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?
Ah, but you know that 99% chance your t-shirt under capitalism is from a sweat shop! That’s still not coming close to the atrocity of the animal holocaust, the environmental and public health cost. T-shirts don’t cause heart attacks, but animal products oxidize our blood vessels and contribute to the number one killer in the western world – heart disease.
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.