#338: Ethics of Veganism & Omnivorism (Part 3) – Alex O’ Connor

In Podcasts by Danny Lennon4 Comments

Guest Information


Alex J. O’Connor

Alex J. O’Connor is founder of the Cosmic Skeptic YouTube channel, podcast and blog; platforms dedicated to the publication of philosophical ideas and debates in an accessible format. He is currently reading for a degree in philosophy and theology at St John’s College, Oxford University.

Alex is an impassioned animal rights advocate and religious critic, regularly discussing these topics on his online platforms. He has spoken at conferences internationally and has engaged in debates on ethics and philosophy.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How Alex evaluates the ethics of food choices
  • Moral vs. psychological reasoning
  • Impact of Peter Singer's book on Alex
  • Speciesism
  • Does "ethical" animal production still lead to suffering?
  • Are there any reasonable reasons one could give for deciding to eat an omnivorous diet?
  • Principle of least harm
  • Does hunting of wild animals carry the same ethics with it?
  • Why is milk and egg production a source of animal suffering?

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  1. I am absolutely loving these conversations! The ethics and morality behind eating animal products is something I think about probably every day. I don’t eat meat, but have struggled a lot with getting the right balance of macros to prevent over eating and afternoon fatigue. Having a Greek yogurt at lunch really seemed to help with all that but I do feel considerable guilt about it (without going down the rabbit hole of bringing up food and emotions such as shame, guilt, good foods, bad foods etc). I am a member of some plant based sport groups on social media and I get very disheartened whenever I see athletes say “just eat plants you can’t go wrong” “I eat a head of iceberg lettuce and 5 bananas for breakfast and I can exercise all day”, because eating that way has never been worked me. It seems to me (and your 2nd guest kind of talked about it too) that the plant based diet may not work for everyone. I would love to hear more on this from a nutritionist of physician, and also the complication that all plant proteins come either carb heavy or fat heavy (except for like, tofu tempeh and soy milk) so maybe some tips to work around that would be really great too. Again thank you so much for this awesome series and I really enjoy listening to your show.

    1. Author

      Hi Annika,

      Thanks so much for feedback. Personally, I do suspect many vegans for which the diet works great for dramatically overplay how simple it is for people to implement and make work for them. There are several factors that need to be considered in order to put in place a well-formulated vegan diet. And even with that, it just seems that some people can’t thrive on such a diet even when “doing it right”, as was mentioned by Prof. Paul Thompon, as you noted.

      In a couple of episodes time we are actually doing a full episode purely on the nutritional and health aspects of a vegan diet (without getting into the ethics). And we will cover the concerns that you mention. That episode should be out in the next few weeks.

  2. Hi Danny,
    I have been listening to your podcast since 2014, and have been donating to your Patreon since it was an option. I find all the topics you discuss extremely valuable, so thank you. This recent series is amazing.
    A few years ago I went vegan (specifically WFPB) for all the reasons being mentioned in this series. Meat had begun to taste “gross” to me, and once I looked into the research and facts- I dropped the turkey, etc “cold turkey”.
    Personally, I’ve never felt better, and I use my bodybuilding as a platform to share knowledge about the vegan lifestyle. It turns people’s conditioning upside down when they see a jacked dude who is a vegan. There are a lot of myths to dispel. I appreciate the pragmatic approach you are taking with this subject. I believe if more people just start reducing their animal consumption, it would make great positive impact. Whether or not they go full vegan does not matter, and it seems that many people are turned off simply because veganism can seem extreme and restrictive.

    1. Author

      Hey Travis, thank you so much for your kind words and for the support all these years. It really means the world to me.

      And thanks for sharing your experiences here. And I think you are right, there are a lot of misconceptions that we as humans often fail to really investigate and question whether they are true.

      I do think your message of getting people to reduce, rather than “strict vegan or nothing”, is likely to win over more of the general population, at least initially.

      Thanks again for the continued support!

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