Effective Veganism

Jul 2016

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about Veganism and its efficacy. I made a tweet touching on a few ideas which I’ll expand on here.

The definition of Veganism

Most people I know personally who follow a Vegan lifestyle felt compelled to make this decision initially via personal convictions and abhorrence of the treatment of animals. I think it’s fair to say that what most Vegans share is a goal to reduce the sum total of animal suffering.

I want to argue that one person living a single Vegan lifestyle void of any kind of advocacy for Veganism, in and of itself, is a suboptimal way of contributing most effectively to Veganism, taking the definition of Veganism here to be a Utilitarian-esque greatest reduction of animal suffering.

By just eating Vegan yourself, you’re limiting the potential reduction of animal suffering to just the benefit that stems from your personal, singular refrain from eating animal products. If you simultaneously spend time being a proponent of Veganism by making it accessible and inviting, even enough to convince one other person to also live a vegan lifestyle, you’re doubling the potential reduction in animal suffering (whilst also opening up the potential for exponential reduction in suffering from all the people that you’ve convinced to live a Vegan lifestyle all convincing people they themselves know, ad infinitum.)

More concretely then, the number one priority of Veganism should be to make itself as accessible and inviting for non-Vegans due to the for the exponential potential reduction in animal suffering from recursively advocating Veganism within circles of friends and families.

As pedantry is extremely uninviting, if the sporadic enjoyment of small amounts of animal products on occasion is something that makes Veganism sufficiently more appealing for somebody else to realise that turning Vegan in some meaningful capacity is attainable, then I would argue that this is even a plausible form of effective Veganism, as the sum reduction of suffering would be greater. The point here being of course that whatever proves to be the most effective form of advocacy should be the primary concern of Veganism (so long as the advocacy doesn’t result in a larger sum total of suffering).

A few quick thoughts off the top of my head w/r/t how to spend time most effectively in everyday life in being an effective advocate for Veganism:

  • Spending time becoming a really good Vegan cook, and sharing recipes and shopping tips with friends and families.
  • Avoiding diving dogma and pedantry where it might be divisive or stifle potentially pivotal conversation or progress.

Here’s to making Veganism more inviting and furthermore reducing animal suffering.