Essence of Veganism and “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace: Critical Analysis

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Veganism is something that people follow because they believe it reduces the suffering caused by humans as much as possible. Suffering is something animals possessing a brain and nervous system are assumed to experience. The topic of consuming any animal or meat products is a very touchy subject. Although many people feel that veganism is the only way we should live this statement can easily be refuted with many reasons. Surviving off a plant based diet that is consumed by seven billion and a continuously growing population, as well as having a plant based lifestyle for everyone is simply not an option. What would happen if everyone on earth is vegan? What would happen to our ecosystem? No matter what we do balance is important. If everyone on earth decided to go vegan for the rest of their life there would simply be a great imbalance in our ecosystem. What would happen to all the animals, especially the main ones we humans consume which is beef, chicken, lamb etc would there be an overpopulation of these animals? Not to mention animal products have essential things that are needed for us humans to maintain a healthy lifestyle such as vitamin B12 which is essential when it comes to our nervous system, as well as eggs and milk. Along with the health benefits comes mistreatment and exploitation also exist in the production of other animal by-products, such as dairy, eggs, wool, and honey. Many vegans know that in order to extract honey from a hive, some of the bees are inevitably injured or killed.

“Consider the Lobster” by David Foster begins by giving a well in depth history of lobsters. He explains that lobsters were a product that were mainly consumed by lower class people. Then he begins to explain the process of how lobsters are cooked. He claims that lobsters can detect changes of only a degree or two in water temperature. He also graphically discusses the process of boiling a lobster, “The lobster will sometimes try to cling to the container’s sides or even hook it’s claws over the kettle’s rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof… Even if you cover the kettle and turn away, you can usually hear the cover rattling and clanking as the lobster tries to push it off” (Wallace). He uses this example with similar practices when it comes to meat products. Although this is a valid argument, there are many ways that animals can be killed in a humanly way as possible. There are various methods people can use to ensure that the animal being slaughtered is in unconscious and feels less to zero amount of pain. These methods of killings include gas and electrical stunning, this ensures that the animal losses complete consciousness instantly. This method of killing animals should be used everywhere.

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“Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge that the questions of whether and how different kinds of animals feel pain, and of whether and why it might be justifiable to inflict pain on them in order to eat them, turn out to be extremely complex and difficult. And comparative neuroanatomy is only part of the problem. Since pain is a totally subjective mental experience, we do not have direct access to anyone or anything’s pain but our own; and even just the principles by which we can infer that others experience pain and have a legitimate interest in not feeling pain involve hard-core philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, value theory, ethics.” (Wallace). In this quote Wallace explains whether it is justifiable to cause pain to an animal in means of survival. At the end of the day no matter how much we try to inflict as little to no pain the animal is still getting killed. Although I agree there should be a quick and easy was to kill the animal with minimal pain, the hassle of going through all of that in the end is just worthless if the animal is gonna die regardless. “According to marine zoologists, it usually takes lobsters between 35 and 45 seconds to die in boiling water. (No source I could find talked about how long it takes them to die in superheated steam; one rather hopes it’s faster.)” (Wallace). Wallace himself stated that it takes approximately 35 to 45 seconds for the animal to completely die. This is a very short amount of time that that animal has to feel the actual pain. There is no win in this situation because no matter what we do the animal is going to die either way and if we do decide to live on a plant based lifestyle this is only going to cause a great imbalance in our ecosystem and most importantly on our health. At the end of the day we have to look at the bigger picture. Humans are here on this earth for survival, and we must do all that we can do ensure that we survive even if that includes killing animals to live a healthy lifestyle.

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Essence of Veganism and “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace: Critical Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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