The Vegan moral argument revisited

After a lengthy debate between mostly me and +Ivan Raszl and some other vegans a few months back, I have gotten a little tired of all the arguments. Recently I found myself once again among vegans. The interesting thing is that most of them seemed much nicer, and more reasonable than the others I had encountered thus far. I can't generalise therefore, but will try here to stay pretty specific. Primarily what bothers me is the "meat is murder" vegan movement, who I will refer to as the militant vegan movement. I just want to quickly wrap up some valid reasons for being vegan.

Valid reasons
It is okay if you cannot bare to see one animal suffer, and forego meat as a form of protest against the cruel treatment of animals, or if you care to live a longer life or suffer from an illness, or if you feel like you want to lower your carbon footprint. These are all valid reasons for choosing to be vegan, but none of these should give you a license to sneer at others who are not vegans. The militant vegan camp has another reason.

Militant Veganism
Militant vegans are always concerned with speciesism. This they claim is the maltreatment of non human animals, and the preferential placement of humans on the food chain as a glorified species that can murder for the pleasure of having a BLT. According to militant vegans killing an animal is murder, and well... murder is wrong.

The choice of the word murder is no mistake. It is a deliberate attempt for militant vegans to take humans down a notch. Murder is defined as:


The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.
Kill (someone) unlawfully and with premeditation.
noun.  homicide - assassination - killing - manslaughter
verb.  kill - slay - assassinate - slaughter - butcher

according to Google. The operative words are human and someone. We do not in the traditional sense consider a chicken as human or someone. Personhood is only granted to humans, and a form of honorary personhood is granted to our animal kin such as our pets or endangered species. This still excludes them from being murdered. They can be killed, and we would be horrified, but not nearly as horrified as we would if someone were to kill a friend or sibling, or even a stranger on the street.

This deliberate misuse of the word murder indicates two things.
1. The militant vegan wants everyone to believe that animals should have equal rights to humans.
2. That they believe humans and animals are equal.

I am sure though that when asked whether to sacrifice a small child or a chicken, they would surely choose the chicken, not the child. This may indicate that some part of them does not buy their own theory. Some of them though are very insistent even to the point that we should no longer test medicine on animals. This is obviously absurd. Who would let mothers and brothers and sisters die instead of getting medical treatment so a pig can retire carefree?

But that is admittedly not the issue. Lets remove the word murder then, because obviously murder is defined as killing a fellow member of your own species. We are left with two words: slaughter and kill. I will go for kill since slaughter is a euphemism. This removes some bias from my post... well I hope.

Kill for food!?
According to vegans, we don't need meat to survive. I will assume that also is true. It seems at least to be very plausible to me. So is it cruel to kill an animal for your own meal if you don't need to? To answer this question I consider the life of animals in the wild. A gazelle, or a bison does not live a pampered life. Life in the wild can be short and brutal. In contrast life in captivity is a walk in the park. Protection from predators, medicine when you are sick, and probably above all, a quick and clean death at the end of your life. This is not always true, as some farms are extremely unethical. I don't condone unethical treatment of animals. If I had a farm I would make my livestock happy until the moment of death, which should be as unexpected and non stressful as possible. When a hunter shoots a deer, it doesn't even know it died. No harm done to the poor psyche of the animal.

I think that very few people condone the unethical slaughter and treatment of farm animals, and I don't think anyone would mind if meat costs a little more and there was a guarantee that the animals lived happy lives.

You wouldn't!
There is another argument that was levelled against me, and that is that most people would not kill an animal to eat it. That we are removing the horrific bit and pretending that bacon grows on trees. Indeed this is false. I would kill an animal to eat it. My method would probably be a carefully placed shotgun shell, as I don't eat the head, and as it is quick and less gruesome and painful for the animal than a knife or a bat.

The relative intelligence of animals
The intelligence of animals is often brought up, and vegans generally recoil when you ask them why they don't eat prawns, because prawns have no nervous systems. I guess there are different responses to this, but usually it is a moving of goal posts to the venerable cow. "Cows are quite intelligent" with attached links is usually what we see. However cows have not staged an uprising, there has never been any indication that a cow living in a nice farm is stressed about dying, as opposed to cows in the wild. When there is a Coalition for Concerned Cows forms we should really rethink eating them, but until then they are just animals, unaware of their fate. Bred to be eaten, and intertwined with the human success story.

Eating meat is to me a part of being human. I am genuinely angered by the idea of not eating meat. Some of my best memories were around a barbeque fire. It wouldn't be the same if there were vegetables on the fire. To sacrifice our omnivorous diet to me would feel like sacrificing a part of being human. Maybe I am flawed, and we should give animals the human like right to life, and maybe I will become an anachronism in my old age, but for a good steak I am willing to make that sacrifice.