When promoting veganism, I regularly hear the argument that human issues are more important.
Sometimes it’s implied that humans would starve without eating animals, and so we must kill and eat them. I make no moral judgements about people who would otherwise go hungry if they did not eat animal products, but it is disingenuous for us, here in the western world, to claim that we could not make do with an alternative food source. We have plenty of things we could eat that didn’t once have dreams.
If I were marooned on a desert island, and the only option was to hunt and kill for food, I do not claim that I would stick to my vegan principles in such desperate times. But I am not marooned on a desert island.
If a building were on fire, and I had to save either a human or a cow, I am not saying I would pick the cow over a human.
Sometimes I am accused of spending time on animal rights issues when there are more important things I could be rallying against, but who ranks the importance of each injustice? Should I be wasting my time on feminism when there are still earthquakes killing people? Why run playgroups for disabled children, what about the homeless? Malaria is rife and here I am promoting astronomy. We are all entitled to pick our battles.
The wonderful thing about veganism, is that you can be a vegan activist simply by eating, which you have to do anyway. While you are fighting for humans, you have to eat, so eat something that didn’t involve the death of sentient creatures; in no way will this impact on whatever else you consider to be a priority. I would argue that as veganism has such important environmental ramifications, it has a huge impact on human problems; surely anything that could save the whole planet is a trump card. The impending world food crisis is undoubtedly being fueled by our desire for flesh; some of the world’s poorest people are exporting most of their crops to be fed to livestock to satiate an engorged western population. Veganism is a human issue.
I have heard various fallacious arguments from people who should know better, desperately battling with their cognitive dissonance. Laurie Penny made an inflammatory statement along the lines of “I would punch a kitten in the face to save a human” and Noam Chomsky said he agreed with vegan principles, but wanted to focus on humanitarian issues. Well you don’t need to punch kittens to save people, but you do need to eat, so while you’re fighting the good fight, stick to a plant-based diet and you can have the best of both worlds.
I’m not asking you to choose animals over humans, I’m asking you to choose what to have for dinner.