Vegan versus vegetarian utopia revisited

Jean Kazez and Scu of Critical Animal both have critical posts on this essay on veganism by philosopher Tzachi Zamir. The argument appears in a slightly different form in his book Ethics and the Beast, and I discussed it a bit here.

While I, as a “moral vegetarian” (to use his terms) find Zamir’s argument appealing, at least in a self-serving way, I thought he was a little too quick to assume that modest “humane” reforms of the dairy and egg industries would lead eventually to an ethically acceptable result. Even if we accept the terms of the debate as Zamir has laid them out, to demonstrate the superiority of the moral vegetarian position, we would need a viable model of non-exploitative, institutional animal use that could be sustained on a large-scale basis (as distinguished from the ad hoc procurement of animal products, for instance, eggs from backyard chickens) and a path for realizing it. My conclusion was that “[t]o make good on their commitment to non-exploitative animal use, vegetarians need to articulate more clearly what the end goal is and describe a plausible path there from the status quo. Otherwise, the vegan critique will continue to have significant bite.”

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