Meat-Free Monday: Why Not Eat Vegan? 

There are a few reasons beyond just the obvious one: it’s a big adjustment to your life and can be quite inconvenient and difficult if you don’t live a bigger city.

And some people have been burned by self-righteous vegans who treated them like garbage and turned them off to the possibilities altogether.  

Now, I’ve experienced great support from family, friends, and co-workers as I’ve gone fully plant-based. They’ve been encouraging and accommodating, and it warms my heart.

But why do so many people go for   crash diets or even gastric surgery without ever trying a plant based diet? Surely that adjustment is far more inconvenient than going vegan. 

I think an answer may come from moral foundations theory.

Most of us approach vegetarianism and/or veganism from the moral foundation of  care. We see the videos of animal abuse inherent in factory farming,  and we want to change,  to prevent that suffering,  even if just for the few animals per year who suffer and die for our consumption.

Sometimes it’s a fairness issue. I have no problems with my grandparents’ past cattle farming, just like I had no problem with them using leaded gasoline in their cars.

I had no problem with my ancient ancestors’ hunting and herding. 

But this isn’t 1940, or 1423, or 3000 BCE.  We don’t need to do that to live,  and our methods for raising and killing animals have grown far crueler and more wasteful since then,  due to industrialized agriculture and maximized profits.

We don’t have to do that any more, so I don’t.

But a lot of people don’t solely operate from care and fairness. A lot of people also care about the moral foundations of authority,  in-group loyalty, and sanctity. 

So how might these moral foundations make a person more resistant to going plant based? 

Authority (tradition) 

We are taught throughout school that cow’s milk “does a body good,” that we have to drink plenty or our bikes won’t grow strong. 

We are taught to eat meat,  too, though somewhat less directly. 

Also,  vegetarianism and especially veganism are strange,  and strangeness and eccentricity are actively devalued by the authority mindset.  

Why?  Because going against the grain small matters prepares you to go against the grain in large matters. 

In group loyalty

Meat is the American way, at least according to the beef industry’s ads. BBQ’s are patriotic, and refusing the celebratory meat is tantamount to disloyalty. This sounds silly,  but don’t most of our patriotic holidays involve a barbecue?


Somehow,  despite being purer in the senses of cruelty, bacterial contamination, and  actual contents, many vegan protein sources sound strange, fake, or otherwise suspect.  

In American culture, plant based proteins are ritually, or at least metaphorically, unclean. I’ve seen this reaction, but I can’t explain it. 

So there you go: a few reasons people might openly object to veganism or vegetarianism. 

Just because something doesn’t make sense to me,  doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense from the other person’s perspective. 

Life isn’t always logical, but it always has a logic of its own

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