Do vegans kill bugs? Yes. But we also avoid it (video)

Do vegans kill bugs? If so, under what circumstances?

I’ve heard this question asked and answered many times before, but I’ve never been satisfied with the answer. On one side, some vegans adopt an absolute stance. For example, Gary Yourofsky, a well-known vegan activist, believes we should never kill insects.  On the other side, there are vegans who think that it’s alright to kill all insects all of the time.

Obviously, the answer has to lie somewhere between these two positions. I don’t think it’s right to kill any animal just because it is a slight annoyance. On the other, there are very real situations in which you might need to exercise lethal force against insects and other pests, such as mice and rats.

We live in a real world where we often face very real ethical challenges. But we can takes steps to simplify these questions.

In this video, I propose three simple guidelines.

1. Self-defense

If an insect or other animal is going to cause you harm, you can protect yourself. This can also be applied to termite infestations. You do what you can, but termites can destroy your home and, well, they chose the wrong place to put a nest.

2. Parasites fall under #1

Parasites also fall under #1. I include ticks, mosquitos and other disease vectors under the same category.

I don’t know any vegans who think they are required to live with a tapeworm because it somehow ended up in their body, but I’m sure they exist. Still, it’s ridiculous and makes vegans look silly. Vegans kill bugs when necessary. And sometimes it is definitely necessary.

3. If it’s not a credible threat, leave it alone

If an animal or insect is not threatening your health or home in any way, leave it alone. And if it’s just an annoyance, try to make your home less attractive. For example, the most effective way of getting rid of picnic ants is to keep your house clean.

You should also block up holes where rats and mice can enter your home. This is also helpful so that you don’t have to take more drastic measures later.

Vegans kill bugs when they have to. But they also know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Overall, I think this is mostly an issue of common sense. I personally just feel icky if I kill any being that isn’t bothering me. Flies, yellow jackets and other insects can be annoying, but as I like to remind my kids, when you’re outdoors, you’re pretty much in their “space”. If you find an unwanted insect in your house, it’s best to escort it outside with as little ceremony as possible.

Fruit flies can be a problem, especially for raw vegans who have tons of ripe fruit lying around the house. Try to avoid this problem as much as possible by eating fruit once it’s ripe. Removing garbage quickly is even more important for reducing this particular annoyance. If you keep your kitchen tidy and free from rotting vegetation, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.

What do you think? Do you have any helpful hints for keeping peace with unwelcome animal guests?

4 Responses to “Do vegans kill bugs? Yes. But we also avoid it (video)

  • Why is it obvious that the position is in between? What reason is there to avoid killing an insect?

    • Because there’s often no reason to kill them. Insects can be beneficial to the environment and there’s no necessity or benefit to killing every bug we see.

  • Oh, thanks so much, MaryEllen! I also have an awful reaction to mosquitoes, even when they aren’t carrying dreadful diseases. I feel very little animosity to most creatures, but mosquitoes are on my hit-list, haha!

  • Like you said, I don’t kill them unless they are going to do me some harm. For instance, the only bugs I can remember killing for the longest time are mosquitoes because they bite me and cause me so much itchiness and stress for weeks after I get bit. Plus with all the Ziko talk they make me nervous. You always have such thoughtful posts.

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