If the whole world went vegan – consequences

I eat meat. I eat it as part of a healthy diet.

I have about 10 vegan friends on Facebook who post videos and images of the benefits of veganism, and the cruelty of the meat industry. The one that jarred me into introspection was of a piglet held by the hind legs, being smashed headfirst into a wall. The caption read “why is the meat industry so cruel? Because it operates behind closed doors.”

What a chilling idea. Anyone who’s ever been abused as a child or adult, behind closed doors knows the terror of powerlessness. The association forced me into empathy for the piglet, who could be as smart as a three year-old human (and I assume with the same emotional range).

I realised there that, whatever your opinion of ethical vegans is,  they align their diet to their morality, rather than the other way around.

I’m looking at myself, trying to reconcile what I’m okay with eating. What’s my metric for “what is okay to eat”? Right now, I’m thinking it’s species’ intelligence. This means I assign value to life based on intelligence (for a species, not for below-average members of said species), which is a startling realisation. It’s a flawed idea, but it’s something I gave some thought to, and it might change over time.

I enjoy theory-crafting scenarios. So what would happen if the whole world went pure vegan? This four-minute video explains the environmental benefits. Basically, it would be like mother earth quit heroin. That time might come, since we already have bacon-flavoured seaweed, and lab-grown meat (which wouldn’t be meat, ethically speaking) is becoming a thing.

But then, what happens to the animals? I’m not placing the burden on the vegetarians, but realistically speaking, all livestock would have to be put down. It wouldn’t be enough to neuter them and stop breeding – the financial burden of keeping them alive for the few decades pigs and cows live would bankrupt thousands of businesses.

So, a social fund to support the industries keeping them alive? A ‘transition tax’ where everyone pays for meat they don’t eat? Or maybe an NGO that does it. It would be one hell of a Patreon fund.

If our great grandchildren do end up looking at our treatment of animals the way we look at our grandparents’ treatment of minorities, what would they think of mass extinction? Modern livestock wouldn’t survive in the wild? Would bovine genocide be excusable?

 

I don’t know, but I do wonder.

 

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