I am not a vegetarian evangelist, primarily because I don’t have time, and only a mild passion for the topic. But I do think that avoiding animal products is an action where the benefits increasingly outweigh the inconveniences as society moves in that direction. So, I do a good deal of facepalming when I wander across bad arguments against avoiding animal consumption.
“But I don’t want to eat a salad every day!”
Neither do I, so I don’t. Definitely not alone, or while laughing.
But this brings me to a surprisingly persistent argument against avoiding animal consumption, which I call the Entitled Prick Argument, but for the sake of diplomacy, I’ll rename to:
The “But I Don’t Like Veggies/But I Like Meat!” Argument
Most people don’t realize the “I hate plants” argument is surprisingly sound. The reason? I can’t prove your mental states wrong, short of having evidence that you do in fact gleefully consume a salad in your bedchambers every evening. If you claim an anti-plant life stance, I really can’t refute that.
The problem is, we have almost as convincing evidence that the meat industry is harmful to our planet as we have evidence for climate change itself, and that hasn’t stopped multitudes of people from not giving a shit about either one of those. Sometimes they try to summon the forces of selective skepticism against the evidence, but generally it all falls back to “but I don’t want to ___”, thus showing their hand as a matter of personal preference, not empirical conclusion. They’re literally saying that they see themselves as a person who is more entitled to eating meat than responsible for reducing their negative impact on everyone else. And someone who is secure in being that kind of person with that kind of life stance isn’t going to give a shit about rational arguments.
Remember the pepper spray incident at UC Davis? (Of course you do, it just happened last weekend.) The security personnel who mercilessly sprayed nonviolent people in the face without warning were clearly not taking the time to consider rational arguments for both sides and then go with the side which is supported by the best evidence for helping the most people. Neither is the general public sitting down and consulting charts and statistics to try to convince them that they were wrong. No, at some point we realize when someone just doesn’t give a shit, and we move to public shaming, vegetarians included.
But for some reason, when vegetarians point out that “hey, you’re actually hurting everyone by eating meat, so stop already!”, they’re the ones who are vilified. As opposed to the people who are, you know, actually harming everyone.
PS: Yes, there exist good arguments for why a particular individual can’t reliably avoid consuming animal products. That is not what this post is about.