Is your own diet a private matter? Meat, eggs, cheese, vegetables, fruit - we live in a free country and can basically eat what we want. So far so good. In the meantime, for a variety of reasons, our food culture has come to include many different foods. Forms of nutrition has emerged. As a result, the topic of food is increasingly on the table in everyday conversations - and not everyone likes it.
Sentences such as "What I eat is my business and my private pleasure" or "To each his own" - we have certainly all heard them in countless discussions or even said them ourselves. But is your diet really nobody else's business?
In this article, I would like to explain why choosing your own food is a private decision, but not a purely private matter. Let's go!
First of all, here is a brief overview:
Why is our food not a private matter?
The private sphere is the intimate space in our lives where we can live out our personality and individuality without constraint and develop freely. If something is private, then by definition it only affects the individual.
Our personal diet would therefore be a private matter as long as it only ourselves concerns. But the food we eat, whether plant or animal products, does not grow on our plates or forks, but has a history. We do not eat alone. The decision of what to eat has consequences for the lives of other people (e.g. medical costs, social costs, ecological costs (see Externalization of environmental costs)), for the environment (e.g. Rainforest deforestation, climate change) - and not least for the lives of cows, pigs, chickens and countless other animals that feel just as much joy and pain as we humans do.
"Eating is not a private matter. [...] Eating has very specific positive and negative consequences - not only for your own body, but also for the environment, future generations and other people."Journal for Gastrosophy
Ultimately, the decision even has consequences for your own life. But since you harms not only himself, but above all third parties (whether directly or indirectly), one cannot speak of a private matter here.
Tip: Eating meat, for example, is not a personal choiceas the decision involves a victim losing their life. You can find out more about the argument in the linked article.
What we choose to eat has consequences for others
Everything we eat consumes Natural resources and affects third parties in any way. Products such as soy, oats, wheat or maize also have to be cultivated at great expense - and Harvesting with large machines can kill animals. So even the consumption of plant-based foods may not be a purely private matter.
However, meat, eggs, cheese and milk are definitely not a private matteras the death of at least one animal is accepted. Added to this are the health risks and serious consequences for the planet and us humans.
Notice: I deliberately chose the picture above because it represents the reality and underlines the fact that the consumption of a "pork cutlet" is not a private matter. Incidentally, it's not just one animal that dies - countless piglets are crushed at birth in the cramped pens and then end up in the garbage can. If you find the picture too blatant, you should eat a purely plant-based diet.
What are the consequences of animal-based foods for third parties?
Nowadays, there is no longer any medical necessity to eat animals - yet many people still do. The decision to eat a steak, a scrambled egg or a glass of milk of animal origin has not only effects on the exploited animal.
Here are some consequences of (mass) animal husbandry for food production (Source: "Vegan is nonsense!" by Niko Rittenau*) clearly arranged. The Factory farming is responsible for the generation/consumption of...
- 12-18 percent of all global Greenhouse gas emissions (climate change)
- 70-80 percent of the Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest (Rainforest deforestation)
- 30-33 percent of the world's Land area and 70-80 percent of agricultural land (Land consumption)
- 36-46 percent of the world's Harvest (food consumption)
- About 30 percent of the human-caused Decline in animal and plant species (species extinction)
- About 33 percent of the overfished fish populations (Overfishing the oceans)
- 70-80 percent of all the Antibiotics (Antibiotic Resistance)
- 60-75 percent of all human pathogenic Pathogen (zoonotic risk)
Due to the aforementioned consequences of one's own dietary choices for animals, the environment and other people, this is ultimately no longer a private matter. Although the decision is a private one, the costs are borne primarily by others. The mere fact that one's own diet affects the lives of others means that it is no longer a private matter.
Let's not misunderstand each other: The consumption of plant-based foods also consumes resources. But because the "detour animal" is avoided, are plant foods much more efficient.
"My private matter!" - Typical arguments invalidated
Here I would like to briefly clear up some of the arguments concerning the privacy of one's diet. Strictly speaking, the following sentences are not even an argument, but rather a psychological barrierthat allows you to stop discussing and simply leave everything as it is. "That's a private matter!" - End of the discussion.
"Everyone should put their own house in order."
This saying means that it is better for someone to get their own affairs in order than to interfere in other people's affairs and criticize other people. In principle, this is a good attitude. However, the saying is out of place in a discussion about eating habits, as it bypasses a substantive discussion of the criticism and nips any discussion in the bud.
"What I eat is my business."
As explained in the article above, your own diet can have serious consequences for people, animals and the environment. The saying creates a great distance to criticism and also nips any discussion that arises in the bud. In the case of other injustices - for example child abuse - we would never tolerate someone justifying it by saying that it is their private matter how they treat their child. So why should we do it with Cruelty to animals or climate-damaging behavior? As long as one's own food is sacrificed, it is also a matter for others.
"Live and let live."
With this bogus argument, people want to claim a "lack of tolerance" and point out that everyone can live the way they want. Between the lines and in relation to one's own diet, this sentence also means that it is one's own private matter what one eats. Ultimately, however, this is a plea for a "Live and let die" - as the exact opposite of what the sentence actually means. On closer inspection, the saying is not enough to justify the killing of animals for one's own eating habits.
But it is not only the animals that are not "let live". People also suffer and die among the inefficient animal-based foods. For example, we could use the End world hunger immediately and the feed the entire human race purely plant-based.₁ Quite simply because the "animal detour" is avoided if we consume the (food) plants directly instead of feeding them to animals and then eating their body parts.
"Live and let live," then, is a pretty absurd argumentto justify killing animals for your own food and endangering other people.
Tip: At vegan for people I will explain why veganism not only protects animals, but also people.
"To each his own."
This means that every person should have the right to their own views, opinions, preferences and actions. Who does not share an opinion, should be tolerant and simply not be bothered by it. But with this general saying you can not simply dismiss social injustice and any criticism.
The original meaning of the saying of the Greek philosopher Plato was that every person is responsible for a just society should act according to his nature and circumstances. "To each his own" therefore had a solidary basic ideas.
But the actual meaning has been lost over time. Not least because the saying also instrumentalized by the National Socialists and placed at the entrances to concentration camps. This turned a millennia-old formula of justice into a formula of death - "to each what he deserves", so to speak. Against this background, the sentence is particularly macabre.
With regard to the consumption of animal-based foods such as meat, eggs or cheese, it should be noted that "to each his own" is actually the opposite of the original meaning. Innocent cows, pigs, chickens and many other species are deprived of what is theirs - their freedom, their offspring and their lives.
Nutrition is not a private matter - Eating consciously also means respecting others
We oil, fry and bread parts of the pig's body and call it schnitzel - one of many euphemisms used to describe it. Euphemisms for animal products, which Memory of the animal in hiding hold
"Everyone can decide for themselves what they eat." - as if by magic, the sentence turns into a very selfish statement as soon as you Viewing one's own actions from the perspective of the victims. Animals, but also people, suffer and die as a result of dietary decisions that we would like to easily and lightly label as a private matter. Although the decision is a private one, it is of course not a private matter.
"I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live."Albert Schweitzer
For many people, a purely plant-based diet seems too difficult. But as soon as you change your perspective, you can see who is really struggling. To better understand the perspective of the victims, I personally found the Dominion film helped. It shows what we humans do to animals for our private pleasure. It is simply a brutal injustice towards all non-human animals - and disrespectful, ignorant and stubborn to dismiss it as a non-public matter.
We are used to eating meat - but we are also able to question and change our behavior. I hope that I could help you with this post. Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Then I look forward to your comment!
PS.: Do you also find that Vegans annoy? In the linked article I explain to you what exactly it is about veganism that sucks so much 😉.
₁ M. Berners-Lee, C. Kennelly, R. Watson; et al. (2018): Current global food production is sufficient to meet human nutritional needs in 2050 provided there is radical societal adaptation, available at https://t1p.de/3phy. [09.05.2022].