Veganism is more than just a diet, it’s a lifestyle choice rooted in ethics. Adopting a vegan lifestyle has profound implications not just for human health and the environment, but for how we view and treat other living beings. In this article, we’ll explore the key ethical implications of choosing a vegan lifestyle.
Rejecting the Commodification of Animals
A core ethical principle of veganism is rejecting the commodification of animals. The vegan perspective is that animals are not “things” to be owned, used, or exploited for human gain. As explained on the what is vegan page, vegans avoid consuming or using animal products because they believe animals have a right to live free from human domination.
By avoiding animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, honey, leather, wool, and silk, vegans withdraw support for industries that treat animals as mere commodities. They recognize that animals are sentient beings who deserve respect.
“As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” – Pythagoras
Promoting Compassion for All Life
Veganism stems from the principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence toward all living beings. Vegans not only avoid harming fellow humans, but extend compassion to animals as well. They recognize that the same capacity for joy, suffering, family bonds, curiosity, and drive for self-preservation exists in other species.
Vegans believe that compassion should guide human conduct towards all beings capable of feeling pain or happiness. They reject the idea that “might makes right”, that human superiority justifies mistreating other sentient species.
Living in Alignment with Personal Values
Many vegans adopt the diet as way to align daily choices with their personal values around ethics, environmental sustainability, health, and spirituality. For example:
- Ethics: Avoiding harm to animals aligned with principles of justice and nonviolence
- Sustainability: Rejecting industrial farming aligned with ecological stewardship
- Health: Choosing whole plant foods aligned with vital living
- Spirituality: Respecting the interconnected web of life aligned with practices like ahimsa
Rather than thoughtlessly following mainstream habits, vegans make daily choices rooted in reflection on their deepest values. Their integrity compels them to live and eat in alignment with caring for the planet, animals, and their bodies.
Fostering a Sense of Global Citizenship
The vegan perspective sees beyond narrow self-interest or national identity. Vegans often report a sense of global citizenship – identifying with humanity as a whole, not just their nation or ethnic group.
Several dynamics contribute to this expansive moral identity:
- Recognizing the sentience and worth of beings beyond just humans
- Understanding that meat and dairy consumption largely benefits developed nations, while contributing significantly to world hunger and global warming
- Awareness that intelligent, emotionally complex species bear the brunt of animal agriculture across the world
This fosters a sense of injustice at self-serving policies worldwide that privilege human appetites over other species’ entire existence. Many vegans feel compelled to make lifestyle choices that express care for all inhabitants of our shared planet, not just certain nations or species.
Upholding Principles of Global Justice
Related to the last point, adopting veganism can grow from a commitment to global justice generally. As documented, animal agriculture:
- Drives rainforest destruction, species extinction, ocean dead zones, and water pollution in developing nations
- Contributes massively to climate change which disproportionately harms poor nations
- Funnels crops to livestock that could prevent malnutrition for millions
- Maintains slaughterhouse working conditions frequently abusive to lower-income workers
Given these concerns, vegans consider meat and dairy consumption as supporting grave injustices that disproportionately impact disadvantaged global populations. To uphold equitable principles, they believe developed countries must dramatically reduce animal product intake.
This reflects a moral commitment to social justice for less-privileged humans worldwide, not just a personal health choice. For vegans, eating ethically means considering global impacts across borders and generations.
Fostering a Holistic Food System
Vegans see their diet as part of reshaping society’s entire food system to reflect holistic ethical values. As expressed on the veganism is the future page, they envision a world where compassion extends to all inhabitants in how we grow, share and consume food.
To live out this vision today, many vegans:
- Buy from ethical vegan companies
- Seek cruelty-free clothing and products
- Grow own vegetables using organic methods
- Cook tasty plant-based meals for friends and family
- Support animal sanctuaries caring for farm animals
Rather than just a diet, veganism represents supporting a compassionate, sustainable, just food system valuing all participants.
Wrapping Up: The Ethical Implications of Veganism
In summary, adopting a vegan lifestyle involves profound ethical shifts in one’s relationship to animals, nature, global society, and our entire food system. At its core, veganism stems from embracing principles of compassion, sustainability, global citizenship and justice in our daily lives.