Vegans should care less about Animal Welfare

The less livestock we require the better. Eating no or less meat and dairy is the ethical choice. But why again? Which ethical goal is the import one? Animal suffering is the most visible argument for veganism. It is also the one that will lead us into a dead end.

The most outspoken vegans, the most visible campaigns for veganism are those promoting animal welfare. It is an easy way to shock customers out of their routines and it is also admirable to want to avoid suffering. Sadly, it emphasizes the wrong kind of suffering.

Livestock farming consumes lots and lots of drinking water. Either to water animals or to grow their food. We could produce much more food for humans if we wouldn't grow livestock fodder. Basically, every steak and every cheese we rich people eat robs poor people of their natural resources.

Instead of addressing this, veganism is the vehicle for animal welfare. It's true, whoever becomes a vegan to alleviate the suffering of animals will help the humanitarian cause as well. But how about those people, that start focussing on animal welfare without becoming vegans? They will ask for better treatment of livestock. This will increase the consumption of resources dramatically.

One example: Usually, male chicks were killed early as they will not produce eggs. Last year, the company Alnatura in Germany announced they keep male chicks alive. They also proclaimed, this so-called "brother-chicks" will live twice as long as conventional broiler chicken. Effectively doubling the consumption of water and food in the name of animal gender equality. Really?


Of course, livestock farming should avoid suffering. But that is no solution for the human suffering we cause while eating meat or dairy. People hunger, fight over land and water or flee their country because of it. This must be more important than happy brother-chicks.

Image credit: Dvortygirl - Some rights reserved