Because a vegan world is extremely improbable, and because even if it were probable, as unimaginably wonderful as it would be, a vegan world is still absolutely immoral.
We’ll start with the improbability.
Have you ever thought why is it so hard to convince someone to go vegan?
The animal rights arguments are so simple and right. They are based on solid facts and evidences. Nobody can confront them rationally. So why is it so hard to convince someone to go vegan? The reason is that reason is not enough. Good arguments are not relevant. Rationality has proved itself as an insufficient element in changing people’s habits. Rationality can’t beat motivation.
Collectively, we’ve had thousands of conversations, we’ve exposed the facts to thousands of people, but only a very tiny fraction changed their habits in the end. Being faced with the facts doesn’t convince most humans.
Humans prove again and again that their pleasure, taste preference, convenience, habits, expenditures, profits, entertainment and etc., are much more important to them than morality. Most of them are not even willing to hear the facts and listen to the arguments, not to mention stop financing animal abuse.
As you all know very well, it is not that they have to do something difficult or unusual, only to replace some of the ingredients in their food with some others.
You know the facts and arguments, there are so many good reasons, including egocentric ones, to go vegan, but humans insist on systematically torturing nonhuman animals, overlooking the enormous waste and food production inefficiency in a world with about a billion hungry people, harm their own health, and leave their children a highly polluted planet.
We find meat eating as the most classical characteristic of human nature - apathetic, impulsive, careless, selfish, dogmatic, narrow minded and without the slightest thought about present and future others.
The fact that the arguments are so strong and so well-based but still fail again and again, is the exact thing that should wake you all. Activists shouldn’t get encouraged by their strong arguments but the other way around. When arguments that are so strong and so obvious don’t work, there is something wrong with the addressees. It can’t be that the problem is always with the way we deliver our message. Years of campaigns, hundreds of organizations with dozens of methods, it’s time to ask, how did all of it accomplish so little?
Even when the animal rights movement gives up on the idea of developing care towards nonhuman animals and turns to care for the children’s future, using "the environmental argument" or care for their own kind using "the hunger argument" or caring for themselves – the hopelessness summit – using "the health argument", it doesn’t help. Nothing helps. Not even when the animal rights movement reaches the lowest point.
Claims about the likelihood of a vegan world seem ridiculous considering that while we are asking ourselves, when will "artificial insemination" be considered as rape and slaughter as murder, humans still see rodeos, bullfights, horse racing and circuses as sport and entertainment, zoos as education, a fox as a coat, a donkey as transportation, goldfish as decoration, and a pig as Bacon.
Veganism is a social idea and as such it is impossible to unequivocally determine that the whole world can never be converted. Technically every human on earth can be vegan. But the question is will every human on earth be vegan? And the answer is unfortunately no. The required changes on the moral, social, political, judicial, cultural, ecological, agricultural, economic, religious and even geographic level are so vast that it is extremely unlikely that the world would ever be vegan.
The closest documented case that a society ever came to being vegan is Denmark during the First World War due to a blockade. Considering that a vegan diet is much more efficient, the residents ate seeds and plants that they usually fed animals with.
During this period, the Danish death rate dropped by 34%, and was far lower than the death rate of any similar period during the former two decades. Furthermore, a flu plague that broke in the Scandinavian area skipped Denmark.
And still, the moment the blockade was lifted, the Danes returned to their “normal” non-vegan diet.
The Danes have refused to stay vegans even after they realized it was a much better diet for them and for their children. As soon as they didn’t have to maintain a vegan diet, they stopped.
This test case has failed and it wasn’t even a test case, the vegan diet was forced on the Danes and even though the result was great (health-wise speaking) no country ever tried it since.
Ironically some activists use the Denmark example as a proof that a vegan world is possible. But there is no question whether humans can maintain a healthy, cheap, fulfilling vegan diet. The question is not can they, but will they?
In spite of the harsh conclusions you should infer from the Danish episode and from the fact that even the most selfish arguments are not working, we believe that the strongest indication of how hopeless the chances are to create a moral change in society based on humans' compassion, is the way humans treat members of their own species. Please take the time and read our articles and posts about how humans systematically exploit the poorest of their own kind, how they treat half of their own species and their own posterity. Of course it shouldn’t matter to which species someone belongs, but it does matter to them, and still, this is how they treat each other.
Many activists are confusing realistic with theoretical possibility, inferring from other social change movements. But it is even hard to imagine a war free, non-racist, non-male chauvinist and slavery free world. Factually our world is not only none of the above, but extremely far from it.
Not that we agree with the comparison many activists often like to make between human slavery and animal exploitation, but at least in the sense of the mindset of the exploiters, there are some crucial similarities (mainly the need to extremely devalue the “other”). However, currently humanity is even getting further and further from ending human slavery, so what are the chances of convincing all humans to become vegans?
There is a big difference between arguing that all humans can be vegan and arguing that all humans would be vegans. And it is very hard to imagine that happening in a world still deeply militaristic, racist, mysogenic and where slavery – probably activists’ main inspiration, is more prevalent than ever.
Who can seriously imagine a world without wars, hunger and poverty?
And if the neo-liberal global dominancy of the last half a century continues, it would only get harder to imagine that. Some lay their hopes on that in the last 60 years, two neo-liberal countries haven’t fought each other. But 60 years is not long enough to infer historical inclinations, and more importantly, during all of this time, neo-liberal countries were and are fighting others, not to mention perpetuating poverty and hunger.
It is extremely unlikely as long as humans’ lives are so disposable in so many parts of the world, that nonhumans’ lives would be considered so nondisposable, that no human would ever exploit nonhuman (and it is even more extremely unlikely when so many humans, as you all know very well, are using other humans’ misery as an excuse for themselves not to become vegans. That is so, regardless of their personal involvement in stopping human atrocities, and regardless of the fact that there is no objective reason why human atrocities should effect their personal decision to go vegan).
Most humans haven’t even made much more socially acceptable ethical decisions than going vegan. It is impossible to educate most humans not to use one another, not to objectify each other, not to turn to violence in conflicts and crisis so easily, not to discriminate each other on the basis of race, gender, ethnical orientation, class, weight, height, looks and etc.
The homo-consumericus knowingly and systematically oppresses members of its own species for the most trivial material goods. The dynamic of psychologically repressing and soothing any uncomfortable thoughts about the numerous faceless human victims half way around the world that pay a huge price so that consumers wouldn’t have to make the slightest compromise on their lifestyle, is very characteristic of the human race. The ease in which humans conduct horrendous acts towards one another is proven again and again by social-science (particularly psychology studies), by history, and by daily affairs.
But as strong and unequivocal as the arguments doubting the realism of a vegan world are, they are not the strongest case against the efforts to create this moral change. The most basic flaw is not that the desired change is an unrealistic one, but that it is not a moral one. A vegan world is not a suffering free world.
A vegan diet is incomparably less harmful than animal based diet but it is still harmful and therefore cannot be a moral alternative.
When you are trying to convince humans to convert their diet to a vegan one, you are trying to convince them to stop taking part in the most horrible practices and to take part in much less horrible ones. It's not that their consumption habits will become moral and 100% cruelty free. Plant based diet is cruel. The fact that there are diets that are much crueler doesn’t make veganism moral.
We realize that the vast majority of activists are aware of the fact that there are violent aspects in plant based food production, however the full extent of the violence involved in it, and the fact this violence is inherent, are rarely fully recognized.
No matter how little we consume, we will cause suffering.
It starts with “land clearing”, a clean term for mass occupation, displacement and murder, as every “agricultural land” was once home to a great number of animals. Though mostly driven by cattle grazing, deforestation is also caused for the growing of many crops that most vegans consume on a daily basis.
After they destroy everything above the surface, humans turn to destroy the surface itself. The first stages of cultivation are tillage and plowing, which means in simple words, intentionally breaking the soil and turning it over. This invasive procedure is accomplished with massive machinery as moldboard, disks or chisel plow (also called rippers) which destroy everything and everyone who is "in the way". In fact one of the formal functions of tillage is to destroy nests, dens and burrows, home to many sentient beings.
Like deforestation, in many cases water use is also treated as harm only non-vegans are responsible for, as if plant agriculture doesn’t involve the plunder of water resources that other sentient beings rely upon.
When activists show the famous tables that compare the water use of producing one kilo of rice, soy and potatoes with chickens, pigs and cows meat, they show how less harmful they are, not how harmless they are. The fact that animal products consume much more water than vegan products makes them more violent than vegan products, but it doesn’t make the vegan ones unharmful.
And it is not only a matter of quantity, it is the obvious, barely questioned human control over the accessible fresh water. Humans use and manipulate the water flow all over the world, leaving entire regions dried, and the beings living there are left to dehydrate.
Also, plant agriculture involves the deliberate targeting of other beings, most commonly by using chemicals. A produce shouldn’t be considered vegan if poisons, conveniently called "pesticides", were spread all over it to intentionally kill "competitors" who rely on it for food and shelter.
And pesticides do much more than that. They have devastative effects on plants and animals all over the world, as some of them are easily carried by wind, rain and animals that consumed them and managed to get out of the poisoned area and unintentionally disperse them.
Some pesticides decompose slowly and remain in the environment for years, where they tend to bio-accumulate in the tissues of animals.
A major impact has been the widespread mortality of fish and marine invertebrates, which are extremely vulnerable to pesticides. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture estimate that up to 14 million fish and 67 million birds die from pesticide poisoning each year. Ten times more suffer from exposure.
Herbicides and fungicides are also sprayed to make sure nothing besides the specific crop humans desire, grows on that land. It is estimated that over 95% of herbicides reach areas which are not their target, contaminating land, and both waterways and groundwater, and even the air (herbicides were found in rainwater). Thus they are affecting many other species.
Many herbicides are very harmful to animals as they dramatically change plants spread, some of which are critical for animals. Herbicides destroy the resources they depend upon, mostly for habitat, food and cover from predators.
Other vastly used chemicals are fertilizers. The suffering involved in them is even less visible but not less harmful.
The most common harm is leakage of fertilizers into other environments which results in a nutrient overload. Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution causes a massive algae population increase, and as a consequence of their bloom, marine animals are killed either by toxins they release, by their blocking of sunlight, or by creating oxygen levels decline that eventually lead to the suffocation of fishes, crabs and other marine animals.
Fertilizers are a strong symbol of humans’ global occupation. They use them to completely reshape entire areas to fit their benefits, and hardly care who it harms in the short or long term.
Organic products are many vegans’ false hope for the impossible sufferingless consumption. But organic agriculture also uses many potent chemicals as pesticides and herbicides which are still harmful to the ones they are intended to target, and to many others. The difference is that, these compounds are "natural", as if it matters to the poisoned animal. In the case of fertilizers this "naturalness" is often derived from animals. Blood meal, bone meal, fishmeal, feather meal, burned eggshells, and urea and manures are common ingredients of organic fertilizers, and are much more common than in non-organic ones.
Using these substances financially supports animal exploitation since growers purchase them from the industry, and since they spare the exploiters the financial burden of disposing of animals’ parts which humans don’t consume and by that of course decrease the prices of the body parts they do consume (and so increase their consumption).
Also, several "pest control" methods are very common in organic farming, and along with the violent repertory of traps, "biocontrol" (mostly predation and parasitism) is very common.
Only the strong desire to have a cruelty free alternative can cause those who are usually very critical, to be satisfied with the label "pesticide free", concluding that no actions were made to remove whoever gets near humans’ "property".
Does it make sense that it is possible to produce sufficient amounts of food without any conflict of interests?
Being generally less intensive and less controllable, organic agriculture tends to require more land and other resources, meaning more habitat destruction and sometimes also more water use and more natural poisons.
Yield comparisons studies vary, but generally find that organic production averages 10-20% less than conventional grown crops.
Since there are many places in the world where it is technically impossible to grow food that meets their nutritional needs year round, many humans don’t solely rely on fresh, locally grown produce and so rely on long-distance food.
Considering that a truly vegan world is not one in which commodities are transported all over the planet, the solution must be that humans won’t live in these kinds of places. So, ”all” that is left to do is convince them to move from these locations, to places where they don’t “have to” systematically exploit nonhuman animals. Unless they do that, humans would either breed animals as food production machines, or pollute them, run them over or harm their habitats via the global transportation network.
But it is a little bit ridiculous to seriously discuss the issue of these regions when currently most vegans are far from being outside this transportation based society. The world’s communities are not self-sufficient. Transportation is the life blood of the world economy. Most vegans are participating in the destructive distribution system that enabled the food to get to the market.
What now is an unnecessary reality for most vegans, who conveniently choose to participate in the consumerist society, is an inevitable reality as long as there are more than 7.5 billion humans, living practically everywhere.
To seriously tackle the harms of transportation, humans must seriously limit their population size and their geographical spread.
Currently the AR movement has managed to convince about 1% of the human population to stop systematically exploiting nonhuman animals, without them needing to do anything extra except change the basic ingredients of their diet. So good luck with convincing them not to live in vast areas of the planet they wholeheartedly believe is theirs, because they can’t efficiently grow vegetative food there.
And even local raw food is in many cases far from being unharmful.
Cereals and legumes for example go through a drying process to reduce moister levels before they are stored for long months after harvest. The grains and beans are moved to a drying facility – a structure equipped with aeration fans and conveyors, and often heaters and coolers.
When it comes to raw fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, besides the earlier mentioned violent growing practices and the just mentioned violent transportation methods, there are several harmful stages which may include: cleaning, sorting, cooling, coating, drying and storage. Unprocessed foods are more sensitive and prone to go bad. Therefore in many cases, some processing stages are done around the produces, and not necessarily directly to them. Usually post-harvest processing is done in mechanized facilities, with conveyor belts, automated sorting, room size refrigerators and etc.
In some cases fruits and vegetables are covered with a wax coating, both to retain moisture and to make them more appealing and shiny in the grocery store. So not only that food items which are considered as the rawest, least processed foods on the shelves, go through several harmful processes, they contain bee wax or other secretions of insects as shellac.
And that is not the only connection between bees’ exploitation and allegedly vegan food products. Approximately one out of every three plant food items humans consume is made possible by pollinators, and honey-bees account for 90% of the pollination.
Farmers, who rely on factory-farmed honeybees for pollination, rent more than two million honeybee colonies every year in the US alone. The hives are mostly transported by trucks and sometimes by airplanes, from field to field according to blossom timings.
These are only a few of the harms when consuming fresh produce. And most vegans don’t strictly stick to such a diet and also consume processed foods. Even the manufacture of products that are usually considered basic such as soy milk, sugar, tofu, bread, oils, tea and etc. can include dozens of sub-processes like: Cleaning and removing unwanted parts such as the outer layers (for example separating the beans from the pod), extracting the interior (which is common with seeds), liquefaction and pressing as in fruit juices and soy milk production, fermentation like in soy sauces and tempeh, baking, boiling, broiling, frying, steaming, shipping of a number of ingredients from different distances, wrapping, labeling, transportation of waste and of course transportation to the stores. All are comfortably invisible as the finished product lies on the shelf.
Many activists are not even aware of the endless list of harms involved in what they present as a moral solution. And some of those who are, too often "solve" this problem by arguing that the ideal vegan world is one where humans grow their own food, and so don’t use any means of disinfestation, no packing, no further processing and no transportation. But that can only be technically relevant for a relatively tiny group of people. The global course is exactly the opposite - more urbanization, more huge supermarkets and less small retails, more industrial food, more chemicals in the food and in the land it grew on, more packages, much more transportation and etc.
It is very hard for us to refer to factory farms which are the vastest exploitation systems ever created in the world, as symptoms, but that is what they are – symptoms. And the only way to stop the symptoms of the problem is to identify the main root cause and directly work to abolish it.
Veganism is not the goal. Apparently it needs to be reminded to too many activists. Veganism became the prime concern of activists because of the suffering. But suffering is everywhere and in everything. The oil industry, the logging industry, steel, wood, plastic, nylon, cars, roads, electricity and in plant based foods.
The problem is not only what humans choose to eat, the problem is everything humans choose to do in this world, everything they choose not to do about it no matter how horrible it is, and most importantly for the issue in this question is what they can’t really choose not to do. Even the most caring and compassionate, non-speciesist humans on this planet are bound to participate in a violent system, systematically hurting sentient beings they wholeheartedly believe they mustn’t. Causing suffering is inevitable. There is no nonviolent option in this world.
Yet better but still a horrible one, veganism shouldn’t be advocated for, let alone as cruelty free. It averts activists from searching for truly cruelty free options.
The conventional pretense that a vegan diet is moral, and that the yearned vegan world will be a moral one, hurts the chances of a truly sufferingless world. Activists convince non-vegans and sometimes even themselves that there is a cruelty free option, and that it is accomplishable.
We don’t accuse activists for lying to the general public arguing for a cruelty free diet while it most definitely isn’t (it’s hard as it is to convince humans to go vegan). We accuse them of being conveniently ignorant if they truly believe veganism is non-violent, or of lying to themselves and to other activists if they are aware of the violence involved in veganism but still advocate it as a moral and non-violent option. Again, neglecting to mention the horrors of a vegan diet to the general public is totally understandable, considering how difficult it is to veganize humans, the biggest problem with the veganism focus is not perpetuating the conventional lie, but that once activists have found the "answer" they stop looking, and so veganism has become the goal of most activists.
Our aim is to make activists who truly believe in some of the slogans they promote, realize that as long as they aim at a vegan world their slogans are empty. They are calling for animal rights when even they personally, necessarily and inevitably violate them. They are arguing against speciesism while they personally, necessarily and inevitably participate in a systematical discrimination against beings from other species. They are advocating for non-violence while they personally, necessarily and inevitably support violence every time they eat.
Truly believing that “in suffering we are all equal”, and that “everybody to count for one, nobody for more than one”, and that truly the suffering of no one is of less importance than the suffering of another, any other, can’t morally coexist with veganism.
Obviously there are activists who do realize that veganism is not cruelty free and consequently speak in terms of the least harm principle. But why compromise on the least harm option before searching for a no harm option? Compromise should come only after the desired outcome was found unachievable.
Veganism advocators are actually more radical welfarists. Although they don’t want to widen the cages but to break them, when the whole world is a giant oppression system, it is still reformism. It is still compromising on the amount of oppression within the system, instead of abolishing it altogether. Veganism is replacing the cruelest way of accumulating energy with a much less violent and oppressive system, which is certainly not equalitarian and non-violent.
Activists stress they make no compromises, and would never settle for wider cages. Nothing but total liberation. On the same line of thought, we don’t want a world with less cruelty but a truly cruelty-free world.
Activists shouldn’t aspire for a vegan world but for a non-violent and non-speciesist world. That is the goal of our movement and what every activist should wish for and act on.