Taxidermy is soon to be found only upon the walls of edgy right-wing night-clubs. Veganism is on the ascent and has quickly become an echo-chamber of sanctimony and righteous indignation. Quinoa and tofu; pine nuts and avocado: these are the altars at which the vegan worships, and the vegan worships loudly.
The vegan cannot merely be content with their own ethical purity: you must be converted too. If Jesus really did have to die on a cross, they should have spared the wood and instead mounted him atop a pole of organic bean curd.
The future will be interesting. I actually relish the transformative power veganism will have on children’s songs:
Ba ba, white sheep, have you any wool?
‘’No sir, no sir, because I am a sentient being capable of feeling both distress and pain, and were we able to communicate I would probably not consent to your shearing of me, you villainous foooooooool’’
They might need to add more bars for all of that to fit in, but it could work.
Of course, the great carnivores of humanity are often little better. ‘’But we’ve evolved to be able to eat meat!’’ they cry into the night, hugging their bedsheets close to them. Thing is, evolution is not necessarily the best arbiter of what’s good or necessary. In many parts of life, we choose to rein in our biological urges. Walking down your home street today, you were probably relieved that you didn’t have to step over a mass of gyrating bodies to get to work. Thankfully, we aren’t engaged in some kind of sweaty global orgy.
Even with mandatory obligations, we restrain ourselves: you won’t spot humans squatting over some daffodils every time they need to relieve their bowels, though it would probably make for good fertiliser.
Canines? Those aren’t always indicative of a carnivore anyhow. Plenty of herbivores sport these, sometimes far more pronounced than humans.
If the evolutionary argument *has* to be made, then it should be made with reference to the digestive system of humans: horses, for example, are unable to process many of the proteins found in meats, so clearly the human body is capable of making use of flesh in a way that a pure herbivore couldn’t.
But what does that mean in moralistic terms? Very little. We can also create nuclear bombs and sarin gas; McDonald’s and Justin Bieber’s music: herbivores can’t do any of those things either.
24% of worldwide greenhouse emissions result from land clearance and deforestation, these two often being consequences of farmland for animal rearing. If you don’t think that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese, then that’s a really big deal.
How about a more self-involved point? Vegans live longer. Health benefits aside, what will this mean for posterity? There will be no place in the world for meat-eaters in the future: vegans will hound them into early retirement and spend the rest of their days sacrificing houmous to David Attenborough’s gravestone.
So there you have it: veganism is healthy, practical; good, and if only we corpse-eaters would educate ourselves a little better, we’d end our evil ways.
Sadly it’s a little more problematic than that. We may not have all known about the harrowing truth of how cows get milked or set foot inside a slaughterhouse, but most of us can imagine that chickens do not heartily chirp all the way to the guillotine.
We’re not simple creatures: it’s why we abhor child poverty whilst researching it on our Apple iPhones; it’s why we shop in Primark knowing their history of exploiting cheap overseas labour; it’s why we love Nestle cereals. Hypocrisy isn’t exactly comfortable, but it’s so commonplace that the humility that used to be attached to it has largely eroded.
Meat, for most of us, is as habitual as brushing our teeth. For decades we have consumed poultry, fish, and red meat with more abandon than Nietzsche in a maternity ward. You don’t just *give up* something so ingrained, no matter how good a case vegans may have.
And, it turns out that telling someone they only feel a certain way because they’re ignorant isn’t the most persuasive method for encouraging change, though there is no easy way to engender newfound compassion for animals when everyone’s been paying money to eat them for most of their lives. In a culture of instant gratification, the vegans have the unenviable task of making the rest of us love animal welfare more than we love animal flesh, but going vegan should be viewed as a celebratory act: making people feel guiltier than Steve Bannon at a bar mitzvah isn’t going to inspire the societal progress that vegans crave.
At the same time, the touchiness of meat-eaters speaks volumes.
It’s easy to dismiss the vegan movement as a sort of hippy throwback: the last belch of 1960s’ sentimentality shot through with neo-hipster glam and a dash of left-wing intolerance, but that would be more out of convenience than anything else. Increasingly, the hatred so many meat-eaters have for veganism seems defensive: I’ve a sneaking suspicion this is because we know, begrudgingly, that they have a point.
The converted need to be a little more patient; the rest of us need to admit that the only arguments we have against veganism are selfish ones.