Suppose your ailing grandfather musters the strength to cook his famous turkey and parsnip stew. As a kid you thought this was the best meal in the whole wide world. But that was before your eyes were opened to factory farming and the inalienable rights of brutes. You’ve explained veganism to your grandfather a hundred times, but he still doesn’t get it, as the bowl of rotting corpse chunks in front of you makes wretchedly clear. 

Your grandfather looks at you with an expectant smile. Your childhood proclamation, “It’s the best darn food in the whole wide world, grandpa!,” echos in his mind. Nothing can bring this turkey back, but you can bring some joy to the last few months of your grandfather’s life. Do you at least try it… for his sake?

turkeyparsnipimmoral

Fuck no!

Never eat a dead body just to make a flesh eating monster feel better about his own depravity! It may be “polite” to your grandfather, but it’s hardly “polite” to the turkey who was decapitated just so gramps could show off his cooking skills! Shove the bowl of death food away and demand something moral, like animal crackers. It might be awkward between you and your grandfather for the rest of his life, but so be it. Maybe he’ll wise up and repent on his death bed. 

breastfeeding

"Breast milk is an animal product, isn’t it?" Yes but boiling veganism down to "no animal products of any kind ever" is reductive and unfair. The main problem vegans have with animal products is that we take them without consent. We don’t know what moo, oink, baa and cluck mean, so to be safe, vegans interpret it as "no." A human mother, however, says "yes" every time she lifts a crying baby to her breast. That goes for other bodily fluid exchanges too — if it’s between consenting humans, vegans are all for it. There are other groups for pointing out the immorality in those.

ElephantPoodle

There’s no specific rule in veganism about not painting elephants or trimming poodles to look like snails… but it just can’t be right.  

circusfunimmoral

Promoting immoral industries such as the circus? Check. Indulging the sick fantasies of foodies by allowing them to chew on representations of exotic animals like lions, bears and elephants? Check. Using real animal byproducts to make the fake animals? Check. Giving the animals smiles as they dive into a cereal bowl filled with cow pus to perpetrate the myth that animals want to be eaten? Check. Making the prize inside a vegan candy to tempt vegans into buying a non-vegan cereal? Yes.

The only thing more immoral than eating this cereal would be whipping an elephant and stabbing a bull while eating it.

leathermanmoral

This man is taking advantage of the pregan paradox, a moral loophole that allows vegans to wear animal skins that they purchased before reaching vegan enlightenment. He might be flaunting the animal parts a wee bit too much, but otherwise he’s golden.

doubledownimmoralvegan-double-downmoral

On the left is the KFC double-down. The closest thing to a vegetable on it is the fried breading, and even that is loaded with animal secretions. This is an immorality that punishes itself with an immediate (and well-deserved) heart attack.

The stiff, unmelted “cheese” and homogeneous “bacon” in the sandwich on the right are telltale sighs that this is the veganized all-vegetable double down. No animals were (intentionally) harmed in the making of this one, so chomp away. 

quornimmoralcomplete

A meat replacement, it must be moral! Nope, check out ingredient number four: “Partially rehydrated egg white.” True, it’s more fungus than animal so it’s not pure concentrated evil, but I would love to see someone manage to eat around every molecule of egg white in there. Even more troubling, some Quorn products have milk as well. (No other animal eats the milk of another species, and they call this “natural”?) Join the “Make Quorn Vegan" facebook group today! 

alcoholgreyarea

Many brands of beer and wine are not vegan. Yet for the most part, vegans don’t care and drink them anyway. Vegans are used to determining the morality of a product by its ingredients label, and alcohol bottles don’t have one. Even if they did, the animal products are often used in the filtering process without being actual ingredients.

A site called Barnivore makes it easy for vegans to weed the animal-exploitation out of their pub crawls. Yet it’s rare for a vegan to turn down alcohol because fish bladder was used to filter it. Either they’re okay with animal products when they’re in something that doesn’t seem like it would have animal products, or they just really like beer.

Many vegans will avoid Guinness, however, because that’s the one they know for sure uses animal parts. 

invasivespeciesimmoral

Sometimes a non-native species will dominate an area, becoming a threat to the local ecosystem and endangered species. Locavore hunter Jackson Landers advocates hunting and eating these destructive aliens as a tasty and nutritious way to help the environment and other animals.

But if you think vegans would be cool with this, you need to spend more time trolling vegan message boards.  

It’s with nuanced issues like this where vegans expose the true purpose of their ideology: personal guilt absolution, not results. Vegans are relatively okay with harm as long as they do not feel that they or other humans are responsible for it. It’s better for pigs to be blamed for environmental havoc than for us to be blamed for the deaths of the pigs. Intentionally killing animals, even to save more animals, always puts blood on our hands.

To vegans, invasive species hunting is yet another case of humans playing God, favoring rare animals that we like and sentencing to death animals we deem a nuisance. It is “biological xenophobia.” 

Veganism does allow humanity some Godlike dabbling: we can spay and neuter animals and use birth control on an invasive species. But if that doesn’t work, as far as vegans are concerned, we just have to let ‘em all live and let nature sort it out.

animalthreshermoral

Here is another scenario in which intent bests results. Agriculture requires the deaths of animals by destroying habitats and killing thieving animals to protect crops; then any animals dumb enough to hang around get chopped up during the harvesting. But these deaths don’t count because they are a byproduct of the process rather than the intended end. Though these deaths are foreseeable, the products of this death don’t go directly into our mouths, and that’s what matters.

MiceSandwichImmoral

Even though several mice were sacrificed in the production of that bun, it’s the mouse we can see that makes this sandwich so wrong. (Also, just from a culinary perspective, don’t you need to skin it first?)

insecteatinggreyimmoral

If a plant could jump and it jumped off a bridge, would you? No? Then why are you using venus fly traps as an excuse to eat Jiminy Cricket? 

Insects are animals and vegans don’t eat animals. Simple as that. 

What makes insect eating almost a grey area is that millions upon billions, if not trillions, of insects are killed in the production of crops every day. Vegans say that meat is an inefficient food source because you have to feed animals lots of plants to make it. But by that logic, plants are an inefficient food source too because you have to kill so many insects to make them.  

Vegans like to eat lower on the food chain, and insects are arguably about as low as you can get. But again we’re undermined by the importance of intent over results. Even if eating insects were better for insects, the environment and our health, it still stimulates a demand for the production of animals for consumption, and that can never be okay. 

Sorry guy, it’s wrong to eat bugs even if almost everything we do leads to their demise, so spit those poor sentient creatures out of your mouth. It may seem unfair that plants get to do something that we don’t, but hey, we get to walk around. We gotta give plants something. 

killingpestbugsmoral

It is, however, okay to kill bugs that are biting you or invading your turf. Vegans claim self defense on that one. Some vegans will attempt to free these pests rather than cut their lives short, but almost no vegan will judge another vegan for lasering a mosquito. 

selfdefensemoral

Speaking of self-defense, in a life or death struggle with an animal, vegans are allowed to fight back. Even more so if it’s against a human in a bear costume.

horsegreyimmoral

Horseback riding is on the verge of unforgivable animal torture, but some vegans consider it akin to pet ownership, usually a good deal for animals. A philosophy that bars horseback riding outright just seems joyless, so it’s smart for veganism not to take a definitive stance on it. Still, it’s arguably not in the best interest of horses to jump over bars with heavy creatures perched on them, shouting and kicking them in the side.

The main problem that some vegans have with horseback riding is that it requires leather equipment. You could get around this buy buying the saddle second hand, but that’s a grey area too. It’s better to be a horseback rider before going vegan so you can exploit the pregan loophole. 

If you do decide to be a horseback riding vegan, make it a point to protest rodeos, which are always immoral. That will draw a clear line between your “good” horse exploitation and the evil kind.

dumpstermeatmoral

You find this half-eaten meat and french fry sandwich in the dumpster. The fries were cooked in lard, the bun is drenched with butter, eggs and milk, and the cow that beef came from grew up on Conklin Dairy Farms where it was stomped on and prodded with a pitchfork hourly. Doesn’t matter. You didn’t pay for it, you’re not contributing to the demand for it, you are not responsible for it.

That’s called freeganism and it’s perfectly moral. So eat it. But maybe start from the other end.

Some vegans don’t like freeganism because eating meat “sends the wrong message” no matter the context. Also, by maintaining your taste for animal products, you’re more prone to eat them under immoral circumstances. But there’s no Precrime unit in the vegan police yet, so being more vulnerable to immorality is not in itself unvegan.

sandwichgrey

You went out to eat with some omni friends. You didn’t buy anything because there was nothing vegan except falafel and hummus, which for some reason always makes your nose bleed. Your friends shamelessly devour their meaty meals in front of you, except for one who had eaten earlier and only manages a few bites. Nobody else at the table believes in eating after someone else, so he offers it to you. The animal is dead. Just like a freegan taking meat from a dumpster, you’re not contributing to the demand for it. Do you eat the sandwich? 

Better not. Even though this food is on its way to the trash if you don’t eat it, you need to jump through a few more hoops before this is definitely moral. How do you know your friend didn’t feign fullness just to induce you to eat the meat and sully your purity? Maybe he’ll be hungry in a few minutes, and if you eat this sandwich, he’ll have to order another one. How do you know nobody in the kitchen will eat it? Will eating it send the wrong message (that vegans are desperate for meat and will take it any way they can get it)? Will your friends laugh and cheer you on for putting a dead animal in your mouth?

The vegan thing to do is to stare at the food until the server comes and takes it away. As soon as that sandwich hits garbage, it’s yours.

oystersmoralimmoral

Technically bivalves are a grey area. As Christopher Cox explained in Slate earlier this year, oysters fit all the vegan criteria. They’re healthy, good for the environment, and don’t suffer. They’re animals, though, which makes them off-limits for vegans, but maybe okay in a moral sense.

Because this one is such a close call, whether oysters are moral or not depends on your demeanor as you eat them. The woman on the left is too into it. It’s indecent how much she relishes the taste of flesh. How much thought do you think she has given to sentience and suffering in her life? I’ll tell you — zilch. She would be eating bivalves even if they burned eternally in hell for touching human mouths. She doesn’t give a shit. She lives for pleasure. Her own pleasure. The brainless creatures may not have the capability to witness her hedonism, but we do.

The restrained and civilized manner of the man on the right is what turns this grey food moral. He eats this senseless animal flesh deliberately and without passion. He doesn’t eat bivalves because he likes them — he eats them because he believes they don’t feel pain. If science proved otherwise, he would throw up at once and live the rest of his life as an apology to all the lives he took.

vatmeatmoral

Test tube meat, potentially grown without the use of any animal products. When the idea was first announced, vegans weren’t sure how they should feel about it. But that changed after PETA announced a $1 million cash prize to any company that developed a marketable version of it. Few vegans are against “vat meat” anymore, though even fewer intend to eat it themselves.

I think I first heard about meat created from animal DNA without animal products around the time I quit veganism. Back then I thought it was the perfect solution. Now I’m a little bit against it, only because it won’t be as good as normal meat, but vegans are going to give meat eaters so much more hell for eating real meat once lab meat exists. 

* meathandimmoral

This is a fake hand, but fakeness doesn’t always guarantee morality. The fingernails and wrist bone are made of onion, but the hand is meat, the skin is cheese and there is probably butter in the mashed potatoes. Nothing fake about that death.

free range chickens immoral

"What about free range eggs from a farm that you know treats their chickens well? That’s cruelty-free, isn’t it?" Sure, and why don’t you tell me where the brothers of all these happy hens are. Oh that’s right, they were ground into a bloody paste and turned into dog food the moment their gender was confirmed, fated to oblivion because of the crime of being born male.

Also, would you mind if I stole your stereo? Oh you would? Then what makes you think it’s okay to steal the equivalent from chickens (their eggs)? Just because animals have never heard of property rights doesn’t mean they don’t have them.

There is one possible scenario in which taking eggs might be okay: if the hens are rescue hens, which absolves you of responsibility for their dead brothers, and if you’ve offered their eggs back to them and they turn them down. At most this will get you something like half a dozen eggs in your lifetime. Enjoy your one moral omelet.

huntinggreyarea

In some areas it’s just not possible to be vegan. There is no Red Star nutritional yeast, no TVP, no Teese, no tofu, no almond milk, no B12 pills and not even many fruits and vegetables. Are people in these areas subject to vegan morality?

It’s hard to say. Murder is murder no matter your locale. But people in such hostile climes would starve if they accepted vegan ethics, arguably making meat “necessary.” It is homicide, no doubt, but maybe it’s justifiable homicide. On the other hand, maybe the lack of vegetables is a good sign that nobody should be living in these areas anyway. Why don’t they move some place where they could survive as vegans?

It’s conceivable that they are unaware of veganism. That raises an issue similar to whether people are doomed to hell for not accepting Jesus Christ even if they never heard of Him. Is it okay to eat meat if you have never heard of veganism founder Donald Watson? Most vegans would say “no.”

Also, if vegans were to officially grant certain areas immunity from vegan morality because of the lack of plant life, bloodthirsty omnivores could move to these places and eat as much meat as they wanted with vegan approval!

What’s clear is that the existence of cultures without a ready supply of nutritional yeast does not give us an excuse to eat animal products. We are lucky enough to live in a land where we can consult vegan nutrition experts and get our nutrients in pill form. So that’s what we are morally obligated to do.

spearfishingmoral

However, if you are in an extreme version of the above example, a castaway on a desert island who will immediately starve if you don’t fish or hunt, then fine, you can kill some animals. But vegans hate this hypothetical, so don’t bring it up. 

beanzymebeano

It used to be an interesting irony that vegans — the group most in need of a supplement to make beans more digestible — couldn’t take beano because it contains a fish-based gelatin and is thus immoral. Unfortunately, this irony died with Bean-zyme, the moral gelatin-free version of beano. 

rabbitpilemoral

These rabbits were poisoned for devouring crops, which makes them casualties in the battle for human vegetarianism. The lives of rabbits don’t amount to a hill of beans in this vegan world, because at least the beans vegans can eat. These rabbits threatened to make it harder for us to eat morally. It was them or our morals: the rabbits had to go.

Poisoning rabbits is the most moral way to kill them because it renders them inedible. If anyone tries to make a meal out of them, they’ll get what they deserve. Let’s just hope these farmers have the decency to set them on fire rather than exploiting them for key chains and other adornments.

rabbittruckimmoral

These rabbits weren’t culled to protect crops — they were murdered for their meat and skins. No! Wrong, wrong, wrong!

RabbitHeronMoral

This dumb birdbrain has no concept of morality and so he can eat whatever he damn well pleases.

dogpigearimmoral

Just like the heron, this dog doesn’t know any better… but her owners should. Some vegans who haven’t read Obligate Carnivore will feed their pets meat, but these vegans are as guilty of animal murder as petless omnis. Think of all the animals being sacrificed for your one favored animal. Hypocritical much? It would be better to throw Fido off a cliff than participate in that daily massacre. 

roadkillmoral

Vegans can eat road kill, but that’s about as likely to happen as the desert island scenario. 

drugsvaccinegray

Vaccines and prescription medicine are tested on animals and generally contain animal products. Some vegans avoid them for these reasons, but most vegans will take them if they need them. One of the rationalizations for this is that a sick vegan won’t convert anybody, so vegans taking medicine that exploits animals will help more animals in the long run. Also, few vegans are willing to die for animals that they’ll never meet. 

VitaminDmoralimmoral

Vitamin D3 always comes from animal products, whereas D2 is vegan. Sometimes D3 is made from lanolin (oil extracted from wool), which makes it appropriate for wool-wearing vegetarians, but that’s not good enough for vegans who know what happens to sheep after they’re all dried up. Vegans are very serious about this one, sometimes not even buying all-but-vegan dog food if it contains D3. 

DogWalkingGrey

Pet ownership is sometimes a contentious issue in veganism, with some vegans (the minority) arguing for the segregationist point of view, that any form of human/animal interaction is destined for exploitation and suffering. The majority of vegans will say that pet ownership is moral as long as your animal is from a shelter and vegan.

I’m not sure how pro-pet vegans would feel about wearing your dog like it were a hip accessory. They would probably feel a little uneasy about this, but would have to admit that Mr. Snowball is having the time of his life.

abortionbalut

Most vegans are left-leaning and pro-choice. There are pro-life vegans, but that has nothing to do with official vegan doctrine, which doesn’t take a stance on human life before birth. Killing the fetus of a non-human animal, however, is a clear-cut case of murder.

veggieburgerimmoral

Also less moral than an abortion is this abortion of a veggie burger, which was vegan until new management took over and added whey as the last ingredient.

tracesofmilkmoral3

But a trace amount of milk in this soymilk is not a moral problem because it’s there accidentally, from being produced on the same machines as dairy, not because dairy was intentionally added to the product.

hiddenanimalproductsmoral

All these things contain animal products. But that’s okay because just about everything in the world has animal products and you have to draw the line somewhere. If vegans actually wanted to use no animal products, they would have to leave civilization. And that wouldn’t help much anyway because then they would have to hunt to survive. So there comes a point when vegans say “Screw it, I know there’s animal products in this, but I have to live, don’t I?”

Now why do they draw the line where they do? Why is it okay to watch a movie shot on celluloid but not eat food that contains gelatin? It seems kind of arbitrary, but from what I gather, if you don’t ingest or wear the animal products, and it’s not obvious that the item in question would have animal traces (like cigarettes), they are okay from a vegan perspective. Also it helps if there is no vegan substitute for the animal-exploiting non-food item a vegan wants to use.

Basically, vegans are expected to check ingredients labels and clothing tags, but they don’t have to obsess too much beyond that. They have to live, don’t they?

turkeygrey

There’s a general agreement that it’s okay for vegans to cook meat for significant others, though most would prefer not to. (“Yuck!”) But what about a vegan who actually slaughters the animal for her family? At least a vegan undercover in a slaughterhouse is killing animals for the cause. But this woman here is getting blood on her hands just to appease her immoral family. True, the bird had to die no matter what, but why not leave that task to one of these grinning jackals who are all beyond hope anyway?

chickenawesome

Well shit, if the motherfucker just jumps right in, ain’t nobody complaining about that!