Why vegans must March for Science

by Jayson Merkley

April 20, 2017

If you see veganism as a movement for justice, then you’d better be at the March for Science on Saturday.

That s what veganism is for us. Not a weight-loss diet, not a fad, not a marketing gimmick. Veganism is how we express our belief in reasoned justice. And that s precisely why we claim science as one of our most important guiding principles. Justice requires a solid bedrock of facts. The scientific method is the best tool we have for establishing objective facts. Full stop. Animals capacity for suffering is a matter of scientific fact. Homo sapiens ability to thrive on a plant-based diet is a matter of scientific fact. We can t construct a coherent case for animal justice without the science.

Additionally, science provides us with tools to reduce and replace animal products. Consider a few examples: Science led to the development of synthetic insulin to replace animal-based treatments for diabetes in 1978. Today, organ-on-a-chip technology is being developed that could significantly reduce the need for animal subjects in medical and pharmaceutical research. A few years from now we ll see mass-scale production of synthetic, cruelty-free alternatives to meat and dairy. The possibilities are only bound by our collective imaginations. But efforts to undermine science threaten our potential for scientific discovery.

Much of the vegan case for animal justice relies on science. Science presents opportunities for solutions. It should be clear to us by now that science illuminates the path forward. One note of caution though: If we accept the scientific consensus in these cases, we cannot turn around and deny other scientific facts. We can t fall victim to PR campaigns aimed at manufacturing false scientific controversies. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, myths about vaccines, toxins, nutrition, and GMOs are still lurking in vegan spaces. That kind of inconsistency is a stumbling block to our movement, and therefore a detriment to animals.

In a recent blog post, Vegan RD Ginny Messina noted:

If we get caught making easily-refuted assertions, it s a good bet that anything else we declare will be viewed with suspicion and skepticism. Animal activists are already often perceived as more emotional than rational, and I doubt that over-the-top claims [ ] or dismissals of established science do much to counter that image.

She s right. We must remain humble enough to examine cherished beliefs with a critical eye. Veganism is not the only movement which, fairly or unfairly, is criticized for this kind of inconsistency. We can draw inspiration from the Dalai Lama, who improved the image of his movement by addressing scientific inconsistency head-on:

If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims. -Dalai Lama XIV

At Vegan GMO we are committed to addressing inconsistencies that hamper our movement for justice. We promote scientific advancement that helps human and non-human animals. That s why we ll be marching. So on April 22nd, we hope you ll go to the March for Science in Washington, DC. Or you can join one of the 500+ satellite marches around the world. Show them that our ethical position is a conscientious extension of scientific facts. Show them that the scientific method is the rock our movement is built on.

When they ask you why you re marching, tell them you re a proponent for justice. Because without truth there is no justice. And without science, truth is just another unsupported opinion.

Vegan GMO Director Jayson Merkley is a proud member of the inaugural cohort of the Cornell Alliance for Science Global Leadership Fellows program. A vegan of 19+ years, Jayson is excited about biotech s proven potential to increase quality of life globally for human and non-human animals alike. This post originally appeared on VeganGMO.com.