Welcome to Versus. This new video series is all about taking on popular theists, atheists, and YouTube personalities. No one is immune from criticism.
This week I take MrRepzion to task on his irrational defence for eating animals and his criticism of vegans.
For those who may not know, MrRepzion is a popular atheist vlogger who created video content on a wide range of topics including (but not limited to) video games, personal advice, movie reviews, and religion. If you haven’t subscribed to his channel, check out the link in the description.
Without any further ado, now on with the show…
Liking Something Doesn’t Make It Right
This popular, albeit entirely irrational defense for eating animals, is devoid of any higher level reasoning. Liking something doesn’t in any way validate the action, anymore then liking to beat up children justifies further child abuse. Before viewers get angry at my comparison, I am NOT suggesting that beating up children is EQUAL to eating animals. You will find that I often try to use human examples to correlate with, in order for an argument to be more clearly explained and understood. We have a natural bias towards other humans, and so if we find something morally objectionable done to humans, yet perfectly acceptable when similarly performed to non-human animals, and we agree that we should treat like cases alike, then further investigation of our justifications should be conducted which could possibly lead to a modification of our behaviour.
Morality and Veganism
MrRepzion claims that at least some vegans hold to the notion that if you aren’t a vegan you are immoral, and that he objects to be identified as such. I can understand that, and I would fully agree with and support him, if veganism held no real arguments based upon demonstrable facts. If veganism was no better than appeals to emotion and unscientific claims of faith, then I wouldn’t be a vegan and I would not expect any rational skeptically minded person to be persuaded. Veganism does have evidence supporting its claim of animal sentience, negative environmental, health and social impacts. To deny what is readily available is to be close minded and irrational. A person is not immoral just because they do not hold a set of beliefs that others do, a person is immoral when their action or inaction brings about the suffering and/or death of sentient beings, and can be easily avoided. When we examine our options, motivations, and consequences we can determine what is detrimental to others (irrespective of species) and make decisions based upon reason and evidence. If we choose to ignore issues and continue to engage in such destructive habits, we ought to be mature enough to own up to the fact that we are acting irrationally and immorally and accept that others will object, irrespective of how this may upset us. Religious viewers of my videos often comment on how insulted they feel when I critique their irrational religious beliefs and tenants, yet my atheistic fans would not have me stop because they recognize that feeling upset or insulted is not a indicator of misinformation and deceit. Sometimes truth hurts because we become aware that what we have held as “true” is not, and we don’t like to think that we are mistaken and causing others harm. It is easier to deny a real issue then to admit to it and change.
Another popular critique of veganism is this supposed use of force. MrRepzion’s video, from which these clips were extracted, is a response to a video by a vegan who explicitly states that her audience is other vegans. So Mr Repzion, not a vegan, voluntarily watched and responded to a video made with a different audience in mind, felt that vegan beliefs were being forced upon him. I have never heard of any vegan ever kidnapping, tying down, and forcing anyone to do anything. This is clearly a straw man argument and has no basis in reality. If you couldn’t care less about a particular topic, then don’t watch it. If you willingly watch, engage, and disagree, present reasonable arguments supporting your objection.
So rather than engage in a mature manner, you are so driven to an emotional fervor that you would childishly mock and belittle those that you disagree with. This “i’ll show you…” attitude is evidence of someone who has no rational defense for their position and lashes out hurt others. Its akin to spewing racist and homophobic slurs to someone who actively opposes both.
Unless you are claiming to be a prophetic individual who can see into the future (which would require overwhelming evidence never before seen), you cannot defend a position that something possible will never happen. It is possible the large majority of the human race will be vegan one day, however unlikely that may look from our position in a world where its not currently the case. From the perspective of a slave in the 1st century it may seem highly improbable that the world would ever be free of human slavery yet we live now in a world in which nobody openly supports or endorses it. We fight to end institutions of destruction and misery in the human context all the while never fully succeeding, but none would seriously argue that we should stop working towards a slave, racist, homophobic, sexist free world.
A Vegan World
Another common argument that lacks any teeth, and one I have covered in another video, but I will reiterate briefly. Vegans do not hold to the notion that the entire world would wake up one morning and en mass change their diet and lifestyle to a vegan one. If veganism is one day held by the majority, it will happen through a long process in which it will slowly grow, while the non-vegan population will lose members. As the demand for animal products decreases, so to would the need to breed ever more animals into existence. With fewer and fewer meat eaters, their would naturally be fewer domesticated animals. Its simple economics: supply equals demand.
Economic and Social Armageddon
MrRepzion seriously holds to the idea that if the whole world abstained from directly and unnecessarily harming other sentient beings, we would be led into economic and social Armageddon. Are you kidding me? How would the end of exploitation and systematic slaughter of billions of animals lead to anything but a better, kinder and healthier world? Sure, if you posit a planet that would wake up one morning and became vegan, we would be in a bit of a pickle, but there is 0% chance of such a dramatic shift occurring as has already been previously addressed. With a move towards a greater vegan population, more industry would exist to catering our changing needs, and less towards the ways of old. No one is seriously arguing or expecting an immediate societal shift never before seen on any social justice issue. When you argue a position that no one holds, you can be sure that you have propped up a straw man.
Yet again, no one is arguing or expecting an instantaneous shift to veganism on a global scale. There are many people in developing countries that depend on animals for their survival, and I cannot with my first world privilege condemn them for their real needs. What I strive for is a world in which the able can assist those who have without. I strive to improve the conditions and livelihoods of those who have little, and encourage those who are in a position to change to make the best possible decisions that best impact the world and the inhabitants of it. To argue that because some people have a real need to eat and use animals due to their economic and environmental situation, therefore everyone has the same excuse is an absurd argument lacking in any deference. There have been cases in which stranded lifeboat survivors murdered one of their own so that the group could survive, and while we understand that this might have been necessary, no one would argue that therefore it is okay to kill another human when no real need is at hand.
Cost of Being Vegan
Veganism is not and does not need to be expensive. There are a few things I would like to point out…
a) in more affluent and economically stable countries meat and dairy is heavily subsidized by the governments and so are artificially inexpensive, while most vegan foods are not the recipients of such cost cutting measures.
b) the vegan population tends to be relatively small, and so the companies that make prepared vegan foods tend to be smaller in size, with higher production costs and lower sales, resulting in an overall higher cost for the consumer. With an increase in the vegans population, companies would make more money, have more competition, and drive costs and prices down.
c) in developing countries, people often own their own animals rather than buy them because the cost would otherwise make meat unattainable.
d) in developing countries, the cheapest purchasable food items are typically vegan. I have personally traveled to small remote communities in India, and have witnessed markets full locally grown legumes, fruits and vegetables at incredibly low costs.
While I have not read it myself, I have heard great things about it. Check out Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day.
Veganism is Expensive?
What I find telling in this clip is that MrRepzion holds strong opinions about how expensive vegan food is, yet in the same breath admits that he doesn’t know what vegans eat. So how is it that you know its impractically expensive when you don’t even know what we consume?
I’m not sure what stores you have been shopping at, but soy, almond, hemp, and rice milks are in no way up to ten times more expensive than non-vegan equivalents. Cows milk in Canada costs anywhere from $1.32/ L to $2.92/ L while the almond milk I buy on a regular basis costs me $1.99-$2.49 / L. If this is still to costly, you can easily make your own almond milk at home and substantially reduce the cost even further. I could go through a long list of food items and compare the costs and show you that they are comparable even with the current market demands. Perhaps before holding such strong views it would be prudent for you to take a moment to confirm if they are in fact true.
Not Gonna Do It!
We have now come full circle. MrRepzion presented his arguments and at the end of it admits that even if he could afford to be vegan (which he clearly can), he would not do so because he has no desire to be vegan and likes his meat. To this I say, go back in this video to the very beginning where I address the argument from liking something therefore its okay. If you present arguments that are all ultimately meaningless because you built your house of cards on a shaky foundation of palate pleasure, why even bother with them? If all that matters to you is your continued entertainment irrespective of the consequences to others, then why concoct other poor arguments? I suspect I know the reason. Deep down you realize that you don’t have a valid moral argument, and you don’t want to change. You don’t have to change if you don’t want to, and no vegan will ever force you to, but admit that you lack any rational moral justifications for your choices.
Before I round out this video I would like to give a shout out to a fellow YouTuber who has been of great assistance with some technical animation issues I have been having. Please check out and subscribe to Simon Ubsdell’s channel Tokyo Productions. He does absolutely stellar tutorials on Final Cut Pro and Apple Motion.
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