Posted by: conradvisionquest | June 21, 2010

“But animals are killed in the harvesting of plants!”

Time and time again I have seen this idea used as an argument against veganism, or more accurately, as a defense for eating meat.   Here are my thoughts on why this doesn’t work…

First, to me this really isn’t a valid argument for eating meat, it’s an argument against the factory farming of vegetables.  Yes, animals are unintentionally killed during the harvesting of some fruits and vegetables.  So I should start eating meat then?  I fail to see the connection. 

Second, the amount of animals accidentally killed to harvest grain to feed me is far less than the number of animals accidentally killed to harvest the grain to feed the meat eater’s “food” animals, plus the animals intentionally killed for the meat itself.  Not to mention the kind of lives that livestock live.  Want to see concrete numbers?  Check out this chart here*.

Third, as many have said before and I will again say here, it’s about reducing the amount of suffering, avoiding it as far is as possible and practical, not being perfect.  That is an unrealistic goal.  There is no perfect vegan.  Are the people who use this argument suggesting that we stop eating alltogether?  Should we never leave our houses again for fear we may step on an ant and kill it?  Of course that is ridiculous.  Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything.  Do something. 

Check out this thoughtful answer  to this question on and also another very well written answer here on yahoo answers.

Although I realize it is not feasible for everyone, this is part of the reason why I like to grow my own food.  In 2009 we grew a fabulous organic veggie garden that fed us all summer, and we even canned some pickles!  I hope to be more of a homesteader in the future.

*I was surprised to see the number so low for milk production, and after reading the explanation I discovered that the calves born as a result of the dairy industry were not included in the numbers.


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