Veganism is inevitable, but not ethical

6th September 2021

Throughout history, humans have found ways to produce food more efficiently. Firstly we started keeping herds of animals and planting seeds to grow crops (Neolithic Revolution). Then farming practices were repeatedly optimized (British Agricultural Revolution). And since the past half-century we have combine harvesters, artificial fertilizers, insecticides and selectively-bred crops (Green revolution).

These revolutions have all been followed by explosive human population growth; to the effect that humans and our animals are 96% of all mammals and 70% of all birds on earth.

At this time vegan food struggles to compete with meat in protein content, taste and cost (some veggie burgers are more expensive than steak in my local supermarket). However I think it's inevitable that with new technologies such as genetically-engineered crops and yeasts we will eventually be able to make vegan food that cheaply meets all our dietary requirements without animals.

Once the vegan meat substitutes are cheaper and better than real meat no-one will bother eating real meat anymore and everyone will become vegan.

The thing is; I struggle to see how this is a good thing. Won't this just mean we can feed everyone more cheaply, expand our population even more and replace fields with more roads and sky-scrapers?

Note that carnivores such as lions and crocodiles eat other animals exclusively but haven't driven hundreds of species to extinction like humans have. This indicates that the problem isn't the fact that we eat meat but something else. And I think that something is our incessant optimization of our food production methods, vast-scale reshaping of our environment to suit our needs and unreasonably big population. Most of us live in places where the only animals are the ones we've decided to allow to live. Wild parts of the world are being rapidly and industriously destroyed.

The thing we should really be worried about is a future where the human population is more than a trillion and every square-inch of land is covered with either cities or solar-panels. Pictures of earth from space will be blue and grey instead of blue and green. There will be no animals left except for our pets.

Honestly I can't imagine one way in which veganism helps against that. When technology inevitably gets good-enough that we cheaply meet our nutrient requirements without animals it will just have the same effect as all the previous agricultural revolutions; make food cheaper and help us to expand our population, our cities and our bellies.

Final thoughts

Just a few thoughts to close off. A lot of vegan propaganda online is based on obvious emotional blackmail which makes me think maybe vegan ideology stems from sentimentality rather than reason. In this case it's probable that a vegan would consider all my arguments irrelevant.

I consider myself to have a strong moral compass but people masquerading sentimentality as ethics is annoying to me. How can your concept of ethics be based on your own emotions?