Is Roadkill Vegan?

Is Roadkill Vegan?

Stentor at Debitage wrote:

“Setting aside health concerns and second-order effects (e.g. that eating roadkill implicitly endorses eating all meat), there’s nothing un-vegan about eating roadkill. Refusing to eat it won’t bring the roadkilled animal back to life, nor will it reduce the likelihood of future animals being hit by cars. Because veganism is fundamentally about keeping suffering out of animals, not about keeping animals out of our bellies.”

What do you think?

I’m not asking if you’d eat roadkill. I would NEVER eat roadkill. (OK, well maybe I were completely starving and there was nothing else to eat at all, but probably not even then.) There are obviously many problems with eating roadkill: health, convenience, image… Not to mention the fact that roadkill is still human-caused and that being killed by an automobile, though likely unintentional, is still not really a “natural” death.

But I’m asking if Stentor has accurately described a basic tenant of veganism. Is his description here on the right track?

I know we don’t all completely agree on everything, but isn’t he right that veganism is more about refraining from unnecessarily harming animals than about actual consumption of animal products? Doesn’t his roadkill example help clarify veganism just a bit? Or… is it just confusing?

9 Responses to Is Roadkill Vegan?

  1. Roadkill isn’t vegan. Animals die for a spectrum of reasons that range from having nothing to do with people to being kill directly by people. IMO any animal that dies from a cause that comes directly or indirectly from people is certainly not vegan.

    Honestly this sounds to me like the same argument as the one that says a fur coat made 100 years ago is ok for vegans.

    No, you can’t bring dead animals back to life, but just because an animal is dead and you didn’t kill it does mean you should consume it.

  2. Stentor said, “veganism is fundamentally about keeping suffering out of animals”
    Plump said, “IMO any animal that dies from a cause that comes directly or indirectly from people is certainly not vegan.”

    I think issue is about those who view veganism as a means to an end (boycott) and those who view veganism as an end in and of itself (a philosophy).

    I belong in the latter category. Veganism is not a boycott. I don’t refrain from consuming animal products merely to encourage business to stop producing them; I refrain from consuming animal products for a variety of reasons including the animals, my health, and the environment.

    But also, I don’t consume animal flesh and secretions in the same way that I don’t consume human flesh and secretions. My decision to abstain from eating animal flesh isn’t a boycott any more than my decision to abstain from eating human flesh. But… like in the movie Alive, if I had no other option to survive other than by consuming human flesh from a person who had died by accident, even if human-caused, I’m not sure I would eat it myself, but I’d have no ethical problems with anyone who chose to eat it. It’s the same with animal products.

  3. eating rocks is vegan too, but neither rocks nor roadkill are particularly good for your health.

    ~ Recent blog post: Animal eaters lack imagination at thinkoutsidethecage.blogspot.com ~

  4. Eccentric Vegan: why do you abstain from eating human flesh?

  5. I think “unnecessary suffering,” and respecting the basic right not to experience such suffering, is the premise that veganism, in my opinion, ought to be derived from. Therefore, veganism is certainly the moral baseline – an end. As such, it seems to follow that “roadkill” doesn’t violate this ethical constraint, nor would situations of survival mentioned by Eccentric Vegan.

    ~ Recent blog post: That’s a lot of miles per pound. at http://www.not-quiteright.net/tvg ~

  6. Scott: Truthfully, because of habit and culture. But once I was old enough to reflect on it and decide, it’s out of a basic and general respect for humanity.

  7. Thanks for the link. I’m curious about the implication by Eccentric Vegan and Plump Vegan that the dividing line should be drawn based on the naturalness of the animal’s death, because I don’t quite understand the rationale for making the distinction that way. And I’d analyze eating humans on the same terms — if eating human does not lead to humans suffering more, I don’t see anything intrinsically *immoral* about it, even if as a matter of taste I’d give it a pass. I don’t see eating something as disrespectful to it.

    ~ Recent blog post: Working Hours at http://debitage.net/blog ~

  8. Stentor, I’m more with you than Plump is. I think it’s a gray area. I think your phrasing “there’s nothing un-vegan about eating roadkill” is different than saying ‘roadkill is vegan.’ I see where you’re going with it.

    “I don’t see eating something as disrespectful to it.”
    I agree. It’s not the act of eating that is disrespectful. It’s the act of killing. Consuming meat from the supermarket or from a hunt is simply second-hand killing. But consuming roadkill is acting as a scavenger. To use legalese, there’s a “but for” relationship. But for the supermarket consumer, the animal would not have been killed. That relationship doesn’t exist in the roadkill scenario… unless it became a habit, business, cultural tradition, etc. Then, people wouldn’t avoid hitting squirrels and deer while driving, instead, they’d rationalize killing roadkill by citing the freegans or whoever ate the roadkill.

    Regarding “the naturalness of the animal’s death”: Roadkill is a result of automobiles and freeways. It’s human created and it causes great damage to the environment in various ways. Freeways cut up habitats making animals’ roaming areas and migrations smaller. Cars and trucks kill a tremendous amount of animals. And autos emit tons of pollution that destroy air habitats and cause global warming. There is a specific issue with your roadkill example because of all the damage from autos. Roadkill isn’t merely a sad fact; it’s a large human problem.

    Furthermore, there are other issues with veganism other than merely animal suffering. The Vegan Society definition of vegan includes reasons such as human health and the environment along with animals.

  9. By the way, I found these forum threads that address the same issue:
    http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1194
    http://www.vegsoc.org.au/forum_messages.asp?Thread_ID=4992&Topic_ID=12

    If anyone is seriously curious about veganism and roadkill, I suggest you take a look.

    And here are some excellent tips on how to avoid killing animals on the road:
    http://www.all-creatures.org/aip/nl-18mar2003-roadkill.html

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