Is being a vegan better than being an omnivore ethically, politically and environmentally?

Answer by Jim Ashby:

I've been meaning to cover the logical fallacies, from both sides of the argument, for some time now. Here goes . . .

The Meat Eaters

When people claim that it is not immoral to eat meat because it's delicious and they like it, they are committing the naturalistic fallacy.

When people claim that it is not immoral to eat meat because it is natural for animals to eat meat, they are committing the appeal to nature fallacy.

The Plant Eaters

To my experience, most veggie proselytizers are guilty of the moral high ground fallacy. and/or the moralistic fallacy

When people claim that it is immoral to eat meat, they are committing the red herring fallacy and/or the ecological fallacy and/or the ignoratio elenchi fallacy.

The previous paragraph needs some elaboration. I'll take them in order presented.

The red herring fallacy occurs when the moral claim against eating meat is conflated with the environmental issue of greenhouse gases. Global warming is indeed a critically serious environmental issue. But it is not a moral issue because we don't need to cease eating meat to address the global warming issue. Instead, we can reduce meat consumption and/or switch to raising animals (such as fish, chickens or pigs) that produce less greenhouse gases and/or switch to free-range feeding. We can also reduce other sources of greenhouse gases. The three most potent food sources of greenhouse gases are lambs, cows and cheese, in that order (lambs and cows are both ruminants that, individually, produce more flatus than other livestock). By the way, the farming, transport and consumption of plants also produce greenhouse gases (though, admittedly, less than from meat).

The ecological fallacy occurs when veggie proselytizers claim moral superiority (or insinuate that meat eaters are morally inferior). All the stats in the world doesn't change the fact that, even if eating meat were a moral issue, it would be just one aspect of morality. Morality doesn't hinge on any single issue: including what we eat. There's myriad other moral issues to consider as well.

The ignoratio elenchi fallacy occurs whenever eating meat is asserted as a moral issue. The assertion misses the point that any claim (moral or otherwise) is invalid if it violates the law of noncontradiction. You can't deny, ignore or contradict a fact and retain a valid argument. What fact? The fact that our DNA determines our nutritional requirements and those requirements have always required eating meat: even our predecessor species were omnivores. We are, and always have been, omnivores: not herbivores or carnivores.

It is bigotry to blame people for the way they were born . . . whether that be black, female, handicapped, gay, deformed or, yes, an omnivore. And claims of moral superiority are no less repugnant than claims of racial superiority. To me, such folk are the "food gestapo".

Is being a vegan better than being an omnivore ethically, politically and environmentally?

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