Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Should veganism be a human right?

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Last week the Huffington Post reported on the news that veganism is close to becoming a human right in Ontario. I saw some mixed responses to this news.

Rather than do my usual personal ranting, I thought that it would be more meaningful if the responses came from people who were more passionate about the issue. Certainly, I have opinions but I think that these perspectives might get people thinking about the issue in different ways.

In the vegan corner we have Jason. Jason is from Halifax and is celebrating his 20th year as a devout vegan.

In the opposing corner, we have Amy Matheson. Amy is a strong and vocal advocate of the Canadian agricultural industry, and is very passionate about our food and the farmers who produce it. She is part of a dairy farm and crop growing family outside of Stratford, Ontario. She can be found on twitter, with her nose in a book, outside playing with her kids and drinking strong coffee. 

Jason’s thoughts on the new legislation:

I’m beyond thrilled that the province of Ontario is one step closer to recognizing veganism as a human right. However, I’ll be even more excited when government recognizes it as an animal right. That is to say, only when meaningful legislation is passed that directly protects the animals, not just the people who want to protect the animals, will true progress be made. Nevertheless, this is still a tremendous step in the right direction and my hope is that this landmark decision will kickstart likeminded initiatives across Canada and will serve to open a new dialogue at the federal level, with regards to animal’s basic interests.

Amy’s thoughts:

Ladies and Gentleman, I think we’ve peaked.

​I think that we, ​as society, have reached the epitome of entitlement. Here’s why:

Vegan or not, can we just please agree on one quick thing? Any animal that you will find on any​ farm is totally, completely and absolutely dependent on us, the farmers, for their very survival. They are our responsibility, and it’s an obligation we do not take lightly.

The activist group Animal Justice has a mandate to end animal agriculture and that​ all animals ​used in agricultural production should simply be freed and allowed to frolic in the tall grass (meanwhile as while I type this, it’s -22 degrees here in SW Ontario). With that, ​they should be allowed to fend for themselves​​. That would not only ​be a breach of our moral obligation, but would mean unnecessary widespread suffering, and death. Okay, super?

 If you agree with Ontario Human Rights Commission’s impending decision to include veganism as “creed”, recognizing ones personal decision not to use and consume animal products, and you don’t agree that the money, time and energy used to make this a reality would be better used to ensure that all children, for example, have access to warm clothing, shelter and food, then I believe your moral compass is broken.   

 From where I stand, a creed that sets out to protect the right to not put pork on your fork is illogical and where does it stop? Shall we have a creed for people who chose to salt their food, use sweetener instead of sugar, margarine instead of butter, prefer blue cheese dressing over ranch?

If being vegan is a human right, isn’t being an omnivore, a carnivore, a red foods only-avore?

 Having this absurdity recognized in Ontario as a human right just further perpetuates the belief held by vegan and animal activist groups that they’re somehow morally superior to​ those of us who live our lives stewarding the land and the animals in our care.

 I want the freedom to farm without vilification. I want the freedom to continue to do so without interference so that one day our children will live off the land that’s been in this family for over 100 years, and to know what it is to care for a newborn animal.

​And that​, that is my “creed”.

What do you think?

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

13 thoughts on “Should veganism be a human right?

  1. There’s a whole bunch of middle ground here and a lot of reasonable, intelligent arguments in favour of providing a more specific definition of a “creed” in human rights legislation (including recognizing veganism). It’s unfortunate that this discussion has to be polarized into an animal rights vs. freedom to farm debate. If we leave out the extremists, I think most people on both sides are just asking for some respect and basic accommodation.
    Too bad I can’t vote in favour of that without declaring that “veganism is my religion.” :s

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  2. My question is, what does it actually mean if veganism becomes a human right in Ontario? What are the consequence/implications, etc?

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  3. I’m confused… when I think of “rights”, I think of things people are allowed to do. ANYONE is allowed to have a vegan lifestyle if they so choose it, just like anyone who wants to be an omnivore, a vegetarian or a paleo. There is NOTHING preventing people from assuming that lifestyle- it’s simply a matter of making choices. Am I missing something here?

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    • Did you read the Huffington Post article? I think it’s more in relation to discrimination in the workplace and provision of conditions conducive to the practice.

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  4. The problem is not just what to put in your mouth, but a whole cascading bunch of “rights” that may put others in danger. Your family is vegan? Fine. Does that mean that you don’t have to have immunizations that your job in health care requires because they might have been produced using eggs? Or don’t have to administer medication because it might have been tested on animals? Or you have the right to harass and berate others because they don’t agree with you? (Proselytizing) Or you should have the right to attack law abiding businesses that deal with animals? To my mind, no, it doesn’t. Eat what you like, but your rights stop when it comes to safety and the operation of a civil society.

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    • Excellent point about vaccinations and medications Ellen.

      I don’t think it would give anyone the right to harass anyone else. Although this is seen all the time in social media anyway.

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  5. Thanks Amy, good to know we are still agriculture proud and not all so spoiled by our great society that allows people to make causes that would not cross their minds if they really were hungry. And thanks to the farmers that work everyday feeding livestock in the elements to make this a society were people can live such superficial lives that they even come up with these causes to live for. “Thank a farmer “.

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  6. Reblogged this on Wendell Schumm – old enough to know better and commented:
    If being vegan is a human right, isn’t being an omnivore, a carnivore, a red foods only-avore?

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  7. Freedom of choice is important, and people should not be discriminated or denied a job based on their choices (unless these choices directly impair their ability to perform said job).

    And though in reality I can see how zealot vegans will use this as yet another reason to belittle everyone who simply doesn’t agree with them, I don’t see it making a big difference from how things are right now. These people will continue harassing others regardless.

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