Vegans Are Not Animal Lovers

It is a common misconception that vegans are animal lovers, which is why they go through extreme lengths to avoid harming animals. By implication, this suggests that if you’re not an animal lover, it is coherent to continue eating animals, since you don’t love them. This isn’t true in the slightest, for two reasons.

First of all, being vegan is not hard. Vegans live absolutely normal lives and don’t have to go through terrible ordeals to get their vegetables. Most of the things people eat contain a large proportion of vegan foods: rice, beans, vegetables, fruits, pasta, bread, nuts, and so on. Most of your calories already come from vegan products. There are many accidentally vegan products that you eat every day. Once you’re used to buying vegan alternatives to what you eat, and learn a few recipes, it becomes second nature. When I do my shopping, I spend no more time in the supermarket now compared to when I ate meat. Why? Because I already know what I need to buy to make my meals, and I basically know what is and isn’t vegan.

That is not to say being vegan is as convenient as eating animals, but doing the right thing isn’t always convenient.

Also, you don’t need to love animals to be against killing them. Being vegan is more about respect than about love. I don’t like all humans (in fact, I really dislike some), but I know they have a right to live, so I will not infringe that right for trivial reasons. A similar logic applies to animals. I’ve never loved to cuddle dogs and I never understood why there is so much excitement about cute cat pictures. However, I recognise that animals are sentient beings. That is, that they can subjectively experience pain and pleasure.

The only premise you need to be vegan is to accept that animals have some moral value. The value of their life, always, is larger than the value of our convenience or pleasure. Veganism, which means merely to avoid contributing to the exploitation and death of animals as far as practicable and possible, follows logically from this premise.

Now, just because not all vegans are animal lovers, that doesn’t mean not all animal lovers should be vegan. If you truly love animals, I’m sure you’d be emotionally and rationally compelled to reduce your negative impact on their lives. “Animal lover” and “meat eater” are, in a sense, contradictory.

Most human beings, including us that don’t necessarily love animals, implicitly agree that animals have moral value. This is why we try to rescue dogs and cats from burning buildings, and why we don’t like it when animals are hurt. We acknowledge they can suffer. If you acknowledge this, I’d encourage you to give veganism a go. The animals deserve it.

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