1. Vegans understand that going vegan doesn‘t solve the world’s problems and all humans make negative impacts by getting their basic survival needs met like clearing land for housing and heating our homes. I personally don’t drive or fly, but most people, vegan and non vegans do. When we say “cruelty free”, we are referring to cruelty to animals. We also know that this is not 100% and I‘ll say more about that.
2. When people use the term “zero waste” ~ no one is refuting that term even though we all know they are not literally living “zero” waste. But no one has an issue with that because people are not defending their right to use plastic, like they are to eat meat, dairy and eggs or use leather and wool.
3. I don’t believe in the idea that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. You can buy Nestle chocolate, or you can buy from a brand off the Food Empowerment Project's ethical chocolate list. I’d rather live my life making the best choices with the options I have, than not bother to care or try at all.
4. The vegan movement is not about supporting mono-crops or taking over plant agriculture in any way that would be worse for the animals and the environment they live in. We would also like the land and water to be used in a more practical and fair way than it currently is. The problems occurring in plant agriculture today are not a result of not using animals. While we understand that clearing land for any crop can cause harm ~ animal farming will only cause more of that harm.
5. Vegans make up such a small percent of the population, the big systems of plant agriculture are not catering to our crop needs. They are catering to the needs of livestock. If you have livestock, you need to feed them. There are 3 times the amount of animals bred into existence than the human population. Most soy, corn and alfalfa (water intensive crops) are grown for livestock feed, not out of the demand for vegan products.
6. Vegans understand that there is worker exploitation in plant agriculture. Worker exploitation is not a result of veganism. You can boycott animal products, and also boycott palm oil, or chocolate from child labor. It’s not an either-or situation as people making this argument try to frame it.
7. If you farm animals, you are increasing the amount of plant crop worker exploitation, because we need to grow way more plants to feed livestock. On top of that, you add in a new group of exploited human workers, the slaughterhouse workers, who are usually made up of people who can’t get better work due to issues of immigration and/or poverty. And then there is the incomprehensible amount of farmed animals that are being exploited.
8. There are ways to improve the conditions of how we farm plants, and to improve workers rights ~ but there is no way to farm animals that does not exploit them. This is what the whole vegan debate comes down to really. Non vegans don’t see animals of something that needs to have consideration in the same way that vegans do. Vegans see animals as individuals with their own set of natural rights. Mainly, the right to not be bred into existence, to live a life that is not their own.
9. Again, vegans make up a small percent of the population compared to omnivores. We are not the only ones eating avocados and quinoa or all the other foods that people point out to try to prove a vegan diet being worse. Is it really the case that omnivores eat only local meat and then all their other food is not the same grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables as vegans are eating? We all need to eat plants to survive. But we don't need to eat animals or their milk and eggs.
10. I understand that people making the argument that "a vegan diet kill animals too" are referring to crop deaths that happen in the process of land clearing and harvesting. But when vegans use the term ”cruelty free” , they are usually referring to issues like beak burning, ear clipping, tail docking and castration without anesthetics.
11. While I'm not saying I don't care about crop deaths, there is a difference between unintentionally killing field animals in harvesting, and pre-planning the birth, life and death of a cow, pig or chicken. Also, the field animals do have the option to escape, and they have good hearing and can feel the vibrations. But a cow in a slaughterhouse is sent down a narrow path with a human with a rod behind them, forcing them down the line into a room where a human will cut it's throat. There is a difference.
12. I 100% am not attached to using the term cruelty free. I understand what is meant by it, but if it’s getting in the way of the message, I don’t mind finding another way to put words to how I feel about these issues.
As a reminder, veganism is not a diet. It is the rejection of the idea that humans have the right to use animals for food, clothing, entertainment, transportation, or testing.
Emily (aka) Bite Size Vegan, and Ed Winters each have a video discussing this topic in more detail that gets more into the data and studies.
Ed Winters' Video