The remarkable thing about current conversations concerning the ethics of veganism is that they so often turn into discussions about the necessity of veganism.[i] At a time of environmental crisis, human civilization itself may depend upon our willingness to protect animals and stop eating meat. Ethics in this case isn’t so much branch of philosophy as a means of survival.[ii]
There are three, equally significant ethical bases for veganism: 1. The obligation and necessity of protecting animals from harm; 2. Our responsibility to restore and conserve the environment during a period of accelerating ecological abuse and climate change; and 3. The need to safeguard our physical, mental and moral being. Taken together, they constitute a single, overarching ethical imperative that may be summarized by the word “reciprocity”: the recognition that taking requires giving, and that the natural and human worlds comprise a totality. To damage the living, non-human world, is also to harm ourselves; on the other hand, to repair the one is to protect the health and happiness of the other.