I initially interpreted "Why aren't you vegan?" as shorthand for "Why are you vegetarian but not vegan?"There are two relatively independent issues which deserve to be separated: "Why aren't you vegetarian?" and "If you are vegetarian but not vegan, why?"To make an exaggerative analogy for effect,"I believe I should be a vegan, but I find it too difficult to limit what I eat, so I am an omnivore."is like"I believe I should be an Olympic athlete, but I find it too difficult so I am completely sedentary."and"I believe I should be a vegan, but I find it too difficult and so I am just a part-time vegan or vegetarian or part-time vegetarian."is like"I believe I should be an Olympic athlete, but I find it too difficult and so I just exercise heavily or moderately or hardly at all."
Good point! I think I'll create a second survey soon and ask just vegetarians why they aren't full vegans. This will presumably generate a narrower spectrum of rationales. On the first survey, I was curious to see the widest possible spectrum of defenses for any amount of animal-product consumption --in fact, I'm especially interested in what people will put in the "other" box.
But my point was that the questions are overdetermined and thus already too narrow. For a non-vegan vegetarian none of the choices apply except the one ending in "vegetarian or part-time vegetarian", which is underdetermined.
I think quite a few of the answers could be given by vegetarians as reasons why they are vegetarians, not vegans. What answers could be given by vegetarians? I can at least imagine some vegetarians giving these answers--(1) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products because to be obligated to abstain, animals would have to have rights, and I don't think animals have rights.The vegetarian might think: total abstinence would be mandated if animals had rights, but they don't, so I don't totally abstain. I just try to be more humane in my consumption, and eliminating meat is part of my "be more humane" strategy.(2) I believe I am obligated to treat animals humanely but also think some animals raised for food are treated well enough.A vegetarian could limit her animal product consumption to her own backyard free range eggs and think "humane enough" just about that item.(3) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products, because they are nutritionally necessary, and we can't be obligated to abstain from something we need for our survival.A vegetarian could consume just those specific products she considers nutritionally necessary (for B12, for example).(4) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products because animals are not persons, so I can use them as a means, as long as I am not gratuitously cruel to them.I can imagine a vegetarian agreeing with this and limiting herself to certain "humane" products.(5) I abstain from meat, milk, eggs, etc., but don't abstain from oysters (for example) because I believe they don't feel pain.You could consider yourself a vegetarian (loosely speaking) and agree with this.(6) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products, because we are wired to enjoy them, and we can't be obligated to suppress strong and universal appetites.A vegetarian could think a vegan diet requires too much suppression, but a vegetarian diet doesn't.(7) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products because I think the most environmentally responsible diet includes some animal products.A vegetarian could think meat is less environmentally responsible than eggs and milk (since it uses the animal and resources less efficiently).(8) I believe I should be a vegan, but I find it too difficult and so I am just a part-time vegan or vegetarian or part-time vegetarian.Obviously a vegetarian could think this.(9) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products because the social contract we have with each other can't possibly encompass non-human animals.You could think animals would have to be parties to a social contract to be completely off limits, but wouldn't have to be parties to a social contract for there to be an obligation to try to eat more humanely.(10) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products because buying specialty "humane" animal products encourages the whole industry to treat all farm animals more humanely, which is more beneficial than slightly reducing the number raised and killed.This is the view of certain vegetarian philosophers.(11) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products because consuming animals is natural.I can sort of see a vegetarian thinking total abstinence is unnatural, but limiting oneself is natural.(12) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products because there are many other problems in the world and my energies are currently directed at problems I consider more important.I can imagine someone thinking it takes little energy to be a vegetarian, but much more to be a vegan--and therefore having the energy (given other priorities) just to be a vegetarian.cont.
I don't think by any means that vegetarians taking the survey are given too few options. But if they do feel that way, they can always give their own reasons for not being a vegan in the OTHER box. I'm certainly interested in what people will put in that box.All that said, it would have been interesting to look at the answers of vegetarians separately. I probably should have just made that a question--"Are you a vegetarian?"--as I can filter responses so I look at just people who answer particular questions in particular ways.
If I am a non-vegan vegetarian then I would have to skip any option that starts with "I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products..." because I do believe that I am obligated to abstain from some animal products, just not all of them. And the "I believe I should be a vegan..." ones are skipped too if I don't believe I should be a vegan.I don't mean to be pedantic, but that's honestly how I read the options.
I think we are reading all of these options differently because I think "abstinence" is the same thing as "having none". For example, "abstinence only sex education" is about having none before marriage, not having less! As for vegetarians thinking "I believe I should be a vegan"--that strikes me as a perfectly coherent possibility. I drive a hybrid SUV, but I believe I should drive a hybrid sedan. People believe they should do all sorts of things that they don't in fact do. I would think at least some vegetarians are low-achievers, in that sense. They aspire to more than then actually achieve.
I also consider "abstinence" to mean "having none", I just mixed up the logic of the sentence. A non-vegan vegetarian may think it is OK to eat some animal products, so technically he can affirm "I don't believe I am obligated to eat no animal products". An omnivore affirms same thing. I was thrown off because I didn't expect vegetarians and omnivores to be able to select the same option. Sorry for the confusion.
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