Hitting the cognitive dissonance button of vegans: some vegan inconsistencies

The behavior of vegans is strongly in line with their moral beliefs. That is why, compared to meat-eaters, ethical vegans have less cognitive dissonance. Still, most vegans do make some choices or have opinions that are not compatible with a consistent ethic of rights, liberty and well-being. When confronted with their inconsistenties, those vegans react with a same kind of cognitive dissonance that we see in meat-eaters. Two inconsistenties are striking.

1. Eating sweets

Most ethical vegans eat sweets. Famous are the vegan cupcakes that are eaten by many animal rights activists. Those ethical vegans often criticize health vegans (vegans who eat vegan for health reasons instead of ethical animal rights reasons). According to recent research, health vegans consume fewer sweets and more fruit than ethical vegans.

Vegan sweets contain a lot of sugar and vegetable oils. The production of sugar and vegetable oils still involves the death of many animals. A lot of animals (e.g. moles, mice, birds,…) die by accident on the fields during plowing and harvest. Those animals die unneccesarily, because those sweets are not necessary for our health. In fact, they are unhealthy for us.

In contrast, the nuts and fruit consumed by health vegans involve fewer animal deaths (due to less lethal farming practices) and they are better for our health. The vegan cupcakes involve  unnecessary suffering and killing of animals, which is inconsistent with the vegan ethic. In this sense, health vegans behave more ethically than a lot of cupcake-eating ethical vegans who criticize those health vegans.

2. Wild animal suffering

A lot of ethical vegans underestimate the suffering of wild animals in nature and believe that we do not have a strong duty to intervene in nature in order to decrease the levels of suffering, abuse and rights violations that we see in nature. This belief is not consistent with their antispeciesist ethical system that focuses on well-being and rights.

Those ethical vegans often respond with illogical arguments in an attempt to defend their belief. They have a status quo bias towards nature (the tendency to like the state of nature to stay relatively the same) and a kind just-world fallacy (the belief that the world is fundamentally just), trying to rationalize the inexplicable injustices that we see in nature, for example using an appeal to nature argument: “a thing is good if it is natural”. The ethical vegans are antispeciesists but the arguments they give contain some striking speciesist elements: they are not willing to apply the same reasoning when the situation involves human suffering.

Ethical vegans should be more open to the idea of intervention in nature. See the article by Mikel Torres: The case of intervention in nature on behalf of animals: a critical review of the main arguments against intervention and the talk “Reducing wild animal suffering” by Adriano Mannino & Ruairí Donnelly.

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