What is really Veganism? A philosophical approach

veganism philosophy

Veganism & Philosophy

Over the last few years, veganism has established itself not only as a diet, but above all (and this is the “novelty” since veganism was limited to a diet) as a way of life. This movement, which sometimes takes on the appearance of a “sect” (with its social codes, its tattoos, etc.), has been emulated, including among adolescents, without any reflection being carried out on its foundations and its consequences.

I wish to show here that the main logic of veganism leads (or would lead) man to suicide and that it is therefore not morally tenable.

Let’s start from the definition of the Vegan Society (dating from 1979):

A philosophy and way of life that seeks to exclude – as much as possible – any form of exploitation and cruelty to animals, whether for food, clothing, or for any other purpose, and by extension, promote the development and use of alternatives without animal exploitation, for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment

Behind an obvious good will to protect nature and hence to civilize man, a dangerous ideology is at work, based on anthropomorphism, ethnocentrism and a neurosis of perfection.

Veganism is the return of anthropomorphism

Veganism presents itself as a movement aimed at reducing animal suffering and exploitation, as much for food, clothing as entertainment (the zoo is formally not recommended for a vegan). In other words, vegans are proposing to rethink the human / animal relationship no longer in the mode of subjugation (inherited from Descartes, cf. his theory of animal-machines), but in the mode of balance, of coexistence. The question then becomes: is the well-being of animals compatible with that of men? Can we envisage degrading the living conditions of these people for the benefit of the supposed well-being of these people? This sacralization of animals is the result of a most obvious anthropomorphism. And yet, if it seems admitted that animals are endowed with sensitivity (the civil code even stipulates it), giving them a full conscience (like power to project oneself as an object according to Kant, or as intentionality according to Husserl) to a form of delirium.

Another problem: men are also animals. If the preferential treatment is only applied to a certain category of animals, should we then consider man as inferior to other animal species? Veganism seems to be doomed to anthropomorphism.

Being human implies, in our opinion, a certain amount of necessary evil: consuming water, natural resources and animal species in particular. Take an example: soybeans. Vegan-compatible in theory, its cultivation takes place in hot countries (implying, therefore, a large ecological debt to import it) and is very greedy in water to grow (large hydraulic debt). However, the scarcity of water threatens humanity. So, logically, a vegan could only consume local and low-water consumption products.

Veganism is the return of ethnocentrism

One of the strongest biological arguments of veganism is in one sentence: “Man does not need to eat animal products.”

Certainly, medically, it is possible to find substitutes (although long-term studies must confirm this). But this is a problem for affluent populations, who have time to think about their relationship to their food. For a good part of the planet, to deprive yourself of meat would be to condemn yourself (the Indian example does not hold: their vegetarianism is based on religious, not philosophical considerations). Not only is the vegan irresponsible and unscrupulous of proposing a suicidal lifestyle to humanity, but above all, in wanting to impose his dogma, it is his personal interest that comes first. The vegan is in this sense ethnocentric: it is its western prism which persuades it that his way of life is universalizable.

Veganism is the return of apathy

The vegan would like to minimize the harm they do. The myth of purity (designating the goal of zero nuisance) results in apathy, a lack of control over the world. On the contrary, being a man means acting on the world, sometimes causing harm, often trying to repair it and finally defining principles to limit it.

Arendt, in The Human Condition, warns:

If we were not forgiven, delivered from the consequences of what we did, our capacity to act would be as if enclosed in a single act from which we could never recover: we would forever be victims of its consequences.

Veganism, advocating zero nuisance, reflects a neurosis of perfection that ultimately leads to inaction.

n conclusion, it seems clear to us that veganism is an ideology that turns man against himself, an anti-humanism:

  • putting man below other species
  • enclosing man in his own selfishness
  • refusing action in the name of impossible perfection.
Cite this article as: Tim, "What is really Veganism? A philosophical approach, April 9, 2020, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, April 9, 2020, https://www.the-philosophy.com/veganism-philosophy.