In Paul B. Thompson & David M. Kaplan (eds.), Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics. Dordrecht: Springer (2016)
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Narrowly understood, veganism is the practice of excluding all animal products from one’s diet, with the exception of human milk. More broadly, veganism is not only a food ethics, but it encompasses all other areas of life. As defined by the Vegan Society when it became an established charity in the UK in 1979, veganism is best understood as “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment”. There are two main moral justifications for veganism, both of which rely on a common assumption: that sentience, i.e., the capacity to feel pleasure and pain, is the necessary and sufficient trait to be morally considerable. In what follows, I present these two justifications and a third one which, although less popular, captures some core intuitions among vegans. I then present a challenge faced by veganism and two arguments that reject it as discriminatory, and briefly conclude.
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