Veganism should not demand an all-or-nothing mentality


Kody Cowell, Assistant Opinion Editor

Veganism should not require complete abstinence from animal products.

It is a movement with a goal to accomplish: eliminating violence against animals.

This should not necessitate rearranging one’s entire life so that they are within the scope of “being vegan.” Veganism is primarily about making an ethical choice. Do you want to sup- port violence against animals, or the destruction of the environment by meat factories? Probably not. Vegans recognize those as immoral things.

So why aren’t more people vegan?

Maybe you just really, really like steak. You’d never give it up. There’s no room for that in veganism (or vegetarianism). You can’t be vegan if you eat steak, right? Ironically, that goes against what veganism is trying to accomplish. But if we can’t eliminate the violence, why not try to reduce it? Veganism should not demand an all-or-nothing mentality

Giving up meat for a few days of the week, leaving the rest of the week to enjoy your favorite hamburgers, is vastly preferable to eating meat regularly, isn’t it?


We already see something like this in environmental movements; our campus recently started to reduce plastic straw consumption.

That’s not going to save the environment or move us out of plastic-dependency, but it’s a start. We can apply that same logic to veganism.

We can take baby-steps to reduce which animal products we consume. Maybe you easily cut beef from your diet, but chicken is harder and dairy is impossible.

That’s still one less person supporting the slaughter of cows, even if you eat chicken for the rest of your life (though, if you’re doing this to save animal lives, maybe consider dropping chicken instead of beef, since it takes more chickens to feed a family than it does cows).

As individuals, we have to be okay with drawing a line somewhere. We have to accept that we cannot participate in a consumer society of this magnitude with no negative moral outcomes.

You probably don’t support violence against animals. Most reasonable people wouldn’t. But you also may recognize that this is a reduction of the problem, and attacking people who eat meat as “murderers” is ignoring the cultural, economic and political motivations behind eating meat.

It’s not as simple as “violence against animals is bad, so don’t ever eat meat or dairy again.” I can stop using straws, but the food I eat still comes from massive mega-farms that exploit workin class labor, defenseless animals and the environment. I can eat locally-grown, cruelty-free food, but my clothes probably still come from a factory overseas that violates human rights. I can clothe myself in second-hand apparel, but what do I do about the eco-system my apartment block obliterated? What about the materials that went into my phone? How was the fuel for my car obtained?

It’s a fight you cannot win.

There will always be something unethical tied to your choices as a consumer in this system. Challenge yourself to do the best you can, but don’t freak out. You’re not an evil person for enjoying a chicken sandwich, but we all have some responsibility in making the world a better place.

Do what you can.