In order for any movement to remain dynamic I think it’s critical to evaluate and constantly refine foundational principles. I do this with my own ideas all the time. My own work has tried recently to explore other ethical ways of eating than veganism. I’m doing this not to harass vegans, or insult anyone, but to create space for more people to eat in a way that reduces animal suffering. I’m exploring the idea that veganism as the sole approach to reducing animal suffering may be too limited.
Given that there are nominal forms of meat consumption—roadkill, freegan scavaging, insects, oysters—that may not cause intentional animal suffering and that, just as importantly, in no way directly supports animal domestication as we know it, I think it makes very good sense to promote these options as viable alternatives to chicken, beef, pork, and fish. The risk of being wrong on these options strikes me as worth it in light of the trade-off: more people choosing to avoid eating animals that we know for sure suffer.
This is the game I’m chasing of late, and this is why I’ve been publishing the pieces I’ve been publishing, both here and in the New York Times and Pacific Standard. When I floated these ideas here, I knew there would be resistance, and I knew I might even get cyberspacially psychoanalyzed (which, really, if you’ve never had it done to you, wow!), but I did not know how vehement and visceral the anger would be.
This blog has been around for a while, many years. I’ve worked very hard to cultivate a civil and intellectually open and even playful atmosphere, if only for self-interested reasons: when I latch onto new ideas I like to bounce them around, get respectful and honest feedback, take stock, think, and revise. When readers are charitable, open, judicious, and reasoned in their disagreements, this happens. When they aren’t, it doesn’t.
So, I’m politely and without rancor asking those who want to use this blog to level ad hominen attacks, or undertake unsolicited psychoanalysis, or assume the worst about those with whom they disagree, to refrain from posting comments. And if that’s too difficult, just unsubscribe. By contrast, I welcome and deeply appreciate comments that are critically reasoned* and charitable of each other’s motivations.
Can we do this? Yes we can.
*Emotional responses are not only welcome but necessary, as critical reasoning is ultimately an attempt to make sense of what we feel in our guts.