Common question: What about insects? There are really two sides to this question.
The first: A spider, for example, is gliding down your door jamb on a thread of silk. What’s a vegan to do?
Many people understand, on some level, why vegans and vegetarians don’t want to eat cows or chickens or pigs; but the idea of extending that circle of compassion to other critters — especially so-called scary and gross creepy crawlies — is often deemed crazy. On facebook a while back, someone was looking for a way to deal with ants that had invaded part of their home. I commented with a few natural remedies and pointed out that they would help steer the ants away rather than harm them. Someone responded by asking, “Why wouldn’t you want to harm the ants?”
Why anyone would intentionally want to harm them?
Like most people, I grew up grabbing a nearby shoe/magazine/heavy object and taking care of business. No second thoughts. These days, however,
weErik captures uninvited guests in a cup and kindly escorts them outside. We actually have a plastic cup in our laundry room that is dedicated to this very purpose.
Are there situations where I’d take more drastic measures, such as if my house were being infested with termites? Absolutely. But for the occasional insect or bug that inadvertently crosses my path? Simply returning him to his proper home (i.e., not mine!) is a kinder approach in line with the values and goals that brought me to veganism in the first place.
The second: Insects are killed in the harvesting of the crops you eat — why don’t you care about them? Sometimes people are simply curious and open to a dialog, sometimes they’re seeking to poke holes in the vegan lifestyle. Either way, I think it’s a topic worth exploring.
It’s true that insects and other small creatures are killed in the harvesting of crops that we eat. It’s also true that small bugs hidden in the grass are likely killed as I walk across the yard and mosquitoes end up on the grill of my car every day. That doesn’t stop me from running around the yard or driving to work. It’s not that I don’t care about them (and I get that some people, even other vegans, don’t), but from my perspective, to get caught up in those issues entirely misses the point.
I’m not vegan because I really wanted to give myself a cool label and fit into a specific group. I’m vegan because I want to do what I can — to the extent possible and practical — to reduce unnecessary harm.
So, yes, while it is inherent that insects will be killed in the harvesting of crops that feed vegans, let’s look at the larger picture of an omnivorous diet. Insects are killed in the harvesting of crops that feed meat eaters and in the harvesting of crops that feed farmed animals, too (and more crops are required to feed farmed animals than to feed humans). Plus, in the end, the farmed animals are also killed. It’s a horribly inefficient use of resources for a number of reasons.
Veganism isn’t a perfect system; and that’s ok because it’s not about perfection. It’s about living in a way that reduces as much unnecessary harm and suffering as possible, and I’d much rather do something than nothing at all.