Can you eat meat and care about animals?

Or does everything have to be vegan?

I am ambivalent about this:

I get that it’s pertinent, that many animal eaters would like to think of themselves as caring about animals, yet believe that a moment of degustative satisfaction is more important to them than the life and well-being of a non-human animal. It doesn’t add up and it’s worth pointing it out.

I think that everyone should be welcome to care about animals, regardless of their lifestyle choices. I think that doing something does not automatically equate to thinking something. For example, just because someone buys a Nike pair of shoes does not mean that they cannot condemn slavery wages and sweat shops. Just because someone uses electricity in Australia doesn’t mean that they condone and support the coal industry. Just because someone eats some meat doesn’t mean that they cannot be genuinely concerned about animals (as for all we know, they may eat meat on rare occasions and only specific meats that may not be as cruel in their production as other types of meat).

Concerning my last example: do I wish they’d stop eating meat entirely? Yes. Definitely. Because meat is not healthy for the person who is being eaten and because an animal’s life is surely more important than a moment of culinary enjoyment. Just making this clear. I would encourage them to question their habits. Think of the consequences of their choices.
I cannot think of many things that are more horrible than paying for a piece of flesh, something which was part of someone’s body, someone who was raised and killed so that you could chew on it because it’s your culture or because you are prejudiced into thinking you need it.

Having said this, I find it counter-productive, judgemental and sectarian to exclude people based on an examination and micro-management of their lifestyle.

I also find it counter-productive, judgemental and sectarian how obsessed a lot of “vegans” are with the word “vegan”. Everything is vegan this and vegan that. Vegan ….. vegan …. veganism…. vegan vegan.

If you order food when going out, the word “vegan” is super useful.

If you want to be part of an exclusive club of people who make the same choices as you, the word “vegan” is spot on. Or… ideally, an inclusive vegetarian association or vegan society aiming at promoting an animal friendly diet.

If you want to title an article about animal liberation, or if you want to advertise an organisation that fights for animal rights, or if you want to organise an action to help animals, then the word “vegan” is entirely unnecessary and immensely problematic. Why? Because it means that it’s for vegans only. Because it means that it is something for those who have a specific lifestyle. Because it means that it’s all about veganism.

Now, I think that veganism can be a valuable tool as a set of guidelines excluding animal abuse whenever it is feasible. It is a commendable collection of practises which are a way to build a better world together with generous ideas of compassion and consideration towards all sentient animals.

Let’s avoid the old “non-vegans” vs “vegans” battles. Being inclusive is not a threat to our principles. By joining forces on common goals we are more likely to take a step forward.

Note: As I made a comparison with Nike shoes, I would recommend reading “On comparing animal rights with other social justice issues” by Tobias Leenaert:


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