Human Exceptionalism

What Applies to Field Mice Killed in Plant Agriculture Should Apply to Animals Accidentally Killed by Tuna Fishing

A little while back I wrote a piece for National Review Online called “Veganism is Murder.” The thesis of the piece was that while many animal rights activists claim that “meat is murder,” vegans also live off the deaths of animals due to the perhaps billions of mice, snakes, gophers, and other field fauna killed by mechanized farming methods each year.

Well, you could hear the screaming in Timbuktu! The primary theme of those objecting to my point was that food animals are killed on purpose, while the field animals’ deaths (which are far more painful than those that occur in slaughterhouses) are incidental and accidental–and hence, vegans bear no moral responsibility for the killing that occurs during harvests and field burnings.

If that is true, what are to make of this story that reveals “dolphin friendly” tuna–that is fish caught without accidentally also trapping and killing dolphin–are about as friendly to other animals as the combines are to voles. From the story:

David Ritter, from Greenpeace, said: “Thousands of turtles and sharks are killed every year while catching tuna to be put in tins… “Whilst the label on the tin may say ‘dolphin-friendly’, some tuna fishing methods can be hugely destructive.”

Clearly the activists at Greenpeace haven’t been reading the vegans posting at SHS! If they had, they would know that incidental deaths of animals, which are foreseen but not intended, don’t count as cruelty.

Yes, yes: I know that vegans object to killing tuna, too. But the point is still valid: If consumers of tuna bear moral responsibility for the deaths of the other animals, then vegans do for the deaths of those field animals gruesomely killed by the combines, poisons, and other methods of modern agriculture.