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Dispelling righteous veganism

Veganism is a means to reduce suffering and be conscious of consequences.

As a vegan, I feel compelled to address some of the misconceptions presented in Sean Stalpes’ Wednesday guest column “Diet decisions should be pro-choice.”

First off, I, along with many other vegetarians and vegans, have chosen this way of eating in an effort to reduce animal suffering – not because we want to be “revolutionary” or because it’s “healthier” than an omnivorous diet.

This said, a well-balanced vegan diet can be just as healthy as a well-balanced omnivorous diet, and can even have some added health advantages.

But as far as veganism being a moral imperative for every individual, Stalpes obviously does not understand Peter

Singer’s ethical framework, nor that of many other vegans and animal advocates.

Indeed, the way many Native American tribes hunted animals easily is justified, as it often was conducted with respect for the animals, allowing the animals to be free of human intervention until the moment of death, and was mainly done for survival. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to extrapolate this to metropolitan consumers in today’s scenario, where factory farmed – not family farmed – products dominate U.S. markets.

Although a few inexpensive adjustments in the production methods employed on factory farms could relieve some of the most intense suffering, the chances of that happening are slim.

Such adjustments would interfere with their bottom line – high profit margins – and also would threaten the notion that animals are mere production units, unworthy of having real interests.

The argument that boycotting products from factory farms should be left up to the discretion of the given individual is misleading.

Is beating a dog for fun a personal choice?

What about buying products as a result of forced child labor?

Clearly such issues affect more than just the individual consumer, obliging us to at least consider the interests of the other parties involved.

If Stalpes’ column made it to one of his teachers’ desks, he almost certainly would be reprimanded for his clear plagiarism. Indeed, his entire first paragraph was lifted almost word-for-word from a song “Beef and Broccoli” by political rapper Immortal Technique.

Ironically, I was able to ask Immortal Technique about his thoughts on factory farming at a concert he performed at Macalester College in St. Paul.

His response: Factory farming is a detestable form of exploitation.

Please accept my apologies for all the self-righteous and purist vegans that think that there is only one way to go about things.

Veganism is only a means to reduce suffering and is about being conscious of our impacts on the animal world.

Eating mostly vegan foods is a great way to ensure you’re not supporting factory farms’ cruelties, while buying only Certified Humane animal products is also a good step in the right direction for the die-hard omnivore.

Benjamin Acaso is a University student and member of Compassionate Action for Animals. Please send comments to [email protected].

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