Aren't animals also killed during the harvesting of crops and the construction of roads?
Yes. I make no claims of ethical purity. I am fully aware that rats, snakes, and various other animals are killed during the harvesting of plants for my vegan diet. I am also aware that I am contributing to the degradation of the environment every time I drive my car. Eating a vegan diet is not about a quest for personal purity, which is an unachievable goal. It is about doing what we can to help reduce animal death and suffering.
When our society takes the concept of animal rights seriously, we will have to reform the way in which we harvest crops and construct roads so as to try to reduce the number of animals killed. However, this is not going to occur as long as our society continues to view animals as just a food source. I realize that, in some way, I am contributing to the death of animals simply by interacting with society. However, I believe that withdrawing from society would cause even greater harm, because I would loose the ability to influence and encourage others to become vegetarians.
Although animals are killed during the cultivation of crops for vegetarian and vegan diets, it should be pointed out that far more animals are killed during the cultivation of crops for a meat based diet. This is because plants have to be fed to the livestock, and only a small fraction of the food which an animal eats is converted into meat for human consumption. Far fewer animals would be killed during the cultivation of crops if humans ate these crops directly, instead of feeding to these crops to livestock.
Ultimately, regardless of how hard we try to avoid it, some animals are always going to be accidentally killed in the course of human events. This is the same way in which, regardless of how hard we try, some people will always die in car accidents. However, the fact that we might accidentally run someone over with our car does not imply that it is ok to run them over on purpose.
Follow up questions:
What about insects?
Isn't it wrong for vegetarians to act as if they are better than others and try to convert people?
If everyone becomes a vegetarian, then what will we do with all the farm animals?
How is experimenting on animals any different from other situations where humans kill animals for survival?
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