the intellectual respect that Graham is properly entitled to.
In this situation, ironically, it is Graham who ought to feel that way about Jack if at all any unspoken judgments are to be drawn. I will attempt to show in this chapter that while Graham’s views on the matter are quite consistent, either Jack’s beliefs are inconsistent with each other or if his beliefs are consistent, then Jack is a potentially dishonest person. In the former case Jack is guilty of the same charge he levels against Graham, and in the latter he is not likely to be a very good friend.
The above problem, of course, is not just limited to the fictional Graham and Jack. How do vegetarian atheists, of which I know many including myself, reconcile their dietary practices with their beliefs? Presumably, most atheists are trying to live rational lives. But frequently non-vegetarian atheists look upon vegetarian ones as some kind of anomaly, or at best people who are not really rational. On the other hand, non-vegetarian theists look upon vegetarian atheists as not really rational either, since they must subscribe to some irrational belief system that advocates vegetarianism. In either case, atheists run the risk of being thought irrational in some sense. If this matters to them, then it is incumbent upon them to set the record straight. They may use the content of this chapter to do so.
However, note that this is not an apology for either atheism or vegetarianism. I don’t believe one is necessary. The purpose of the explanation is to clarify some misconceptions that people commonly have about vegetarian atheists. Also, let me state at the outset that I am not going to try and convince non-vegetarians to give up their eating habits in this short chapter. I’m only hoping to convince them that vegetarianism is as rational a thing to do as being honest to each other. I will try to do this illustratively without using too many difficult words or references to abstruse philosophical literature. But before addressing the question of whether one should be vegetarian from a rational point of view, it will help to first look at the question of whether one should be moral at all. If you already think that people ought to be unconditionally moral you can skip the next section.
Why should we be moral in the first place?
King Darius of Persia once summoned the Greeks before him and asked what they thought about eating the corpses of their fathers. The Greeks were apalled at the idea and expressed their utter revulsion. Darius then asked exactly what it will take for a Greek to eat his father’s dead body — he was willing to pay as much as it required. However the Greeks were still abhorrent of the very idea. No amount of money would make them commit so vile an act as to eat human flesh, especially that of their fathers. At this point, Darius brought forth members of an Indian tribe who by custom ate the bodies of their parents. He made them the exact opposite proposition: How much would he have to pay them in order to make them cremate the bodies of their parents. The Indian tribe was taken aback and said that no amount of money would make them commit such a horrid act. The Greek historian Herodotus, who described this incident, concluded the obvious thing from it: That morals are relative to the culture possessing them.
If, like Herodotus, you believe that morals are relative to societies, or even to individuals, then I’m afraid that I won’t be able to convince you. But before you leave, I should warn you that to be consistent you should also believe that Amnesty International’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights is nonsense. And that the issue of human rights is culture sensitive, that the widespread torture and child abuse in, say, Thailand is appropriate and justified in the culture in which it occurs as the perpetrators typically claim.
Also, I don’t suppose that any reasonable person today will claim that we should be moral only because it is legally enforced. There is no saying what that kind of person will do when he or she can get away with, say, dishonesty. On the other hand, some people say that they are moral because it is in their own self-interest to be so. This can mean two things, either that they are biologically predisposed to being moral or they believe that being moral has consequences that will indirectly benefit them. Both of these cases are suspect, since one can easily conceive of many situations in which their beliefs will fail to back up their moral stance. In the former case at least, there are a number of situations in which we believe that the “right thing to do” is in serious conflict with our biological predisposition in the matter. I was once told the following story as proof that morals are biologically determined as even very young children are known to display them:
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 7-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. After a while, a waitress moved over, put a glass of water in front of him and stood with her hands on her hips, as if waiting impatiently for what was bound to be a very insignificant order.
“How much is an ice cream sundae?” the boy enquired meekly.
“Fifty cents,” came the curt reply.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it. “How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he inquired.
Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was beginning to show signs of annoyance. “Thirty-five cents,” she said brusquely.
The little boy again counted the coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.
The waitress then brought the ice cream, slapped the bill on the table and walked away.
The boy finished his ice cream, paid the cashier and departed. When the waitress came back to wipe down the table she swallowed hard at what she saw. Placed neatly beside the empty dish were two nickels and five pennies, all of 15 cents — her tip.
I grant that the story is very moving indeed, but it is nowhere near proving that all moral feeling is biologically motivated. Studies in psychology show that children as young as two years are already acquiring moral precepts that are evidently in conflict with their own biological desires. Empathy, I concede, is at least partly a biologically determined strong driving force towards espousing some moral framework favouring altruistic behavior. People with a strong sense of empathy tend to be very social and likable. They are also very likely to be moral in their attitudes. One could argue that in being moral they are only acting in their own self-interest by satisfying their empathic desires. But empathy alone simply doesn’t cover all possible cases. Consider the following scenario. I pick this rather than one in which we find a stuffed wallet with the owner’s address on the sidewalk because it is immensely more likely to happen, and has happened more than once even in my own case. Besides, the benefactor of the moral act is in this case much more diffuse and significantly harder to empathize with.
As Richard unloaded the contents of his K-Mart cart into the trunk of his car, he found an electric drill that he had placed in the cart, decided against buying until next time, but forgot to put back. It had escaped the store unnoticed by the check-out clerk. What should Richard do? Should he take it back to K-Mart and return it or should he drive on home feeling lucky since he needed the drill anyway?
In every hundred people who find themselves in Richard’s position, I dare say a conservative estimate of fifty will hold who eventually drive home with the drill feeling quite happy about it. In each one of them the strongest desire that eventually won out was to be immoral, if we concede that the moral thing to do was to have returned the drill to K-Mart. This goes to show that our biological predisposition to be moral is simply not strong enough in every possible case. While some degree of selectively altruistic and moral behavior is almost sure to have evolved naturally and thus be part of our genetic makeup, there is a vast number of actions in which we are required to exercise moral restraint that are simply not covered by our genetic determinants. In Richard’s case, if he were to return the drill it is more likely due to his acquired system of beliefs that created a stronger desire overrunning his baser biological instinct in the matter.
Richard himself, if he believes that being moral will indirectly benefit him, could reason thus: “If I were not to return it, then K-Mart will suffer a small loss as they will write this item off. This loss will increase the price of items at K-Mart and will affect me eventually. But the loss is shared by everybody who shops at K-Mart, and I will only have to pay back a fraction of it. But the gain (the drill) is for me alone. So in total, I am better off keeping the drill.”
Within an atheistic framework, which discounts heaven and hell and other doctrines of equalisation like Karma, it is hard to see how it is indirectly bad for Richard if he decided to keep the drill instead of returning it. A similar line of reasoning underlies the actions of most people who resort to the occasional immoral act. In a 1996 survey of office employees nationwide done by Television New Zealand, more than 80 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t even give a second thought to misappropriating office stationery for their own personal use.
Also, what is important here is not what Richard actually does, but what he believes is the right thing to do. He might decide to drive home with his drill, but if he believes that he ought to have returned it, that is what matters to us. We are not interested in whether Richard is moral or not in order for him to find sense in this chapter, but only in whether he believes that morals are absolute and universal. When people misappropriate office stationery, they hardly think about whether they are doing the right thing. But if they do, they will almost surely conclude that they are in the wrong. This conclusion will not be affected by their eventual action in the end, nor will this conclusion necessarily determine what that action will be. As I mentioned already, I have no problems with a practising non-vegetarian as long as he or she acknowledges the fact that vegetarianism is morally superior to non-vegetarianism. I cannot myself truthfully hold that I have been moral on every occasion presented to me thus far. But I will readily acknowledge my moral shortcomings. After all, it is only human to err. It is totally unreasonable to believe that in people of otherwise equal intellectual faculties, the biological urge to trespass will be equally subordinate as well.
Also, I am not trying here to establish the truth or falsity of moral statements. That is the job of a professional philosopher. What I seek to do is just show that regardless of the truth-value of vegetarianism being moral, it is as moral as other actions which we commonly perceive to be moral. Thus if a rational minded person finds vegetarianism unreasonable, then by the same token he should also find, say, honesty unreasonable. That will do for the present purpose.
If you are reading this section, then you probably agree that it is important for people to subscribe to at least a basic set of morals regardless of the society they live in. You might endorse, for example, Amnesty International’s worthy efforts in preventing human rights abuses in various countries that try to justify it culturally. Therefore, I take it that you and I are at this point unanimous in condemning apartheid in the South Africa of a few decades ago. We judge it an immoral system, or at any rate, a less moral system than the American justice system because it denies certain rights to blacks that it accords to whites. It is less moral because it is less inclusive. In fact, the legal system in apartheid South Africa institutionalized exclusive morals and so we should say that the legal system is inferior to the legal system of the USA. But within the USA itself, we can see in operation morals of varying degrees of goodness that aren’t subject to formal legislation. Everybody accords some basic rights to other fellow human beings. The most common of these is “the right to be respected a priori for one’s intellect” for instance. But frequently, a black person in the USA, is even today not as respected for his intellectual prowess as a white. I’m sure you will agree that a person who espouses such a prejudiced belief is being immoral, because he denies to a certain group of people (namely blacks) the right to intellectual respect which he otherwise accords freely to others (whites).
Of course, this is not just limited to blacks and whites. It ranges across a whole spectrum of categories of peoples. It has been said rightly indeed that the moral status of a society can be measured by the amount of rights that its minorities enjoy. Anyone who denies that an exclusive moral framework is inferior to an inclusive one is at a potential risk being unable to argue rationally against discrimination of any sort. The situation is especially bleak today not only for minorities such as homosexuals or various ethnic groups but also for women who, in spite of massive reformation, are widely perceived in American society as not quite the equal of men.
Having come this far, it is now one small step to include within the group of beings with basic rights, not just other humans, but also other sentient creatures. In other words, at a bare minimum, we grant other sentient creatures the right to live, and not be killed for food. More moral people might choose to accord various other rights in addition, such as the right not to be enslaved, or experimented upon.
I was once watching an episode of 60 minutes on TV. It was about Japanese whaling methods which the producers of the show decided to be very inhumane. No argument here. However, when they interviewed a university professor (a physicist) about it, I found his response utterly surprising. He said that only instantaneous death can be humane and since the Japanese whaling method was very cruel and time consuming, the Japanese obviously didn’t feel the compassion for sentient life that we in the West feel. I have no doubt that this professor went right home that night and celebrated his appearance on TV by boiling alive a lobster for his dinner, a popular delicacy in coastal New Zealand. My annoyance was not so much at his condemnation of the Japanese whaling method, which no one can deny was apalling, but of his self-exonerating statement that claimed “only instantaneous death can be humane”. Let me be even more precise and say that I would not even have been annoyed if this man was not a scientist. But a professed scientist, subscribing to objective views, claiming that such a thing as instantaneous death exists and that it is humane, really struck me as absurd. Presumably, it is alright to inflict a certain degree of suffering on sentient creatures, but no more. Of course, this certain degree is variable according to individual whim and fancy, or more likely, convenience.
How do we determine exactly what rights a sentient creature should be accorded? I find a device called a “hypothetical contract” introduced in 1971 by the American philosopher John Rawls handy for the purpose. According to Rawls, the contracting parties are behind a veil, which immerses them in complete ignorance regarding any knowledge about themselves. This is sort of like sharing a bar of chocolate with your brother where one of you gets to cut and the other gets to choose. Since the cutter doesn’t know which piece he will get, his best bet is to cut as fairly as possible. If you don’t know your own identity or attributes in forming a law, then your best bet is to form a law as fairly as possible without bias towards any group of people. How do we apply Rawls’ hypothetical contract here? Well, it turns out we can extend his device a little bit to turn it into some kind of a golden test to determine whether we ought to extend a certain right to a sentient creature or not. In our case, rather than forget our identity, we actually assume another identity — that of the object of our action. If we are asking the question of whether a lobster has the right not be be boiled alive, we should ask ourselves instead the question “Do I have the right not to be boiled alive?” The answer, I am sure, will be a resounding yes.
But where exactly do we stop in our zeal to be more moral by expanding the inclusive circle? I agree that the inclusion has to stop somewhere, or else we will become extinct. While I am far from advocating self-extinction as the most moral path like the Indian ascetic religion Jainism, I will insist that the minimal list of members in the rights group contain at least those creatures that we know to be sentient. I don’t think any reasonable person today will intelligibly hold that a writhing and thrashing lobster in boiling water does not feel pain, but is just exhibiting an automatic pain resembling response. While I argue in a different chapter that the pain of sentient, but not thinking creatures is of a shallower kind and is not as bad as the deeper mental anguish that thinking humans and possibly primates feel upon anticipation, experience, contemplation and recollection of suffering, I can’t but imagine that it is pain nevertheless and should be avoided at all costs.
Some people may adamantly hold that we can never know what it is like to be a bat. In other words, they are saying that it is impossible to empathize with anything non-human because of our lack of evidence that they really feel pain as opposed to only exhibiting pain resembling behaviour. I can only ask them how it is they can tell if a fellow human being is in pain. All we have to infer the mental states of other people from is their behaviour, and sometimes not even that.
What about eating animals that died of natural causes?
This is an interesting question. I am sure that it was even put to the arche-atheist himself, the Buddha. Can consumption of carcasses constitute moral behaviour? Rawls’ device comes in handy once again. Applying the golden test of morals to the situation, we ask ourselves:
Do we give others the right to eat our corpses? Like the Indian tribe that Darius summoned, we may very well come to the moral conclusion that others should be allowed this privilege, or perhaps even that it is our birthright to be eaten after death. Alternatively, we may decide that it does not really matter to us one way or other what happens to our bodies after we are dead, and so concede that it is alright to eat animals that we did not kill. At least one historical figure, the Buddha, is known to have espoused this kind of belief. Although he advocated vegetarianism on moral grounds, he did not thus mind people eating animals that had already died of other causes. In his essay, “Mind and matter” the German quantum physicist Erwin Schrodinger admires this quality of sincerity in him.
However, besides being easier to pervert to suit our convenience, rules with exceptions such as the Buddha’s are harder to follow than those without exceptions. It is far easier to get up at 6AM everyday than to get up at 6AM on weekdays but sleep in on weekends. For this reason, I think a blanket prohibition of meat is far easier to follow than one that selectively allows the consumption of animals that died of natural causes. So from a pragmatic point of view at least, unconditional vegetarianism is supported, if we agree that killing to eat is generally immoral.
The social vegetarian
As Marian picked up her ten year old son Tommy from her sister’s house where he had spent the day playing with his cousins, he asked her why his cousins ate Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch while he was given a vege-burger that his mother had specially packed for him. When Marian had first explained vegetarianism to Tommy some years ago, she said that it was the moral thing to do and that people who ate animals were somehow cheating and being bad. But now her own sister had moved into town and Tommy was asking her if his cousins were bad people.
The above problem is familiar to most vegetarian people. Not only do children seem to face an especially prominent aspect of the situation, but even adults have to deal with it in one way or another. No man is an island or so the saying goes. Since vegetarians are human too, they must learn to live in a world where the majority of their companions eat meat, an issue that is thankfully becoming less and less worrisome as vegetarian culture grows steadily. In distant relationships such as those between casual friends the problem does not surface simply because we can afford to ignore details regarding reasons for people’s personal beliefs at that stage. Indeed the smooth functioning of the social system owes it to the fact that continued social intercourse can take place at all without having to first establish the equality of its participants. After a certain degree of closeness develops between companions, however, issues like this surface and require to be aired and resolved. As I mention in a different chapter while discussing atheism and relationships, the human is a strongly mental creature and thus it is no surprise that everything significant about a human is to do with beliefs and ideas of one kind or another. It is very unlikely that an enduring relationship will ever form between people who don’t see themselves as equal partners. In particular, we seem to have a special dislike for theholier than thou types of individuals who address us from their high horse of morality. Under these circumstances, how can vegetarians hope to forge deep and lasting friendships with non-vegetarians? Is it possible at all that there will exist a relationship between a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian?
Meat eaters could have made the problem a lot simpler if only they were unscrupulous and horribile people in general. But unfortunately for us, a great many meat eaters are otherwise very nice people, (otherwise in the sense they are nice to humans; of course they are not at all nice to the animal being devoured). It will help here to think of the problem slightly rephrased thus: Are we able to relate equally to someone who is a very nice individual in all respects except for the fact that he considers women inferior? Or except for the fact that he has some other serious moral shortcoming that doesn’t affect us (except in our dislike of it)?
We have here what I call the Hitler as Artist problem. Adolf Hitler fancied himself as an artist when he was young. He studied at an art school in Munich, but failed twice in getting into the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Assume for a moment that he did indeed manage to get into the Academy, and not only that, he went on to make a fundamental contribution to art in the magnitude of Picasso while at the same time everything else we know about him stayed the same. What would popular attitude be towards Hitler? Would he be just as despicable then as he is widely considered to be now? The source of the problem is that although humans have many facets to their personalities, we try to deal with each other as though we are somehow united wholes. It is very hard to intensely hate something about someone and at the same time greatly admire another of their qualities. At best, we see such a person as a paradox who doesn’t quite fit into the right compartments in our minds which dictate how people ought to be.
So let’s look at the typical problematic meat eater, Mike, who nevertheless is a very thoughtful individual, always there to help everybody in need and is also strongly empathic towards all his fellow humans. One of his friends, Zoe, has grown to like him a lot and would like to get much closer to him and possibly even start a relationship together. However there is this invisible barrier. Zoe, a vegetarian and Mike, a non-vegetarian. How does Zoe break this barrier? Unless she does, the unasked question “Does she think she is superior to me?” is always lurking in the background ready to surface at the slightest sign of tension in the relationship. We assume, of course, that Mike knows the reasoning behind Zoe’s decision to avoid meat. Otherwise the opposite situation will hold in which Zoe, if she places value on rationality, continues to suspect that Mike somehow thinks her to be irrational.
I think that the best solution to this problem is for Zoe to believe that they are both equally moral as far as their ideals go, but that Mike’s intrinsic impulse to eat meat is far stronger. She need not and must not attach any value to it and she must concede that she herself could have been non-vegetarian had her meat-eating urges been very much stronger, perhaps even very very much stronger. Note that in all this she doesn’t have to concede at all that vegetariainism is not superior to non-vegetariainsm. Furthermore, Mike’s relatively stronger impulse to eat meat could also have been due to poor familiarity with the range and variety of vegetarian cuisine, a situation that Zoe can promptly amend.
Besides being realistic, this way Zoe won’t be on her high horse and Mike will be able to sympathize with her viewpoint far better. If in fact the relationship develops further and Mike agrees that vegetarianism is the more moral thing, the choice to remain vegetarian will be offered to their child if they have one. Both parents will unanimously endorse the moral superiority of vegetarianism while the father concedes that although he acknowledges that he ought to be vegetarian, he just finds it too difficult. If such a situation prevailed at home and the vegetarian parent made sure that adequate tasty vegetarian meals and snacks were offered, the child would then have a much better chance of remaining vegetarian throughout its life. When challenged at school about its vegetarian lifestyle, the child can always defend itself by saying:
“Killing animals to eat is a bad thing. I don’t have a very strong desire to eat meat and so, luckily and thankfully, I can be a vegetarian. If my urge to eat meat was very much stronger, I realize that I could well be a non-vegetarian too.”
In fact, the most moral position that vegetarians can take in this regard is to award the benefit of doubt to their fellow humans who are non-vegetarian and assume a priori that they are equally moral in terms of their beliefs, but that their biological impulses to eat meat are stronger. Nobody ever argues that people have varying intrinsic dispositions. And there are no values attached to it.
At least in the case of a vegetarian child, not only does it offer the child a chance to relate to other children on an equal footing, it also introduces scope for reformation by prompting non-vegetarian children to question their own biological impulses with regard to eating meat and testing if they are able to avoid it themselves. No doubt, a non-vegetarian child can always come back with a rejoinder the next day after having talked to his parents, and defend its moral stance as completely justified since killing to eat is not immoral. If this happens, then the vegetarian child will have to resort to more sophisticated argumentation such as that presented in this article and potentially risk losing the non-vegetarian as a close friend. But this was to some extent already initiated by the non-vegetarian child who took it upon himself to rebut the vegetarian’s reconciliatry offer. So nothing too significant is really lost.
Meat-loving and meat-hating vegetarians
A vegetarian once told me “I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants.” Here, finally, we address the other important question this brings up: Whether a vegetarian who avoids meat although he likes it is as moral as a vegetarian who avoids meat because he dislikes it. This problem is not unlike a comparison between a rehabilitated criminal who has to consciously suppress his urges to be immoral and an empathic person who intrinsically dislikes being immoral. Who is better? Why do some of us find it so easy to remain faithful to our spouses while some others have such a difficult time even trying to be less than promiscuous? I find it hard to accept the fact that all licentious people are those with loose morals. This entirely discounts any effects of their undeniable biological makeup.
In comparing the relative merits of meat-loving and meat-hating vegetarians, we note that there is a distinct possibility that the meat-hating vegetarian may one day grow to like it and thus become a non-vegetarian. In the case of the meat-loving vegetarian, however, he has unconditionally decided to avoid meat eating. An evaluation of their respective moral merits under all possible scenarios from this point of view could therefore tend to tilt the balance in favor of the vegetarian who likes to eat meat but consciously avoids it. If we discount this possibility, then as far as the end result is concerned they are both being equally moral. But then this raises another important problem. In a fair world, we would expect everyone to express the same amount of moral restraint, quantitatively speaking. Thus, the meat-hating vegetarian, in a sense, has it easy while it is much harder for the meat-loving vegetarian. Can we then expect that the meat-loving vegetarian grant himself license to be immoral in some other respect?
Unfortunately, the world is not a fair place. We have to accept that the meat-hating vegetarian just happens to be lucky in an unfair world where everybody is held to the same moral standards, regardless of their intrinsic dispositions. Contemplating this brings up the question we thought we had buried long ago: Whether we should at all be moral in an amoral world that treats us unfairly in our eyes. This, I am not even going to attempt to answer.
After all this, one could still argue that there is no rational basis for vegetarianism. But if that is so, then there is no rational basis for being moral in any other sense of the word either. We might as well commit the most heinous crimes as long as we can get away with it.
- Living in Harmony with Vegetarians, Alison Green, The Washington Post, 25 Aug 1995.