Vegans Have a Moral Duty to Have Children

vesper818

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It's not logical to say my argument is wrong based on what I'm doing in my personal life, if that's where you're going with this conversation.

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. My reason for asking was curiosity and clarification of your perspective, and to further understand your idea.
Your own reasons for having, or not having your own children is your own prerogative and your reasons are private.
I myself am past childrearing, and my single son unlikely to have children, so I am not your target audience. I was just asking, as parenthood drastically alters one's perspective on many aspects of life. It helps to understand where you are coming from.
But we can only do what is practically possible in our own lives to live and spread a peaceable and nonviolent message.
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vegan89

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Having kids just because they will be vegan does not reduce the number of non-vegan mouths in the world.
I already made several arguments in my original post for why adding vegans to society would reduce the number of people consuming animal products in society.

Many people who decide not to be vegan decide not to be vegan because of the lack of vegan foods available in their supermarkets, restaurants, etc. Having more vegans in society means more consumer demand for vegan foods. Businesses respond to this by providing more vegan options. This makes it easier for more people to become vegans, which in turn increases the number of vegans in society (and reduces the number of animal product consumers in society as we win converts to vegan ideas. This is made possible by having more and better vegan options, which requires more vegan children in society... meaning vegans should have children if they want children).
I chose not to have kids because of the world population and the problem of sustainability.
You aren't accomplishing much because other people will still have children even if you decide not to. And those people won't be as interested in environmental sustainability or veganism as you are, and they likely won't be as interested in such things as your children would be -- because political views and dietary habits are passed on to children by parents. Thus, the world population will still grow and it will just be filled up with more people who disagree with you and are less likely to be vegans.
 

majorbloodnok

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The fact is, if you don't have children, other people will.
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Absolutely not. Whether or not other people have children is completely independent of your decision. There is no baby-rationing going on where your allotment will be taken by someone else if you don't use it.

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Alternatively, you have children. Sure, that might create some problems for the world... but ultimately, it's one way to bring more vegans into the world. And that has a range of different benefits:
1) More vegan voters ---> increased political strength of vegan movement ---> legislation to promote & spread veganism, subsidize meat alternatives, tax meat, etc
2) More vegan food consumers ---> increased consumer spending on vegan foods ---> increased corporate interest in producing vegan products that make it easier for non-vegans to go vegan
3) More vegans living in society ---> increased public exposure to vegan ideas through normal social interactions ---> more people decide to go vegan as they learn about it
4) More vegans in society ----> media companies produce media content to appeal to a vegan audience, which spreads veganism more rapidly through society
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These are all benefits to you. Not one word about benefits for the child.

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Having children is a tremendous opportunity to change the world, and no vegan committed to changing the system should fail to seize that opportunity. The more the merrier.
I am well aware we can't ask kids before conception whether or not they want to be brought into the world, but many prospective parents do so in the reasonable expectation they are giving the gift of a good and enjoyable life (i.e. for the child's benefit as much as the parents'). You seem to be advocating having children to further your preferred ends. Can you explain how that doesn't fit the definition of exploitation?
 
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vegan89

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Absolutely not. Whether or not other people have children is completely independent of your decision. There is no baby-rationing going on where your allotment will be taken by someone else if you don't use it.

I said "The fact is, if you don't have children, other people will." I never said "If you have children, animal product consumers won't." The reality is if vegans have more children, animal product consumers will probably have a similar number of children as they would have had in any case.

The only difference is that if vegans have more children, there would be a lot more vegans in the world financially supporting vegan companies, a lot more political support for government policies friendly to animals & veganism, more media attention for veganism, more vegan voters, etc.

These are all benefits to you. Not one word about benefits for the child.

More political support for veganism, more corporate support for veganism, more vegan voters, more vegans in general is a benefit to me?

True I would be happier in a more vegan world like that; but the main beneficiaries of this more vegan world would be the sentient animals of the world who would no longer be tortured to produce animal products to please animal product consumers.

I am not being tortured to produce animal products for animal product consumers, so I am not the main beneficiary.

I am well aware we can't ask kids before conception whether or not they want to be brought into the world, but many prospective parents do so in the reasonable expectation they are giving the gift of a good and enjoyable life (i.e. for the child's benefit as much as the parents'). You seem to be advocating having children to further your preferred ends. Can you explain how that doesn't fit the definition of exploitation?

I don't care if it's "exploitation." Exploitation is not the same thing as suffering. As long as my kids live a reasonably happy life and the world reduces the amount of animal suffering, this is a morally good outcome.
 

majorbloodnok

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More political support for veganism, more corporate support for veganism, more vegan voters, more vegans in general is a benefit to me?
If those are aims you want to achieve then yes, they’re benefits to you.

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I don't care if it's "exploitation." Exploitation is not the same thing as suffering.
Wow! Just wow!

I thought you’d signed up to a philosophy that
"... seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose ..."
Are your children not also animals? If they find out they were brought into this world for political motives, will they not suffer?

Seems to me vegans and non vegans alike have a moral responsibility to put the child first when deciding whether or not to have a family.
 
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Brian W

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Simplify:

Reality 1: Vegan couples had children.
10 omnivores + 2 vegans = meat for 10

Reality 2: Vegan couples had no children
10 omnivores + 0 vegans = meat for 10

No difference either way.

Added to that, we haven't examined the possibility that there are omnivores who choose not to have children, and the possibilities that omnivores have children that become vegan and vegans have children that become omnivores.

One could say that the less mouths there are to feed, the less desire there will be to kill animals for food, so why have children at all?
 

Kathy Lauren

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True I would be happier in a more vegan world like that; but the main beneficiaries of this more vegan world would be the sentient animals of the world who would no longer be tortured to produce animal products to please animal product consumers.

The only thing that will reduce the suffering of animals is to reduce the number of animal product consumers. Vegan parents raising more vegan offspring will do nothing for the animals. Granted, it is less bad than raising them as omnivores, but there is not a reduction in anything.

To reduce the suffering of animals, you need to reduce the number of omnivores, either by encouraging them to become vegan or by encouraging them not to reproduce.
 
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vegan89

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The only thing that will reduce the suffering of animals is to reduce the number of animal product consumers.

And as I said already, having more vegans in the world will do that through increased availability and quality of vegan products, more vegan-friendly government policies, etc.
To reduce the suffering of animals, you need to reduce the number of omnivores, either by encouraging them to become vegan or by encouraging them not to reproduce.
And having more vegans in the world accomplishes that through:
1) More vegan voters > more vegan-friendly government policies to encourage the omnivores to become vegans
2) More corporations produce more products of higher quality to cater to the larger vegan population, which ultimately makes it easier for omnivores to make the switch to veganism.

Neither of these things happen as much if vegans don't have children though.

If those are aims you want to achieve then yes, they’re benefits to you.

Not really, because I'll personally be more or less equally fine whether there are more vegans in the world or less vegans in the world. I support the views I do primarily for charitable purposes.

Wow! Just wow!

I thought you’d signed up to a philosophy that

Are your children not also animals? If they find out they were brought into this world for political motives, will they not suffer?

Seems to me vegans and non vegans alike have a moral responsibility to put the child first when deciding whether or not to have a family.

I don't really care about fitting into the technical definition of vegan so much as I care about actually helping to make the world a better place for animals. Put another way, I'm a vegan because I want to make the world better for everyone --including animals. So my interest in making the world better for everyone, including the animals, is more important to me than fitting your technical definition of "vegan."

It's utilitarian ethical views without the speciesism common among animal product consumers, essentially.

That means that it doesn't matter to me if producing children for purposes of advancing a vegan political & socioeconomic agenda is arguably not "vegan" behavior in your view. As long as they are treated well, and as long as I think having those children advances my vegan agenda (which is a utilitarian benefit), it is a morally good thing from a utilitarian ethical standpoint to have the vegan children.

And the children won't suffer from knowing they were brought into the world for political motives as long as I don't tell them because they can't read my mind.

Also, not all definitions of veganism prohibit the "exploitation" of animals, as we see here:

So my behavior might still compatible with the technical definition of veganism depending on which definition is used. There are several definitions of vegan, some of which are mostly just about dietary habits.

You might argue my behavior would be contrary to the spirit of the definition in a sense... but I'm not bothered by this if it reduces overall suffering and increases overall happiness (utilitarian ethics).

Simplify:

Reality 1: Vegan couples had children.
10 omnivores + 2 vegans = meat for 10

Reality 2: Vegan couples had no children
10 omnivores + 0 vegans = meat for 10

No difference either way.

You aren't accounting for the fact that more vegans existing in the world means government policies will become more vegan-friendly, and corporations will put more R&D money into developing new and better vegan products, which would ultimately make those 10 omnivores in your example more likely to switch to veganism.

Added to that, we haven't examined the possibility that there are omnivores who choose not to have children, and the possibilities that omnivores have children that become vegan and vegans have children that become omnivores.

Actually I addressed those arguments already right here:
One argument against having children is that the children may decide not to be vegans. However, I think this is unlikely. Studies show children tend to have similar political views and dietary habits as their parents do... and veganism is obviously political and a dietary habit.

And if you are a committed vegan, you will have many opportunities while raising your kids to make sure they understand why veganism is important. You can have them watch a range of different documentaries and TV shows that provide a perspective that supports veganism like Cowspiracy, Dominion, Forks Over Knives, Speciesism: The Movie, Lucent, PlantPure Nation, ...etc. You can have them read and study books like The China Study, and look at the scientific research on websites like nutritionfacts.org explaining why animal products are so unhealthy.
 
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Kathy Lauren

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And as I said already, having more vegans in the world will do that through increased availability and quality of vegan products, more vegan-friendly government policies, etc.
You think that people eat meat for want of vegan products? Nutritious, tasty vegan food has been available since time immemorial, yet we are still surrounded by meat-eaters. As for government policies, I shudder to think what kind of government could make meat eaters go vegan.

Only moral conviction will make omnivores give up their meat. That cannot come from government nor from supermarket shelves.
 
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vegan89

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You think that people eat meat for want of vegan products? Nutritious, tasty vegan food has been available since time immemorial, yet we are still surrounded by meat-eaters.

Yes, I think if there were vegan products that were higher quality to better simulate the flavors & textures of meat, while also offering a lower price than meat, and being of comparable nutritional value... I think people who would otherwise eat meat would make the change.

One reason people eat meat right now is because no such meat alternative of sufficiently high quality & sufficiently low price exists today. While Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat make fairly good meat substitutes, they are more expensive than meat from animals. Thus, many consumers aren't interested.

As for government policies, I shudder to think what kind of government could make meat eaters go vegan.

It likely wouldn't take much. Taxes on animal products to make vegan substitute foods more price-competitive (or just subsidizing the vegan food substitutes) would probably be sufficient to make a big change in dietary habits. Especially when paired with a public education campaign to alert the public to the many problems caused by animal product consumption.

It's a similar public policy model to what the government already uses to discourage people from smoking tobacco. And that was pretty effective at dramatically reducing tobacco consumption despite the highly addictive nature of tobacco products.
 
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majorbloodnok

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I don't really care about fitting into the technical definition of vegan so much as I care about actually helping to make the world a better place for animals. Put another way, I'm a vegan because I want to make the world better for everyone --including animals. So my interest in making the world better for everyone, including the animals, is more important to me than fitting your technical definition of "vegan."
It's not my definition, @vegan89, it's the Vegan Society's. It'd be a braver person than me to suggest that any of the dictionaries' attempts to define the word carry more weight within the vegan community than the founding organisation's attempt to define the philosophy.

Nonetheless, that's fine because you're perfectly entitled to choose your own ethics. I'm not going to try to (as has been complained about in other threads) suggest you're not "vegan enough". However, I will say that if you want to change the world you will have to take people with you, and your willingness to use exploitation of innocent children to bring about that change may not sit well with others whether they are vegan or just believe parents should put their children before themselves.

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And the children won't suffer from knowing they were brought into the world for political motives as long as I don't tell them because they can't read my mind.
Does that mean, despite you expending all this effort to convince people vegans have a moral duty to have children, you won't tell them that? That you will give them an incomplete ethical education according to your code? Because when you tell them that they will either ask you questions or they will draw their own conclusions - probably both.

In any case, as any parent will attest, it's totally naive to think a child won't sooner or later spot jarring notes in their relationship with you. I think my original statement is on pretty solid ground when I say that your child will suffer if you choose your own political motives as your primary reason for bringing them into the world despite your attempt to argue the point.

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I support the views I do primarily for charitable purposes.
Overall, using "I'm doing it for your own good" as an argument for doing something puts you on really dodgy ground. If you don't listen to whether others around you want the same vision as yours, you're just attempting to impose an unsupported set of views. You may well have the best of intentions but at that point you're doing no more than attempting to dictate. I wouldn't expect you to listen to me, but why not look at how few times everyone else here has shown support for your comments and how often they have disagreed.
 
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It's not my definition, @vegan89, it's the Vegan Society's. It'd be a braver person than me to suggest that any of the dictionaries' attempts to define the word carry more weight within the vegan community than the founding organisation's attempt to define the philosophy.
The problem with that is the founding organization got taken over by animal rights extremeists who kicked out their own founder Donald Watson who invented the term vegan because he didn't want to change the definition of his word from a dietary definition to an animal rights definition. Prior to that, you could be a vegan for any reason you chose.
 

majorbloodnok

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The problem with that is the founding organization got taken over by animal rights extremeists who kicked out their own founder Donald Watson who invented the term vegan because he didn't want to change the definition of his word from a dietary definition to an animal rights definition. Prior to that, you could be a vegan for any reason you chose.
And, as both @vegan89 and I have mentioned, you still can call yourself vegan for any reason you choose. This, of course, is one reason I hate labels; you start to polarise - you're either in or out.

The point I was making was that the Vegan Society's philosophical definition is pretty widely accepted, as evidenced by the number of times I've seen it quoted on this forum. If @vegan89 decides to deviate significantly from that, he risks losing support from what he might have expected to be his natural support base. Doesn't mean he can't choose to do that, but it's a reality of trying to influence change.
 
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vegan89

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It's not my definition, @vegan89, it's the Vegan Society's. It'd be a braver person than me to suggest that any of the dictionaries' attempts to define the word carry more weight within the vegan community than the founding organisation's attempt to define the philosophy.

To be honest, as a vegan in my thirties from the USA, I had never heard of the Vegan Society until about a year ago. There are many different vegan organizations around the world at this point.

There are also many different reasons people are vegans. Some probably don't even care about animals and only want to improve their own personal health or protect the environment for their own selfish reasons.

And even among vegans who are vegan because they care about animals, not all of them are against animal "exploitation" so long as animals are treated with kindness.

However, I will say that if you want to change the world you will have to take people with you, and your willingness to use exploitation of innocent children to bring about that change may not sit well with others whether they are vegan or just believe parents should put their children before themselves.

Again, I don't believe my actions indicate I am putting myself before my children because the reason I promote veganism is to alleviate the suffering of sentient life forms, not for my own personal benefit. This is a baseless assumption you are making.

Also, when you say this idea is "exploitation of children," you make it sound like children would be suffering... which is honestly a pretty ludicrous idea considering the first world living standards I could provide them with. I'm talking about raising children in circumstances in which they would be treated well and shown appropriate love from parents, not put to work in a dirty and dangerous factory and used for child labor at a young age.

In any case, I think any reasonable ethical calculation here should weigh concerns regarding this fairly pampered form of "exploitation" of children in this case against the suffering of billions of animals in the animal agriculture system. The fact you are ignoring an important point like this and focusing on arguments based on the semantics of different vegan definitions doesn't speak well for your position on the issue.

Does that mean, despite you expending all this effort to convince people vegans have a moral duty to have children, you won't tell them that? [...] Because when you tell them that they will either ask you questions or they will draw their own conclusions - probably both.

I don't think me making the argument to them that they have an ethical obligation to produce more vegan children is the same thing as telling them "the only reason you exist is because I felt like I had to fulfill an ethical obligation I had."

I don't even think it's a reasonable assumption in the case that I have children at some point that the only reason I had children was because of an ethical obligation.

In any case, as any parent will attest, it's totally naive to think a child won't sooner or later spot jarring notes in their relationship with you. I think my original statement is on pretty solid ground when I say that your child will suffer if you choose your own political motives as your primary reason for bringing them into the world despite your attempt to argue the point.

I think the reality is if the child looks back on the sum total of their relationship with me and has the perception there wasn't much love in the relationship, they would perhaps think I created them to satisfy an ethical obligation. But if I have a healthy and loving parent-child relationship with them, they would have no reason to jump to such conclusions.

You can slam your fist on the table and say "I'm sure they'll figure it out eventually" all you want, but without any evidence or logic to support this assumption beyond what you claim to be your personal experiences as a parent, your argument is pretty weak.

I wouldn't expect you to listen to me, but why not look at how few times everyone else here has shown support for your comments and how often they have disagreed.

Truth is never determined by popular vote. And even if it was, this forum is what a mathematician would call a biased sample of the overall voting population.

You might benefit from learning about logical fallacies involving appeals to popularity:
 
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majorbloodnok

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I think the reality is if the child looks back on the sum total of their relationship with me and has the perception there wasn't much love in the relationship, they would perhaps think I created them to satisfy an ethical obligation. But if I have a healthy and loving parent-child relationship with them, they would have no reason to jump to such conclusions.

You can slam your fist on the table and say "I'm sure they'll figure it out eventually" all you want, but without any evidence or logic to support this assumption beyond what you claim to be your personal experiences as a parent, your argument is pretty weak.
No fist-slamming here. You’ll obviously only believe me when you experience it for yourself, but I rather hope any kids you have don’t figure it out. The point, though, is you’re prepared to risk it.

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Truth is never determined by popular vote.
No it isn’t, but changing the world is. Either that or by brute force, and there’s an ugly word for that.

Which do you want? Truth or change?
 
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At least some of the vegans I've known told me that they became vegan to rebel against their meat-eating families. I've known at least one meat eater who rebelled against his vegan family and began eating meat. I was raised by meat eaters yet became vegan. There is no guarantee that vegan parents will raise vegan children any more than liberal parents will raise liberal children or conservative parents will raise conservative children. There are too many variables to control to ensure such an outcome. I'm also with those who have advocated adoption over bringing more people into the world.