Are Atheists the New Vegans?

On a blog called Gravity Bites, an author called Brian wrote a piece that argues that atheists are more likely to consider veganism, and that they should. The argument is interesting. Again, I’m not going to add much. The argument is that, as an atheist, you are less likely to conform for its sake; you are less likely accept pre-suppositions like ‘I am entitled to eat meat’; when you bemoan religious wars and travesties you reject suffering as a necessary condition to existence; you criticise pious immorality.

I will add, however, the ideas I shared in comment form, on the post itself:

This is a thing that I judge myself for. I fully recognise that I have no right to do as I please with animals. In fact, if I had to kill a cow or a pig or a lamb or a chicken myself to eat it, I don’t think that I could. And I think that says a lot about where I really stand on the issue of animal liberation.

And I’m pretty confident eating meat is only permissible to us because so many of us have nothing to do with it. “Meat” and “meat products” is such detached language compared to “the fresh corpse of a being that spent its life as a hostage”.

And that is what the meat industry is; a mechanised servitude, hostage taking murder machine. And I know this. And I agree with Sam Harris’ model of morality, so I certainly know that this is immoral! But I just ate a bacon and beef cheese burger… I know this is hypocrisy. I know this is immoral. And that is the mentality you are up against.

11 thoughts on “Are Atheists the New Vegans?”

  1. One of the reasons I can’t take veganism or, for that matter vegetarianism ( but especially veganism) seriously is because its a symptom of luxury. No starving person is going to say no to a piece of meat, and I’d dare any vegan to tell the poor that it is wrong to eat meat. It’s a bourgeois morality- a product of prosperity.

    1. Ergh, I hate randomly commenting on people’s comments, but screw it.

      Have you ever considered that it’s neither wrong, nor right to eat an animal, but that vegetarians/vegans don’t eat them because, as you said, we live in a world that doesn’t necessitate eating them? And because, when you really think about the food-production process, it’s essentially mass genocide for animals? Which is essentially just another product of “prosperity.”

      Indeed, thousands, even hundreds of years ago, people would eat a pig if it would determine that they lived another day, no problem. And in some countries, the case still stands. But that we don’t HAVE to eat meat to survive nowadays – because, as you said, we live in a world of luxury and prosperity – should we perhaps re-consider our choices? And also, given that science has (almost) proven that eating animals – especially the sort of grain-fed, caged, hormonally affected ones that your average joe consumes on a daily basis – is very bad for our human bodies, isn’t this another reason to take a step back and re-examine our lifestyles?

      Just sayin’.

      1. You first claim that vegans and vegetarians do not choose not to eat meat because of any moral consideration but only because “we live in a world that doesn’t necessitate eating them”. Then you also claim that it is because the heinous food production process. But if they don’t eat meat because they are repulsed by the food production process, then they are doing it for moral reasons, and why would they not eat meat only because they don’t have to, other than for a moral reason? This is true especially today, where a vegetarian who is just starting out would require quite a bit of discipline. If you asked him why he did it he would hardly respond that he was doing it just because he can. He would say most probably that he finds the food production process cruel, which is to say that he has a moral problem with it. In the second part of your response you suggest that the ability our prosperity affords us by allowing us to live another lifestyle should make us think twice about eating meat. By pointing out that vegetarianism is a symptom of prosperity, I was implying that it isn’t a reasonable morality. It isn’t one that anybody would be able to sustain and it would be difficult to contend, contra Allallt, that the poor ( generally) are mostly vegetarians.

      2. As happy as I am for you to have this conversation without me interrupting (because it’s not with me), I didn’t say the poor are mostly vegetarians. I did say, however, that they eat less meat in poorer countries.
        Papua New Guinean tribes, nomadic people and subsistence farmers may well have a large home-grown meat portion to their diet. But your average tuk tuk driver or shopkeeper in Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia will have a low meat diet. Meat is expensive.
        Obviously, that is economic reasoning and not moral reasoning. And, obviously, if meat were cheaper their eating habits would change.
        If you contest this I implore you to look up the food crisis, and why it is increasingly wealth that is upping demand on meat…
        Poorer people may have less opportunity to act upon their own morality, but that does not make it absurd for those who can act upon it to do so.

    2. This is true.
      But it is equally true that we love in prosperity.
      And it is also true that the poor eat less meat anyway (or, at least, did when I was in Thailand…)

      I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

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