Interest in Veganism is at an all time high across the globe, according to statistics from a recent Google Trends data report. In 2020, Vegan search terms appeared in Google’s search engines at a volume twice as high as in 2015, breaking the record set just one year previously. Even since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, the food industry has seen net growth in the number of open Vegan restaurants, and analysts predict that the market for Vegan meat alternatives will reach $7.5 billion globally within the next 5 years.
With such overwhelming evidence that Veganism is here to stay, it is worthwhile to begin considering the potential implications and relationships of this trend to the pro-life movement. This first of a two-part series on pro-life approaches to Veganism will suggest ways in which the Vegan lifestyle, whether dietary or ethical, can complement a pro-life ethic and be an instrument fighting the throwaway culture that perpetuates human-rights as much as animal-rights abuses.
The precise practices entailed in Veganism vary across cultures and within distinct sub-groups, but overall, the Vegan Society defines it as “a way of living which seeks to exclude […] all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” Vegans refrain from consumption of all animal products and by extension support development of alternatives for the protection of animals, humans and the environment.
The philosophy behind such a lifestyle, still seen by many in the West as radical in spite of its surging popularity, can be seen as entirely compatible with pro-life views. In the United States’ 1990s hardcore punk genre, a “hardline” Vegan philosophy emerged which promoted an anti-abortion stance based on a bio-centric worldview. An emphasis on adherence with an immutable natural order also led Hardline Vegans to advocate for purely procreative sex and abstinence from drugs.
Although this version of Veganism never gained major traction, its basic principles can still be applicable in the contemporary scene. On its most fundamental level, Veganism rejects the notion that people can kill innocent living creatures for their own convenience. An unborn member of the unique animal species homo sapiens is thus worthy of at least the same protection.
Furthermore, many Vegans adopt this lifestyle out of a desire to solve economic and environmental injustice. This motive fits logically into the whole-life morality entailed in the pro-life movement. Caring for the unborn is necessarily tied to caring for the most vulnerable in society and for the world in which we live. Therefore, Vegans who boycott factory farms where workers are exploited and animals are abused inadvertently answer the call of Pope Francis, and Saint Benedict and John Paul II before him, to resist the modern consumerist throwaway culture. It is this same culture that reduces human beings to objects, and which supports those exploitative systems that keep turning the cycle of poverty and abortion.
In conclusion, there is a strong case to be made for pro-life Veganism. Its opposition to harming innocent creatures aligns naturally with opposition to the abuse of human rights. And given the detrimental effects on human lives resulting from the cruelty, environmental degradation, and exploitation that goes on today in so many animal-product industries, one could argue that Veganism is not only compatible with but necessary to uphold a consistent pro-life ethic, at least as far as money and resources allow.