6 Surefire Ways to Lose an Argument with a Vegan
Depending on which side you’re on, they’re either at the forefront of a more compassionate, sustainable, and just world, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses of animal causes. Making everyone angry by telling them what to eat and who not to kill. Always getting on their high horses, or at least walking alongside the ones they just rescued from being turned into hamburgers after the race track got through with them.
Everybody hates someone who’s telling them to stop doing something they enjoy, but if you’re going to argue against them, you’re still obliged to use reason and logic. With that in mind, here are six ways to lose an argument with a vegan.
1. Become an honorary lion
“Animals eat other animals. Are you going to stop the lion from eating the zebra?”
Right. As everyone knows, lions have the most advanced moral system on the planet. We should emulate them wherever possible. They eat other animal species, so we should too. They steal, rape, and murder within their own species, so we should too.
Wait. What did I just say?
When we say things like “Animals eat other animals so it’s okay if we do it too,” we are making a logical error known as the naturalistic fallacy. Things found in nature are not always moral. Not even close. In fact, nature is a total fucking asshole. She may be all smiles and rainbows one second, but she will fuck you up the next. She will fuck you up worse than a guy named Dieter who’s trained in the art of genital electrocution. And she doesn’t need to catch you in bed with another person to make her decide to do it. She’s not something to hold up as moral.
If you point to what happens in nature as something to follow in life, what you’re actually saying is, “Hurray for prejudice, theft, rape, and murder!” You may think you’ve won the argument, but in reality, you’d have to work pretty damn hard to lose it worse.
2. Flash an omnivore badge
“Humans are omnivores! Look at my canine teeth!”
We evolved the ability to eat animals, so eating them is obviously what we should do. We also evolved the ability to make fists, so punching people in the face is obviously what we should do. Heck, some of our brains evolved the ability to blow up the world in a nuclear holocaust. It’s not something we should morally attempt to avoid despite having the ability to do it. It’s how we were designed, and so that determines how we should act. It’s not a choice. It’s a goddamn duty!
If there’s a choice in the matter, where do we get this notion that we can simply flash an “I am an omnivore” badge and think we have a solid argument? Dude, it’s not a get out of morality free badge. Only cops shooting minorities seem to have one of those.
We really have got to stop pointing to our puny canine teeth already. It’s about as logically effective as a Bill Cosby pointing to his junk and saying he was designed by evolution to be a sexual opportunist, so that means he can stuff his Jello Pudding Pop wherever, whenever, however, and into whoever he damn well pleases.
3. Become a plants rights advocate
“Plants have feelings too!”
Silly vegans, everyone knows that plants are not only sentient, but just as sentient as any animal. Their starchy plant brains lead rich emotional lives and feel pain and pleasure from their sensitive green nervous systems. Now sure, raising and killing an animal means first killing many multiple times more plants to feed the animal, on top of killing the animal as well, but so what? Everyone knows that once you’re forced to kill to survive, you should intentionally kill as much as you can. Go big or go home, right people?
Plants actually don’t even have brains or nervous systems, so even though there are interesting news articles about how they can react to some stimuli, it’s still extremely doubtful that they’re consciously aware and subjectively feel pleasure and pain and other emotions the way humans and other sentient animals do. They are not Groot. But even if plants were as sentient as animals, it does take multiple times more plants to feed the animals we eat than it does to feed ourselves directly, which is why this argument fails on a number of levels.
Taking a position that you can intentionally kill as much as you want because you couldn’t avoid not killing at all, is about as logically effective as Lex Luthor telling Superman that the two of them are exactly the same because Superman had to reluctantly kill before and therefore is a killer too. It’s the kind of argument a normally smart person only makes when their stomach has dropped their IQ to the level of a plant.
4. Talk about food chains
“We’re at the top of the food chain.”
“My ancestors didn’t claw their way up the food chain so that I could be vegan!”
If this is to be understood correctly, apparently there was an epic long historical battle that humans won over the combined efforts of all the other animals, and that gives us, who did jack shit in the matter, the right to enjoy the spoils of war and do whatever we want to the vanquished animal species forever and ever? It’s simply a way of saying I’ll do what I want because I can, and might makes right.
Can you imagine someone saying, “My ancestors didn’t claw their way up history so that I could be against slavery?” Or, “My ancestors didn’t become the dominant gender so that I could be against sexism?” No one in their right mind would say such things.
Oh wait, they actually did.
You see, there used to be a notion called The Great Chain of Being that specified a natural hierarchy set up by God, and people used it to argue that whites were higher up the hierarchy than non-whites, and men were higher up than women. The people spearheading this argument, by a sheer amazing coincidence, just happened to be white males. What are the odds!
Food chain arguments are similarly self-serving statements trying to justify our actions with respect to animals. In fact, we’re actually at the top of our food chain whether or not we’re vegan, because no one’s generally eating us, at least while we’re alive, regardless of what or who we eat. So, apparently, all we really want to do here is have some sort of dick measuring contest based on how big a body count of victims we can amass.
Might Makes Right is not a logically effective argument and reflects quite poorly on the person making it. It’s wise to avoid this type of argument, because our ancestors probably didn’t struggle to survive just so that we could remain uneducated a-holes talking about food chains.
5. Kill with kindness
No, really, it’s a good thing. It’s called humane. It’s what all the cool compassionate people are doing. I mean, it’s one thing to care about the level of mistreatment of a being while they’re alive, but why would anyone care about their actual life and death, or their current classification as commodities for humans? That’s just silly.
Like a good Justin Bieber song or a fully-clothed Miley Cyrus, the phrase humane animal products is an example of an oxymoron. The words just don’t really belong together. Sure, less violence is an improvement from more violence, but do we really think the word humane is some magical Harry Potter incantation that suddenly makes violence okay?
6. Yell “Bacon!”
Nothing proves that veganism is a religious cult more than if you stick your fingers in your ears and yell “Bacon!” over and over again. Better yet, tell those pesky vegans that for every animal they don’t eat, you’re going to eat two. Now you showed them who the free-thinking person is in the room. Stupid vegans and their religious cult. Anyway, everyone knows the one true <insert your favorite God here> put animals on Earth for humans.
Let’s consider this from both sides for a moment. First, suppose vegans are right that speciesism is a real thing and humans are unjustly prejudiced against other species in exploiting and oppressing and killing them for our own purposes. In that scenario, you’re showing a similar mindset as a slave owner going on about how much they enjoy slavery and saying they’re going to beat a slave in someone’s honor just because that someone spoke up against slavery. Not a pretty picture for yourself, even if Leonardo DiCaprio ends up playing you in the movie.
Now consider if vegans are wrong and are more like pro-life folks as seen from the perspective of a pro-choice person. In that scenario, you’re more like someone shouting, “Hurray for abortion!” and “I’m going to have an abortion just for you!” Who does that? Seriously, what the fuck is the matter with you?
Taste doesn’t justify exploitation and violence, just as our other senses don’t justify it either, despite what any frat boy’s penis might think. But rather than trying to logically argue a position, the person here instead decided to shout, “Hurray for animal killing!” and “I’m going to kill more animals than I normally would just because you spoke up against it.” Such a person has more than lost the argument with this one. They’ve successfully auditioned themselves to star in Idiocracy 2.
There are plenty of legitimate conversations to have on the topics of animal rights and veganism. Let’s try to get past our provably faulty thinking on the matter and have them.
Charles Horn is the author of Meat Logic: Why Do We Eat Animals? Charles is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer with credits including Fugget About It, Robot Chicken, and Robot Chicken: Star Wars. He has a Ph.D. from Princeton University, and holds five degrees in engineering and mathematics.