I like listening to opinions about left/right wing ideas, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, libertarianism, etc. via YouTube in the background while I’m washing dishes, walking, running or let’s face it, mostly while playing a video game like World of Warcraft and one argument I hear anti-capitalists say to justify them not going vegan is “there is no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism”.
For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that is true. Let’s call this argument no ethical consumption tho.
Most of us in the modern world still live in societies with various mixes of capitalism and socialism, and due to the global economy some degree of capitalism is inescapable in the current landscape. You still make moral judgements regarding the purchases you make within that framework.
If you use no ethical consumption tho to allow yourself to pay for the slaughter and exploitation of non-human animals, we can test to see how consistently you apply that justification with other products or services. After all, if you say there is no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism, therefore it follows that all consumption under capitalism is unethical. If you use that to justify paying for something unethical – it follows that no ethical consumption tho justifies paying for anything.
Meaning, that buying products from Coca Cola, which is a company sued on charges of rape and murder, is the same as paying for a hitman or paying for sex slaves. Please note I used an analogy which would be a relative steel man version of the opposing argument. I did this on purpose. My debunking of the use of no ethical consumption tho to justify supporting the animal holocaust will still stand.
Anyway, obviously, those are not the same things – and any anti-capitalist would most likely not be paying for a hitman or a sex slave though they would probably pay for products from Coca Cola every now and then, despite their moral misgivings because damn it, it tastes good and you are really thirsty for a tasty sugary ice cold beverage but moreover – you are not directly paying for rape and murder, you are only directly paying for that beverage.
It isn’t very healthy but you take it on yourself to pay the health consequenes. You are not directly paying for murder and rape of anyone and directly harming only yourself which is your prerogative as a free individual, though the company might do these things as part of their nihalistic strategy to increase their sales. After all, there is no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism, so carpe diem!
Whereas when you pay for a hitman, you are directly inherently creating demand for murder.
When you pay for a sex slave, you are directly inherently creating demand for human trafficking and enslavement.
So assuming the average anti-capitalist wouldn’t pay for a hitman or a sex slave but would pay for Coca Cola every now and then – this demonstrates that the justification “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism”, even if true, does not justify directly paying for something unethical even if indirectly the money paid for other products or services ends up supporting unethical acts – thus showing that no ethical consumption tho is not really the reason you are okay with paying for the animal holocaust even if no ethical consumption tho is true, because that justification doesn’t work when talking about paying for other things you would presumably never be okay paying for. It probably has more to do with your speciesism – thinking that just the fact an animal is non-human justifies denying its right to life and freedom from exploitation and slavery, or perhaps you are just actively trying not to think about your complicity in the animal holocaust and using no ethical consumption tho to distract yourself from the real reason you haven’t gone vegan, convincing yourself it’s because there will be unethical acts supported whether you buy vegan food or holocaust food…
…but when you pay for an animal product, you are directly inherently creating demand for animal slaughter and exploitation, whereas when you’re buying something vegan, the product does not inherently entail killing or enslaving anyone. As of now, the only way to get animal products is by slaughtering and exploiting animals. Sure, humans get killed and exploited too, but this in general is not supported and ignored anywhere near to the degree that animals suffer through no fault of their own via the animal product industry – with the animal holocaust ongoing in much bigger proportions than anything human beings have ever had to endure and only the small proportion of vegans in the world finally batting an eye after hundreds of years.
Even if you don’t buy Coca Cola specifically, because after all, it’s not exactly required for survival, quite the contrary – remember, there is no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism! So anything you choose to eat or drink, healthy or not, is unethical to consume so it’s all a wash, right? Yet if it were truly all the same, what would be stopping you from paying to kill someone you really wish were dead and justifying it with no ethical consumption tho?
But Ruth! I don’t have to murder to survive, but I do have to eat! Sure, but you don’t have to eat animals to survive either, you can be at the very least, just as healthy on plants.
But Ruth! It tastes good! You wouldn’t use pleasure to justify paying to have a human killed and enslaved, so all you’re left with then is human tho, but that’s definitely not no ethical consumption tho.
This is usually when someone talks about all the animals that get killed in the fields so vegans can eat plants. Funnily enough, non-vegans for the most part eat lots of plants too. This is easily debunked by stating that the animals we raise need to eat something too, usually plants, way more plants than would be needed if we ate plants directly, so the smallest amount of suffering possible while living your life is attained by eating plant food directly – and sure, finding ways to harvest plants without killing animals is a good thing to support and advocate as well as veganism – but if you don’t accept that trying to reduce animal suffering is important then what’s the point of having the practical discussion about animal deaths in plant crops?
But Ruth! We don’t do things just to survive! Sure, so I refer you again to what I wrote earlier – you can be healthy eating plants and pleasure does not justify killing and enslaving humans, so all you’re left with is human tho. It has nothing to do with no ethical consumption tho.
If you want to talk about how practically speaking vegans aren’t making a dent in the profits of the animal industry which is easily compensating through other mechanisms – that’s a practical discussion to be had between people who accept the principle of veganism and want to move forward into solving the problem of how do we make it happen? That’s like a slave owner saying “well even if I decide not to keep these human slaves I won’t be able to put a dent in the slavery of humans in general, slavery is too entrenched in the system”. If we had hung on to that excuse, slavery would still be the general norm today and the system would not have changed. You can’t solve the practical problems necessary to create change if you don’t agree in principle that change is needed.
A socialist might say humans are still enslaved till this day because most people still don’t own the means of production, but it would be dishonest to claim there is no difference between being a modern “wage slave” vs. what was actually dubbed slavery and had vastly different rights and protections and the kind of life the average “wage slave” can lead vs. the “vanilla” slave – and the worst human slaves have ever had to endure throughout history pales in comparison to what we do to non-human animals in the past few hundred years and it keeps getting worse and worse due to increasing demand which encourages the animal industry to find new ways to cram in more animals into tighter spaces and increase their profit margin at the expense of the animals.
Another practical argument that is often brought up, is that we need animals to keep the soil alive, to which I would say a. again, first principle discussion then practical and b. that has nothing to do with how animals are exploited today.
If you agree with the principle of veganism that innocent animals that did us no harm do not deserve our unending ire, we can move on to a practical discussion whether animals are truly necessary to keep our soil alive and if so, how we can do that with the minimum amount of suffering and exploitation, or if veganic farming is indeed a realistic option to which we could transition and how long it would take because either way – that has nothing to do with the factory farming horrors of today that will never stop until we get our demand for animal products way way down to a very small fraction of what it is today, and environmentally, time is running out for us to turn the tide on global warming with veganism being the easiest way we could start turning this boat around right now, rather than wait until it’s too late for some uninvented or unimplemented technology like lab meat to hopefully save us – but sure, just like reducing the plant crop deaths, I support doing that too… it’s still not an excuse for me, or anyone else, to not be vegan right now.
I may be having ongoing problems with bloating I may never solve, but otherwise my health is fine, at age 39 my cholesterol numbers are around 100 total and 50-70 LDL, my blood pressure is 110/70, I did several marathons even though I’m a lazy gamer who barely trains and I love vegan food ever since I got used to it, which only took me a month once I commited to being vegan in April 2012, give or take a year, I’m not sure exactly in which of those I went vegan – 2011, 2012, or 2013. Everything before I started transition in December 2013 feels like a blur, part of a different life, a different person.
I find it ridiculous seeing all these ex-vegan women on YouTube who were all going on juice fasts, water fasts and raw diets and then rather than eat a balanced cooked and raw whole plant food diet and getting a bit of help from doctors and dieticians if and where needed would prefer to go back to eating meat. As one who doesn’t have perfect digestion myself, I don’t see how me having a pregnant looking belly could ever justify supporting the animal holocaust, assuming animal foods would even have some positive effect on my digestion which I sincerely doubt.
Then again, I’m not making money from showing off my body on YouTube, they are/were… so they couldn’t continue making money from that and they put the option to be able to live off showing their body on YouTube over veganism, and while it might be easier for me to say this as someone who has nothing to lose in that respect as a not-quite passing trans woman – not supporting the holocaust is more important to me than having a flat belly, which I do sometimes achieve while being vegan anyway.