Veganism is like a religion - do you agree with this analogy? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-16-2010, 01:23 PM
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I am a bit concerned when people try to equate veganism as a religion and or even worse as a cult. I've heard it even here as well, many vegans themselves compare veganism to religion. For example when one person in a relationship goes vegan and the other doesn't, they compare it to religion in a sense that they come to accept the one who's gone vegan not to push their religion on to the other person who hasn't, and vice versa expect respect from the other to this person's new religion. That's the analogy they use. I've even been part of this thought process as my DH is an omni.



However, the more I think about this analogy, the more I hate it. I don't want to offend anybody here, any religious people (or anyone in a cult for that matter), but religion and spirituality is based on faith, not necessarily on logic. Many times religion doesn't make sense, but your faith is suppose to guide you through it (please let me know if I am wrong here, I am really going by what I've been told). However, veganism is based on logic. It makes sense to be vegan, not only for animal welfare and rights, but also for health reasons, and for our environment's sake.



As for cults, as far as I know, cults are based on a leader and its followers who in a sense follow blindly. Well someone forgot to tell me who the vegan cult leader is!



I've been really struggling with this, and would like to know what your thoughts are, for or against. Since I am not religious by any means, maybe that's why I am having problems grasping this analogy...so I'd love to hear from those who are religious and how you think this analogy works or doesn't work.



cheers!
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#2 Old 02-16-2010, 01:26 PM
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No, I don't like this analogy either. I'm not religious though.

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#3 Old 02-16-2010, 01:26 PM
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I think the fanaticism with which some people take up veganism is similar to religious fanaticism, especially "born again" vegans. Vegans also place a strong emphasis on morality - same for religious folks. And the goal of converting omnivores is very similar to the process of converting non-believers for those of faith.



Honestly, I don't have a problem with the analogy. As a religious person, I think several parts of it make sense.



From Wiki:

Quote:
Religion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.



^



1. Vegans have a set of beliefs concerning the nature of the world and the way humanity runs it.

2. They observe rituals/abstainence from certain activities.

3. They follow a moral code they believe should govern the conduct of human affairs.
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#4 Old 02-16-2010, 01:28 PM
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I think when people call veganism a religion it is meant to dismissive of it. Essentially they are calling it a cult of people that cannot think for themselves and have been indoctrinated.
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#5 Old 02-16-2010, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kellye View Post

I think the fanaticism with which some people take up veganism is similar to religious fanaticism, especially "born again" vegans. Also vegans place a strong emphasis on morality - same for religious folks. And the goal of converting omnivores is very similar to the process of converting non-believers for those of faith.



Honestly, I don't have a problem with the analogy. As a religious person, I think several parts of it make sense.

I don't think you really understand what veganism is, if this is the impression you have of vegans.

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#6 Old 02-16-2010, 01:29 PM
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Veganism is based on a set of moral and ethical beliefs that not everybody in the world shares. In that way, it's similar to a religion.



And our cult leader is Bob Barker. He used to be the leader of the housewife cult, until Oprah came along and took that from him, so he took over the vegan cult instead. Didn't you know that?



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#7 Old 02-16-2010, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by SomebodyElse View Post

I don't think you really understand what veganism is, if this is the impression you have of vegans.



So you disagree that



a) Newfound vegans (fresh off the cow) sometimes come off as overbearing/moralistic/narrowminded/fanatic in the same way born-again religious folks do?

b) Vegans find meat-eating immoral?

c) Veganism encompasses the goal of spreading veganism to non-vegans in order to prevent animal suffering/save omnivores from their ignorance?
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#8 Old 02-16-2010, 01:34 PM
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Religion is based on beliefs. Veganism is based on facts.
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#9 Old 02-16-2010, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Fromper View Post

...

And our cult leader is Bob Barker. He used to be the leader of the housewife cult, until Oprah came along and took that from him, so he took over the vegan cult instead. Didn't you know that?



--Fromper




I didn't know he was vegan...I thought he was only vegetarian! So is this how he enlists you into his cult? Fromper, come on down! ???
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#10 Old 02-16-2010, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by m4rk0 View Post

Religion is based on beliefs. Veganism is based on facts.



Depends on your perspective - seems like lots of people are vegan simply because they "believe" that eating animals is wrong. And whether killing animals is wrong or right is a moral question - facts don't play into it.
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#11 Old 02-16-2010, 01:35 PM
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Animals feel pain and are abused for human pleasure. Those are facts.
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#12 Old 02-16-2010, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by m4rk0 View Post

Animals feel pain and are abused for human pleasure. Those are facts.



Yes, but the position that killing and abusing animals for human pleasure is morally wrong is a belief, not a fact. There are tons of people that believe it's perfectly fine. That's why it's socially acceptable by human societies across the planet.
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#13 Old 02-16-2010, 01:39 PM
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People compare it to religion usually to emphasise how deeply they care about veganism. Two people with polar opposite views of religion might not be compatible if one or both feels very strongly about their position. Vegans tend to feel very strongly about their position regarding animals, so the analogy there works for me. I couldn't date a meat-eater and I couldn't date a Christian who was serious about their religion, for the same reason. Our world views would just be too different.



Anyway I think you're forgetting that veganism or vegetarianism can be intrinsically linked to religion. If they actually follow scripture or the spirit of their religion, which of course many "religious" people don't do now, people of nearly all religions would be vegetarian or vegan. I don't know about Sikhs and Muslims but certainly Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jainists... No meat-eating is one of the five regulative principles of my own spiritual practices.
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#14 Old 02-16-2010, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Kellye View Post

So you disagree that



a) Newfound vegans (fresh off the cow) sometimes come off as overbearing/moralistic/narrowminded/fanatic in the same way born-again religious folks do?

Yes I disagree. This impression is a matter of perspective, and personal prejudice.



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Originally Posted by Kellye View Post

b) Vegans find meat-eating immoral?

No, but what does this have to do with religion? As an atheist and a decent human being, I don't need a god or a religion to tell me how to behave.



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c) Veganism encompasses the goal of spreading veganism to non-vegans in order to prevent animal suffering/save omnivores from their ignorance?

Would you consider the laws our society has against rape and murder as having been established by people to save rapists and murderers from their own ignorance? Preventing people from victimizing others isn't an aim founded by religion. It's an attempt to stop people from victimizing others. No conversion to complicated faith based belief systems required.

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#15 Old 02-16-2010, 01:40 PM
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Animals feel pain and are abused for human pleasure. Those are facts.



Yes, those are facts. Unfortunately, 95% of people in the industrialized world don't believe (there's that word again) that it's immoral or unethical for humans to treat animals that way, despite those facts.



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#16 Old 02-16-2010, 01:41 PM
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Yes, those are facts. Unfortunately, 95% of people in the industrialized world don't believe (there's that word again) that it's immoral or unethical for humans to treat animals that way, despite those facts.



--Fromper




And plenty of people don't even believe that animals, especially certain groups of animals like fish and insects, can feel pain at all.
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#17 Old 02-16-2010, 01:43 PM
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I didn't know he was vegan...I thought he was only vegetarian! So is this how he enlists you into his cult? Fromper, come on down! ???



I honestly don't know if he's vegan or vegetarian. He just seemed like an obvious celebrity to use for the joke. Maybe I should have gone with Paul McCartney instead...



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#18 Old 02-16-2010, 01:46 PM
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Anyway I think you're forgetting that veganism or vegetarianism can be intrinsically linked to religion. If they actually follow scripture or the spirit of their religion, which of course many "religious" people don't do now, people of nearly all religions would be vegetarian or vegan. I don't know about Sikhs and Muslims but certainly Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jainists... No meat-eating is one of the five regulative principles of my own spiritual practices.



^ Good point.



Quote:
Yes I disagree. This impression is a matter of perspective, and personal prejudice.



No, it's not prejudice, it's simple observation. I didn't say all new vegans act this way, any more than all new Christian/Buddhist/Muslim/etc... converts "get big religion". Some people (thankfully a minority) get gung-ho and obnoxious about any new thing they try. Vegans are not exempt from this phenomenon.



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No, but what does this have to do with religion? As an atheist and a decent human being, I don't need a god or a religion to tell me how to behave.



So omnivores are NOT decent human beings? That's a morality judgement.



Quote:
Would you consider the laws our society has against rape and murder as having been established by people to save rapists and murderers from their own ignorance? Preventing people from victimizing others isn't an aim founded by religion. It's an attempt to stop people from victimizing others. No conversion to complicated faith based belief systems required.



Conversion is conversion. Doesn't really matter why you're doing it or what your end goals are.
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#19 Old 02-16-2010, 01:46 PM
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I think this argument is kinda silly. The more religious among us are going to see religion as a good thing, and veg*nism as a good thing, and link the two. Those among us who aren't religious are going to see religion in a bad light, and not want to cast veg*nism in that same light. To each hir own, I say. If you see the two being connected, good for you. If you don't, that's great, too.

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#20 Old 02-16-2010, 01:48 PM
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No, I don't like this analogy either. I'm not religious though.



This is me. It's harder to comment on this since I don't have experience as someone who has religious beliefs or practices religion.. in that sense I'm unable to compare it to veganism.



But in my opinion, it's not the same at all. We make decisions on what we choose to put in our bodies, religious people make decisions on what they choose to believe. I hope I dont offend anyone, but food is tangible, religious belief isnt.
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#21 Old 02-16-2010, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Kellye View Post

Yes, but the position that killing and abusing animals for human pleasure is morally wrong is a belief, not a fact. There are tons of people that believe it's perfectly fine. That's why it's socially acceptable by human societies across the planet.



That's absolutely true!!! But this is where it gets tricky for me. I don't think that just because you believe in something, it is holy or religious.
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#22 Old 02-16-2010, 01:49 PM
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I think this argument is kinda silly. The more religious among us are going to see religion as a good thing, and veg*nism as a good thing, and link the two. Those among us who aren't religious are going to see religion in a bad light, and not want to cast veg*nism in that same light. To each hir own, I say. If you see the two being connected, good for you. If you don't, that's great, too.



Good point, it's entirely down to your perspective and the connotations of 'religion' to each individual. I wouldn't like to hear veganism referred to as a cult because it carries negative connotations for me about mind-control and people blindly following something. On the other hand even as an atheist I compared veganism to religion for the reasons I mentioned in my first post in this thread and I definitely wasn't trying to make veganism look bad.
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#23 Old 02-16-2010, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Kellye View Post

Yes, but the position that killing and abusing animals for human pleasure is morally wrong is a belief, not a fact. There are tons of people that believe it's perfectly fine. That's why it's socially acceptable by human societies across the planet.



That's like saying the position that abusing a child is wrong is a moral belief not a fact. The point is most people in this world (not just vegans) feel animal abuse is wrong which is why you can be tried in court for it (shame the meat, dairy, egg and leather, wool etc industries never are) and go to jail. If you say anyone who has strong beliefs is like a religious person, then everyone on this planet is religious.



I don't like the analogy of veganism to religion but I have to confess as a new vegan (10 months now) I am guilty of wanting to "convert" people to reduce the suffering of animals.. However, I think this is a reflection of my own inadequacies and it is vegans who have pointed out to me that this is not a useful attitude (see the thread I posted on answering a question in the vegetarian forum without being offensive) and so I am trying to stop it. Moreover, the beliefs of vegans are based on the realities going on in the world whilst religion is not a set of beliefs based on facts, it is a set of beliefs period.
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#24 Old 02-16-2010, 01:52 PM
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That's absolutely true!!! But this is where it gets tricky for me. I don't think that just because you believe in something, it is holy or religious.



No, not necessarily. But my point was that religion and veganism both encompass ideas which are driven by beliefs in certain moral convictions or universal truths. So in that way, they are similar (at least to me).



Quote:
That's like saying the position that abusing a child is wrong is a moral belief not a fact.



I am saying that. Granted, it's a moral belief most of humanity can agree with (which is more than we can say for a lot of our beliefs), but child abuse is relative and in many parts of the world, it's as socially acceptable as meat-eating is.



Quote:
The point is most people in this world (not just vegans) feel animal abuse is wrong which is why you can be tried in court for it (shame the meat, dairy, egg and leather, wool etc industries never are) and go to jail.



Most people in the world also exploit animals, so humanity at large must not feel animal abuse is that bad.



Quote:
Moreover, the beliefs of vegans are based on the realities going on in the world whilst religion is not a set of beliefs based on facts, it is a set of beliefs period.



^ Lots of religious people would disagree with you there, and can lovingly research the reasons why religion has scientific and historical legitimacy on several levels.
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#25 Old 02-16-2010, 01:59 PM
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It's interesting that people use the idea of religion, or any similarity to religion, pejoratively. While I think the analogy is usually stupid, I also disagree with the analogy's implicit assumption that religion is necessarily something very negative.



Veganism is simply a way of life that reflects certain moral values. It is natural to want to "convert" others to those same values, when the moral values extend far beyond the sphere of one's personal choices that affect only oneself. When a moral code is traditional and accepted by the majority of people, the very same "converting" or "forcing of beliefs" happens, but it is not seen as similar to religious conversion, because most people agree with it. I think that's dishonest.



In fact, with traditional moral codes, there is not merely an attempt to "convert" through information and rhetoric, but actually enforcement through laws and the threat of physical force.





Quote:
Originally Posted by Kellye View Post

1. Vegans have a set of beliefs concerning the nature of the world and the way humanity runs it.

2. They observe rituals/abstainence from certain activities.

3. They follow a moral code they believe should govern the conduct of human affairs.

Uh... That argument is painful to even read.



1. Every human being* has a set of beliefs concerning the nature of the world.

2. Whether veganism involves "rituals" is a subjective matter of opinion.

But every human being does "abstain from certain activities".

3. Every human being follows a moral code.



Kellye has just demonstrated that the behavior and beliefs of every single human being imply religion. Which is obviously false.



*at least of a certain age



edit:



Ok, maybe some completely insane or braindead human beings are excluded from being religious.

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#26 Old 02-16-2010, 02:08 PM
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Here's a necessary condition for any sensible analogy between veganism and religion:



That analogy has to be based on a definition of religion which applies specifically to veganism, and not to all moral worldviews in general.

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#27 Old 02-16-2010, 02:10 PM
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So omnivores are NOT decent human beings? That's a morality judgement.

Sure it is. But what makes it a religious judgment? Morality and religion are not the same thing.

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#28 Old 02-16-2010, 02:10 PM
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1. Every human being* has a set of beliefs concerning the nature of the world.

2. Whether veganism involves "rituals" is a subjective matter of opinion.

But every human being does "abstain from certain activities".

3. Every human being follows a moral code.



Kellye has just demonstrated that the behavior and beliefs of every single human being imply religion. Which is obviously false.





Exactly, this is what I was trying to say.. I'm just not so good with words!
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#29 Old 02-16-2010, 02:11 PM
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1. Every human being* has a set of beliefs concerning the nature of the world.



Most of them don't consider those beliefs a lifestyle choice though. Religious folks and vegans do.



Quote:
2. Whether veganism involves "rituals" is a subjective matter of opinion.



And you're of the opinion that there is nothing even vaguely ritualistic about veganism?



Quote:
But every human being does "abstain from certain activities".



^ Facetious. Most people abstain from coffee occasionally when they don't feel like drinking it, or abstain from it continually out of personal preference. Said average person doesn't abstain from coffee for a lifetime because he feels the production of coffee is unethical. That is the level of abstinence that veganism and religion share.



Quote:
3. Every human being follows a moral code.



But not all of them impose that moral code on others (or seek to).



Quote:
Kellye has just demonstrated that the behavior and beliefs of every single human being imply religion. Which is obviously false.



Unlike the similarities between religion and veganism, which are not so obviously false.



Quote:
Sure it is. But what makes it a religious judgment? Morality and religion are not the same thing.



Never said that religion and morality were equal, just that both religion and veganism address moral codes, and in this way they are similar.
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#30 Old 02-16-2010, 02:21 PM
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Are all aspects of religion illogical? Is anything deemed religious nothing but faith? Are all aspects of your veganism logical? Is everything grounded in absolute truth? Dangerous territory to tread in. Our beliefs often appear to us as facts, because we've blinded ourselves to alternative positions. This is apparent throughout all humans (ie confirmation bias, etc). I attempt to maintain integrity and weigh my decisions in a logical manner, but I cannot accept my beliefs as absolute truth without letting my ego get in the way. My truths are my beliefs of best fit, and many appear irrational or ridiculous, even to me.



Additionally, how do you determine what is logical? At what point do you say 'this is sound and valid'? And how do you make that distinction in a purely logical manner without using any subjective cues? You likely don't. You're walking into a garden of meta-ethics and fundamental problems in logic. There is no easy solution, and to write it off as 'my beliefs are based on logic' is quaint.
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