I live a vegan lifestyle, as far as I'm aware. (I don't knowingly make decisions otherwise*.)

I don't want to be speciesist.

Ideally, I want to live by principles that if all other humans followed would improve the world for all sentient creatures (not just a net positive utility).

I thought I'd read somewhere that the 3 main COVID-19 vaccines available right now (Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J) contain no animal products.

But given that they all presumably required testing on animals (without animals' consent or comfort), I feel concerned that my receiving a vaccine would be complicit with or even encourage practices that I think are terribly immoral.

I've been trying to find logical, clear-thinking considerations on the matter.

https://www.vegansociety.com/news/news/vegan-society-response-covid-19-vaccine says:

The Vegan Society encourages vegans to look after their health and that of others, in order to continue to be effective advocates for veganism and other animals. As there is no plan for compulsory vaccination, it is the responsibility of each individual to make an informed decision about vaccines, bearing in mind the definition of veganism, with support from their local healthcare team.

To me, that position feels wishy-washy.

It's a slippery slope to say "I can cause harm to others (and maybe especially to other species) and feel justified in doing so if I think it will allow me to be a louder voice in preventing harm from others". (Especially if I'm not actually at risk of COVID-19 killing or silencing me, then it feels like I'd just be lying to myself and justifying a path of my own comfort or convenience.)

I believe the vaccines to be safe and very helpful for humans, and I'd be interested in getting one soon. But I don't plan to unless I think it's ethical. My default understanding so far is that it's not (because of the cruelty to animals during the testing).

I realize that opinions are off-topic for this site, and what I'm looking for are not anyone's whimsical opinions; I'm looking for logical frameworks and considerations for how I could think about or investigate this topic further (e.g. "If a person believes _____, it follows logically that they would also believe _____ and [behave like] _____").

*Although I do recognize that this whole topic is a gray area, and I love hearing others' frameworks and principles.


1 Answer 1


I was impressed by this panel of 8 vegan doctors explaining why they recommend that even vegans should receive a COVID-19 vaccine: https://youtu.be/GxzereyQPeQ?t=3250

They did not answer all of my questions and concerns (such as: if mice and macaques didn't exist, would these doctors similarly condone capturing random humans and testing on them without their consent, and if not, then what principles lead these doctors to excuse the pharmaceutical industry's non-human animal testing).

But overall:

  • I learned even more about being a better vegan (such as about how organic produce unfortunately encourages factory farming of animals).
  • It was a helpful reminder of how / why living a lifestyle is not just challenging in terms of willpower but also in terms of confusion and lack of understanding the "supply chain" or "ingredients" of all of our foods, products, and practices.
  • It seems like the famous trolley problem appears again.
  • It seems to me that these experts have thought very hard about these issues, so hearing their conclusion (even without all of the clarity and logic that I was hoping for) is interesting. And I'm looking forward to hearing thoughts from others too.

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