“Veganism is Not Dogmatic” from the ALF

Posted: March 23, 2012 in animal rights, vegan
Tags: , , ,

From time to time I hear the complaint that veganism is dogmatic. It’s not. The “dogmas” upon which veganism is based are the Golden Rule and the principle of least harm. Both of these guidelines give the follower wide latitude in interpretation.

Every vegan knows that every other vegan can never be a perfect vegan, and that it would be an exercise in futility to strive for that impossible ideal. Every time we walk outside, we’re liable to step on insects. We live in a society in which the use of products with animal-derived ingredients is rampant and unavoidable.

Veganism is more a frame of mind; an honest effort to avoid harming other living beings. Generally speaking, we have the highest obligation as ethical vegans to refrain from causing suffering that is obvious or extensive, and easily preventable.

Veganism is a derived, not root principle. It is outgrowth of compassion, of a connection to the world, of a sympathetic desire to help not hurt other creatures.

The Official Vegan Handbook (which doesn’t exist — further proof of non-dogma) does not specify precise rules by which one must abide. It does not say you must drive under the posted speed limit on your way to work each morning, to be more ready to swerve if a squirrel runs across the road. It does not spell out what to do if there is a wasp in your child’s room. But if you have sympathy and respect for all living creatures and a genuine desire to be a friend and protector, your conscience will guide you toward peaceful, mindful resolutions. You’ll be vegan by default.

Basically, veganism says that in terms of minimizing harm and maximizing charity toward all creatures, “do the best you can.”

We all know that there are a number of things we can do instantly, at no cost, with little effort, to reduce unimaginably hard suffering of animals. They suffer because of our habits — selfish habits — that we can break in a heartbeat. No dogma is required to adjust our life so that it spares thousands of animals from horrid lifelong misery in factory farms.


I agree completely. Veganism springs from compassion, from personal ethics. Emphasis on personal.

Minimizing suffering should be the number one goal in our lives. Period. Can we ever be perfect? No. Of course not. But we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good.


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