AR-FAQ - #32

#32 The animal product industries are big business; wouldn't the economy be crippled if they all stopped?

One cannot justify an action based on its profitability. Many crimes and practices that we view as repugnant have been or continue to be profitable: the slave trade, sale of child brides, drug dealing, scams of all sorts, prostitution, child pornography. A good example of this, and one that points up another key consideration, is the tobacco industry. It is a multibillion-dollar industry, yet vigorous efforts are proceeding on many fronts to put it out of business. The main problem with it lies in its side-effects, i.e., the massive health consequences and deaths that it produces, which easily outweigh the immediate profitability. There are side effects to animal exploitation also. Among the most significant are the pollution and deforestation associated with large-scale animal farming. As we see in question #28, these current practices constitute a nonsustainable use of the planet's resources. It is more likely true that the economy will be crippled if the practices continue! Finally, the profits associated with the animal industries stem from market demand and affluence. There is no reason to suppose that this demand cannot be gradually redirected into other industries. Instead of prime beef, we can have prime artichokes, or prime pasta, etc. Humanity's demand for gourmet food will not vanish with the meat. Similarly, the jobs associated with the animal industries can be gradually redirected into the industries that would spring up to replace the animal industries. (Vice President Gore made a similar point in reference to complaints concerning loss of jobs if logging was halted. He commented that the environmental movement would open up a huge area for jobs that had heretofore been unavailable.) DG

It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind. Albert Einstein (physicist, Nobel 1921)

SEE ALSO: #28, #31