Does veganism make you compassionate towards other people?

KLS52

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I actually find this question quite humorous. 😊 One would think so, but it’s been my experience that someone following a vegan diet almost becomes less tolerant of other people. I also think there’s a difference between veganism and plant based as the reasons for following either are different.

I think we forget that humans are animals too. Sure, they can (supposedly) reason more, one might say. But with regard to damage done to either, I think it’s easier to repair a damaged animal than it is a human. I’m going to quit here because I can see myself getting into too deep of a monologue lol.

Short answer would probably be a no for me based on how I see people treating each other. And I think you are either nice/compassionate or you’re not. If someone’s personality changes it’s usually based on circumstances/experiences not diet.
 

shyvas

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I actually find this question quite humorous. 😊 One would think so, but it’s been my experience that someone following a vegan diet almost becomes less tolerant of other people. I also think there’s a difference between veganism and plant based as the reasons for following either are different.

I think we forget that humans are animals too. Sure, they can (supposedly) reason more, one might say. But with regard to damage done to either, I think it’s easier to repair a damaged animal than it is a human. I’m going to quit here because I can see myself getting into too deep of a monologue lol.

Short answer would probably be a no for me based on how I see people treating each other. And I think you are either nice/compassionate or you’re not. If someone’s personality changes it’s usually based on circumstances/experiences not diet.
Agree. I'm also shocked by how many stories of animal abuse I read on a daily basis. :unamused:
 

Lou

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I think this is a great question.

For me, it is sort of a philosophical and psychological issue.

I've read something like veganism is a journey, not a destination. And that the destination is compassion. I've wondered about this and although I am not sure what the destination is, I thought that the starting point is compassion. Isn't it a person's compassion that starts one-off on this journey?

I'm not sure about this but I don't believe compassion is a light like a flashlight, only shining in one direction and only lighting what we point it at. I think it is more like a lantern lighting up everything within its glow. (man, I gotta back on the Zen tea for breakfast)

To get back to your question, something changes for you to want to become vegan. Awareness has something to do with it. And how you think about things too. Again I'm not sure but I guess those are aspects of a person's personality.

I've also wondered if compassion is a finite resource. Perhaps we only have so much. Certainly it can be argued that some people are more compassionate than others. Or perhaps we all have the same potential for compassion it is just how we choose to express it. Several psychologists have described in their works that children are encouraged to be compassionate (but not adults). So maybe it is not something inherent. However, wildlife biologists have documented animals being compassionate so maybe it is something that is inherent in everyone.

Well, those are all the questions that I need to answer first. but from my own personal experience, I think I am just as compassionate as I always have been. I just didn't know (or want to know) that livestock also deserved my compassion.

As far as being compassionate to people. I still put people's welfare way up there. I don't just buy vegan foods but I also buy ethically sourced foods (as much as possible - although it can be argued that a lot of our vegetables are the result of Human Exploitation)

Sometimes people have asked if staying vegan is worth it if you hurt someone's feelings. I think that has to be decided case by case. But to give you a personal example: back in the day I visited my mom just once a year (we lived thousands of miles apart), and she was getting more and more forgetful. One trip she made me Veal Scalapino for dinner thinking it was my favorite dish. (it is my brother's). I ate it. I felt (and still do) that it would be more compassionate to eat it than not. She died a few years back and I still think back on that and I am so glad I didn't hurt her feelings over that.
 

Sax

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Acting on your compassion in a selfless way reinforces that aspect of you. Depending on the person that may or may not extend to other people...maybe it just makes you even more compassionate towards animals. But I think for most people it will help them become overall more compassionate...including other people.

But when we're talking about the ethics of consuming animal cruelty...yeah, apologists aren't going to feel much compassion from me. If they showed animals the level of compassion they apparently want to get from me we wouldn't have a problem.
 

Lou

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Could compassion be like a muscle or a skill? Practicing compassion might make a person better at it. Like practicing the piano or working out muscles. Maybe it's not compassion that is increasing but how easy it is to express it? Or maybe it is just thinking skills. Critical thinking skills are something that can be improved with practice. You do it often enough and you should start seeing the world in a different light.

@Sax didn't even imply it but it got me to thinking of some of the more extreme ways some vegans don't show compassion for other people. Throwing blood on people wearing fur coats is pretty extreme and I think is more than not just being compassionate. It is an act of violence. there is some gray areas; for example, interfering with people who want to go to McDonald's.
 
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Emma JC

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I consider myself to be a very compassionate and empathetic person and yet it took me until just 3 years ago to completely rid my life of 'animals as food' and I admit that I did it for health reasons and not for compassionate ones. The compassion for the animals came second and fright for the environment came third. Now I cannot even watch trucks of animals heading into slaughter without crying and I make sure I do watch just to keep the perspective.

So I think that most people are compassionate to a great degree and sometimes it takes a 'journey' to realize that animals do not deserve or need to be treated as lower beings for any purpose. People who are naturally more compassionate may make the transition sooner and more emphatically and some who are not make come to it for health reasons or environmental reasons and gain compassionate along the way.

I agree with @Lou that violent activism seems counter-intuitive and do not condone it. Is that because I am a coward? or not compassionate enough? I am of the philosophy that "you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" and have lived my life that way.

I think changing to a plant-based diet can change your personality in that, at the least, it makes you more self-aware and also more aware of the animals and the environmemt and so that is a good thing, no? It can also affect you as if you are following a whole food plant-based lifestyle you will be healthier, maybe have less emotional issues and that can affect so many things in your life, including less need for medical interventions and therefore more cash for living a more fulfilled life.

I like your idea of practising compassion @Lou and maybe we could call it a Compassion Quotient? ha I just googled it and it exists along with Empathy Quotient.

Thank you, @PlantEater, for asking the question and welcome to the forum!

Emma JC
 

TofuRobot

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Does it? I'm basically wondering if switching to a plant-based diet can change your personality.
I think it's important to point out the a change in one's attitude or perspective or perception is not the same as a change in personality.
I grabbed this from Wikipedia:
Personality is the characteristic set of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. ... The study of the psychology of personality, called personality psychology, attempts to explain the tendencies that underlie differences in behavior.

My perception/outlook towards certain people and their actions have changed somewhat, but my general 'set of behaviors and emotional patterns" are pretty much the same. Then again, I've only been vegan for a little over 2 years.

Personally, I don't believe personalities are concrete, but rather, are in flux throughout our lives, at least for most people. At least I would hope so! As we grow older, it would be natural to mature with the acquisition of greater wisdom.

Having said that, I would say that if any one decision has changed my personality, it would be my decision to stop drinking (alcohol). But this is a welcomed change, as far as I can tell (I'm far less quick or likely to react to things emotionally, and I might even go so far as to say my cognitive abilities are improved). Becoming vegan, though, has simply changed my perspective about people and the world around me, which is sometimes difficult, but it's this discomfort that actually strengthens my resolve in this area. I hope that makes sense.
 

Forest Nymph

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No, not at all. There are groups of vegans who insist that real vegans are kind, gentle pacifists but that's not what vegan means.

It is more likely that vegans are "liberal" - in fact overwhelmingly so - in social attitudes of tolerance and/or economic fairness. So in that sense, maybe so, maybe vegans are more likely to operate on principles that benefit others in a way you'd call compassion.

But prominent animal rights philosophers like Peter Singer says he never particularly liked animals, but his intellectual principles of liberty and mercy won't allow him to be irrationally cruel to other living beings. Is that compassion? Or is it a very rational sense of fairness?

I was just talking about Gary Francione in another thread and he hates EVERYONE, almost without exception though he claims to be some sort of Jain feminists he's meaner than I am and has zero tolerance for anyone who has a different way of doing things. He's like Dr. Evil or something.

YouTube activists like Vegan Gains are deeply (but hilariously) misanthropic, and there are also the anti natalists.

One would presume vegans have greater empathy but it's more complex than that. Some vegans like people too much (doormat vegan apologists) and some despise them (people who call humans a disease on the planet).

And the more vegans there are in the future the more diverse they'll be.
 
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