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Game theory + veganism = ?

While I think veganism makes some good points about the modern disconnect between consumption and its true, often-hidden costs, it also takes things way to far and ends up on the loosing side of larger issues. In the worst cases, it is barely distinguishable from homeopathy, Christian Science, Jihadism and other poorly thought out dogmas.

Recently, I heard that vegans have a lower incidence of twin births than the rest of the population. If that’s so, then the case could probably be made that vegans have a lower overall fitness then the rest of us. It’s a pretty thin case I’m sure, but it helps illustrate one of my chief complaints with veganism — that its proponents advocate taking the loosing side in the tragedy of the commons.

The basic idea here is that vegans choose not to take advantage of a resource for moral reasons, and as a result are less fit evolutionarily. Those folks that eat animal products produce more offspring and, theoretically, win in the end. This argument doesn’t exactly hold water, however, since anyone is free to opt in or out of the vegan philosophy. This problem is more readily apparent in animal testing, where real, quantifiable losses face those nations that choose to ban their use. Furthermore, the fact that veganism is closely associated with aggressive propagandizing and sabotage and terrorism does lead me to suspect that the desired end-point is social conformity, not individual choice.

The answer to any kind of mandated ethic should be obvious. I’ll make up my own mind, thank you. As for society as a whole, veganism provides us a valuable contrast to the standard American diet, but shunning vaccines, destroying research facilities, and feeding your baby nothing but apple juice forces others to pay the cost of your moral stance. If other societies don’t feel obliged to pay these costs, then they gain a competitive advantage — whether it’s more babies or better biomedicine. Without weighing the sustainability argument, I think dogmatic veganism is at least as bad an idea as unmitigated gluttony.

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