Five Questions for My Vegan Friend

When I started this website, I asked an old friend who is a vegan and an animal rights activist, to have a conversation with me, either on camera or over the phone.  He said he’d “have to think about it” and I haven’t heard from him since.  I’m not going to speculate about his motivation for not agreeing or for not following up with me – I’ve always known him to be a loyal and generous man and I’ll trust he had good reasons.  In spite of our obvious differences, it wasn’t my intention to verbally beat him up, but I wanted answers for some questions and I trusted him to have an open and honest conversation with me.  Since I’m still curious, here are those questions.

1.     Since PETA runs kill shelters and kills thousands of animals every year, by the same logic of killing a few to protect the many, wouldn’t it make more sense to support hunting where the hunter feeds their family, than it would to allow populations to grow to the point cities are having to cull animals, or animals die in traffic accidents (killing humans as well) or dying from starvation and disease?

2.     If everyone went vegetarian, we’d need a lot more land for agriculture; for example, soybean fields for tofu.  How do you justify the animal deaths that would occur due to loss of habitat?  What would you do with the animals who would inevitably come to eat out of those fields?

3.     If Big Ag let all those cows and other farm animals go, they’d need even more land for grazing than we have now.  What happens to those cows, pigs, chickens, etc.?

4.     Hunters and anglers account for over 80% of conservation dollars in this country.  What do animal rights activists contribute now and what would we need to do to support these animals and their habitat in a world without hunting and fishing?

5.     The argument I usually hear from vegans regarding why it’s okay for other omnivorous or carnivorous animals can eat meat, but homo sapiens should not is that we are more highly evolved and can make the choice, they cannot. Considering most scientists agree that our consumption of animal protein is why our brains developed the way they did (and our facial structure and teeth changed) isn’t it somewhat arrogant, or perhaps, unfounded, to declare that we shouldn’t eat meat today? I will allow that some cultures have always been vegetarian and evolved to be so, but for the rest of us descended from omnivores, doesn’t it make sense to eat what our body is designed (through evolution) to eat?

I have no issue if one chooses a plant-based diet, none whatsoever.  Hell, I even admire their conviction, but the argument seems to always be about morality, never about facts, science or the practical issues that surround the issue such as a few that I’ve named above.  If we want to protect animals, we need to have an open and honest conversation about it.  Hunters are just as likely to get emotional in their defense of hunting, and while I understand that, I don’t believe we’re going to prevail with emotion.

Hunting, tradition, and our diet can all be emotional topics because they do intersect with our morality.  We’re never going to agree with vegans or animal rights activists in these areas, but I would like to know how they’d deal with the practical issues if they got their way.  I would also like to know, why when predation is so common in nature, that the predator is always the bad guy?  In the words of John Reiger, former executive director of the Connecticut Audubon Society, anti-hunters “would prefer to condemn the hunter who shoots a dozen ducks every waterfowl season in a swamp that in many cases only sportsmen’s money has preserved from the dragline and bulldozer, rather than (condemn) the developer who obliterates another swamp and takes it out of wildlife protection forever.”*

*Lifted from “The Hunter’s Eucharist” by Chas S. Clifton