Because a vegan world is extremely improbable, and because even if it was 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. Exposing the facts doesn’t convince most humans. Humans prove again and again that their taste preference, convenience, habits, expenditures, profits, entertainment 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, overlook 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 strengthened 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 Denmark Argument in the manifesto refers to the closest documented case that a society ever came to being vegan. Of course it wasn’t as a result of a moral decision but a step that was imposed upon them (blockade during the First World War). Ironically some activists use the Dane example as a proof that a vegan world is possible. But there is no question that humans can maintain a healthy, cheap, satiating vegan diet. The question is whether they will. And apparently they won’t.
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 much characteristic of the human race. The ease in which humans conduct horrendous acts towards one another is proven again and again by both social-science and in particularly psychology studies and by history and daily affairs. And ironically, slavery, activists’ most popular example of how animal liberation is possible, is one of the strongest examples proving the opposite.
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 cause them to stop taking part in the most horrible things and to take part in much less horrible things. You don’t change their consumption habits to moral and 100% cruelty free. Plant based diet is cruel. The fact that there are diets that are much crueler doesn’t make this one moral.
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 countless 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.
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 cruelty free.
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 all 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 other sentient beings who rely on it for food and shelter.
Apart from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are also sprayed to make sure nothing besides the specific crop human desire, grows on that land. All those chemicals severely affect animals living in the sprayed area, as well as many who live far from it but are affected since these chemicals often drift.
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.
In the hopeless search for the oxymoronic suffering-less consumption, some tend to cling on to organic agriculture, most often disregarding the fact that chemicals as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are used for organic products as well, as long as they are “natural poisons”. It suits the mindset of meat eaters, not animal rights activists, to be satisfied with the label “no pesticides”, concluding that no actions were made to remove those who get near humans’ "property". "No pesticides" label doesn’t mean no disinfestation and it definitely doesn’t mean no violence. Other extremely violent “pest control” methods can include biological extermination, a violent repertory of traps, gassing, smoke bombing, fumigating, flooding and foaming burrows which are the farmers’ main targets.
Also, organic fertilizers rely mainly on animal ingredients such as bone meal, blood meal, chicken feather meal, fish-based fertilizers, burned eggshells, and urea and manures. Since fertilizers are one of the greatest expenses in plant agriculture, buying organic produce means a financial support to animal exploitation.
Being less productive, organic agriculture requires more land to be "cleared", meaning more deforestation and more habitat destruction than the conventional vegetative agriculture requires.
Furthermore, since the crops are less handled they are more vulnerable to harsh climate and are more depended on the soil type so the growth is limited to smaller and fitter areas. And with a worldwide demand, it eventually means much more transportation.
Another harmful consequence of the organic crops’ vulnerability is more packing, meaning more nylon, paper, plastic and etc. and more harms consequent of the packages manufacturing, mostly manifested in energy consumption, pollutants, and eventually more waste.
Since there are many places in the world where it is technically impossible to grow food that meets the nutritional needs year round, many humans can’t solely rely on fresh, locally grown produce and so must 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 places 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. 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 many 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 raw food. And most vegans don’t strictly stick to such a diet and also consume processed foods. Even the manufacture of products that are 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, 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.
It is hard to have in mind deforestation and land degradation when buying tofu.
It is hard to consider the amount of energy spent on the label of a can of beans.
It is hard to see all the sub production processes harms on a loaf of bread.
It is hard to notice all the methane emissions of a rice milk carton.
It is hard to perceive the 4,000 liters of water that were used to produce a cotton shirt.
It is hard to smell the burning wood when sniffing a bar of soap.
It is hard to think of the traps set on the tip of dens when you buy cereals.
Many activists are not even aware of the endless list of harms involved in what they present as a moral solution. And the few who are, “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 corporate rule over every existing plant, 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 many activists all the time. 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, concrete, cosmetics, electricity and as we showed here, every vegan food industry causes suffering too.
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 creatures 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 for a truly sufferingless world. Activists convince non-vegans and 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 would 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.
That is particularly true since veganism totally disregards the suffering of trillions of sentient beings happening every single second in what activists frame as nature and therefore allow themselves to totally ignore it. But there isn’t really a moral justification to ignore all of this suffering, but rather a moral obligation to end it.
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, we don’t want a world with less suffering but a suffering-less 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.