Is Veganism the New Morality?

People are inherently competitive and status conscious, and one of the traditional ways many people competed was in religious devotion. Being overtly religiously devout allowed one to at least pretend to occupy a relatively high moral plane. That’s one way to maintain a good public image, and to make one feel good about oneself. But in the post-Christian West, people need to find other ways to strike a pose of moral superiority. One option, apparently, is veganism.

Writing in The Guardian, Saskia Sarginson relates that her adult children, who by the way live at home, are tormenting her with their veganism. (Hat tip: Justin D.)

[A]s a goodwill gesture, I have switched from cow’s to goat’s butter, although I am probably kidding myself that goat’s butter is acquired in a kinder manner.

My offspring cannot forgive this weakness. Particularly the butter. When they berate me for eating it, I am in turns angry, defiant and depressed. I feel hounded in my own home, and when I’m cornered, I resort to lashing out. After one particularly heated argument, Ed and I escape to the pub to recover. Ed orders scampi fries. I eat one and feel like a rebellious teenager. I know my feelings do not make sense.

“Where did I go wrong?” I wonder bitterly. “Why do they think they can bully me? They ate meat all their lives until about five minutes ago, and now I’m not allowed a tiny bit of butter.”

I’m aware that I sound like a petulant child. But it feels good to moan. Ed nods. “We pay the food bills, we enable them to be vegan, and yet we end up looking like the bad guys.”

“Exactly. It’s easy for them to be perfect,” I say. “They don’t have to worry about council tax and mending the washing machine. They’re still protected in their bubble at home.”

“Yes,” says Ed sadly. “But they do have the moral high ground. I think that’s what’s so difficult to accept.”

This is the adult children’s way of assuaging their egos. They’re losers sponging off their parents, but at least they’ve attained that vegan moral high ground. “Mom may pay the bills, but unlike us she can’t will herself to go full vegan. Ha!”
It’s the ego protecting itself.

But in any event, is veganism really the moral high ground? Where does that come from? Even Sikhs are not vegan, just vegetarian. Did I miss the part in the Nicomachean Ethics where Aristotle endorsed veganism? And can veganism still define the moral high ground even when it’s associated with a strip joint?

That headline is from Portland, Oregon. Pretty much had to be either Portland or San Francisco.

Which reminds me of a joke.

An atheist, a crossfitter, and a vegan walk into a bar…
I only know because they told everybody within two minutes.

But seriously, have these oh-so-moral vegans fully considered the possible consequences of their actions?

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2 thoughts on “Is Veganism the New Morality?

  1. On your question of the morality of veganism, I think vegans would argue that these beliefs are a consequence of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism or Consequentialism seems to ground ethics in the capacity to suffer, whereas Intensionalism (or Kantianism) grounds ethics into man’s ability to reason. So, it seems to me, they argue that because animals can suffer, it follows that animals are apart of the moral universe. This seems to be the view of Peter Singer as well.

    • Yes, your philosophical summary sounds about right. I think most modern people agree that we should do what we can to avoid needless suffering by animals. That’s why we have laws against animal cruelty, and I think that’s appropriate. That’s also why when you have a dog suffering from terminal cancer, you put it down. No reason to prolong the suffering. But none of that precludes raising and eating domesticated animals. They would not even exist if humans hadn’t bred them and raised them. We brought them into the world, and we can take them out.
      If people want to go vegan or vegetarian, that’s their choice. But I wonder if someday they’ll try to enforce it on the rest of us. Some leftists are already tying meat consumption to global warming. Most religions do involve food rituals and dietary restrictions, and modern environmentalism is no different.

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