Veganism, utilitarianism, edge-cases

g0rph

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I've been doing a lot of thinking recently. Being 100% vegan surrounded by non-vegans is challenging.

I stopped eating meat and buying leather, wool etc for ethical reasons. We don't "need" to kill animals for food and clothes, so doing so is morally negative.

But many vegans on forums are so extreme that even picking up feathers in the forest is deemed non-vegan.
This is insanity.

I have removed "vegan" from my profile, to "other".

Some reasons...
1. 90% + of the bread here in Sweden is vegan-friendly. But if I buy the wrong pack for lunch, make a sandwich and then realise it has traces of milk in that particular bake...I am going to eat it anyway (and make a note of the brand to avoid in the future). Many people suggest passing it on, but that has no positive or negative utilitarian outcome. i.e. It makes no difference. Not eating it (unless allergies) doesn't change a damn thing.

2. A video by one of my favourite Youtubers (Rationality Rules) got me thinking about why some of us went vegan and why others find it more difficult. And he mentions "The circle of altruism". And it makes a lot of sense.
For example, I went totally animal product free a year ago. And have remained that way during this time. But honestly, I feel very little to the plight of insects compared to the plight of pigs. And that feels normal. Sure, I save bees from our pool, and catch and release when possible, but then I also put ant-poison down under the decking and have had to get the exterminators in for a wasps nest. Do I feel guilty or sad about that? Quite frankly, not really.

3. I've been getting sore joints recently. It could be age and it could be something lacking. I don't know. But I do take a multivitamin, then the occaisional B-Complex, Iron and D. As well as Omega 3 from algae. But I decided I am going to start eating mussels. (Oysters maybe too, but they are rare here). They lack a central nervous system and a brain. I have seen conflicting views on this, but rolling back around to the circle of altruism and honestly, I only stopped eating them as a way of logically completing "the rules of veganism" rather than any empathy toward what is essentially a non-sentient lump of gristle.
Not to mention that farmed mussels and oysters have a far smaller effect on other (actually sentient) creatures than, for example, growing wheat does.
My personal moral compass wants to reduce suffering. Following strict guidelines written by others is not following my own moral compass. Ultimately, morality is subjective. There are no absolutes.

4. And lastly, but maybe most "un-vegan", I am not against all exploitation. I agree with responsible breeding. Non-human animals have got humanity to where we are today, and without them we almost certainly wouldn't have flourished as we have. From dogs protecting us from predators to horses providing transport and oxen helping plow our fields.
Also, I strongly believe that without the proximity to animals that we have in daily life, veganism would not have come about. They give us an insight into their intelligence, character and for want of a better word, their soul.
Of course this shouldn't be as it is today with puppy mills and terrible conditions. But if a loving family wants another member, then why not. I don't regard our pooch to be "exploited", at least not in any bad way.
And service dogs, for the disabled, sniffer dogs, police dogs and horses...all have a place in our world...for now. Technology could change that, but right now there is no replacement for a sniffer dog at the airport, or a K9 unit or a seeing-eye dog for a blind person. The idea of banning that is, itself unethical IMO.
Obviously this leads to another problem...what to feed them, but there are already options available, and with time, meat not sourced from living animals will be the norm.
 
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Hi I hope you’re okay.
Just on the subject of
(3) keeping joints strong, fit and healthy I take vegan collagen tablets.
I got some from a company called Vegan Vitality
 
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Hi I hope you’re okay.
Just on the subject of
(3) keeping joints strong, fit and healthy I take vegan collagen tablets.
I got some from a company called Vegan Vitality
Hi, thanks. Yes, I'm fine thanks.
It looks like vegan collagen tablets are not actually collagen tablets, but nutrients that can boost your own collagen levels?
 
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Hi, thanks. Yes, I'm fine thanks.
It looks like vegan collagen tablets are not actually collagen tablets, but nutrients that can boost your own collagen
Hi, thanks. Yes, I'm fine thanks.
It looks like vegan collagen tablets are not actually collagen tablets, but nutrients that can boost your own collagen levels?
I guess it is nutrients I attached the list of ingredients, I also believe walnuts help
5B4B3011-B0D3-4F42-821A-F4B2E99333B0.jpeg
 
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Being 100% vegan surrounded by non-vegans is challenging.
I know what you mean, because the rest of the world will never be 100% vegan so it can seem a challenge to live the philosophy and yet see everyone else doing differently, which also makes your own path more difficult. To be honest, I think being a strict vegan is unnecessary unless it is something you feel so strongly about that it is what you want to do.

My own position is that first, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with using and eating other animals when we must. Veganism for me is really about treating other animals fairly whenever we can, and whenever we can is up to each of us. And second, what we actually do makes very little difference to anything, while genuine vegans are a spectacularly small proportion of the community. Really, we are doing what we believe aligns us best with our own moral values.

That isn't to say that I don't think that every little bit doesn't help, but rather that every little bit all of the time isn't particularly important. For now, the larger picture depends on what we do as an average. On average, are we contributing to less demand for products from animal-using industries? If so, then we are on the right track.

So, buy a non vegan-friendly product by mistake? Eat it/wear it/use it, unless you think it is better to pass it on. The damage as such has already been done. Insects are important and helping them out as individuals when you can is a decent thing to do. But kill them to protect your food? Perfectly fine. Oysters and mussels? If you eat plants then you can eat oysters and mussels. Oysters do not spend any time thinking about anything. And generally speaking there are far more important things to worry about than the fact we use animals for companionship, work and play. Within reason, because we should still seek to prevent their harm and suffering when we can.

Boiled down, I think about veganism as a justice movement. I'm pretty agnostic about what people actually do, other than to encourage them to learn what they can about treating other animals fairly. As I have said before, I'd rather 30% of the population do something than 3% of the population do everything.
 
I am enjoying this thread and the replies; but I would add that I consider kindness to be a greater virtue than justice. Justice can too easily be rationalized into violence or even war for defense or retribution. Kindness is always the right choice.
 
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I am enjoying this thread and the replies; but I would add that I consider kindness to be a greater virtue than justice. Justice can too easily be rationalized into violence or even war for defense or retribution. Kindness is always the right choice.
I'm not sure about your suggestion that justice can be bent to nefarious purposes. I suppose you mean that we can believe that revenge or retribution for some wrong deed is seen as a just outcome, but when we think of justice as being essentially about fairness, I think we can argue cogently in favour of justice as a sound basis for so much of our moral beliefs about relations with others. Isn't fairness at the base of almost every moral case for treating others well? Is revenge fair?

Kindness on the other hand should naturally emerge from any attempt to be fair to others, but of itself doesn't seem to have quite the same moral imperative. Consider animal farming. What is "kind" in the ways we treat farmed animals? Plenty of people seem to be able to believe that it is important to be kind to the animals we farm, but they are still comfortable with those animals being killed. If it IS kind to treat animals well yet still kill them, there doesn't seem to be any limit on just how many animals we can treat this way. On the other hand, is it fair to breed animals just to be killed for food, especially when so much food is wasted or is produced for trivial reasons (eg fast foods, birthday parties, family BBQs)? We can happily continue to produce food for such uses so long as we are "kind", but I think there might be a stronger case to make that it is unfair to do so.
 
I'm not sure about your suggestion that justice can be bent to nefarious purposes. I suppose you mean that we can believe that revenge or retribution for some wrong deed is seen as a just outcome, but when we think of justice as being essentially about fairness, I think we can argue cogently in favour of justice as a sound basis for so much of our moral beliefs about relations with others.
It all depends on one's idea of justice. It's a far too subjective term.
"Justice" for some women committing adultery in certain parts of the world is stoning to death.
Adultery isn't even a crime in others. (As it ought not be IMO).
"Justice" for a 18 yo sleeping with a 16yr old in certain parts of the USA is a statutory rape charge. In the UK it is perfectly legal (As it ought to be IMO).
"Justice" for a woman in Texas seeking an abortion...
etc etc.

Isn't fairness at the base of almost every moral case for treating others well? Is revenge fair?
Revenge is almost always morally wrong. Why laws should never be made by people affected by the crime.
Kindness on the other hand should naturally emerge from any attempt to be fair to others, but of itself doesn't seem to have quite the same moral imperative.
Kindness is harder. It requires thought.
Consider animal farming. What is "kind" in the ways we treat farmed animals? Plenty of people seem to be able to believe that it is important to be kind to the animals we farm, but they are still comfortable with those animals being killed. If it IS kind to treat animals well yet still kill them, there doesn't seem to be any limit on just how many animals we can treat this way.
Of course it isn't kind. I do prefer farms where animals are treated well until death, but the farmers their are still acting in a morally bad way.
On the other hand, is it fair to breed animals just to be killed for food, especially when so much food is wasted or is produced for trivial reasons (eg fast foods, birthday parties, family BBQs)? We can happily continue to produce food for such uses so long as we are "kind", but I think there might be a stronger case to make that it is unfair to do so.
Not to mention that if we stopped breeding animals to eat, we would need to grow LESS crops than we do now, not more.
 
I've been doing a lot of thinking recently. Being 100% vegan surrounded by non-vegans is challenging.

I stopped eating meat and buying leather, wool etc for ethical reasons. We don't "need" to kill animals for food and clothes, so doing so is morally negative.

But many vegans on forums are so extreme that even picking up feathers in the forest is deemed non-vegan.
This is insanity.

I have removed "vegan" from my profile, to "other".

Some reasons...
1. 90% + of the bread here in Sweden is vegan-friendly. But if I buy the wrong pack for lunch, make a sandwich and then realise it has traces of milk in that particular bake...I am going to eat it anyway (and make a note of the brand to avoid in the future). Many people suggest passing it on, but that has no positive or negative utilitarian outcome. i.e. It makes no difference. Not eating it (unless allergies) doesn't change a damn thing.

2. A video by one of my favourite Youtubers (Rationality Rules) got me thinking about why some of us went vegan and why others find it more difficult. And he mentions "The circle of altruism". And it makes a lot of sense.
For example, I went totally animal product free a year ago. And have remained that way during this time. But honestly, I feel very little to the plight of insects compared to the plight of pigs. And that feels normal. Sure, I save bees from our pool, and catch and release when possible, but then I also put ant-poison down under the decking and have had to get the exterminators in for a wasps nest. Do I feel guilty or sad about that? Quite frankly, not really.

3. I've been getting sore joints recently. It could be age and it could be something lacking. I don't know. But I do take a multivitamin, then the occaisional B-Complex, Iron and D. As well as Omega 3 from algae. But I decided I am going to start eating mussels. (Oysters maybe too, but they are rare here). They lack a central nervous system and a brain. I have seen conflicting views on this, but rolling back around to the circle of altruism and honestly, I only stopped eating them as a way of logically completing "the rules of veganism" rather than any empathy toward what is essentially a non-sentient lump of gristle.
Not to mention that farmed mussels and oysters have a far smaller effect on other (actually sentient) creatures than, for example, growing wheat does.
My personal moral compass wants to reduce suffering. Following strict guidelines written by others is not following my own moral compass. Ultimately, morality is subjective. There are no absolutes.

4. And lastly, but maybe most "un-vegan", I am not against all exploitation. I agree with responsible breeding. Non-human animals have got humanity to where we are today, and without them we almost certainly wouldn't have flourished as we have. From dogs protecting us from predators to horses providing transport and oxen helping plow our fields.
Also, I strongly believe that without the proximity to animals that we have in daily life, veganism would not have come about. They give us an insight into their intelligence, character and for want of a better word, their soul.
Of course this shouldn't be as it is today with puppy mills and terrible conditions. But if a loving family wants another member, then why not. I don't regard our pooch to be "exploited", at least not in any bad way.
And service dogs, for the disabled, sniffer dogs, police dogs and horses...all have a place in our world...for now. Technology could change that, but right now there is no replacement for a sniffer dog at the airport, or a K9 unit or a seeing-eye dog for a blind person. The idea of banning that is, itself unethical IMO.
Obviously this leads to another problem...what to feed them, but there are already options available, and with time, meat not sourced from living animals will be the norm.
Hello.
I went in a Subway take away the other day and asked for a vegan filling but could see i had not asked for the vegan bread roll.
Also i like rescuing spiders that have come indoors and also like guiding flies out of the window but can not say i have never squashed a creepy crawly in a piece of tissue and thrown it out of the window.
 
Hello.
I went in a Subway take away the other day and asked for a vegan filling but could see i had not asked for the vegan bread roll.
Also i like rescuing spiders that have come indoors and also like guiding flies out of the window but can not say i have never squashed a creepy crawly in a piece of tissue and thrown it out of the window.
I used to do that, but quite recently I had a bit of an epiphany.
I was out in the garden, relaxing on a deckchair, and a tiny fruit fly landed on my jumper. I watched him? for a while and then he took off and flew away.
Nothing world-changing no, but in that moment, I could sense another "being" just going about his? life. The idea of squashing him was kind of revolting.

btw, I'm the same age :) Born March 1967 :) (From up north, now emigrated)
 
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