I've heard often that there are no good arguments against keeping animals to produce food. (see for example this YouTube video

What about this argument:

We live in a commercial world. If we do not use animals (for food or something else), I doubt that we would have space for (all) farmed animals such as pigs or cows. They would probably only live in some special parks or forest or zoos and not how they are supposed to live. If the meat industry stopped right now, there would be billions of animals wanting to live free but not enough space or resources for them. It's unlikely that people/governments would be willing to pay for them just to live without "uses".


4 Answers 4


This situation is unlikely to happen. If the meat industry is to be phased out, it is likely to occur gradually.

Large scale management of freed/former farm animals could indeed present some problems. Consider though that many farmed animals would not be able to survive or reproduce without human help in their current conditions. Conceivably, former farm animals could be cared for in sanctuaries until the end of their natural lives or allowed to run wild if this was deemed safe. In some areas, woods and forests might have to be protected from them!

Veg*ns have different perspectives on what should be done about the relations between humans and animals. A long discussion could be had.

However, to keep it simple, many veg*ns try to avoid harming animals. Even if phasing out the meat industry resulted in some animals suffering or even dying (even being slaughtered for meat), they would be manifestly far fewer than would suffer and be killed were the meat industry to continue indefinitely. The hypothetical situation proposed may be problematic, but it is easy to see that it is the lesser evil from a non-harming veg*n perspective.


Veg*ns can respond in many ways, but I would respond as follows.

"People are vegan or vegetarian for many different reasons and would probably disagree with each other on the solution to this difficult but rather small issue. At least the issue is small in comparison to the much larger problem of long-term large-scale meat consumption"

I might then elaborate if further asked about why they would possibly disagree

"An environmental veg*n might hypothetically suggest all livestock be immediately slaughtered and sold in a final sale, with all profits going to programs that help save the environment to offset all the negative impacts of the meat industry on the planet. They might not propose something that extreme, but nearly all of them would oppose releasing livestock into the wild, as that could have huge negative environmental impacts, such as endangered species extinctions and short-term ecosystem degradation.

An animal welfare vegan might want to release the animals to provide freedom for animals, or they might prefer the animals be raised in a humane way until they all die of natural causes. But still, difficulty deciding what to do with animals once people stopped eating meat is not a good reason to keep eating meat."


"So you agree that we should stop keeping and killing animals for food once those that are currently living have died?"

"Thanks for caring about the welfare of farm animals. Letting them roam freely might be cruel, since they won't find a natural habitat. But keeping them in factory farms is cruel also. You agree then that for an interim period those animals should be kept in humane conditions rather than in farms?"


The argument is based on the fact that vegans are vegans because using animals is cruel. However, I am considering myself to become vegan; not for animals (even if this is still part of the argument), but for the environment.

  • 1
    I feel like this isn't really answering the question that was asked. While your personal motivations for veganism may be less applicable to this hypothetical scenario, it does not respond to the argument, simply sidesteps it. I'm left wondering what the environmental vegan would propose instead of eating the animals -- just kill them all in order to minimize environmental impact, now that they definitely wouldn't be consumed?
    – Erica
    Apr 27, 2017 at 6:46
  • @Erica It doesn't answer the argument directly, but what I mean here is that the problem is not so much of a problem at first. As for the animal themselves, we could just let them go and what will happen will happen I guess. In fact, we had a little bit of a conversation with the OP, to decide whether it was an answer or a comment (which I wasn't sure myself), and we ended up letting it as an answer.
    – Maliafo
    Apr 27, 2017 at 13:52
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    This is an answer which I do not agree with downvoting, since it is not an implausible answer - while it would not meet everyone's definition of vegan philosophy, it is an explanation for vegan behaviour. It is also an answer one should think through before giving, because it has a very callous undertone (I was tempted to say "brutal", then I remembered what the word "brutal" etymologically means :) ). May 4, 2017 at 21:17

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