Animal Rights IS the Reasonable Position

Julia Galef of the Rationally Speaking blog and podcast posts: Some animals are more equal than others. It is exactly the issue at hand when people speak of “animal rights”. The term has been given a black eye and invokes images of animals getting the right to vote or black bloc donning terrorists but these are crude caricatures. When pressured to admit their ultimate motive vegans have to mention animal rights or a synonym of such since it does often invoke knee-jerk reactions. Part of the reason I think veganism is faulty as tactic of advocacy is that it bypasses the issue. The smart critical thinkers will eventually come to the realization of “animal rights” on their own which is why critical thinking is probably more important than any ploy for veganism or animal rights. Animal rights IS the reasonable and rational position.

My own evolving skepticism strengthens my animal rights resolve. I never really used to use the term “animal rights” because it seemed too abstract for me and still does but describes my position the best in a single label. Labels are not always good descriptors though. Just as “vegan” means something different to every person you ask, “animal rights” has the same thing going for it and worse when you factor in the culture and activist whose extreme acts have owned the image.

I realize I could be so heavily biased and sold on the matter that renouncing my animal rights stance might be difficult but it wasn’t for lack of trying. What is the difference between us animals and other animals that allows us to treat them so unjustly? What then is the difference between other forms of life and where is the line drawn? Is it a slippery slope of a dynamic continuum and how does that inform our acts? I don’t think there are distinct lines here but I cannot but somehow feel we’re much, much over the line as to the way we systematically treat others.

Long ago when I first started going to skeptic meetups my veganism came to light and the immediate reaction by one skeptic was literally “Well you’re vegan for health or environment right?” which I thought was funny for a skeptic to say. Somehow no skeptic could be vegan for ethics. Plus, as I have made the case before, the health and environmental arguments fall flat with veganism. Mention the word “vegan” or Tarvu forbid, “animal rights” on a skeptic thread in a blog somewhere and the comments will balloon up into the hundreds with skeptics artfully exemplifying the most obvious canards and logically fallacies in their knee-jerk justifications of animal eating. For me the issue of veganism and skepticism is one and the same but for most others they somehow seem diametrically opposed.

It’s a shame that they should be taken that way. I can lay blame on all the hippies and new agers who’ve been flinging their woo and their ploys but ultimately the constructive thing to do is to focus my efforts in the area despite them. Every movement has their embarrassments and animal rights is no exception. The numbers of vegan skeptics though are growing and I think by getting people to think critically they’ll come to the same position on the matter. Of course, I argue that veganism is not the answer but with more people coming to accept animals as our earthbound peers acts of justice and recognition is inevitable.

Tom Regan: A Case For Animal Rights

For now the philosophers, our thought leaders are scouting this new area and soon animal rights pioneers will establish settlements. Tired cliches will be neutralized and revolution will happen without anybody noticing. It’s a long and arduous journey though but the road of reason is worth it.

8 comments to Animal Rights IS the Reasonable Position

  • Al

    Great post. I’m a fellow skeptic and vegan (wait, are you vegan? I haven’t been reading your blog for long and I can’t tell). Anyway, you said, “Of course, I argue that veganism is not the answer…” Like I said, I haven’t been reading your blog for long, so I’m wondering if you could point me to any previous posts you’ve written that go onto this idea a bit further. Do you mean just that using veganism as an outreach tool isn’t effective? Or that the act of veganism in itself isn’t effective?

    I’m genuinely curious. Thank you.

  • Oh hello Al, thanks for commenting! I knew if I started writing they would come and I’m glad to meet another vegan skeptic.

    I have a couple of posts in the works that have to deal with your question but for a sneak peek you can check out the comments on Putting the Late in Deflate. Real quick though, I still practice “veganism” as a form of alignment of belief and action. I don’t ask people to “go vegan” as a vehicle to advocate for animals because it often gets lumped in as an environmental or health concern. (also see On Specious Rhetoric by Vegan Advocates) Animal rights usually becomes the last stand justification when the other arguments fail…or they end up leaving veganism altogether like we see in The Vegan Bubble.

    Hope that helps, thanks for reading!

  • This is the best post I’ve ever read just before bed. Couldn’t have said it better.

    To quote one Mr. Eric Cartman: “Damn hippies.”

  • Geo, wow awesome! *highfive* Thanks for letting me know, I appreciate it!

    BTW I’m big fan of your blog (of course).

  • Vegan Hypocrisy 101

    “Vegan Skeptic” is an oxymoron. Yours is a cult operating on dogma that is VIOLENTLY anti-science, irrational, hypocritical and entirely unfeasible.

    “Vegan Skeptic” is akin to “Homeopathy-practicing Transcendental Monk Skeptic”.

    • PearledOwl

      You’ve obviously haven’t heard of the Skeptical Vegan, have you? Seriously, you don’t even know what your talking about. You’ve only soaked up the stuff the critics of groups like PETA. PETA does have problems, but that does NOT mean that VEGANS have the same problems. Here’s an equation I would like to give you:
      PETA/=Vegans/=New Agers
      If you were to ask “Why would a SKEPTIC be VEGAN?” Then I would answer why not? To think vegans are caused by New Age nonsense is called the Fallacy of False Cause. Although I may be committing a fallacy myself(The Fallacy Fallacy, fun right?) my point stands. The fact that being vegan may be ethical choice, of which where one wants to avoid actively having to eat animal products or byproduct on their plate. Being a vegan is irrelevant to fact of having a mind-full of baloney. However, I must quote from Vegan Chicago “Baloney isn’t vegan!”.

  • Taylor G

    I think it’s worth noting that the “health” and “environmental” reasons for becoming vegan are both fundamentally moral positions. They both rely on a concern for conscious well-being; if you’re a health vegan you’re concerned about your own well-being, and if you’re an environmental vegan you’re concerned about the well-being of those affected by the environment.

    It’s interesting how the “animal rights” angle is often the least favourable of the three. If you’re doing it for your health or the environment then “oh, that’s cool”, but if you’re doing it for animals then “Woah man, you’re going a bit too far”.

    If you value consistency and coherency, you can’t separate one from the other.

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