There are situations in which vegans would eat meat if they had no other choice.
This argument proposes a hypothetical edge-case scenario (i.e. eating animals on a desert island) as a means of justifying a real-life behaviour (i.e. eating animals on a daily basis). However, this exercise in imagination does not represent a plausible situation people might find themselves in and does not tell us anything about the morality of the vegan addressing the topic. For these reasons, it tends not to be a productive conversation point.
It can be insightful and informative to contrast this hypothetical edge-case scenario with reality in order to understand where they do and do not overlap. For example, we might ask, “If you lived in a civilization where there was an abundance of plant-based food, would you choose to kill animals and eat them for no reason other than your dietary preference?” We might even address the very real disaster scenarios presently threatening the world with questions like these: "What if you could make a simple and compassionate change in your life that would increase available farmland, increase available clean water, reduce rainforest destruction, reduce greenhouse gas production, reduce the threat from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, decrease land and waterway pollution, prevent creation of ocean dead zones, end your participation in the deaths of sentient individuals and increase overall human health by switching to a plant-based diet? Would you do it?” This is the reality we actually live in, and this is the choice each one of us faces.
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