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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was reading an interview about careers the other day when I read something that spoke to me. The interviewer asked the interviewee if people changed careers for moral or ethical reasons. The interviewee said that few people actually switch careers for those reasons. The vast majority change when something affects them personally.<br><br>
So, I was thinking that veganism is somewhat similar. I can talk and argue about ethics and morality with someone all day (and I did today), but it seems like many more people go veg for reasons like health or they don't like the taste of meat or animal products (personal reasons) than those who feel morally obligated to do so. This is especially the case with two people close to me who have gone vegan and pescatarian.<br><br>
Thoughts?
 

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I agree with this... until it "hits home" so to speak, people will not change. It's like that with anything though - weight loss, going vegan, kicking a vice, changing careers or relationships. People need to have their own little epiphany.<br><br>
It reminds me of a Kahlil Gibran quote: "The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding."<br><br>
Have you ever seen the documentary "The Witness?" I cried... it is about a man who had lived his whole live in New York, having few experiences around animals. He decided to pet-sit a cat because a girl he had a crush on asked him to. It was his interactions with the cat that led him to animal advocacy and veg*ism. He just put it together that pets were no different from the chicken on his plate. Loved it <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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I agree, too. My little epiphany came when I realized that my beloved Chihuahua was the same size as a full-grown chicken. The horror of having her live her whole life within the area of a piece of paper hit me like a ton of bricks, and that is what made me realize that I could no longer eat eggs. Yep, it's when it gets personal that it changes your life.
 

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I completely agree. I've always loved animals and knew the meat and dairy industry was horrible but could sort of put it out of my mind. The reason I decided to go vegan was when my mom and aunt both had strokes and I found the book How To Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. It led me to more books and the 21 day vegan kickstart. Now other reasons come into play but that was my cadolisk<br><br>
AUdrey
 

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I switched to a vegan diet just for health purposes. I was always lactose intolerant so eating vegetarian with out dairy just happened. I don't do it for ethical reasons, but have learned a lot on this site and like that I am not contributing to the mistreatment of animals. I have not felt any better since eating a plant based diet, but I like the fact that I am not hurting the environment as much and not contributing to the suffering of animals. I know most people on this site are hardcore about their beliefs, but I appreciate those that even abstain from meat one day a week. It is a start.
 

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OP, as you say, the vast majority change when something affects them personally. This doesn't necessarily need to be anything ephiphanic: a single event or some straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. I worked in the private sector for a couple of decades then decided to take a cut in pay to work in public service. It seemed like the right thing to do. Most of my colleagues my age or older did the same thing. There was no great realization other than the fact that as they grew up they wanted to do something with their lives that was meaningful to people other than themselves. Choices in dietary paths are the same way. My wife chose hers because one day she looked at her cat and said, "I wouldn't eat that," and became vegetarian. For her, it was a specific event. I simply changed one day because I figured eating animal products was an unnecessary waste, and had long known that there were health consequences.<br><br>
I'm not sure that this or any of the other responses address your general query, but yeah, people do make choices based on their own personal experiences. They can make a moral/ethical argument for their choices, but at the end of the day the choices have only to do with their personal experiences and what they choose to do with them.
 

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<p>~</p>
 

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Like another poster, I'm lactose intolerant and my tolerance level of dairy is pretty low so I just cut it out completely. I stopped eating meat for kind of an equal combination of health/ethical/environmental reasons - by that I mean that my health is of no less importance to me than the health and well being of animals and the environment. That being said however it was the health reasons which was the catalyst.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Keep in mind that I did say the <b>majority</b> don't switch because of ethical or moral reasons or "higher ideas" if you will. This forum obviously isn't a representative sample since veganism can largely be a moral issue.<br><br>
I also tend to think of this statement when I think of climate change. Notice how they always pitch the idea that "Our grandchildren are going to pay for our mistakes" so as to make us think "oh no! not my kin!" They make it personal. Not a lot of people change their behavior unless it economically becomes beneficial to do so as well. Money is more personal than, say, global environmental health and it's visible, tangible, and you can spend it on things.
 

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I think this is a social norm, not inevitable human nature. I believe "enlightened self-interest" is only partially enlightened. But of course it is true that if people are careless of others, they do harm themselves in the long run.
 

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Interesting thoughts. My experience with vegans has been the same - the change to a veganism is mainly for personal reasons rather than inspired by a strong moral or ethical stance. I suppose modern-day vegan activism is well-rounded and focuses on all the benefits of vegan lifestyle - ethical, health, environmental, economic etc. but I suppose the key emphasis has been on the ethical underpinning (and rightly so imo). I wonder whether there should me more of a shift of focus onto the personal benefits that one can enjoy because this seems to be the primary issue motivating a lot of people to adopt veganism. I firmly believe that animal rights activism should be focusing on the ethical aspects of the way animals are treated but do you guys think more people would go vegan if the AR movement started to concentrate more on personal issues like health?
 

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A more general (and less Ayn-Rand-culty) explanation is people's preference for the concrete to the abstract.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Poppy</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3081331"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I agree, too. My little epiphany came when I realized that my beloved Chihuahua was the same size as a full-grown chicken.</div>
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This. I switched to veganism when I read about poor farm animals and all I could think of is how I would react if someone treated my cats that way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>PleasantDream</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3084972"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I firmly believe that animal rights activism should be focusing on the ethical aspects of the way animals are treated but do you guys think more people would go vegan if the AR movement started to concentrate more on personal issues like health?</div>
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Yes. My father became vegan not because I refuted every argument he or anyone else could make for using, eating, exploiting animals, but because he watched "Forks Over Knives" and thought it would be healthier. Plus, his father and brother have both died from heart attacks and/or strokes, so that was an issue. One of my friends stopped eating land animals because of the film, but I'd like to think I had <b>some</b> impact on both people.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Dave in MPLS</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3085476"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
A more general (and less Ayn-Rand-culty) explanation is people's preference for the concrete to the abstract.</div>
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Sorry for being Ayn Rand-ish. The lady was evil. Anyway, I would argue that, although people animal suffering or see something like the effects of climate change, it doesn't mean they'll act differently. That is, assuming something that can be seen is considered concrete.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">people animal suffering</div>
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The thing is, not everyone sees suffering, even though they're looking at the same event. Where one sees a chicken as an individual with the capacity for suffering, another sees a member of the abstract group 'food animals'. Being abstracted away as 'food animal' leads to suffering being understood differently. Even if someone intellectually understands the capacity for suffering, this capacity lies with concrete individuals, not the abstract group. A parallel can be seen in reactions to human famine. One starving kid that the viewer connects with inspires action. This is why save-the-children type organizations often send pictures of individual kids to donors. 'You're helping this little girl' is more compelling than 'you're helping a community of faceless individuals'.
 

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Are we talking just about whether people give up meat for moral or ethical reasons? Or also still talking about whether they change careers for those reasons? Because I think some people DO realize the effect of their work on others and still prioritize the money that they get for themselves. But maybe they, too, don't see members of the abstract group "poor residents" as individuals with the capacity for suffering.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">don't see members of the abstract group "poor residents" as individuals with the capacity for suffering</div>
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More likely they see the poor as lazy or having some other personal defect, thus being responsible for their own poverty. The privileged of course gaining that privilege through personal effort. Pay attention to the narratives being told in the Republican nomination quest currently underway for real life examples.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Dave in MPLS</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3086320"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
The thing is, not everyone sees suffering, even though they're looking at the same event. Where one sees a chicken as an individual with the capacity for suffering, another sees a member of the abstract group 'food animals'. Being abstracted away as 'food animal' leads to suffering being understood differently. Even if someone intellectually understands the capacity for suffering, this capacity lies with concrete individuals, not the abstract group. A parallel can be seen in reactions to human famine. One starving kid that the viewer connects with inspires action. This is why save-the-children type organizations often send pictures of individual kids to donors. 'You're helping this little girl' is more compelling than 'you're helping a community of faceless individuals'.</div>
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My point exactly. They see concrete examples of actual people suffering and starving on television, yet many people won't act or change habits in the case of climate change. A lot of times, those agencies do wrap the suffering of their beneficiaries in narrative and apparently that helps people donate money or somehow feel connected.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Dave in MPLS</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3086568"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
More likely they see the poor as lazy or having some other personal defect, thus being responsible for their own poverty. The privileged of course gaining that privilege through personal effort. Pay attention to the narratives being told in the Republican nomination quest currently underway for real life examples.</div>
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I partially agree on this. I don't know if anyone feels starving individuals in 3rd world countries have some personal defect. However, I have heard a lot of religious BS, IMO, excuses for why that happens and how they'll somehow be repaid in an afterlife or that it's karma. And, yes, I have followed the Republican presidential candidates and heard their warped ideas about the poor and how to deal with them.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Green_Gentleman</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3086588"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Dave in MPLS</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3086568"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
More likely they see the poor as lazy or having some other personal defect, thus being responsible for their own poverty. The privileged of course gaining that privilege through personal effort. Pay attention to the narratives being told in the Republican nomination quest currently underway for real life examples.</div>
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I partially agree on this. I don't know if anyone feels starving individuals in 3rd world countries have some personal defect. However, I have heard a lot of religious BS, IMO, excuses for why that happens and how they'll somehow be repaid in an afterlife or that it's karma. And, yes, I have followed the Republican presidential candidates and heard their warped ideas about the poor and how to deal with them.</div>
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Plus, of course, there's racism.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Green_Gentleman</strong> <a href="/forum/post/3081215"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
So, I was thinking that veganism is somewhat similar. I can talk and argue about ethics and morality with someone all day (and I did today), but it seems like many more people go veg for reasons like health or they don't like the taste of meat or animal products (personal reasons) than those who feel morally obligated to do so. This is especially the case with two people close to me who have gone vegan and pescatarian.<br></div>
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I agree that a fair number of people seem to have selfish reasons for becoming vegan. It's great that health vegans exist because they make up the numbers, but I can't deny that they disappoint me a bit.
 
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