Ivy League Students vs Vegan Activist: “How Do You Justify BEING Vegan?”

by birtanpublished on September 14, 2020

So I'm here at Brown University and I've got a tablecloth which simply says can you justify not being vegan and so I'm interested what justifications come to mind to morally justify not consuming animal products more you justify consuming animal products well first I

Was just curious from hearing like your last debate like you personally where where is your justification for being vegan like does it stem from like a moralistic argument or economic or both or environmental you know so for me I I

Became vegan for Aphex because I could find no moral justification for harming animals but since being vegan is it's somewhat broadened and I look at the environmental aspects I look at the the human exploitation occurs in

Slaughterhouses and indeed in farms as well factory farms especially and so it kind of became like a combination of all these things in the end but it but it was definitely that moral perspective that encouraged me to change in the

First place so I guess like the main justification for me is that to be vegan it's a choice and to do so you need privilege behind it right because one although like if you look of beans and potatoes versus meat right it's more

Affordable for that option like in America for example you know middle America food deserts places where people's cultural heritage business are defined by meat products for better for worse to be told from my people from a

Place of privilege saying oh you should do this you know first of all it's impossible because that's their livelihood that's their way of life and also in these places because of food deserts the only place where they go

Down to the local bodega or a fast food place and meat is on the menu you know and I think that what you raised there is a very valid point that is more of a criticism of the socio economic climate rather than of being vegan as a

Moralistic pursuit and what I always say to that is it comes down to the issue of necessity right and so we could morally just fine action if it could be deemed to be a necessity for our survival and so if you live in in say like a place of

A true food desert where you're relying on say cheap affordable fast food to feed your family you know may you've got a single mother working two jobs then it becomes quite challenging to then point the finger and say that you need to be

Morally responsible but then if we look at the wider society then what I would say the majority of people that do have some sort of financial autonomy and the privilege to go to say Target or Walgreens or wherever it may be and buy

Fresh produce and even tin beans you know legumes Rice's potatoes pastures as well then I believe that the moral imperative lies on those who have the privilege to buy those products because in doing so you increase the demand and

So by increasing demand you increase the supply which brings down the price these products to begin with but also makes them more widely accessible and so I believe that it's mutually beneficial for those in situations of

Impoverishment if we become vegan and buy those products because in the long run it'll help they'll help those impoverished areas have that accessibility that they're currently they might not well have and

But I do think that's a valid argument but I would and I don't know your personal situation but it wouldn't be a valid argument for me and so let me let me flip somewhat of the conversation and say if there may not be what you came in

Was was the idea of it being elitist but also from a privileged stance and as I said I really don't want to comment on your financial situation on your life at all but at the same time do you think that

The argument holds up in your own life and if it doesn't then what justification do you have as an individual not to be vegan okay so it's when you ask it's more of a personal classification okay well my

Justification is that I believe that unfortunately we live in a capitalist society I'm gonna go to this to the capitalism right there that we I as a person I have privilege to the point that I can make conscious

Decisions that go against market can it go against like our our national economic interest right like I can go to the supermarket and I understand I'm educated enough I'm going to ask why I understand the pros and cons and I make

A conscious choice when I get that hamburger I know that it takes six gallons 600 gallons of water to make that piece of meat but I still eat it you know and is that a moral on my part maybe but at the same time yeah

Personally so again personally I don't that's my justification is that I believe that this is okay because the society that gives it to me like I I go by a society right it's the same with morals is that I feel that in

A world especially being a place like brown which is a very liberal bubble where everyone leaves that they have a very unique independent like mindset but actually we're talking to people they're very

Very likely on the same way is that I believe that 90% of my ideas and are influenced and are created from my life existence right the places I go to schools my parents this and that so I believe at the same time I live in a

World where society tells me this thing is okay and I'm okay with buying into that so we have to so if we're using society and culture as a justification we have to apply that somewhat universally and so would the arguably

Made then that that female genital mutilation should be morally acceptable simply because in the countries where it's legal it societally accepted well also I believe in westernization right and I believe in some ideas of Western

Culture being should be implement in the rest of the world you know I buy into the ideas of American exceptionalism although they're flawed in many ways right so in that sense again going back to society I've been taught these

Principles they've been instilled in me and what's okay here and if it's not being practiced it like we don't have genital mutilation in the United States hence I see that as wrong yes yes okay yeah but that that's a whole different

That's the whole different story we're not gonna go into that yes so again going off that I see that as morally wrong because I buy into the American would call like Western society again this is very elitist like like it yeah

But that's yeah the argument that if the argument really cultural the argument is well my culture is bestest best but it's obviously some sort of ingrained form of ideological nationalism I guess which I'm not saying not to be like Oh

Populism it's not that's not the point but the idea that that is kind of fundamentally what it is that still doesn't justify what we do to animals in this country because they're still a product you're still a product of what

Culture raises you to believe and so let's go to Saudi Arabia where you know we're young girls that have genital mutilation performed on them but also more importantly where abuse of people and human rights is is just commonly and

Socially accepted if they were to turn around and say well you know I I don't believe in Western ideology I believe in Sharia law and I believe in the George ideology of the Koran we don't then turn around and say oh well that's fine then

You carry on doing what you're doing we say well that's objectively morally wrong an objective morals come from I believe the objective morals come from the understanding of where when our actions cause harm and suffering and

That isn't I believe that to be you know if we go back to Mesopotamia times you know before judeo-christian values around six hundred years before you know it was illegal to murder and so there I do believe there is an objective core

Morality that that it that somewhat transcends just what culture and has taught us but instead is it's kind of ingrained within us to teach us that it's empathy right if it causes suffering it's something we should

Assess and and frown upon if that action isn't a necessity and so I guess I don't believe that cultural tradition holds a veracity in terms of how we treat other beings but also then you get into this impossible question of where do you draw

The line of heuk like what what animals organisms can we kill right like like what what brings in like what what defines existence right and then and that's just like this is impossible argument that you can draw a line here

You can draw the line there but I would say that like at least for me how I justify it is ecological Darwinism in the sense of survival the fittest right that that like we have evolved like that what what like that there was a point

That I think for sure humanity as a whole have become above evolution of a combo like likes the site like science in nature right that we're like above and we've developed enough to be able to control but that was a time

That we were hunters that still we are within this natural cycle you know we had we had a breed broke in nature yeah right and in that saying I think that naturally then they say oh we don't have canines right but we have developed like

A taste for me you know and I think with that it's it is justified to kill right especially then you go to the point that a lot of livestock has been raised to be let like like cows pigs these have been domesticated to be built in to this now

Of course then be used for proto's they don't always have to be used for me but the same way these these animals have been mutated have evolved decay to the needs of our diets right it's used the word evolved is I believe to be somewhat

Disingenuous because it's it's not a natural process it's a process of being selectively bred but I would say that behaviors of the past don't sound moral precedent for contemporary behaviors and I guess if

We're looking at you know well where do we draw that line well okay so that we got we've got animals we've got plants and I guess we're like bacteria we can probably discontinue bacteria from the moral consideration and you when you

Make that argument you saying that we draw the line at plants are you well because obviously you have an animal in mind or or a line in mind where do you draw that line well I mean to name a few and I can eat a human right and I don't

I I don't think anyone should eat humans right I don't I wouldn't eat a dog but I understand that some cultures and society going back to the cultural argument eat dogs like for example like Thailand the Thai and although I won't

Eat a dog I don't have I don't have anything against people to eat a dog now for example a shark truck fin like stuff like that I don't think anyone should get that not because I think it's morally wrong but I think it's the the

Ethics of it with them being endangered species right the environmental impact of taking away sharks right like I don't think we should be going to endangered species but one I think you make an argument for deer meat like the

Overpopulation of deer the overpopulation of any animals right that having meat in our diet helps because even though we've broken nature we still play of a drastic role right and the rest of nature has adapted for the

Meteoric rise of the homo sapien you know right and we have as meat eaters as consumers of that food product have a way to play with in the world if you eliminate that immediately even if you eliminate that with over times ten

Thousand years a hundred thousand years right that's gonna have a huge environmental impact that may not be to the benefit of our civilization sorry I would presume that we can all agree that that factory farming and farming in that

Sense is not has no ecological benefit okay but so the argument then does hunting have an ecological benefit because of deer overpopulation okay great and so we have to look at the causes of these problems and so I'm sure

In like Connecticut for example there is an issue of health care of a population but we have to look at the reasons for that and provide some context to how we've ended this in assists because Nature has food chains in those

Food chains primarily are there to ensure that population sizes of animals are somewhat maintained and so there's the introduction of industrialized agriculture particularly an Allegro culture has caused the destabilization

Of natural population sizes a because we've destroyed so much habitat and so much land to produce grazing sites and also areas for crop production to be fed to animals but in doing so we've also hunted many predators to the point of

Extinction but precisely because those predators were hunting livest and killing livestock animals so to benefit the profits of the farmers we've hunted these animals to extinction so we've taken out predators from the food chain

We've we've removed vast areas of habit time land and so now we have an issue of debian overpopulate in the area and so the solution isn't to hunt them that's that that's like putting a bandaid on honor on a kind of a cut artery so to

Speak that the issue is to is to solve the problem properly so eliminate animal agriculture and allow a system of rewilding to occur where we learn actual habitats to replenish and then in doing so we can reintroduce natural predators

Which will then somewhat equalize the destabilized food chain and the over production or the overpopulation of deer and so in and out we create a more harmonious symbiotic relationship instead of going into fields and woods

And forests with a high-powered rifle saying that was somehow creating a fair ecology it's not doesn't deal with the root of the problem I'd love to talk more my friends been winning for a while and I have to go to class it was very

Nice what a pleasure thank you so much have a great day I am I'm 5 o'clock not sure where please do lovely me and to have a great day thank you bye now I just wanna talk a little bit the last thing you said about like what the

Solution might be to kind of re to re to reintegrate our ecosystem to do away with agricultural farming I think that's like an awesome idea and I think that I think that a the issue is that when you said that I don't think it would be so

Easy for it to come back to balance I mean like logistically to make that happen it was a very delicate situation before that we messed up you know when we like industrialized everything so I was like if you just would talk a little

More that'd be interested here and I also want to talk about being vegan I have I have some arguments about that as well if you want to talk about that I'd love to talk about that that's why mayor and so in relation to what you

Said in the beginning I think that you've raised a good point and that we can oversimplify the solutions to the problems but I still believe that that solution is is is warranted off of an attempt and no doubt which going to take

Generations probably to restore what the damage that we've caused as humans but that isn't justify not putting those practices into place now and the best thing we can do for our college is take out industrialized animal agriculture

All right even just I was just just animal agriculture in general and then we can reduce some have land that we need for that allow that to repopulate what we do then is we create more forests more woodlands which is better

For co2 absorption oxygen production but it also provides habitats for biodiversity and species of animals that we've somewhat taken to the point of extinction for our action so this isn't just about you know creating a better

Food chain for natural predators and deer and then vegetation it's about crane areas of lands where birds and insects even and biodiversity can replenish and have great and most semiotic

Relationship yeah so basically we want to like bring back I mean the whole free evolution kind of idea you know you like yeah that's very cool yeah all right so um yes I mean I guess is arguing against being vegan or you know against weaken

ISM what I would say is it seems like we're you're being being lies and the it's like the moral issue you know is it is it the killing of the animal that is the problem for you or is it more about like the just like it's part of a bigger

System and so what it seems like it's like that is part of a bigger thing for me it's about it's not just about killing it's about it's about a system of use and it's about the fact that we've we've we've demoted a sentient

Life to property status when they and themselves because of the fact that they are sentient conscious have individualistic experiences of life and can suffer and feel pain there weren't more consideration than being limited

And legally labeled as property and so it's not just about the act of killing so it's the whole is the whole philosophical teaching that allows us to view animals has been somewhat subordinate in terms of how we hope we

Can use them right okay so I actually took quite a few philosophy classes and I was I was going to bring some of this consciousness arguments and I would say like let's go down to even the smallest level

You know like insects you can't eat insects and be a vegan right I mean because it's meat you know it's a living animal yes so you can't eat insects right I don't know I think I would say dress in the most tiny lab with a weak

Argument for not being vegan is that eating insects does like doesn't do anything you know eating inks is not bad insects are barely conscious they're automatic you know I like do can experience we we we really can't even

Say whether they're basically just a biological machine you know they're like so I mean I would say boom right there you can be you you cannot be vegan being vegan is not justified be are you I can justify not being vegan because like any

Insects and that's their life so boom I think that the entertainment is an interest one I think that environmentally speaking insect farming of course of course vastly better alternative ethically I mean I don't

Know about the health I don't know if they're good source of protein but I don't know about like if there's any health consequences of doing so from an ethical perspective this is where it becomes somewhat of a and I want it it's

A morally gray area I think that you're right sin that's vegans we would say that it's not acceptable to eat insects because they are alive they do an experience of life and because it's still not a necessity for us to consume

Them I still believe it it's still morally justified to implement something like a situation of vertical farming where we can produce plants in warehouses inside and and create a much more sustainable and ethical form of

Home right and they're doing it in England I think in the US as well so I think that there's still in this grand scheme of things we can create a system of plant farming that that still Trump's the ethical the perceived ethical

Progressions of switching sterile e to insects and also I guess in terms of a Western culture it's gonna be a lot easier to get people to eat plants than insects you know it's like hey would you like this this black bean burger or

Would you like this this crushed cricket burger I think in terms of whatwhat's palatable and feasible for a Western society the advocate of veganism is stronger and more caring mom Merritt right so then I would say that I think

You have a really good perspective on this and I actually would say that I agree with you I just think that what should be on this banner is not is being is not being vegan justifiable because that's actually not what you're arguing

You know what you're arguing is like a much greater more important bigger thing than just not being vegan I can give you so many arguments why being vegan today like maybe doesn't make sense or morally is justifiable so

I don't know I think like coming into this argument and wanting to debate this is like kind of useless because what you're really arguing for is something much greater and bigger well I think that may well be true but I've got to

Get people in somehow of man so I give him a little bit of a Beatty title so it's bring them in okay let's let's talk about what we said so you said that there are there are potentially several arguments that you could use let's go

For it like that's why let's work our way I think it's all about the consciousness argument you know like if the problem with being vegan is killing an animal is a problem like why is necessarily killing an animal problem

Why necessarily is it you know and I went with the insect example because it's the lowest level of life you know I mean it is killing an amoeba is that is that wrong where do we draw the draw the line of like moral and correctness here

I think you're thinking about you know saying that these animals definitely not conscious on the same level there are different levels of consciousness within consciousness I think we'd all agree is bounded by you know the capacity of the

Animal's brain right so it yeah so like fish consciousness you know I mean keel killing and eating a fish can a fish conceive of its own death I don't really think so it's kind of fish experience pain probably yes I mean I would think

Without a doubt anything experience pain although I think like in this I mean I don't know I goes to like more no no no that's true and so I think you're absolutely right in saying that that there are scales

I mean sentience is sensitive but there are scales of cognitive or cognition right and there's scales of what an animal can perceive or feel or experience or or wish to avoid and experience and and I'm not denying that

But if we take this scale and then we obviously have to add plants as a food source on there as well and we say well obviously plants if we take that argument of consciousness I still lower down than that of say insects and so if

We're scaling morality and and wherever a nice justifiable to kill an animal based on consciousness or a life-form based on consciousness we start with humans than whatever dolphins killer whales it still at the bottom is plants

And so if we want to continue that argument and be and be logically consistent with that we should still be vegan because plants have the lowest form of consciousness compared to even out of of insects or or fish that's

Great thank you I know they hear that from people no I mean I think you're totally right I think what I would say in response to that I just think like it's important for people to ponder and think about it for

Themselves because then they can understand this whole snapper yeah it doesn't I mean I was thinking like you know why do we even eat plants we should be eating in organic matter and that's actually a possible thing that we could

Do you know in the future if you're thinking like hundreds of years from now we don't even need seed any living life another we also have to work within the constraints of what society allows us to do and so we can go into target and we

Can buy plant-based foods we give our animal-based foods we can't buy insect based foods anyway so even if we believe that that was better than the other animals it's still not a feasible alternative whereas plants are a

Feasible alternative and in every in every supermarket in every city in the u.s. right so um in terms of we have to open the constraints for society allows us to do and being vegan is something that we can that we I'm saying people in

The university that this can feasibly do and so then there's the moral imperative to do so right so I was actually I had this funny idea with a friend as like a transitional project for people that were eating me that didn't want you mean

It's called algae meat I'll just made out of algae I was like half algae you can get it like 50% algae 30% algae 70% algae full algae meat it's good that's good I'm in anyway thanks a lot I really appreciate it I really

Appreciate you wait I think you really got a good eye thank you so much I appreciate I have a great day my friend thank you yeah I appreciate up hey come on sit down how you doing I'm ed hi Dean Scott


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