Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vegetarian cognitive dissonance

Something bugs me about a lot of vegetarians, particularly those who are less empirically and more spiritually inclined. This is the tendency to emphasize how "natural" vegetarianism is. It seems like people will often use any argument that seems to support their point of view, even if the facts behind it are dubious, particularly when reality doesn't really go along with their immediate point.

(This illustrates a pretty good example of what I am talking about.)

Most evolutionary scientists believe that humans evolved eating a relatively large amount of meat. Most anatomical biologists believe that we are best suited to a primarily omnivorous diet. This is likely responsible for the development of the human brain, and explains why our species is so intelligent. So, against the claims of many vegetarians, the scientific community emphasizes the important of meat in the evolution and development of our species.

So it turns out that eating meat is pretty "natural" after all. Which brings us to this important question: so fucking what?

I think it says something about the insecurity of a position when you feel the need to something as being natural in order for it to be right. People use nature to make all kinds of messed up arguments. This includes arguments against homosexuality, interracial dating, and yes, vegetarian diets! And they are all stupid. Something being natural does not make it moral, and something being not natural does not make it morally wrong.

I am vegan for ethical reasons. I don't give a damn what my predecessors did. If evolutionary scientists discovered that humanity evolution took shape partially because among our proto-human ancestors the strong males raped females and killed weaker males, this would not justify rape and murder!

I guess people can believe whatever they want. If they want to think eating meat is something that is fundamentally unnatural, or that God, Jesus, Moses, the Prophet Mohammad, Abraham, Buddha, Vishnu, the Great Sky Spirit, Thor, Zeus, the Great Cthulhu, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or L. Ron Hubbard disprove, well I guess that's their right. The thing is, I am vegan for moral reasons, and I don't need some illogical existential justification to validate it.

And I don't give a damn what this guy thinks about it.


  1. Thank you! Great post. I see this all the time (and have been guilty of it in the past). Another one that bugs me is the urge to use disease outbreaks as reasons people should stop eating meat. Wasn't there a big spinach recall a couple years back? What would we think if meat-eaters sent out a call to stop eating veggies? It's not a sound argument. But I digress. :)

  2. Yeah, and before that there was a green onion recall. And there was also a tomato outbreak, as well as issues with lettuce. Food safety should not be the issue (meat is pretty safe it cooked and handled properly), but it's indicative of lazy all-bad-things-go-together thinking.