FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If you were locked in a room with a live dog and an apple, which would you eat first?
(Inspired by Ed Winter’s free ebook, 30 Non-Vegan Excuses & How to Respond to Them.)
Why would vegans farm dogs?
Can't I love animals and still eat them?
Don't force your views on me! Isn't it my personal choice to eat animals?
I like the taste of meat. Why should I give that up?
Have you heard of the food chain? Lions?
Don't we need to eat animals, eggs, and dairy milk to live?
Eating animals is a tradition! Do you hate tradition?
Cavemen ate meat & humans evolved from eating meat, so therefore…?
If we didn't eat animals, they'd overrun us or go extinct––do you want that?
Aren't human rights more important?
Don't plants feel pain, too?
Animals don't feel pain or suffer the same way we do, right?
I can't be 100% vegan—& neither can you.
What if you were on a deserted island?
Isn't pescatarian/vegetarian enough?
Wasn't Hitler vegetarian?
Don't you care about the farmers who will lose their jobs?
Don't you know that other countries eat dogs? This is xenophobic.
CAN'T I LOVE ANIMALS & EAT THEM?
Most dog lovers wouldn’t want to see their companion animal’s murdered body parts on a plate in front of them. They wouldn’t be ok with their dog being forcibly impregnated, mutilated, and killed—and they wouldn’t want to pay for it, either.
So: is it possible for you to love a dog but also torture and kill her? Especially when you have endless food choices available? Can you really be an animal lover if you pay for any animals to be hurt when it isn’t necessary?
Return to questions
DON'T FORCE YOUR VIEWS ON ME! ISN’T IT MY PERSONAL CHOICE TO EAT ANIMALS?
It’s not justifiable to punch someone just because you personally made the choice to punch them. The person has their personal choice: not to be punched.
When you get down to it, everything is a personal choice. You can choose to be a racist or a rapist or beat your children or dog. When you choose to intentionally and unnecessarily hurt others—or eat animals—you’re putting your choice ahead of theirs. Does that seem fair?
Return to questions
I LIKE THE TASTE OF MEAT—WHY SHOULD I GIVE THAT UP?
If humans made all our choices based on “it feels good to me,” we’d be in trouble. Think about all the things we’d justify.
A meal lasts for 15 minutes, but the life and death of an animal raised for food is unimaginably cruel, scary, and painful––and their death is eternal. Do you think that 15 minutes of pleasure is worth more than an animal’s life?
What about the life of your dog? Under what circumstances would a meal be worth the life of your dog? A celebratory steak dinner? A casual cookout? Most folks wouldn’t eat their dogs until they were on a deserted island (see What if we were on a deserted island?)
Do you actually value taste higher than the life of an animal?
(Also, it’s not as if you would even have to give up the flavors of the animal products you eat. There's a huge variety of alternatives—and a lot of what we enjoy about animals is due to how we season them.)
Return to questions
HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE FOOD CHAIN? LIONS?
Most of the time, we hold ourselves to higher standards than animals, until it comes to eating meat, and suddenly, we’re "wild animals acting out our primal instincts.” Wild animals do a lot of things, like kill their offspring and cannibalize and rape one another.
Should we be looking to animals for our morals?
Also, food chains exist in nature because they must. A lion must kill to eat. We do not. We have the ability—and moral agency––to choose to eat other foods. With the power to choose, why wouldn’t we choose to take care of those who are vulnerable? Shouldn’t we use our dominance to make the world better, not worse?
DON’T WE NEED TO EAT ANIMALS, EGGS, & DAIRY MILK TO LIVE?
Many reputable organizations have documented that we can get all the nutrients we need—protein, iron, calcium, and every other nutrient that we associate with animal products—without exploiting animals. That’s because the nutrients found in animals can be found in plants (that’s where the animals get them from).
“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” - American Dietetic Association (the largest body of nutrition and diet professionals in the U.S.)
So if it’s not necessary to eat animals for your health, wouldn’t that mean that doing these things to animals is unnecessary cruelty?
Not so sure? Check out the abundance of plant-based athletes. Or click through to see how consuming animal products has actually been linked to our top diseases and illnesses, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke, many forms of cancer, hypertension, dementia, and osteoporosis—and many of them can be treated and even reversed by switching to a plant-based lifestyle.
EATING ANIMALS IS A TRADITION! DO YOU HATE TRADITION?
In the U.S., it was custom to enslave people. For adult men to have child brides. In other countries, female genital mutilation is still a tradition, as is dolphin slaughter, dog, cock, and bull fighting––the list goes on.
With these traditions in mind, do you think culture and tradition are good indicators for morality?
Also, why should we celebrate culture by slaughtering animals when we can celebrate through music, dance, and language—or simply changing the ingredients in what we eat?
CAVEMEN ATE MEAT & HUMANS EVOLVED FROM EATING MEAT. SO THEREFORE…?
This is technically correct, but perhaps you don’t want to base your morals on the actions of primitive beings who did a whole host of other things you probably wouldn’t defend as ok for modern society—rape, murder, and incest come to mind.
And chances are, you’re not really trying to “live like your ancestors” in other ways like eating insects, sleeping outside, and ignoring the existence of electricity.
What’s more, many of our ancestors, even in recent history, had to eat animals to survive. They had to push down their feelings of revulsion, regret, and sadness to “do what had to be done.” We don’t have to do that anymore.
(And if you’re eating meat because you want your brain to evolve to pass on your brilliance to the next generation, you might consider the connection between eating meat and climate change—animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation system combined and is the leading cause of rainforest destruction, oceanic dead zones, species extinction, topsoil erosion, land desertification and more.
In short: We may not make it long enough to evolve another 100,000 years.)
IF WE DIDN’T EAT ANIMALS, THEY’D OVERRUN US OR GO EXTINCT––DO YOU WANT THAT?
If you're serious, please watch:
AREN’T HUMAN RIGHTS MORE IMPORTANT?
If your friend said, “I’m concerned about the homeless youth in my city,” would you feel it helpful to reply, “but what about plastic pollution?” Obviously, both of these issues need solving and you’re not gaining anything by devaluing either of them.
Not eating animals is something you can do right alongside other activism. It’s a passive action. You can volunteer at a youth shelter and be vegan. You can organize beach clean-ups, write op-eds about single-use plastic, fight the Big Oil while being vegan. In fact, being vegan actually addresses many human rights issues—some people even go vegan for human rights.
Return to questions
DON’T PLANTS FEEL PAIN, TOO?
No. Plants don’t have a central nervous system, pain receptors, or a brain, which means they don’t have the ability to feel pain (plants can react to stimuli, though, which is different). Even if plants did feel pain, consider that it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of beef—that’s a lot of plants (who don’t feel pain) and a cow (who most definitely does feel pain).
What’s more, you know for an absolute fact that animals feel pain. Think about it: if you were driving along a grass-lined street and a dog jumped in the road—would you plow through the dog to protect the grass?
Return to questions
ANIMALS CAN’T FEEL PAIN OR SUFFER THE SAME WAY WE DO, THOUGH, RIGHT?
Does our society have rules to protect companion animals just for the heck of it or is it because we know that animals have the capacity to suffer? When your dog or cat is injured, do they exhibit signs of pain? Do they limp, or lie still, cry out, or breathe unevenly?
As for emotional suffering—animals (companion or “farmed”) exhibit a slew of emotions, and not just the expected ones like anxiety or fear, but also jealousy, excitement, sorrow, loneliness, depression, empathy, and joy.
“Fifty years ago, people said animals can’t feel pain. Things have come a long way since then, and the more we know about their emotional lives, the more we can do to minimize the impacts of what we do to them.” - Dr Mirjam Guesgen
But even if we can’t be certain how similar an animal’s pain and suffering is to our own, does that justify inflicting unnecessary pain?
I CAN’T BE 100% VEGAN—& NEITHER CAN YOU.
Let’s say your house is on fire and there are two people inside. You know you will only have time to save one—do you throw up your hands and save neither? Or maybe you realize you don’t have the energy to be kind all the time––do you choose to be cruel most of the time instead?
Maybe you’re thinking about the animals killed in crop production, or the bugs in your salad greens, or the salmon killed in dams that power our homes. Or maybe you’re allergic to cashews, or your doctor says you have to eat fish, or maybe you “could never give up cheese.”
Just because you can’t do something 100%, does that mean there’s no use in trying at all?
Veganism is not about perfection. It is about minimizing harm to animals as much as is possible and practicable. We do not live in a vegan world, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do all we can to minimize the harm we cause while living in it.
It all comes down to intention:
"If someone was driving their car and they accidentally hit a dog, that would not be the same as if they purposefully drove after the dog until they ran them over. The logic behind the argument, 'it’s morally justifiable for me to pay for an animal to be killed because animals sometimes die in crop production' is stating that morally, accidentally hitting the dog is the same as purposefully hitting the dog, as it ignores the intention. It also states that because animals are sometimes killed accidentally by cars, it is therefore acceptable to purposefully run them over.” - Ed Winters
So if you are vegan except for cheese, that's better than nothing. If you are vegan except for the medication you must take that was tested on animals, thank you. We can only do as much as we can––but many of us are afraid to even try.
WHAT IF WE WERE ON A DESERTED ISLAND?
ISN’T PESCATARIAN/VEGETARIAN ENOUGH?
Thank you for thinking so. It’s a start. If this is all you can do for now, amazing. If this is just a starting point, keep going! If you honestly don’t know, though––if you truly don’t get why people are vegan, you might want to know about fishing’s impact on the environment, what happens to male chicks born to the egg industry, and the reality for calves of dairy cows (like all mammals, cows have to be pregnant and give birth to produce milk).
WASN’T HITLER VEGETARIAN?
He probably wasn’t. But Chairman Mao, Mussolini, and Stalin all ate meat. Does that matter?
DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT THE FARMERS WHO WILL LOSE THEIR JOBS?
Imagine Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat was real and a family owned it. Does their job morally justify mutilating and slaughtering dogs? If they're making a profit, does that mean it’s ok?
Yes, the issue surrounding the livelihoods of farmers should be addressed—but do you think maintaining a broken system is the way forward? Is money and tradition more important than the life of animals and the future of the planet? (Note: The Vegan Society, Mercy for Animals, and other organizations will offer help and financial support to any farmers who want to make the transition.)
Also, what about the slaughterhouse workers? Can you imagine the psychological issues that would come from killing so many animals? Slaughterhouse workers are often immigrants or working-class folks who have few options and suffer immensely––they have some of the highest rates of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and significantly higher rates of alcoholism, domestic abuse, child abuse, and suicide. Ending animal agriculture would be a blessing for these people.
DON'T YOU KNOW THAT OTHER COUNTRIES EAT DOGS? THIS IS XENOPHOBIC.
Our message is that eating dogs is no more unethical or strange than eating other similarly sentient animals.
This concept is not meant to evoke or be connected with a specific country, region, or people who currently consume dog meat. In fact, there is a wide tradition of eating dog meat: many people still eat cats and dogs in Switzerland. Some regions in Africa still consume dog meat. Dogs were widely consumed in France until being banned in 1910. It's legal to consume dogs in the UK and dogs are sometimes consumed in some parts of Asia (source: Wikipedia).
In order to achieve the goal of emotionally reaching our Western audience, it was necessary to choose an animal that they love and respect more than any other animal—and in the Western world, it’s the dog. Any overlap with stereotypes about other cultures and regions is a coincidence. It is also a comparison we do not make in any of our content. (Some of these points are addressed in this vegan activist's video.)
Regarding the hurtful stereotypes around cultures that do eat dog meat: we do not condone them.
Our goal is to reach meat-eaters who profess to love animals and show them their own hypocrisy. Along with that, we hope to show how it’s hypocritical to judge other cultures for engaging in practices very similar to our own.
If you’d like to read more about the philosophy behind this project, see our About page.