Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Should vegans accept antivenom?

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It’s a question you’re bound to be asked as a vegan at some stage or another: “Would you accept antivenom if you were bitten by a snake/spider?” How can you respond, particularly when the asker is waving the “animal exploitation” flag?

You respond by saying, “Yes, I would take the antivenom, and here’s why.”

It’s best to admit upfront that you would accept live-saving “animal products” in the case of an emergency, just like you probably take medication that contains animal-derived ingredients and was no doubt tested on animals.

In a society in which animal exploitation is so deeply ingrained in every aspect of our lives, choices like these are not choices at all. They fall beyond a vegan’s reasonable control. Accepting antivenom (or prescription medication, for example), are often necessary to an individual’s survival.

Just as as the carnists may begin to shout “HYPOCRITE”, it’s time to lay down the very real facts about the type and frequency of animal exploitation in society. 

A vegan accepting antivenom does not make them a hypocrite, however a non-vegan calling a vegan out on their animal exploitation is. Antivenom and medication are life-saving necessities, unlike eating animal products, wearing animal products, using products tested on animals or paying to see animals in captivity – these horrific forms of animal exploitation are an everyday occurrence, and are activities the person asking a vegan about antivenom most probably partakes in. Compare the milking of a few snakes to the large-scale milking of 1.69 million dairy cows in Australia alone.

For the sake of science and math, let’s indulge carnist logic for a moment. Let’s find out just how likely it is that you’ll need antivenom from a snake in the next year.

We’ll use a resident of Australia as an example, as the majority of Australian snake species are venomous.

Let’s do the math.

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There are around 23 million people living in Australia. 

Only around 3000 snake bites are reported each year, of which 200-500 require/receive antivenom [source]. 

A basic equation to show my math is correct:

2 people out of 10: 2/10 x 100 = 20%

So, 500 people out of 23,000,000: 500/23,000,000 x 100 = 0.00217391%

Therefore,
Each year, an Australian resident has a 0.00217391% chance of requiring antivenom.

That’s less than ZERO per cent of the population exploiting snakes for antivenom – and only once.

Now here’s the kicker: Only around one per cent of the Australian population is vegan, meaning 99% of Australian residents are exploiting animals on a daily basis – and needlessly so. 

How many animal products, or animal-tested products, can an Australian shopper swap for cruelty free options? All of them, meaning that the vast majority of the population exploit and murder animals needlessly, while simultaneously questioning vegans about highly unlikely scenarios requiring animal exploitation, such as the snake bite scenario. Of course, this isn’t Australia-specific. 

To reiterate, snake bites and the need for antivenom fall under the “as far as is practical and possible” clause of veganism. There is a significant difference between saving your own life by exploiting animals, and continuing to exploit and murder animals because you can’t be bothered changing your lifestyle.

Image sources:
King Cobra Anti-Venom” by robertschrader is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Eastern Brown Snake” by 865404@N03 is licensed under CC BY 2.0