This is a list of sources I was told are about foods that me as an ethical vegan and other people who are also ethical vegans might want to avoid buying even though they are plants for the same reasons one would be an ethical vegan.
I haven’t gotten about to reading all these sources yet, this is mostly for reference purposes and I’m open to adding more such sources in the future but from a cursory glance at what’s in these sources I understand that cashew, avocados, cocoa and palm oil are all just as unethical to buy as animal products. There might be more arguments against other plants or plant products in these sources I haven’t seen yet and I haven’t gotten deep into trying to argue against these sources.
Again, I haven’t read these sources yet comprehensively, I’m just keeping this list for reference as items for me and others to check out and am open to removing or adding items.
Every now and then, you will get a carnist invoking some form of non-factory farmed animals, claiming it is morally superior to veganism, because of the crop deaths involved in veganism. So supposedly you could design certain relatively plant based diets where you grow plants in your garden and have some meat every now and then that is acquired via grass finished or regenerative grazing methods and perhaps if you do the math you might end up with a diet that causes less harm than your average vegan diet that has mono crops in it, pesticides and they will make the argument that pests are shot on purpose to maintain these crops.
Still, let’s be even more charitable and assume my sources are biased and wrong. Veganism strives to exclude as much as practical and possible all exploitation and killing of creatures with a subjective experience, otherwise known as sentient beings. Let’s say hypothetically we had no practical limitations and compare ideologies. If we took the principle of veganism to its logical end point, we would end up in a vegan world where all food is sourced via veganic farms where no animals are ever killed or exploited. If we took the principle of farming animals via regenerative grazing or some sort of method that allows the animal to have a wonderful life until the day it is killed, that would still be killing and exploiting that animal.
That’s the difference between seeing animals as products vs. seeing them as sentient beings, which by virtue of being sentient beings, someone who has a subjective experience, while not necessarily being as morally valuable as a human that probably is capable of more well being (though you could also counter with that how some of these less intelligent species are more important for the eco system, whereas humans seem to behave like a pathogen to the eco system) still does not have such low level of ethical consideration to be morally consistent in seeing it as a product whereas humans are people. If you have a subjective experience, you have a moral value larger than zero, which needs to be weighed against other moral values.
Once you acknowledge that non-human animals have some moral value and they are not products, then you start asking practical questions of how you can reduce death, exploitation and suffering to the greatest extent while maintaining your survival and standard of living consistent with the compromises you would do for humans, whereas the non-vegan looks for excuses, for flaws in the ability of the vegan to reduce death, exploitation and suffering as a “gotcha” that allows them to continue their contribution to said industries.
Some vegans might not think about these things or try to deny them when confronted by them, but that isn’t an attack on veganism per se, which strives as much as practical and possible to reduce death, exploitation and suffering. Again, the end point of veganism taken to the logical end of its guiding principal would be a world where everyone got their food via something like veganic farming, where no deaths, exploitation or suffering resulted from their food. It’s doubtful we will ever reach such a pure level of veganism, however – I think there is a difference between doing your best to get there vs. saying we aren’t there yet, so it’s ok not to try.
Ah, but what if you are one of those special non-vegans who don’t contribute to factory farming, have a backyard where you can grow plants and can afford the occasional regenerative grazing meat and thus cause less harm than the average vegan? Well, that’s great – but why not just use your backyard to grow only plants and not kill any animals at all? You could do better. The average vegan probably doesn’t have a backyard where they can grow their own plants. Maybe they are doing the best they can with what’s available to them, maybe they could do more… but veganism itself is a principle that pretty much strives to always do more.
You can also again look at it from moral consistency as a place to draw the line – if you participate in transportation which kills humans accidentally, you can participate in plant agriculture that kills animals accidentally. Ah, but animals are killed on purpose to preserve the crops! Well, if I was already doing my best to reduce death and suffering because I can’t grow my own plants where I live but I’m buying plants instead of animal products, I still need to eat something to survive. By choosing the option with the least suffering and death available to me, I am pretty much in a case of self defense. The animals won’t listen to me if I tell them to go away, they will just eat my crops which are the last option I have to survive while causing the least death and suffering possible from my available options.
If I had a way to make them go somewhere else I would advocate for that instead, but if I don’t own those crops and can’t control how they are maintained and I can’t grow my own food – the best I can do is choose the best option from what is available, and beyond that, it becomes a case of self defense. It would be like someone was out on the road trying to run me off the road and I couldn’t talk to them to make them stop and I tried everything I could to make them stop without killing them but I might end up having to run them off the road to save myself which might end up killing them. Sure, in the crop deaths case I know I am killing them, but I still need to eat something to survive and I can’t find an option to do so with less death.
Again, it’s the difference between constantly looking for ways in which you could have done better, vs. looking for ways in which you could justify what you’re currently doing. Taken to its logical extreme, the end point of veganism in an ideal world would be something like veganic farming for all.
So what would happen to the animals? You would let them go extinct?
Ideally, and most likely what would happen in practice, is that demand for animal products would go down gradually as veganism becomes more common. Various industries that rely on byproducts of the animal industry would have to find alternatives, making it easier to be vegan. The general awareness of the value of treating non-human animals as people, not products – not in the sense of giving them things like voting rights that are irrelevant to them, but in the sense of giving them right to life, freedom from exploitation – this awareness would help propogate more veganic farming and thus reduce crop deaths further. As a vegan once I knew about crop deaths, I always acknowledge they are bad and say that I would love to reduce crop deaths too, but as long as we are making excuses to continue seeing animals as products, we aren’t going to get there. We can peel only one layer of the oppression onion at a time.
So as demand gradually goes down, we will breed less and less of these animals. Those that can be in the wild and live as feral cows, feral chickens, etc. will be allowed to do so and let go into the wild. Those breeds that we have artificially created them to be dependant on humans? We just stop breeding them and let them die off. Is that a tragedy? A form of extinction? I could argue it isn’t extinction because the species still exists, just not that specific human dependant breed.
Should we intervene on the behaviour of predatory species? No, they have no moral agency, unlike humans who do have moral agency, so we are obligated to act on our moral agency but not interfere in the manners of non-moral agents unless we have good reason to do so – for example, if they are threatening the eco system, threatening our environment, our ability to survive and maintain our civilization. This would fall under self preservation, where we need to protect the environment we need to survive. I admit I am pretty ignorant about which species are needed for the eco system, which are less or more essential, but this is a practical problem, not an ethical problem.
Such practical issues aside, our moral obligation ends at not doing something active to kill, hurt or exploit other sentient beings. Forcefully breeding animals is a form of active interference in the fate of that species. Stopping to actively breed them is not killing them, it’s stopping our interference in the fate of that species… and again, we aren’t actually talking end of species, just end of breeds of said species.
To demonstrate my consistency regarding this issue, let’s use people like myself – trans people. You could argue trans people are often less privileged than cis people and on average will experience less well being than cis people, regardless of whether that’s their fault or not, whether it’s inherent to who they are or due to external circumstances, you could argue that’s the reality. Therefore, you could argue we should actively avoid breeding trans people. I am against that.
You know what I’m also against? Actively breeding trans people.
Would I want to breed out people who have certain disabilities or diseases? Well, if that disability or disease is genetically inherited, I would want the parents to consider that risk but I wouldn’t want to take away their freedom to decide to have or not have a child… I would perhaps argue to them that we have no shortage of people right now on planet Earth. so if you know there is a high chance you will be giving your child a bad deck of genetic cards that will increase their suffering, maybe you should think twice about making a contribution to the gene pool. I still want them to have the freedom to breed if they want, because I value freedom of choice and I don’t think the potential suffering of people with disability outweighs that freedom.
I myself am childfree, not for ethical reasons, but just because I think there are enough people in the world already and I personally don’t want to have children. I would prefer if more people chose not to have children given our current climate crisis, but I am not in favor of forcing anyone to do so.
In the same way I am not in favor of breeding for more trans people or breeding for more cis people, I am not in favor of forcefully maintaining a certain breed of animal that is dependant on humans, especially if there are variants of that species that can live without the care of humans.
There was a hypothetical I was posed to test my consistency about this:
Say someone kills you, then you are brought in front of a divine being who asks if you would rather have lived and be killed, or rather never be born… and if you say yes, I would rather have lived, the timeline remains as it is, if you say no, the timeline changes so that you would never have been born.
I honestly answered yes, and this was supposed to be a gotcha that I’m inconsistent with my principles, because I’m saying I would want to live but I am denying that life of the animals who would never be bred.
Firstly, I don’t believe the hypothetical properly tests the consistency of my principles, because in one case I have a form of divine knowledge, whereas in another I do not.
Secondly, the hypothetical requires the existance of two timelines for me to make that decision, something that is logically inconsistent with the situation with which it is compared to where there is only one timeline.
Thirdly, it does not necessarily follow that if I answer yes that I am being logically inconsistent, because in the human context if I answered yes, I would not be obligated to breed as many humans as I possibly could. Lots of people would answer yes to that question and still not want to breed as many humans as they could.
As a moral subjectivist who is vegan and values base moral axioms of well being, will to live, freedom of choice, I try to be consistent with how I treat humans and non-human animals, unless there are relevant traits and situations that would lead me to act otherwise. I’m sure many people who value freedom of choice who answered yes to this hypothetical, would not think the free will of this two timeline hypothetical sentient being that wants to live does not override their free will to not be constantly breeding every moment of their lives.
Therefore, since it doesn’t follow from answering yes to the hypothetical that I would infinitely breed humans, it also doesn’t follow I would justify infinitely breeding non-human animals.
This is just going down the rabbit hole of excuses people look for to not do their best in reducing death, exploitation and suffering. For 99% of people this is totally irrelevant because they don’t care to actually stop eating factory farmed animals, they are just using these niche omnivore diets as a “gotcha” for vegans and excuse to continue eating factory farmed animals. Personally, I think if you are arguing for niche omnivore diets you should be comparing them to equally niche vegan diets. If you’re a non-vegan who is actually not supporting factory farms, well – that’s much better than the average omnivore! But arguably if you have access to non-conventionally farmed produce, you could probably do better than most people can, better than most vegans can.
We generally can’t engage non-human animals as deeply as with humans and they don’t deserve all the rights humans do merely because many of them are not relevant to non-human animals and their abilities. Nevertheless, when it comes to will to live, subjective experience, ability to experience well being and suffering – non-human animals are people just as much as humans…
…and you can look for a specific type of diet that causes less harm than most vegans do, but you would still be making excuses to view non-human animals as products, and while it’s true many vegans could stand to learn how to be better vegans – it is not a refutation of the principles of veganism: non-human animals are not products, always try to reduce the death, exploitation and suffering you cause as much as possible.
I tried to get Vaush, leftie youtuber, to schedule a debate with me about veganism in continuation of his debate with Ask Yourself on the subject. He said he already promised to debate the subject with other people. I mentioned I’m a nobody vegan trans woman and he said I’m not a nobody but obviously I meant that I don’t have any significant social presence like Ask Yourself or Vaush, not that I’m literally a nobody – but I do believe I have counter arguments to what he said in his discussion with Ask Yourself so I hoped he would agree to debate me despite not having a significant social media presence.
He did bring up his stance though regarding veganism and I tried to respond but it wasn’t really a platform that allowed me to have a proper back and forth with him and I’m not brimming with tons of disposable income to keep donating so he will respond to what I write.
Anyway, it was basically the tired old “no ethical consumption under capitalism”. He acknowledged that the animal industry is unethical, but he claimed that it’s a slippery slope such that the same logic would lead to you not buying clothes because many of them are made in sweat shops. For one thing, you can go to clothes trading events where people trade for free the clothes they don’t need and pick up clothes they do need and still be vegan. No matter what you do, you have to eat, so eating vegan instead of non-vegan does not come at the expense of other positive activities beyond an adjustment period, more on that later in this post.
I responded by saying you can’t use “capitalism tho” as a justification because making a t-shirt does not inherently involve exploitation regardless of capitalism, eating animals does. Even in a post-capitalism society animals would still need to be killed to eat them, animals would still need to be put in “rape racks” (that’s the industry term) to get them pregnant so you can get milk from them, we would still need to steal their babies or we would not get their milk, and male chicks would still be useless to the egg industry and so would probably be ground up alive like they are today, we would still need to be using large fishing nets that destroy our ocean eco system that we need to survive. Maybe some day we will have lab meat cheaply available for all, but until then – this is the reality of buying animal products.
To compare all of those never ending horrors on a never ending unfathomable scale to sweat shops, as horrible as they are as well, is in my opinion incredibly dishonest or self delusional. Last time I checked they don’t have suicide prevention nets in the animal industry and human male babies aren’t ground up alive in sweat shops by the billions and the trillions while nobody except a vegan minority bats an eye.
That’s without mentioning the huge benefits it would have on the environment if everyone who can go vegan actually went vegan. So much land that is being deforested for crops that go to feed animals could be reforested and help slow or even reverse global warming which is getting harder and harder to stop every day in the current trajectory, since we can feed humans using far less land and water by eating plants directly.
I can’t know the exact supply chain of every single product that I buy, so it would be a moral virtue to do so but not a moral obligation when it comes to something like a t-shirt. However, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that if I buy meat, an animal had to die for that, the environment had to pay a much bigger price regarding resources like land, water and carbon footprint than if I ate plants instead and by eating plants instead I probably also reduce my risk of heart disease and strokes depending on how processed vs. whole is the plant food I eat. Can I make all of those claims regarding a t-shirt which I could also get second, third or fourth hand from clothes trading events while still being vegan?
The degrees of seperation argument of no ethical consmption under capitalism works when it comes to something that is exploitative *because* of capitalism, but an animal industry under socialism would be just as bad and we have no reason to believe that switching to socialism would inherently lead to abolishing the animal industry and every indication from past experience demonstrates that humans use their big brains to make excuses for what boils down to putting their taste pleasure above ethics, health and the very environment the human race needs to survive. The same “feels over reals” that Vaush claims to be against.
Whereas they could instead use those big brains to acknowledge the value of all sentient life, be consistent with their ethical values and concede that we have to eat no matter whatever else we do with our time, finance and energy – so eat vegan, it saves animals, saves the environment we need to survive and might even save you depending on how much of your diet is processed vs. whole plant foods. This is a seperate issue from capitalism vs. socialism that can and should be dealt with both from the top down and the bottom up, and with global warming it is an urgent human race survival issue.
And how would you go about doing any large social change if not using both top down and bottom up approaches? Is praxis not often bottom up? Is spreading class conciousness that Vaush advocates and tries to do himself not bottom up? You can’t wash your hands off any bottom up activism because you think top down would be more efficient, because often bottom up is all you have, because often just getting to the point where top down change can happen is through bottom up activism. Vaush’s entire channel is one big bottom up leftie project. So what he said about “only top down tho” is also being inconsistent with his values and actions, selectively applying it to leftie values but not veganism.
Another thing Vaush said in his discussion with Ask Yourself is that he would be too mentally weak from not having the pleasure of animal products to offset the stress of life that he would not be able to come on YouTube and make his videos and streams. This is kind of hypocritical if you see enough of his content where you will find he often boasts about his will power and mental fortitude as what sets him apart as a leftie with a tough guy aesthetic, yet he can’t bring himself to do what’s right because of taste pleasure.
Finally, he said that if it was his call to make, Vaush would abolish the animal industry. I really find that hard to believe considering he doesn’t have the mental fortitude to go vegan now. There is nothing about socialism that inherently entails veganism, that’s a seperate issue that you need to have the moral backbone to stand on right now even under capitalism if you care about the well being of innocent sentient beings, for whom there is no reason to deny them the same basic rights to life, bodily autonomy and freedom from exploitation that we generally think humans deserve. Vaush, I would assume, thinks those are basic rights humans deserve and he did not name a trait to Ask Yourself that would ethically differentiate humans from other animals in this regard when it comes to these basic rights.
If we are consistent with our valuing of humans and as an extention of that other sentient beings since they have the same traits as humans that would cause us to value humans ethically on the level of these basic rights, we can’t make excuses like capitalism tho, sweat shops tho and t-shirts tho because we don’t pay for the meat of humans to be packaged after they lived in a cramped cage their entire short life full of suffering and we wouldn’t compare that to sweat shops as a justification to be able to buy human meat for taste pleasure since all consumption under capitalism is unethical when plant based alternatives are available, and if you want to say human meat is not ethically the same as other animal meat, then it boils down to name the trait and as I said before, Vaush had no argument against name the trait – only “capitalism tho”.
As for the challenge of going vegan, there are plenty of people who would love to help Vaush go vegan, not just me but also many others judging from the response to his discussion with Ask Yourself. Vaush probably has a local Challenge 22 group in his town that helps transitioning to veganism if he googles the keywords “challenge 22” and his town, or on facebook and failing that there is the help-me-go-vegan room in Ask Yourself’s discord. From a consequentialist stand point as well, having someone with a significant social media presence go vegan is always a great boost to the vegan movement.
When non-vegans say “mind your own business, what I eat is my own private decision” they think they aren’t making an anti-vegan argument, they think they are just venting frustration about some vegan who annoyed them, but they are. Not only that, they think they are stating a true fact, but they aren’t. Dominant ideologies tend to be invisible like that. People think that if they are not conciously questioning the dominant point of view that they are being apolitical, but they are being just as political as the vegans who annoy them, supporting the dominant ideology with what they say and do, whether conciously or subconciously.
Try to stop plugging your ears and eyes and read this: when you pay for animal products, you are paying for sentient beings to be exploited and killed. Your choice to eat animal food when and if you have plant based alternatives is inherently affecting someone else, it is inherently not a private decision.
This might hurt your feelings to read this, but by that logic I could say “mind your own business, where I put my hands is my own private decision” if I use them to punch someone. I am sorry if that hurts your feelings, but the fact is that paying for animal products is inherently not a private matter that affects only you.
Now you might have other arguments that you think justify that decision, but it is factually incorrect to say it is a private decision, because if we accepted that logic, it would justify allowing people to kill and rape each other because what they do with their bodies is their own business, their own private decision. Your right to bodily autonomy ends where it infringes on somebody else’s bodily autonomy, right to life, right to not be exploited.
And in this society animals do not have the same basic rights to bodily autonomy, right to life and right not to be exploited as humans, but to morally justify that you would have to name the trait that justifies doing it to other animals but not to humans, such that if that trait were applicable to humans, it would justify doing it to humans as well.
It boils down to name the trait. It always does and it’s not a private decision.
And if you don’t want a vegan who didn’t say anything to you to “get in your business”, try not insisting to them again and again and again that your financial support of the animal products industry is a “private decision” when venting about what another vegan said to you. In fact, maybe find a non-vegan to vent to them about what an annoying vegan said to you. They won’t feel they have to shut up and hear your say “private decision tho” again and again without challenging it, otherwise they are “forcing themselves on you” when that’s what you are doing in far more severe ways to innocent sentient beings by financially supporting the animal products industry.
Global warming doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, and as a bald trans woman who sweats a lot while wearing a hair system outside which inevitably leads to unending itching in those areas that makes me want to bang my head against a wall just to feel something other than itching, especially in the summer – you can imagine I have been highly motivated to find some sort of solution for this problem.
Well, it’s not a solution more than it is mitigation, and it doesn’t look graceful, pretty or “feminine”, but it reduces my suffering so I do it.
I carry with me a water spritzer at all times and spritz water on my face every 30 seconds if needed and you would be surprised how a small water spritzer can easily last an entire day even if you spritz that often because every spritz doesn’t contain all that much water. This is a form of external “pre-emptive” sweating where the water vapors cool my face much more effectively because I’m not waiting for my body to be like OMG I AM SO EFFING HOT before perspiring, so my face starts cooling before that happens.
Of course, you need to be careful around electronics you might be carrying such as your cellphone or laptop but you can carefully angle the spritzer and use distance to not hit electronics.
If I combine the spritzer together with a mobile usb powered fan and a usb external battery pack to keep it going all day, it becomes a sort of mobile air conditioner where it can be super hot outside 33 degrees celsius but at least my face is like 25 degrees celsius which is where heat causes me the most suffering, namely never ending itching.
So there is a little tip on how to deal with global warming before we all die horrible deaths because people can’t be asked to stop eating animal products and replace them with plant foods or regulate/replace capitalism which is destroying the environment we need to survive. I’m sure someone will make a cheap drone that carries a fan and water spritzer while also taking awesome selfies before that happens.
I just had two ideas for popular songs for which I could write alternate veganism promoting lyrics. These are works in progress, so feel free to comment and suggest changes to the lyrics while I try to get myself to record them.
One idea is alternate lyrics for the song Let It Go from the film Frozen called Let Them Go.
The second idea is alternate lyrics for the song Break on Through to the Other Side by The Doors.
Let Them Go Lyrics by Ruth “Ruthless” Peleg
The eggs glow white in the factory farm Not a male chick to be seen For they’re considered useless So they get sent to machines So many creatures living all their lives inside with no room to move until the day they die
Some other way, there has to be If we found it we could set them all free So many people do not know Well, now they know
Let them go Let them go Don’t keep them caged anymore Let them go Let them go Don’t buy milk and meat no more I don’t care how good it tastes Let their lives go on Even if they’re not human anyway
I was locked in cognitive dissonance It once kept me thinking small Now the fear of not enough protein can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what we can do to help them get out and break through No right, no wrong’s a fallacy Let’s set them free
Let them go Let them go Let them see a clear blue sky Let them go Let them go Let them live a life outside Make a stand, let’s change our ways Let their lives go on
Our power lets us drive these factories to the ground If we collectively ate beans and brown rice all around With mushrooms, veggies, nuts and fruit we’ll have a blast I’m never going back, the meat is in my past
Let them go Let them go Keeping them enslaved is wrong Let them go Let them go Let them see a brand new dawn Make a stand, for death don’t pay Let their lives go on Even if they’re not human anyway
Break on Through to the Vegan Side Lyrics by Ruth “Ruthless” Peleg
They live their whole lives in a cage Slaughtered day by day They try to run They try to hide Break on through to the vegan side
She got raped to steal her milk and they took her calf away She can still recall and still she cries Break on through to the vegan side
Everybody loves to eat my flesh Everybody loves to drink my milk Drink it! Eat it! Drink it! Eat it!
You know the chicks that aren’t male They’re all ground up alive They said it’s free range But it’s all lies! Break on through to the vegan side
I finally got off my lazy ass and recorded a song! 🙂 This one is a cover of the original teenage mutant ninja turtles theme, but with alternate veganism promoting lyrics that I wrote. The clip includes subtitles in English and in Hebrew, you need to click the CC/subtitles button to enable them. I hope you enjoy it and if you did, like and share it!
Not Just Lettuce Eating Vegans – lyrics by Ruth “Ruthless” Peleg
not just lettuce eating vegans not just lettuce eating vegans not just lettuce eating vegans heroes eating plant food… potato power!
They’re the ones who don’t have any meat Neither dairy, honey, nor fish do they eat They eat beans, grains, veggies and fruit and nuts and seeds and mushrooms too
not just lettuce eating vegans not just lettuce eating vegans
to animals they know not to be mean they’re the only group on average that is lean and the animal industry they don’t support with their money
not just lettuce eating vegans not just soy food eating vegans not just lettuce eating vegans