One of the arguments against veganism that for me requires the most mental gymnastics to follow is the premise that if we don’t eat animals they will go extinct. It implies that the only way to save farmed animals is to continue to use them for our consumption. It further implies that we are doing these animals a favor.
Who comes up with this stuff?
However, since a lot of people believe this, and several foodies push this idea (think Michael Pollen), let’s take a closer look at the claim.
Many in the foodie movement like to assert that if we don’t eat these animals then there would be no need for them and therefore they would go extinct. Looking back at the success of the campaign “Eat Koala nuggets, Save a Koala bear”…wait that never happened. Well, what about the time everyone was encouraged to “Spot an Owl, Make Soup”? Actually, that may have been the anti-spotted owl people. This never happened either. In reality NO animals have ever been saved or brought back from near extinction because we started eating them. Yes, I can hear those of you shaking your head, yelling at the computer “Farmed animals are different. You are conveniently leaving out the American Bison (Buffalo)!!” Nope, I’m not.
Bison were not saved because we eat more of them. They were FIRST removed from the endangered list by way of conservation efforts. Once the animals were considered safe from extinction, people were allowed to kill them. Does anyone else notice the sick logic in that plan? Do we have more of them now that they are being farmed? Yes. But farming did not save them from extinction. Conservation saved them, and now greed has sadly increased the numbers even more so people can consume them.
But as vegans we like to try and build bridges to find common ground with meat eaters. So let’s, for the sake of argument, concede that eating farmed animals will somehow keep them from going extinct. My response is, for the love of God please knock it off and let them go! It is the kind thing to do. We have wild pigs and even feral chickens. Let them live in peace. But do not continue to bring into the world animals that suffer every day just by being alive. Consider the following:
Broiler chickens: Chickens have been “genetically manipulated to grow much larger and more quickly than their ancestors. Modern broiler chickens also experience crippling leg disorders and lameness because their legs are not capable of supporting their abnormally heavy bodies”
Pigs: “pigs often have short life spans because their genetically-altered bodies cannot handle the strain of their massive weight on such frail legs. They were never meant to live “normal” lives and must endure bodies manipulated by science and greed”
Turkeys: “commercially raised turkeys have difficulty flying or running, and they CANNOT reproduce naturally”
Considering how horribly we have altered these innocent beings, how can we imply that continuing to reproduce them for our own pleasure is in any way helping them? It isn’t. The claim that eating them is the only way to save them is nothing more than an attempt to justify killing animals for human pleasure. Nothing more.