Isn't it wrong for vegetarians to act as if they are better than others and try to convert people?

I do not make any claims of moral superiority. There are many factors that determine a person's moral character, such as how much he gives to charity, his honesty, and how he treats people he interacts with. There are, no doubt, some vegetarians who exhibit a considerably worse overall moral character than do meat eaters. Nevertheless, considering the amount of death and suffering which we directly cause when we choose to eat meat, the decision to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, in my opinion, is one of the most important moral decisions we will ever make.

The reason I eat a vegan diet is not to feel superior to others, but to reduce animal death and suffering. To this end, my influence on others is at least as important as the economic impact my purchasing decisions make. I believe that it is important for all of us (vegetarians and vegans included) to recognize the fact that we ourselves are not ethically pure, and to not have a condescending or "holier than thou" attitude.

We should all also try to not be offended when someone politely suggests to us that a commonly accepted practice is immoral. If everyone refrained from offering such criticism for fear of offending someone, then institutions such as slavery would have continued to exist down to today. Slave owners certainly viewed themselves as good and moral people, and they strongly resented any implications to the contrary.

This the same way in which some people today take offense at the suggestion that eating meat is immoral, given what this implies about the ethics of our lifestyles. It is only human nature for some of us to react this way. However, I believe we all need to try to not view criticisms of widely accepted practices as personal attacks on ourselves, but instead rationally evaluate these criticisms with an open mind, just as we would have wanted earlier generations to rationally evaluate criticisms of slavery and segregation.


Follow up questions:

Shouldn't we focus on solving human problems before worrying about animals?


Back to the title page

Back to the list of the most commonly asked questions