The Persuasive Vegan

If, as a vegan, one wants to crossover a non-vegetarian, use valid reasoning to do it, because although not all non-
vegetarians are intelligent, some are, and will not be influenced by faulty logic. A non-vegetarian is interested in good
health every bit as much as a vegan, and if the vegan can offer a well investigated argument, convincingly showing
the health benefits of a vegan diet, she may succeed in bringing the non-vegetarian over to her camp.
Typically, vegans make the mistake of associating a vegan diet with compassion, and a non-vegetarian diet with a
lack of compassion, when, in fact the association, one way or the other, is invalid. There is no demonstrable premise.
To argue a point without valid reasoning is folly. Nevertheless, basic rules of logic state an argument can proceed if
both parties agree on the premise, and, curiously, even if the premise is invalid. In this case, both parties would have
to at least agree that compassion and food choices relate to each other. If both parties cannot agree on this, the
argument cannot proceed.
However, if both parties do agree that the premise, compassion and food are connected, then the argument can
proceed, and the one who is most skilled at debate would be the winner, regardless of what is true. In this example,
even though the premise is not true, the argument would be allowed to proceed in a formal debate because both
parties accept the premise. In this example, it is easy to imagine finding a non-vegetarian accepting that food and
compassion are linked, and certainly a vegan would agree. Then the debate could begin.
We can easily imagine the vegan tactfully arguing that a plant based diet is more compassionate than a non-
vegetarian diet, but he would likely be challenged by his opponent to give a reason to support his proposition.
Accepting the challenge, the vegan would likely offer a response outlining the cruelty of killing, keeping animals
penned up, and so forth. It would now be up to the non-vegetarian to prove the reason invalid, and here is where non-
vegetarians generally fall into error.
The non-vegetarian would likely argue that vegans do not realize they are responsible for killing untold number of
rodents, snakes, birds, and all variety of critters, in the process of plowing fields for planting, harvesting, and so forth,
at least as much cruel killing as their non-vegetarian counterpart. Although, the non-vegetarian is right in what he
says, his response is supposed to address and defeat the reason his counterpart gave to support his premise, that a
vegan diet is more compassionate. But, all the non-vegetarian did was in essence say, “you are just as bad as we
are,” which does not defeat the reason he aimed to defeat, because he is not disproving killing animals is
uncompassioate. He is just saying you do it too. Not an answer that would win a debate.
The vegan would possibly rescue his argument by saying that eating vegan foods is more supportive of a
compassionate attitude than other foods. In this case, the vegan would try to demonstrate that vegan food
contributes to a compassionate attitude, whereas non-vegan food is less amicable towards generating compassion.
This premise can be proved by logical argument, drawing from scriptures, Ayurveda medical texts, and so forth. And,
a non-biased and thoughtful non-vegetarian would certainly be influenced by such an argument, and if he weren’t he
would be hard pressed to overturn the point through valid reasoning.
The problem vegans have impressing non-vegetarians to refrain from consuming non-vegetarian food is their
wrongheaded approach. It is like two killers arguing that one doesn’t deserve the death sentence, but the other does.
But, if you want to demonstrate the capacity of a food to be conducive to the attitude of harmlessness and
compassion, the vegan has far more ammunition that the non-vegetarian. The lesson for the vegan is that if you want
to influence the non-vegetarian to give up his ways, you must appeal to valid reasoning. You cannot prove that a
vegan is more compassionate than a non-vegetarian, but you can prove vegan food has a greater capacity to
generate a compassionate attitude, which is very different from saying a vegan is more compassionate.
No intelligent person would enter an argument wherein the premise is unprovable, and yet the fact that both vegans
and no-vegetarians argue endlessly about a link between compassion and food indicates we have no shortage of
non-thinking people from both sides. The link is between the food and the mind, and that is the approach an
intelligent vegan would take, because it is the mind that generates compassion. A reflective non-vegetarian just might
change his ways if his vegan counterpart, presented a sympathetic, humble, persuasive, intelligent, and well
researched argument taking this tact.  

(Afterward: My readers may have observed that I have not used the word “meat” in this essay, and for good reason.
“Meat-eater” is a dismissive term that should be restricted to carnivores. “Non-vegetarians” consume as much
vegetarian food as vegetarians, carnivores don’t.)