We should not base our ethics as a society on what animals do in nature. Lions eat their offsprings if they don’t have enough food, engage in violent territorial disputes and forcibly impregnate females. Dogs smell each others’ backside when they first meet. Many animals even kill members of their own species. If we say that animal behaviour is a basis for human morality, we could advocate murder, infanticide, rape and several other unethical and/or disgusting behaviour that are commonplace in nature.
Another crucial point is that animals in the wild kill to survive. We don’t need to eat other animals to survive, and doing so causes suffering, so if we can avoid it, we should. Animals are clearly not good ethical role models.
But we’re at the top of the food chain, right?
Scientists have proven that we are in fact not at the top of the food chain. This study by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States concluded that “humans are similar to anchovy or pigs and cannot be considered apex predators”. This means that everyone who uses the “circle of life” or “we’re at the top of the food chain” argument should be fine with being violently eaten by other animals higher in the food chain like lions or bears. In fact, they should be fine with having the same treatment as pigs since we are at their same level in the “food chain”.
But eating animals is necessary
It’s not. There are millions of vegans from all paths of life and in all circumstances that follow a vegan diet. In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the United States’ largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals, states the following:
“It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity.”
The largest study ever done on vegan nutrient profiles states the following:
“In strict vegetarians low dietary intakes of vitamin B12 and D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to iron and zinc, have often been of concern 25. In the present study, mean intakes of these nutrients were above minimum requirements 26 in strict vegetarians.”
So eating animal products is absolutely unnecessary for health and well-being.
What does this mean?
It means we have no justification to eat animals based on what lions do. Not only is this a logically flawed basis for human behaviour, but we don’t need to eat animals for our health, so why would we?