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It's my personal choice to eat animal products, so leave me alone!

July 09, 2018

One of the tough topics that can come up between vegans and omnivores is the issue of personal  choice.

More times than not, veganism is grouped with other diets, like the Atkins, ketogenic, and Weight Watchers diet.  It's considered a 'fad', and will eventually decrease in popularity once a new fad hits the market.  Just as people believe that the *insert-common-diet-here* diet works for some and not for others, many people believe the same about the vegan diet.

Most omnivores feel that "if the vegan diet worked on you, great, but please stop forcing veganism on the rest of the world."  If the plant-based diet was like other diets, this line of thinking would be valid; but the truth is that veganism is in a completely different ballpark when compared to past, current, or future diets.

So what is so different about a vegan preaching about a plant-based lifestyle compared to a Weight Watchers 'participant' preaching about their diet?  Simply put, when one chooses not to follow a vegan diet, they are negatively affecting innocent living beings as well as negatively impacting our planet.  It's not just a personal health issue; it's an issue of global welfare.

A popular line of thinking for the 'personal choice' argument, by vegan activist Earthling Ed, goes something like this...

If people in other countries choose to kill and eat dogs (or any other animal not commonly consumed in the States), we don't consider it morally justifiable even though they personally choose to do so.  Similarly if racists personally choose to be racist and murderers personally choose to kill other humans, it doesn't make either of these actions morally justifiable.  Thus, just because an omnivore personally made the choice to pay for animals to be exploited and killed (simply by eating eggs, a hamburger, or strip of bacon) doesn't make it morally justifiable.

We as vegans believe in personal choice—as long as it doesn't inflict harm on others.  When it's put like this, I think most everyone would agree with this statement.  So why are there still people who feel so strongly that it's okay to eat animal products?  It might go back to the issue of being so far removed from the suffering that's tied with the consumption of animal products.  It's so easy for someone to say, "if I want a a glass of milk, I have the right to drink it since it's my personal choice."  But what they're not saying is that "if I want to separate a newborn cow from its mom, artificially inseminate it so that it will produce milk for me rather than its child, and continue this process until it can't take anymore, I have the right since it's my personal choice."  This might sound a bit drastic, but it's the truth.  When personal choice inflicts harm on others, people are going to stand up.  Similarly, when personal choice inflicts harm on animals, vegan activists are going to speak up.

I feel as though many omnivores equate having the right to eat an apple with having the right to eat a burger.  And this is a huge problem, since there are no ethics or emotions being tied to what is being consumed.  A burger is simply a product that appears out of no where.

As was previously stated, we as vegans DO believe in personal choice.  We believe in the personal choice of animals (as well as our own), since animals do not have the means to communicate with us.  If we were able to ask animals that were being sent to a slaughterhouse whether or not they wanted to live, I'm fairly certain that 100% of the animals would choose life over death.  But they aren't given the choice.  Despite the kicking, screaming, and crying that occurs every second across the world, we still don't given animals a choice.  Rather, our choice to torture, kill, and consume them outweighs their simple choice to live.

Another reason why vegans speak up for their lifestyle is because of the negative effects that the Standard American Diet has on our planet.  This topic could easily be a post on its own, so I will hold back...but here is a quick video that highlights some of the environmental impacts of the meat and dairy industries:

The next time you hear a vegan speaking out about their lifestyle, please know that it goes far beyond the health-aspect of the vegan diet.  Sure, it does have to do with our factual belief that a whole food plant-based diet is the healthiest diet that can exist, but it also has to do with our moral obligation to speak out for the voiceless and protect our planet.  By eating animal products, we are doing nothing but causing harm to innocent beings as well as causing harm to the environment; so we as vegans feel that our beliefs need to be heard if we want a chance at making positive changes in our world.

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  1. Your post makes some really good points. I'm a vegetarian so I'm not completely animal free (yet), but I understand the reasoning for doing so. I don't like to preach to omnivores and make them feel guilty. I just like to focus on living the way I wish the world to be and hope that I inspire other people to change as well. With that said, being omni is completely ingrained in our culture and people will be defensive when people try and change the status quo. We are changing though, especially in Canada (our food guide is getting a makeover right now, eliminating the dairy section and promoting a more plant-based diet).

    1. Sarah! We're so sorry; your comment must have gotten lost in our notification system! Better late than never, right? ;)
      We're so happy that our post resonated with you :) It really is a tricky topic to tackle. But little by little, it looks like our society is catching on to the importance of veganism and that the only reason vegans are expressing their views so much is because they see the global necessity of doing so.