This survey is aimed at people who are not vegans. You qualify as "not a vegan" if you deliberately consume some or all animal products (meat, eggs, milk, cheese, fish, oysters, clams, etc.) Which of the following statements capture your reason(s) for not being a vegan? Select ALL of the answers that express your viewpoint to any degree at all.Note, responders could give multiple answers, so the percents don't add up to 100.
The most popular answer (43.2% gave it) was
I believe I am obligated to treat animals humanely but also think some animals raised for food are treated well enoughNext most popular (40.9%) --
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.Another 25% cited difficulty as their reasons for being omnivores.
I believe I should be a vegan, but I find it too difficult to limit what I eat, so I am an omnivore.Those two answers are mutually exclusive, so I can (probably!) add the numbers together: 65.9% of those surveyed believe they should be vegans.
Responders rejected an obligation to abstain from animal products for a variety of reasons. The most popular reasons (26.1%) was that "consuming animals is natural." Another 25% gave a Kantian reasons for not being obligated to abstain--
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.20.5% think animal products are nutritionally necessary, and therefore ethically acceptable--
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.19.3% have their energies focused on problems they consider more important.
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.30 people selected "other". Some of the explanations:
1) I don't believe I am obligated to abstain from animal products because not every ethical issue is a matter of obligation: still, it might be good to abstain from animal products, or it would be morally better to do so.
2) There are upland areas of Britain (where I live) which are only suitable for grazing by animals. If there was no market for these animals, not only would the animals not exist, also the economy and environment of these areas would be detrimentally affected, along with the lives of people living there.
3) For reasons incomprehensible to me I cannot care about the rights of animals. I know that I should but I do not.
4) Very roughly: if for example I accept some animals have a right to not be killed or only to be killed humanely, then this should extend to wild animals too. If one takes a consequentialist type view that omissions are not that different from comissions, then we should maximize the welfare of animals in the wild, if it not too onerous. Since in fact, I think of the lifestyle of animals in the wild as the "baseline" good life, then a domesticated life at around that level is acceptable to me.
5) I believe that vegans make a category error by privileging the actions of humans over the actions of other animals. To elaborate: 1) If eating other animals is wrong, and 2) Humans are animals Then either all animals eating other animals is wrong (which seems absurd) or humans are in some way a special kind of animal (which seems contrary to the notion that animals should be treated with the same respect as humans).
6) For ethical reasons I don't eat sentient creatures. I doubt oysters feel pain, but still don't consume them because of yuck factor of eating any animals. Most people would describe me as vegan, but I can't see a serious ethical objection to silk or honey, so I guess I don't qualify as a real vegan. Boo hoo.
7) I am slowly transitioning into being vegan
8) I am not vegan because the ethical satisfaction I would derive by going vegan again would be minor to nonexistent, and so provides little to no motivation for me now that I enjoy eating animal products. If I got nothing out of eating animal products, and could achieve even slight ethical satisfaction from being vegan, I would be vegan -- but that's not the case at the moment. Also possibly relevant is that I don't believe in moral obligations (although it is of course possible to want to be vegan for ethical reasons without believing in moral obligations).
9) It's too exhausting to try to eat completely the "right" way. The rising demand for quinoa is apparently detrimental to the farmers who grow it (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/quinoa-boom-bolivian_n_2724251.html). Brown rice has arsenic. Unless you grow your own food, which I have neither the knowledge, skills or desire to do, you're hurting someone, somewhere. So I try to buy local, consume animal products in moderation (and pay extra for humanely raised, cage-free, etc. etc., to show that there is a market for these products instead of abstaining entirely), and live my life without constant anxiety and second-guessing at every meal. It's the best I can do right now. I also believe that everyone eating half as much meat would be the same as half the people abstaining entirely, which seems more realistic.
10) Admittedly, I don't try very hard. And clearly I don't feel that omnivorism is very wrong, as wrong as other things I refrain from doing, like murder or theft, or I would be more motivated to comply with my moral reasons. Rationally I believe veganism is the only morally defensible position - however I don't feel strongly enough motivated to comply with that, especially as I'm a lazy and unimaginative cook, and really love dairy.
11) BECAUSE OF CHEESEYou can find out who these responders were (philosophers? with background in ethics? knowledgeable about the treatment of animals?) by looking at the survey results.
Why did I create this survey? I am a vegetarian (20 years now!), but not a vegan, and have a longstanding puzzlement about why I cannot make myself go further. I like the milk in my cappuccino too much--I am a sinner! But is that all there is to it? Periodically I ponder the possibility that I am not actually a sinner. We all have a right to food that's "nutritious and delicious"--and our obligation is only to exercise that right in the most humane way possible. For me, given my taste preferences, that means being a vegetarian, not a vegan. That sounds a bit lame and "spin"-ish, so I wondered what other non-vegans have to say in their self-defense. Several of the "other" answers strike me as food for thought--especially 4) and 5).