Why vegans should be libertarians

Pogo considers the value of limited government.

In her post, “Confessions of a Vegan Libertarian,” author Cathy Cuthbert describes the painful lie she lives, torn between ideologues with little compassion for the other.

At the thought of revealing her political philosophy to her liberal friends, she fears that she would, “be subjected to emotional, ad hominem, socialist tirades from which it would be impossible to recover a cordial relationship.” (She goes on to say some harsh words for libertarians, too.)

The position of the vegans raises some interesting questions.

First, I wonder how Cathy’s liberal friends would react if Cathy told them she believed in a different religion? What if Cathy was a vegan Baptist? Would they still be her friends? Or do we reserve a special venom for people who instead reveal their beliefs at the ballot box?

Second, I have to marvel at the contradiction between how a vegan views the idea of coercion.

If the topic is about forcing a chicken, cow or catfish to make a decision that harms them, but feeds others, the vegan clearly favors the liberty of the meat course. However, when you ask a liberal vegan if they endorse forcing a human to sacrifice if it help feed others, it’s a different story.

Why is the liberty of pigs somehow more important than the liberty of human beings?

Now, before we rush to the inevitable hyperbole of “libertarians want people to starve,” hold on a little longer.

Libertarians don’t want to starve children, destroy education, poison the environment or censor the arts. Libertarians donate to charity, read to children, volunteer at soup kitchens and do all the other acts of kindness associated with a being a person. However, they feel that people should be free to support their own causes. They believe that a moral act can only be performed with free will. Kindness at the barrel of the gun isn’t kindness. It’s orchestrated submission. And that’s simply unnatural.

Vegans, however, don’t embrace anything unless it’s natural. They think we should eat “as close to the earth” as possible. Our foods should not be processed in any way. Some take this belief to the point that we should eat raw foods instead of cooked ones.

Others vegans believe that naturalness in our food is not enough. We should avoid any artificial ingredients in our clothes, dish soap or toothpaste. We should eschew overly produced mass media. We should clear our minds with mediation to experience the stillness of the universe.

To these vegans, I ask, if natural is better in all things, then why not governance, too?

For in all the forms of governance that exist, only one is free from the pollutants of coercion and force.

Self governance.


About SWIRLosopher

The SWIRLosopher is Sean Trapani, a professor emeritus of advertising who - despite a degree in philosophy - has abandoned all reason and is trying to make a living in the wine business.

7 thoughts on “Why vegans should be libertarians

  1. free will does not exist therefore giving out of your own volition or being forced to by the barrel of a gun have the same moral value because both have the same moral outcome: giving to the needy as God commands. Just an argument.

  2. Also all of the “charities” listed on that link are just donation eating miscreants who want to use your hard earned money to support kooky causes like “gun rights” , “Austrian economics” and “drug legalization” i.e. pseudo-conservative unfocused issues that in no point intersect reality or the concept of usefulness. Libertarians are truly the personification of the last man.

  3. Animals don’t choose to end up as our food – we coerce them.
    True libertarians should be vegans if they believe in non-aggression and non coercion.

  4. I am a libertarian and a vegan. I certainly do not fear that my friends will dislike me in any way because of the food choices I make. Everyone has the right to choose their own life style regardless of who they are as long as they don’t force someone else into what they believe is a better lifestyle. A lot of vegan/vegetarians are the type who believe the government should force people into living the way they do. I don’t believe that at all.

    The Government for one is the reason why we have the food system that we do. They heavily subsidize corn so that producers can sell it at below cost. 70% of this cheap corn is then fed to cows and other animals and then sold to the public. If the government did not subsidize corn the way they do meat prices would increase, and eventually people would choose to eat less meat because of the cost.

    So we go to the government who is the cause of the problem and ask them to fix the problem. They give all these reasons, the public health, the factory farming, and the increasing cost of health care. Everyone misses the point……. Stop subsidizing the crops.

    Libertarians believe that people should be free to live their life, and as long as they don’t initiate force, (Stealing, fighting, expecting the government to initiate force to take taxes from the rich) everyone would live a peaceful happy existence. It is when government starts passing laws to gain votes or gain campaign donations, that the wrench gets thrown into the mix. We then heavily subsidize the corn, sugar, and soybeans because the farmers in Iowa vote first. As I said the government created the problem. If we took the power from government we would not have the problem.

    So how do we take the power from Washington? Money……. Money……. Money……
    They have so much money in Washington, and so much power over our lives that, that lobbyists run ramped in D.C. If the government did not have all the money and power that they do, there would be few reasons to go to Washington to lobby your congressman to pass laws in your favor. The problem is that we turn to Washington for EVERYTHING… Fix this, help them, do this, build that.

    If our government only did the essentials. Military, court system, and a few other things we would fix a lot of the spending, taxing, and growth problems our country faces. We would fix the broken factory farming system that has come from subsidies, and a lot less meat would be eaten in America.

    I choose to be vegan because of the health benefits. I feel better than I ever did, and plan to live a long healthy life. I would never force anyone to do what I do, but I will teach people the benefits, and then through education we can change the culture. Not by force, but by individuals choosing freely. The libertarian way!

  5. Just to be clear: veganism as a philosophy is based in ethical behaviour towards other animals. (The word was coined by the founders of the UK vegan society in 1944, so there is a single definitive definition.) It’s not about what’s “natural”.

    It’s easy to find people and organisations which support both veganism and embracing only more “natural” food. But you can also find vegans who are open-minded about GMOs, or who enjoy stuffing themselves with additive-laden vegan junk food.

    I found your post whilst researching for an internet radio show about vegans from the political right. Vegans tend to be of the left; but there’s no intrinsic link there either.

    • Hi, Ian. Thanks for commenting. I agree that I was imprecise to describe behavior that would be considered conventional for a vegan as definitive. I have no hard science to support my observation that vegans tend to embrace wholesomeness in their food, cosmetic or cleaning product choices. That is simply my take. Nor would I challenge the observation that some outliers break this pattern. But I stand by the notion that vegans tend to have a special appreciation for naturalism, even if not all are taken in by the fallacy. (And as much as it is a fallacy, I would not defend libertarian principles as “good” simply because they reflect a natural position. I only used the example because so many of the natural foods crowd seems to be swayed by that argument, fallacious as it may be.)

  6. Ray,

    I too am a Libertarian and a Vegan….I am surprised that MORE Libertarians are NOT Vegan giving the amount of Government Subsidies and control that the industry has on our government hence control over US. The Money that flows just to control is mind boggling. I enjoyed reading your thoughtful take and agree with you. I will not stop teaching the Libertarian way. As for you Ian, please read “Proteinaholic” by Dr. Garth Davis and :”The China Study”….

    You might gain some insight into what it is exactly.


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