On the Biketour, all common meals and all food bough by communal money is vegan. Here are some different aspects of how a vegan diet/lifestyle is connected to the other Biketour values.
(To be written)
Whether or not people agree with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, most people would still agree that there should be some basic rights that all humans should have, among those the right not to be killed, the right not to be tortured, etc. However, most people would and the law does argue that only humans should have those rights, and other animals shouldn’t. This inequality is called Speciesism (discrimination based on the species). In some places, some animal species (such as cats, dogs and sometimes horses) are seen as pets and have certain rights (for example not to be killed for food), while others (for example pigs and cows) are seen as livestock and don’t have these rights. This separation between humans, pets and animals to be eaten is called Carnism.
Most of us feel more empathy towards humans than towards other animals, and more empathy towards dogs and cats than towards pigs and cows. If we were in a situation where we could either save one human’s life or the lives of 50 dogs, we would choose to save the human of course.
But should we base our ethics, behaviours and laws on the empathy that we feel towards certain groups? If you asked a slave owner about whether they feel the same empathy for their slaves as for their friends, they would all say no, and still we argue that keeping slaves is wrong, even if the people who are doing it feel like it’s okay. We also argue that it is not okay for neo-nazis to set refugee camps on fire, even if they don’t feel any compassion for refugees at all. Basing our ethics on people’s feelings, on what they subjectively think is okay, is dangerous. Instead, when coming up with the rules that we want to set ourselves, we need to try to think objectively, also considering scientific facts.
There are hundreds of differences between humans and non-human animals that seem to justify that humans have the right to live but pigs for example don’t. But when you think about each one of them in detail, you will discover that these differences either don’t exist (or at least there are some corner cases in which they don’t, but in which you would still argue that humans shuold have the right to live), or that there is no reason why these differences should justify different rights.
- Animals don’t emotionally suffer when feeling pain. Like humans, animals obviously react when they experience pain, so no one would doubt that they feel it. The thought behind this argument is that the reaction of animals is only the reaction to a stimulus (like an oven that turns off when it detects that it is too hot), but they don’t emotionally suffer from it. The answer to this is that we don’t know and can never know for sure, but we can assume based on similarities between us and other animals that they experience pain in a similar way to us. Vertebrates (animals with bones) and particularly mammals have a nerve system that is very similar to ours, and their reaction to pain is also very similar (similar body language, behaviour of avoidance, the same brain regions react to it, when experiencing it repeatedly beyond their control they can develop conditions like depression). We cannot even be sure that other humans experience pain in the same way as us, we can only assume that they do because they react to it in a similar way as us, so it makes sense to assume the same about animals. Apart from that, there are some humans who cannot experience pain (congenital insensitivity to pain), and still we wouldn’t argue that they don’t have the right not to be harmed.
- Animals are not as intelligent as humans. First of all, this cannot be generalised. Of course, in an IQ test where you have to read instructions written in English, you would come to this conclusion, but if you test intelligence in a more animal-friendly way, you would come to the result that some animals are actually more intelligent than (some) humans. But apart from that, the question is why this difference would justify different rights. Some humans are also more intelligent than others, but no one would argue that because of this they should have different rights.
- Animals don’t have an imagination (of death). Some people argue that humans have an imagination of what it means to die, or that they have the ability to have dreams and plans for the future, and this justifies their right to live. However, it has been proven in scientific experiments where certain animal species (in particular certain types of monkeys) were taught some simple sign language that they do have an imagination of death. Also, we wouldn’t argue that people who don’t have an imagination (such as babies or people in an unconcious coma) shouldn’t have the right to live.
- Animals cannot speak. It is not even clear how this justifies the right to live, but obviously there are many humans who cannot speak and about whom we would still argue that they should have the right to live.
- This is nature, survival of the fittest. Some people argue that it is normal in nature that stronger species kill weaker species. The big difference is that a lion would starve if they didn’t kill, but humans wouldn’t, as they can eat plants instead. Also, in many animal species, stronger individuals kill weaker individuals of the same species, so we could argue the same about humans killing other humans.
- Animals do not have emotional bonds. The idea is that when a human dies, there will be other humans (family, friends) who will emotionally suffer from it. Obviously, many animal species also have strong emotional bonds and show similar symptoms of sadness when they lose someone close to them. Also, no one would argue that people who don’t have any friends don’t have the right to live.
You might understand some of the reasons for a vegetarian diet now, but what has veganism to do with it?
- Milk/egg production
- Conditions in factory farming (+ organic)
- No choice?
- Water consumption
- Pollution of water and soil
- Emissions (Farting + Transport + Smell)
- Working conditions
- Subsidies (costs + world market) (link to capitalism)
- Vitamins (B12, iodine, iron, calcium, etc.)