Everyone should be vegan

Meming with Nick

Nick Ulrich, Columnist

Before ever coming to Wayne State College, I had made a decision to stop eating meat. It was an emotional answer to an emotional problem and one that I knew would solve no world problems on its own. Yet, despite these irrational reasons, I made a rational choice to do something good for people and non-human people everywhere.

Even today, as I fry a beautiful brown egg in butter, I can’t help but consider the pain and abuse necessary to create this little ball of protein. I now get my eggs from a farmer in Emerson, Nebraska. After a couple years of buying eggs at the grocery store, I cut out that to try and reduce my overall harm on the world.

But is it enough? I mean, I probably shouldn’t be eating eggs at all. And I definitely should not be throwing a pile of processed, abusive cheese on all of it. If anything, I should get rid of the cheese, the egg, the honey wheat bread and eat beans for the rest of my life.

Why do I think this? Well, let’s start by creating some sort of generic value for animals. People do this everyday on a subconscious level but very rarely do people bring that into the conscious world. So give a cow a numeric value, go ahead. What did you say? One? Two? 100? Now another question to consider. What number would be high enough for you to refuse to eat that animal?

And if your answer is any higher than one, you should rethink your values.

If any value can be assigned to an animal, that value should already be higher than whatever value you might assign to one decent, fat-soaked hamburger. Especially given the wide variety of meat substitutes (seitan, tofu, Beyond Burgers, Impossible Burgers etc.) which only slightly diminish the experience while greatly reducing the overall harm. If at any point, you can relate to an animal and see it as a product of God or a product of nature, then that animal, should by all means, be worth more than whatever meal you might make out of it.

Now go ahead and assign a number to another animal, let’s say a dog or a cat. Is that number higher than your first number? Most people in America would say yes. Is this what stops us from eating cats and dogs or is there some sort of unspoken belief in people that makes cow meat morally superior to cat meat?

Many people in Asian countries would be disgusted at our treatment of cows. They would explain that they value cows much higher than the meals made out of it. Despite my knowledge that these views, too, are based on problematic premises, I can use it to show that these superficial values assigned to animals truly mean nothing.

But once you come to this assumption, isn’t it only right then to agree that all animals must have the same value or no value at all. In that case, you must ask how your pet has any more value than a cow on a ranch? Or how does a cow in Asia have more value than a cow in America?

This is all common sense to me, but many people ignore it. Whether they ignore this out of pure ignorance or just a desire for some self-satisfaction is beyond my knowledge. But I do the same thing everyday when I eat eggs, cheese and milk.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that when thought about from a purely rational perspective, there is absolutely no reason for any human being to eat any animal product which causes that animal harm. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop eating cheese or ice cream. But every time I shove a piece of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream into my mouth, I’ll think about how my pleasure is in direct proportion to the pain of that cow, how each bite is symbolic of another cow mercilessly tortured by its owner simply so I can feel like a kid at Dairy Queen again.

And the point I’d make to you, the reader, is that we must all work together to reduce overall harm. Instead of eating a cheeseburger today, have a grilled cheese. Instead of having chicken nuggets, have some falafel. Instead of eating ice cream today, have some sorbet. Hell, instead of eating a steak today, have a chicken breast. And if you eat a hamburger everyday, maybe this Saturday head to Burger King and try out the new Impossible Whopper, which has already received widespread praise from vegans and meat-eaters alike.

Many of my meatless contemporaries would have you believe anything but veganism is outright wrong, and I would agree. But we humans do far too much wrong to try and fix it now. So don’t stop being wrong all the time, but understand that you’re wrong and do your part to limit the harm you cause the world.

There’s this old idea that at the end of your life, you have to walk past every being you’ve ever caused harm to. Every human, every animal, every tiny little fly you smacked off your arm will be waiting there to show you that animals have a value. Will your walk be long, painful and emotionally tumultuous or short and reminiscent of the love you lived your life with? That ones for you to decide.