Do Animal Rights Activists Eat Meat? ( International Animal Rights Day, Dec 10th )

As International Animal Rights Day is upon us once again today on 10th December, I thought it’s time to put pen to paper.

A huge shed packed full of Broiler chickens nearing slaughter age.Animal rights activism is becoming more and more popular as the human race slowly wakes up to the horrors of the meat and dairy industries.

There’s no way on this Earth you can undertake a humane killing operation which sees upwards of 80 billion land animals slaughtered every single year. Counting the fish, we’re into the trillions.

In fact any animal rights activist worth their salt would argue that the term ‘humane killing’ is a misnomer … the animal doesn’t want to die so how can you kill it humanely?

The definition of humane is to act with compassion and benevolence … to be benevolent is to be well-meaning and kind.

Killing animals that want to live can never fit into that definition … if we’re honest with ourselves.


Can You be an Animal Rights Activist & Still Eat Meat?

 Overwhelmingly, no I don’t believe you can engage in animal rights activism while simultaneously creating the demand which drives the slaughter and profound mistreatment of animals. Surely this is cognitive dissonance 101. But as with everything, it’s not so clear cut. There’s an argument for making an exception when that person has to eat meat to survive – maybe then you can just about hold the two positions side by side but it’s pretty tenuous. 


There are other exceptions too which we’ll look at later in this section …

Vegan march with a woman holding a sign saying 'Drink dairy? No, I'm violence intolerant'.Some would say that if a person suffers from a rare condition which means they have to eat meat to stay healthy then that person could still care deeply about the rights of animals.

… and that is probably true but then the mental gymnastics involved in reconciling those two realities is pretty tough and it’s much easier to just accept that the animals you eat will likely suffer trauma and a far from pain-free death.

There will always be exceptions that prove the rule, of course.

If this is you then I’d love to know what you think in the comments below.

How do you square it with yourself knowing the meat you buy in the supermarket comes with cruelty embedded?

The opposing arguments should be fairly obvious to most …

  • Choosing to eat meat creates market demand.
  • This demand drives the animal ag industry.
  • The need to profit turns animals into numbers on a spreadsheet.
  • Animal rights become a secondary consideration, or even irrelevant.
  • Animals are therefore treated with little concern for their welfare.
  • The proof of this is all over social media and docos like ‘Dominion‘.

( mental health warning: Dominion is a difficult watch )

Here’s the trailer …


Arguments For Being an Animal Rights Activist & Still Eating Meat

Environmental Restrictions

Look, I know we’re on thin ice here but I’m trying to be as objective as possible and employ some empathy for those who may not be as lucky as me, in that my life situation allows me to be vegan and remain healthy.

Aboriginal man in traditional body paint.I could be not so lucky and live in a location where vegetables are hard to come by, oat milk in a carton costs $50 a pop and omega 3 supplements only come in the form of fish.

Admittedly, there’s probably not that many places on Earth these days where those conditions are true but let’s just go with it for argument’s sake.

In this case I could be the world’s biggest animal lover and animal rights activist but still have to rely on meat to live a healthy life.

This is where the over-arching tenet of veganism comes into play … “as much as is practicable and possible“.

Health Issues

You could use the same example but substitute location with health issues.

Some people may have multiple food intolerances and have a hard time getting enough protein on a plant-based diet.

These people are rare but they do exist and again, someone like this may have animal rights in the forefront of their mind, yet they are unable to live a healthy life without meat.

For me, this is a tough nut to crack and I think it’d probably be less mental anguish to just accept ‘the way of the world’ so as not to drive yourself mad with the cognitive dissonance!


It’s been suggested to me that another argument for the prosecution might be that someone advocating for animal rights is simply not aware of the horrors endured by animals in the meat and dairy industries.

But this doesn’t really hold any water because why would you embark on a mission to free animals from the tortured slavery and horrific deaths endured if you were unaware of those very same issues?

It just doesn’t make sense to me.

I can see this might hold up for someone who simply considers themselves to be an ‘animal lover’ (which seems to be 90% plus of the population), but has yet to learn of the realities of animal agriculture.

I think if everyone was aware of what goes on behind the slaughterhouse walls or the way cows are treated on a dairy farm then there’d be a lot more vegans on the planet.

The animal ag barons are very good at hiding the truth from us, after all.

While we’re at it, in no particular order, here’s a few random truths picked from the interweb which may just make one think …

  • The average American consumer eats over 56 lbs of beef annually.
  • Knife castration in the feedlot causes sanitary problems and extreme pain.
  • Globally, there are over 780 million head of pigs raised at any given time.
  • 90% of pigs are killed in gas chambers experiencing extreme suffering before death.
  • Annually, over 500,000 chickens are boiled alive, still conscious as they reach the scalding tanks.

… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


Ethical & Practical Considerations That May Justify Meat Consumption

Of course with vegetarians and vegans being a very small minority, there are plenty of people who’ve been fooled by the meat barons

Neatly bearded man looking at a screen with a green projection of zeros and ones onto him.… and they’ve been fooled for many decades.

You will find endless examples online and in real life ( IRL as my daughter calls it! ) of people who innocently believe that eating meat is morally acceptable if the animals are treated well, killed humanely, or sourced locally.

But again, I come back to the central point that these people are highly unlikely to be animal rights activists.

I mean, it kind of goes with the territory to be fully aware of the realities of animal ag if you’re out there advocating for animal rights.

If you’ve done your homework you’ll know there’s no such thing as humane slaughter and most animals that pass through the conveyor are not treated well, even if they’re ‘locally sourced’.

It’s too easy to accept the lies we’ve been told … just to avoid having to actually think about it.


Social, Cultural & Economic Barriers

Here’s where it gets really tricky for many people.

Society in general has been so conditioned into accepting the status quo that anyone who appears to be diverging from the ‘norm’ is seen as a bit of an outcast.

Socially outcast. A schoolgirl being bullied by 7 other kids.Even within the same family.

It can be really difficult to avoid eating meat if your family considers it part of the culture or even worse, actually necessary for good health.

This can tear families apart and sometimes to avoid confrontation or ridicule, you’re just going to eat that steak put in front of you … even though you might be a closet animal rights activist from the safety of your social media accounts.

I was lucky, my family pretty much accepted it. Yes there was a bit of ‘banter’ (and still is) but it was never serious and we still get along just fine.

You may not be so lucky and I can totally understand how you might not want to lay your feelings bare and expose your soft underbelly. So you go along with it … for now.

But the time will hopefully come when you find the courage to reject the meat-eating lifestyle and ‘come out’ to your family and friends.

It’s a liberating experience.


What About The Money, Honey?

There is a common argument that many people live in what’s termed as a ‘food desert’ and to source fresh fruits and vegetables is prohibitively expensive.

A stack of 100 dollar bills.… and it’s true. More and more people find themselves living in these economically deprived areas, especially in the US. They tend to be in the more rural areas of the West, Midwest and South of the United States.

So, again you could be 100% committed to fighting for animal rights but unable to raise your family vegan without causing health issues. Eating meat may be your only nutritional option.

For me, living in the privileged South East of England in the UK, it’s difficult to visualise a reality where keeping my family healthy would mean eating meat. Let’s not get into the additives and hormones for now!

… yes, we know meat is nutritionally dense but thankfully our supermarket shelves stock plenty of veg (even after Brexit!).

I hope we’ve shown there are some very rare instances where a person could be a full-on animal rights activist but have to eat meat for whatever reason.

It’s a difficult paradox to come to terms with but we have to try and empathise with as many people as we can.


Arguments Against Being an Animal Rights Activist & Still Eating Meat

I think it’s fairly safe to say the vast majority of animal rights activists come from a relatively privileged background.

Before you protest and bemoan the fact that you struggled to find the cash to buy vegan supplements this month (like I did) just know that you’re still coming from a place of great privilege.

A desperate looking homeless man holding a paper cup. This is a place of privilege which sees our pets often treated better than the humans we share this society with.

Don’t believe me?

Homelessness is at a record high here in the UK and meanwhile little doggy winter coats are selling out!

Being privileged like this means we’re able to live a full and healthy vegan lifestyle. So in this scenario to say that you can still eat meat while being an animal rights activist is patently absurd.

The only possible exception would be on health grounds. But we’re talking about such a vanishingly small sub-section of a demographic here that it’s statistically irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

Living in the wealthy West we are lucky enough to be able to walk the talk and do our best for the animals. Since we know in a perfect world all animals would be given the respect and autonomy they deserve.

… Just like we humans do.

We don’t want to die and guess what? Neither do the animals.

We’re mostly able to reject the industries which cause animal suffering through exploitation. Our hard earned cash is not used to drive the conveyor belt of death.

… and before any ‘human carnivores’ start banging on about the hypocrisy of ‘crop deaths’ just read this.


The Benefits of Veganism For Humans & The Planet

Veganism is a moral code we live by. It’s nothing to do with fad dieting or global warming and everything to do with animal rights.

Some of the more juvenile critics will label it ‘virtue signalling’ or the ‘woke agenda’ but it is neither of these.

Scrabble tiles forming the words "Be The Change". In fact if you think we’re virtue signalling then that is just your own conscience talking to you … because you can be damn sure pretty much every vegan out there did not choose this way of life in order to suggest to you that your moral code could do with some examination!

Our choice to be vegan has nothing to do with your virtues, or lack thereof.

It is your own brain making you question the choices you make and when you don’t like the answers you lash out at vegans because we’re an easy target.

Now, granted, many animal rights activists will often use the moral angle to bring the issues to the fore … and more power to them I say.

It’s high time the human race checked itself if we’re to have any chance of evolving beyond the aggressive, talking apes we are currently.

The benefits of veganism are clear:

… and there are many many more. I didn’t even touch on any spiritual or evolutionary benefits, which are very real.

Sorry Carnivores, the evidence is overwhelming.


The Feasibility of Mass Veganism is a Different Kettle of Fish

Unfortunately the way our food systems have evolved is not conducive to quickly switching predominantly to plant based production. The meat and dairy industries are so embedded in the global supply chain it’s going to take a lot of work to undo the damage caused.

The subsidies are a big problem, for one.

Meat and dairy is heavily subsidised in many developed nations and entire ecosystems of trade have built up around these behemoths of death and destruction.

Sounds dramatic but all I’m offering you is the truth … nothing more.

We need to re-balance the scales but it’s going to take an iceberg to stop the titanic now.

… and ironically enough, that’s exactly what might cause us to re-think our current trajectory! A massive iceberg has already broken free from the Antarctic ice shelf and while that won’t cause sudden catastrophic sea level rise, the prognosis is not great!

Have a guess as to one of the biggest contributors to global warming? Yep … farming animals.

In fact some would argue that animal agriculture is the biggest cause of climate change, bar none!

It’s not all doom and gloom though.

Every day we can make a difference using the power of our pocket to create more demand for plant-based products.

We don’t buy … they don’t die.

It really is that simple. We’ve come a long way as a movement to get to 2023 and our collective voice is getting louder!

The truth is veganism is accessible, affordable and enjoyable for most people in developed countries, contrary to what you may have been told.

Veggies are cheap and while plant-based ‘alternatives’ are currently quite expensive, as the demand grows then market forces will bring the costs down. If governments would switch subsidies to healthy veggies and fruit we’d start to turn this ocean liner around.



(Why Should we Care About The Rights of Animals?)

We have shown that apart from a few exceptions, it’s highly inconsistent to eat meat and be an animal rights activist. The two positions are almost impossible to reconcile.

It’s very simple … if you feel love and empathy towards animals then you don’t kill them.

Young, grey haired cows looking at the camera through their feeding stations.I know most meat eaters don’t actually have to kill the animals they eat (maybe they should) but picking up that little polystyrene carton with a nicely trimmed cut of beef in there amounts to the same thing.

Timed to coincide with Human Rights Day, as International Animal Rights Day draws closer I think it’s high time humans started asking the question: “Should animals have the same fundamental rights as us?“.


Because the more we learn about the natural world, the more we realise that animals possess emotional capacities akin to ourselves.

Researchers have observed complex, human-like emotions in animals like fear, grief and even empathy. But we don’t really need science to confirm this for us, although it’s nice to have our vegan beliefs affirmed.

You only have to look at the reaction of your dog when you come home after a day’s work … tell me that’s not a feeling of happiness the animal is experiencing right there.

If we’re honest with ourselves … and that’s all you need to be … then deep down inside we know it’s wrong to take the life of a sentient being. Even if you think the animal was killed ‘humanely’ … which is not possible, by the way.

(WARNING: that previous link leads to graphic, violent footage).

We don’t need to eat meat to survive. In fact we’d all likely be a lot healthier without it.

I’ll be marking International Animal Rights Day with a nod to the animals and a nice block of firm tofu, cubed and fried up with a sweet chilli sauce, I think 🙂

Isn’t it time to evolve and reject the death on our plates?


I hope this article has helped to answer your question in an informative way. If you have more questions please leave them in the comments below – I always respond. Please also share this article with your network using the social buttons.

Lastly, if you’d like to be alerted when we post new content here at Vegan Slate, please sign up to our post notifications and you’ll be the first to know.


Have a peaceful day my friends,


Image of me. Rohan.Rohan McAvee is just another vegan blogger trying to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of veganism and plant-based living. Based in the UK, for more than a decade he has been walking the vegan walk, trying to do the right thing for the animals. He’s never really wavered or been tempted to stray from the path and now feels he’s at the point where he can offer advice to new vegans and those considering making the switch. Vegan and loving it!


Other Sources used:
(1) Can you be an Animal Rights Activist and Still eat Meat? | Consume Vegan –
(2) Animal rights and the food industry | Ethical Consumer –
(3) Can meat-eaters be animal rights advocates? | The Vegan Review –
(4) Animal Rights Activists: Who They Are and What They Do | Sentient Media –



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