Even though there are plenty of excellent ethical theories that justify veganism, you don’t actually need any of them.
You certainly don’t need to believe that animals are equal to humans in order to decide not to eat animals.
For example, there are plenty of things that you don’t call food, even if some other people do:
- Feces – Even though James Orr seems to think that feces are an appropriate food source during court, you probably don’t. And you don’t need to believe in “feces rights” in order to choose not to eat feces.
- Placenta – Even though Joel Stein did it, most husbands don’t. And you don’t need to worry about placenta’s property status in order to keep placenta off the menu.
- Urine - While there are fans of golden showers and drinkers of urine, it’s not on any menu I’ve ever seen. And I live in Las Vegas.
- Boogers - Even if the weird kid in kindergarten ate his nasal secretions, I sincerely doubt you do. And you don’t have to use Utilitarianism to make that decision.
- Glass - Magicians and suicidal people swallow glass, but admit it, it’s not food. And you don’t need a Theory of Justice to put your empty beer bottles in a recycling bin instead of your abdomen.
- Natto, Vegemite, and other “acquired tastes” - Though plenty of people love the stuff, even more think it’s absolutely disgusting.
The last time a non-vegan tried to push my buttons and find a loophole in my vegan philosophy by asking if I thought snails deserved rights, I told him, “I’m not going to make a special exception for things I wouldn’t eat anyway. It just doesn’t matter.” And thus was born my credo: Get Real. Get Honest. Get Vegan.
Steak, ham, eggs, milk, cheese, veal, pork, chicken, salmon, ice cream, tuna, beef… it’s NOT FOOD.
Note: this post was originally published in 2009. It has been republished in order to find a new audience.