Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them
to Jo using this easy form.
She would be happy to address your individual concerns
as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy,
practical applications, and living compassionately.
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the "What Ifs"
What would be the "official" vegan stance
on the consuming of meat from an animal that died of
natural causes (i.e. old age, natural predator, etc.)?
I was asked this question, and found it difficult to
answer, save the rather uneducated, "Ick! But it's meat!"
Vegans and vegetarians are routinely
baited by nonvegetarians with endless "what if" scenarios.
For instance, "What if you were stranded on a desert
island where there was no vegetation?" or "What if there
were a nuclear holocaust that killed all the plants?"
or "What if you were living in a remote part of Alaska?"
The "what if" possibilities are interminable and absurd.
The fact is that we are not in these situations and
do not anticipate being in these situations, so ruminating
about them is pointless.
All animals eventually die; this is
a reality of life. Animals who die in the wild, without
human interference, are part of the natural life and
death process. Natural selection ensures that the strongest
and healthiest animals outlive the weaker and sicker
ones, thereby evolving the species and perpetuating
what we call "survival of the fittest." In response
to your acquaintance's particular "what if" story, the
flesh of an animal that dies of old age would be tough
and unpalatable, and the carcass of an animal killed
by a natural predator would be devoured or picked apart
long before people arrived on the scene. Even if humans
found the meat of a very old animal to be appetizing
or discovered an intact animal killed by natural predators,
they would have to be sitting in wait for the animal's
demise in order to procure the flesh before rigor mortis
set in or it began to putrefy.
This imagined account incorporates much
conjecture. It is based on the erroneous assumption
that vegans and vegetarians crave animal flesh, and
that they avoid it only because they object to how animals
that are raised for food are slaughtered. This suggests
that if animals were killed in a more "natural" or "humane"
fashion that vegans would not only condone eating meat
but would desire it. The premise itself is fallacious;
therefore, the conclusion is illogical.
If the person with whom you are speaking
sincerely wants to gain a deeper understanding of veganism,
you can explain the presumptions implied by this line
of questioning. However, most nonvegetarians who goad
vegans in this manner are merely trying to lure them
into a defensive argument. It is a waste of time and
energy to engage in such useless banter with people
who have no interest in veganism other than to incite
a senseless debate. If this is the case, save your strength
and wit and shrug it off.
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