Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Tramping Down the Garden of Eden

Whenever vegans start to chatter about how moral they are to not eat meat, I always ask them if they have sterilized themselves.

What?  They look confused.  Surely I could not have been that rude?

"Did you get your tubes tied before having kids?" I ask.  "Did you get a vasectomy and then go out and adopt? Or are you one of those damn breeders tramping down the Garden of Eden?"

If the answer is YES, I tell them "Thank you for not breeding."

And I mean it.

You see, I am not against veganism.  Done right, it can be very healthy.  That said, there is nothing anyone can do that is more environmentally responsible than not having children.

Nothing.  Not a thing.

The folks over an Aeon magazine figured it out; veganism is just another way to ruin the planet, and if vegan space aliens came to this world and started to breed, they would kill this planet about as fast as a meat-eating space alien would.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature in Switzerland, the world’s first global environmental organisation, says: Analyses of the data on threats to bird, mammal and amphibian species… show that the most pervasive threat that they face is habitat destruction and degradation driven by agricultural and forestry activities....

A vegan alien invasion could then all but destroy humanity while rationalising most of our suffering and death as ‘accidental’ or ‘unfortunate but necessary’, just as vegans now rationalise the harms that a plant-based human civilisation would cause nonhuman animals. What the argument from alien invasion ultimately shows, then, is that humans cannot consistently apply the Golden Rule to the rest of the animal kingdom without going a lot further than vegans are asking us to go. Animal rights philosophers are positing a problem that might have no practical solution. Yes, nonhuman animals are thinking and feeling individuals who want to live, but attempting to correct the power imbalance between humans and other animals would require much more than humans giving up animal products. We would have to stop spaying and neutering animals, reverse our destruction and fragmentation of animal habitat, give up agriculture and civilisation, refuse to eat animals even when our wellbeing requires it, and become pacifist gatherers who never foraged food that other animals needed for themselves. Even then, other animals would have nothing to gain from our presence here. This is why some people believe that the logical conclusion of animal rights is human extinction.

Neutrality is impossible in a world with limited resources. Everything we take is a loss for other animals, and since we want to live, enjoy our lives and reproduce (just as they do), we will never stop bypassing animals’ desires for our own, so long as we are here. We can give up some of the luxuries of domination for the sake of non-humans, but any sacrifices we make this side of human extinction are token compromises that selfishly maintain our fundamental position. Worldwide veganism wouldn't allow us to live in harmony with other animals — it’s just one of those token compromises. No matter what ethical philosophy we hold on to, on the day that brilliant, powerful aliens invade our planet, we’d better hope that they don’t try to be anything like us.

1 comment:

Peter Apps said...

We do not have to go extinct to save the planet, we just have to re-establish the link between resource depletion and population size that governed every living thing on the planet until the industrial revolution. I doubt that we have the political or moral capacity for that, so in the end nature will do it for us.