It’s great if you can be totally vegan. But, these are the facts: 84% of vegans and vegetarians return to meat. We live in a society that is built on cheap meat, factory farming, labor exploitation, etc. An individual can only do so much to alter such structural issues. This is why I actually think a utilitarian model of veganism is more effective than “animal rights.” Rights are derived from Enlightenment thinkers like Kant and Locke, who echo their Christian upbringing. Christianity, by this point, was shaped and molded by capitalism. They already had a conception of being “on time,” of the bureaucracy, and of the factory. There were “rules” that needed to be enforced, and they were “absolutely inviolable.” A recipe for disaster. Hannah Arendt rightfully pointed out the critical flaws of “rights” with regards to the Holocaust.
Nevertheless, I don’t think utilitarianism is the answer. There is no clear answer. This is a political and ethical issue. We require a radical departure from ordinary diet, which cannot be fully mapped out and imagined in the present. We are not going back to hunter-gatherer societies — or a vegan utopia that strangely resembles the present with capitalism and all that (I mean, they’re asking us to fight capitalism with capitalist consumption!) Just like our need to radically depart from capitalism, the patriarchy, and white supremacy, the future is uncertain and beyond our myopic imagination. It is not our fault that we have a stunted imagination. Neoliberalism did this to us. We were conditioned to be nostalgic over the future that never happened. We were conditioned to find the present fatalistic. It robbed of us our ability to imagine the future. Yet, it is up to us to dream and imagine. To live and eat differently. So different that it is unrecognizable, unintuitive. To this aim, we should merely use relics of the past like rights or utilitarianism as mere tools, rather than as ends in and of themselves.