Why don't vegans do this?
This section will aim to explain why vegans abstain from buying, eating, and wearing the products listed in the above menu.
Firstly, let us define what veganism is: veganism is a moral obligation whereby one abstains from supporting the systematic exploitation of animals for food, clothing, medicine, service, and entertainment. Essentially then, a vegan does not support any industry that uses animals for any purpose. Simply put: animals are here with us, not for us, and we have no right to use them as our slaves.
It is pretty self-explanatory why vegans would not buy/eat meat, given that everybody in the world knows that an animal has to be slaughtered for that product, thus the ethical implications are clear. As such, this section will focus on all the products that separate vegans from vegetarians (so eggs, dairy, wool, etc.). Hopefully then, the answer to the question of, "So why vegan? Why not just vegetarian?" will become clear.
If, however, you do wish to see a video that focuses solely on meat, please watch 'Meet Your Meat' here. Remember though that simply abstaining from meat alone is not enough, as buying any animal product contributes to the cycle of violence and exploitation that you will learn about below.
But what about fish?
Fish, too, are sentient creatures, who seek to avoid danger and death, like land animals. As such, vegans do not consume fish either. You can see some videos on the fishing industry below.
2. Why don't vegans buy/eat dairy?
The dairy cow lives a miserable existence. Regardless of whether the farm she is kept on is organic, free range, and whether or not she is grass-fed, she faces a lifetime of sexual violations and mistreatment, until she is eventually killed.
The process of how we get milk starts with the sexual violation of a cow. This is done via what we cutely refer to as 'artificial insemination', though the correct term is rape. Without her consent, a farm worker shoves his/her hand into the cow's sexual orifice and pumps semen into her with a steel device in order to impregnate her. Cows need to be made pregnant in order to produce milk, so this is completely routine practice in order to maximise milk production.
Once she calves (i.e. has a baby), the calf is only allowed to spend a short time with their mother before they are taken away—many calves will not even get to taste their own mother's milk. Many dairy cows will cry out for weeks for their stolen baby.
If the calf is a male, he is considered a 'waste product' (as he cannot produce milk) to the dairy farm, and thus is either killed there on the farm or is sent off to the veal industry. Female calves will meet the same fate as their mothers, facing a lifetime of reproductive system violations and painful births, all so that we can eat cheese or ice cream. Once a female's time is up and she no longer produces a profitable amount of milk, the farmer makes one last profit off her body by sending her off to slaughter.
3. Why don't vegans buy/eat eggs?
Regardless of whether you buy free range, cage-free, or just bog-standard shop eggs, the level of violence and exploitation remains the same.
The process all starts at a place called a hatchery. At hatcheries, male and female chicks are sorted by workers called 'sexers'. Males are, like male calves in the dairy industry, considered 'waste products', and are killed at the hatchery, either by being macerated alive, or by being gassed, drowned, or suffocated in a sack. Females are painfully de-beaked and sent off to the farm (be it free range, or whatever), where they will lay a painful 300+ eggs per year due to genetic manipulation (as opposed to a wild chickens 20 or so per year).
Once a chicken no longer lays a profitable amount of eggs, she is crammed into a tiny crate with all her feathered friends, thrown into the back of a truck and driven off to slaughter, where she awaits a brutal execution (in developed countries, this is generally done by being thrown into an electric bath to be ineffectively stunned, then hoisted up upside down and going along a conveyor belt to have her throat slit). Many chickens will remain fully conscious after their throats are slit and will be boiled alive in the de-feathering tank afterwards.
So what about backyard eggs (i.e. eggs from hens you keep in your garden)? Do vegans eat those? The answer is no, and there are multiple reasons for this, but to summarise: animals are not vending machines for us. By identifying as a backyard egg eater, one is promoting the exploitation of non-human animals and furthering society's idea that these animals are a 'food source' for us. This, in turn, contributes to the cycle of violence in these industries. As well as this, repeatedly taking hens’ eggs from them actually forces them to lay more, which can cause damage to their reproductive systems. Simple put, their eggs are not ours to take. See 'The Truth About Backyard Eggs' from the list of videos below for more on this.
4. Why don't vegans buy/eat honey?
Wait, what... not even honey?!
Don't worry—as former non-vegans ourselves, most of us completely understand why people would be surprised at the concept of abstaining from buying/eating honey for ethical reasons. But when we examine a.) what veganism is all about and b.) why it is unethical to consume it, it all becomes very clear. Allow me to explain...
Bees produce honey for themselves, and themselves only. They work tirelessly for it, and we take it from them. So to be blunt, supporting the honey industry literally is theft—it is the fruits of someone else's labour that does not belong to you.
Veganism encompasses abstaining from exploiting all creatures great and small—not just the big cuddly ones like cows.
But are bees that bothered? Do they even care that we steal their honey? Well, think about it logically: if bees wanted you to take their honey, or were even in the slightest bit okay with it, you wouldn't have to wear that ridiculous bee-keeping suit every time you went into their hive and stole it!
For more information on bees and the cruel, exploitative practices of the honey industry, I highly recommend giving this site a visit.
5. Why don't vegans buy leather?
Many people are under the impression that leather is a by-product of the beef industry. This is not true. Cows are bred, enslaved, abused, and murdered specifically for their leather, primarily in developing countries with no welfare regulations in place whatsoever.
Cows in the leather industry are brutalised from birth to slaughter, having their tails broken, having chilli peppers rubbed in their eyes to make them jump up if they collapse from heat exhaustion, being ineffectively stunned, and often being skinned alive. So buying leather is no different to buying fur, which many non-vegans are repulsed by. Below are some videos showing leather industry footage.
Remember: synthetic leather is readily available online or in shops. So you don't need to worry about smart shoes or anything if you're a vegan... we've got you covered!
6. Why don't vegans buy wool?
Now the first argument I can see someone presenting upon reading this is, "sheep need to be sheared". Yes, this is true. This is why they are sheared at vegan sanctuaries. But it's not the actual shearing for the sheep's own benefit that is the reason vegans abstain from buying wool. Let me explain why the "sheep need shearing" argument against vegans buying wool is a fallacy, using this analogy:
Imagine someone set up a farm where human children were being farmed for their urine. Now, urination is a natural process, and children need to urinate, yes? But let's say these children were being bred via artificial insemination (sexual violation) of the little girls old enough to bear children. Now imagine that babies unfit for urine production were slammed to death against a wall/floor (a routine wool/pork industry practice known in industry as PAC, aka 'pounding against concrete'). Then the male babies had their testicles ripped off, and babies of both sexes had tags put through their ears (all without anaesthetic). After each of them had produced a profitable amount of urine, they were packed onto ships to the Middle East to face a gruelling journey, where their fate upon arrival would be to have their throats slit via the Halal method (no stun) so they could be eaten by the locals. But hey, children need to urinate, right?
Now do you see why this is a bad argument?
The above sounds pretty sick, but this is the reality for lambs and sheep farmed in the wool industry, which is one of the most brutal and appalling industries to have ever existed. All sheep in the wool industry meet a violent end, and all are exploited, enslaved, and abused for their wool. There is no 'humane' way to farm sheep for their wool any more than there is a 'humane' way to farm human children for their urine. See the videos below for wool industry footage and information.
Please also be aware of 'angora' wool, which is taken from rabbits. See also in videos below.
7. why don't vegans buy silk?
Just as with honey, no creature, great or small, is excluded from being given the right to be free from exploitation when it comes to veganism. That's why vegans abstain from funding the cruel and exploitative silk industry, where silk worms are boiled alive just for our vanity.
8. why don't vegans buy down?
The down industry is a barbaric trade, and birds enslaved in it suffer terribly as a result of being kept in cramped conditions and often being plucked whilst alive and fully conscious ('live plucking'). Just as with any other animal product industry, birds bred for their feathers will be brutally slaughtered. Much of the world's down comes from China, where no animal welfare laws exist—so when it comes to how birds on down farms are treated, 'anything goes' is, unfortunately, often the mantra.
9. why don't vegans buy fur?
Fur farming—an industry so brutal that it is banned from the UK—is still, unfortunately, prevalent in many countries today, and the wearing of fur is coming back into the 'mainstream' via trims on hooded jackets, and bobbles on hats and keyrings.
There are several ways fur is sourced:
Most fur is sourced from fur farms, often in China (where there are no animal welfare laws), North America, or Northern/Eastern Europe. Animals on fur farms face a living hell, where they are locked in wire mesh cages, often gnawing at the mesh in hope of escape as they urinate and defecate on each other due to the cages being piled high. On Western fur farms, the enslaved animals are generally murdered by having their necks snapped, while in China, they tend to be either beaten to death or are anally electrocuted to ineffectively stun them and then are skinned while fully conscious and tossed into a pile of dead animals.
There is also fur sourced from wild animals killed by 'trappers'. Trappers lay out steel leg traps (banned in many countries) and wait for animals such as foxes or coyotes to be lured into them. Trapped animals will often attempt to bite off their own legs, such is their desperation to escape from these hellish devices. When the trapper returns to the trap (often after the animal has been trapped in it for up to 2 or 3 days), the trapper will either shoot the animal or will bludgeon them to death. A notable example of a brand who uses the trapping method is Canada Goose, whose jackets use real coyote fur (as well as being stuffed with down).
10. Why don't vegans buy animal-tested products?
As well as refusing to buy clothes and food containing animals parts and ingredients, vegans also refuse to buy products that are animal-tested.
Animals in testing facilities are subjected to things most people wouldn't even wish upon their worst enemy, such as having their eyes sewn shut, having pipes forced down their throats and into their stomachs, being burned alive, and eventually, being killed.
Animal testing literally is animal abuse, and there is no logical argument against this. Just as it would be wrong for someone to scrub chemicals into your pet's eyes for an experiment, so too is it wrong to do it to any animal enslaved in an animal-testing facility. It is not acceptable to torture and abuse someone else's kind for the advancement of one's own. Take slavery, for example: was it okay to enslave Africans in the West, simply because it helped the West advance and created what we now know as 'the New World'? Of course not. Then neither can it be morally justifiable to enslave and torture animals because of any 'benefits' it may give our psychotic species.
If humans claim to be an advanced and scientifically brilliant species, they can move past using animals for cruel, barbaric and unnecessary experiments. Unfortunately, all medicine is tested on animals (see below) so the goal for that is to work towards ending it via societal change. With cosmetic and all other products though, you, as a consumer, have the power right now to play no part in it.
There is some confusion over animal-tested products, which I will explain: 1.) is that vegans currently do not have an option to buy pharmaceutical products (e.g. medicines, pills) which are not animal-tested, as animal-testing is required on pharmaceuticals by law—so while vegans are able to choose an alternative to animal-based clothing and food very easily, unfortunately, we currently have no option for pharmaceutical products. But remember: veganism is about doing the best you can and actually trying to minimise your harm to the planet. The original definition of veganism, as coined by Donald Watson, was to avoid animal exploitation "as far as is practically possible". 2.) is that, despite animal testing for cosmetics and cleaning products (e.g. soap, drain cleaner, etc.) being banned in certain countries and regions (e.g. in the European Union), companies still sell to China, where animal testing on all cosmetics and household products is required by law. As such, vegans do not buy cosmetic products from brands which sell to China.
11. Why don't vegans buy animals from breeders?
Systematically creating and selling sentient beings as a business commodity completely violates veganism's principles of abstaining from supporting the 'use' of animals for human benefit. What's more is that, every time one buys an animal from a breeder, an animal dies in a kill shelter, where thousands of unwanted animals (e.g. cats or dogs) are 'put to sleep' every year. So supporting the pet industry supports the overpopulation of 'pet animals' and their eventual culling.
So what is the vegan stance on keeping pets? Simple: 'adopt, don't shop'. So yes, we absolutely do encourage you to provide dogs, cats, and any other animals at shelters, with a loving home. The general concept of 'pets' however, needs to be gradually phased out (i.e. by not supporting the pet industry), as the existence of this industry is, by nature, violent and exploitative.
12. Why don't vegans buy/drink certain alcoholic and soft drinks?
Many alcoholic and soft drinks, while appearing to be vegan, use animal-derived ingredients in the manufacturing process. Soft drinks may use gelatin, for example. With regards to alcoholic drinks: beers often use 'finings' in the manufacturing process to clarify the liquid (this is done by dropping a fish's swimbladder in the tank) and wines may use albumen (egg protein), milk proteins, or gelatin. These are actually not essential ingredients in the manufacturing of drinks, and many brands are looking to replace their filtration and clarification ingredients with plant-based alternatives like the other brands (Guinness, for example, have now made their cask product vegan-friendly, and are in the process of making the tinned product vegan-friendly too).
This may sound a little daunting and overwhelming if you're looking into going vegan, but please be assured that it all becomes second nature after a while and you'll know which brands to buy. My suggestion is to google your favourite brands of soft drink to find out whether they use animal-derived ingredients or not. With regards to Coca-Cola and Schweppes, for example, you can find that (according to The Vegan Society): "Most Coca-Cola and Schweppes products are vegan-friendly save for Lilt, Lilt Zero, Kia-Ora Orange Squash with no added sugar, and Schweppes Orange Squash. This is the same with Britvic, who make Pepsi, except for the Pepsi Diet versions."
When it comes to alcohol, luckily, excellent websites such as Barnivore contain a huge database of alcoholic drinks for you to check whether a certain alcoholic drink is vegan.
(A tip for shopping for wines and seeing if they're vegan just by checking the label: If you see a wine and, in the allergens section of the label, milk and egg is not listed, and the label also says 'Suitable for vegetarians', this means the wine is vegan, as it means it uses neither fish, gelatin, milk, nor egg in the manufacturing process.)
13. Why don't vegans visit zoos/aquariums?
Whenever someone wants to make money out of animals, you can be sure that there will always be something unethical about it—and zoos and aquariums are no exception to this rule.
While business owners (i.e. those who run the zoos and aquariums) may claim to accomodate animals properly, the fact of the matter is that a zoo or aquarium can never truly recreate an animal’s natural environment. This is why animals in zoos commonly sow signs of stress and boredom.
Essentially, these places are nothing more than glorified animal prisons, which have made millions over the years from capturing wild animals, enslaving them, and charging for people to come and gawp at them in their prison.
Zoos are run by non-vegans and employ non-vegans. As such, on top of the already immoral enslavement of these animals, extremely anti-vegan practices take place in these venues. These include murdering animals for trivial reasons such as “surplus to requirements”, “complaints from neighbours about noise” and “to make space for another male”, to list a few (see here for a Wikipedia page listing notable zoo animal murders and the given reasons).
You can go to this page on Gary Yourofksy’s ADAPTT website which gives a succinct but thorough debunking of the commonly given arguments for zoos (also applicable to aquariums), including “conservation” and other reasons.