Why Calling Vegans Smug Isn't An Argument

Why Calling Vegans Smug Isn't An Argument

December 13, 2017 3 Comments

You’ve heard it all before; 

“Vegans are smug.  Vegans are annoying.  Vegans are hippies.  Vegans are militant.  Vegans are xyz.”  

While these assertions may or may not be true, depending on the individual, do they hold up as an argument?

 

In most cases, no. 

 

It may seem obvious that name-calling is one way to avoid the argument presented, but as such, many continue to do it.   These assertions are known as Ad Hominem attacks, a form of logical fallacy.  An Ad Hominem attack is defined as: Trying to refute an argument by attacking the character of the person making it, rather than the logic or premise of the argument itself.  You have probably heard these everywhere.  

Ad Hominem attacks are only valid if the character of the person making the argument is directly related to that argument.  So if someone says, "I learned in medical school that xyz is healthy," pointing out that said person did not actually go to medical school is a valid Ad Hominem.  

In the vegans' case, most Ad Hominem attacks do not follow an invalid argument.  We often hear:

"Vegans are pushy, just respect others' choices."  

Well what does that have to do with the argument of ethical veganism?  Being pushy doesn't undermine the point that animal exploitation and cruelty is unnecessary, immensely harmful, not excessively difficult/inconvenient to avoid, and is therefore unethical to actively partake in.   

Ad Hominem attacks come in a few different forms;

Ad Hominem (Abusive) - The format provided in the definition above

Ad Hominem (Circumstantial) - The premise that the person who is making the argument is biased or predisposed to take a stance, and therefore, their stance/argument is invariably incorrect.  

For example, someone may say to me: 

"Of course you would say animal exploitation is unethical, you own a vegan business.  It's in your monetary interest to say so." 

Just because I have a vested interest in Veganism does not mean that my support of the vegan argument is necessarily incorrect.  It's irrelevant to the actual argument presented.  

Ad Hominem (Guilt By Association) - When one person is viewed negatively because of their association with another person/group that is viewed negatively.  

For example: someone may draw the conclusion that because Hitler was a vegetarian, and also a very bad person, that all other vegetarians are also very bad people.  This would be a fallacious conclusion and fall under Guilt By Association.  (The conclusion doesn't need debunking, but as a side note, there is plenty of evidence to support the position that Hitler's strict Vegetariansm is a myth.

Ad Hominem (Tu quoque) - Claiming that a person's argument is flawed because their actions are not consistent with said argument.

For example:  Someone who claims that animal agriculture is tremendously harmful to the environment, but still consumes animals, is not wrong because of their inconsistency.  In this case, their actions are irrelevant to whether or not animal agriculture is actually harming the environment.  

 

And that about does it for Ad Hominems.  In conclusion:

It's irrelevant.

Next time someone tells you to get off your high horse and stop being so mean, just politely remind them that they are avoiding the argument, acting fallaciously, and that your character doesn't determine the validity of Veganism as a moral philosophy.  



3 Responses

Fran
Fran

May 16, 2019

Not smug but always in love with ad hominem.
Puzzled
Puzzled

April 21, 2019

Nobody is pretending that vegans being smug is an argument, it’s just an observation.

The real question is: Are vegans smug because they’re vegan, or are vegans vegans because they’re smug?

Val
Val

December 15, 2017

Great post! It was very helpful in explaining the different types of Ad Hominem attacks we all get in one way or another. And now I will be able to identify and refute them in a much better way. Thanks

Leave a comment


Also in News

What difference will one person going vegan make?
What difference will one person going vegan make?

February 28, 2019 1 Comment

A common line often heard by vegans is “what difference does one person going vegan make?”  And yes, from a vegan perspective, it can sometimes seem like the overwhelming numbers of meat-eaters make it that one person going vegan is merely a drop in the ocean.

Read More

Plant-Based Meats Will Takeover 2019
Plant-Based Meats Will Takeover 2019

January 09, 2019 1 Comment

It's no secret that vegan meat and dairy alternatives are becoming increasingly popular for consumers across the globe. One study found that 50% of U.S households drink a dairy alternative.  The current growth of these industries looks great for veganism and animal rights, but how do they fare for the future?

Read More

Vegans Can Now Speed Date?!
Vegans Can Now Speed Date?!

January 09, 2019

We've all heard of online dating, and its definitely nothing new.  There have been countless websites dedicated to coupling different types of people.  From farmers, to geeks, to even singles who have mullets, there's a website for it.  But what about in-person speed dating?

Read More