Vegans, the hard-core, of the vegetarian, animal rights movement, pride themselves on how their life-style is “cruelty-free.” Eating plants, they contend, protects animals from unnecessary death. Thus vegans claim they can achieve harmony with nature because they have gone beyond the predation lifestyle of the meat-eaters. Sounds great to the uninformed, but what is interesting is what the facts are.
What vegans and their vegetarian counterparts exploit is the public’s ignorance about farming practices. Growing vegetables results in the death of all kinds of animals. For example, when a farmer clears the land for planting, do you think that the land was barren of animals? Or do you think that those animals became homeless? Sure I know the follow up argument. It says, well there will be no animals killed after the land is cleared. Think again. Sit in a combine that is harvesting wheat. Watch the mice trying to jump out of the way. How many do you think don’t make it?
I could go on about the number of ways farmers of various crops have to kill animals that are predating their crops or damaging farming equipment. Wildlife damage acts like a tax on the farmer’s income. If they don’t respond to minimize the impact then they are literally losing money.
So the next time a vegan explains to you how “cruelty-free” his/her diet is. Just smile and remind yourself that to live to kill, even if you are eating vegetables.
Stephen M. Vantassel is tutor in Theology at Kings Evangelical Divinity School