A common situation that many vegans have found themselves in is working at a job where they have to handle meat and other animal products.
It’s a tricky situation, and after a lot of discussion on this topic, it seems to me that it can be okay in some situations, and wrong in others.
There are 4 main questions that you should answer in order to get some clarity.
1. Will Someone Else Do The Job If You Don’t
If you’re working at McDonalds and quit, they’ll have someone else doing your job by the end of the day.
There’s always going to be teenagers needing a first job, and most of them don’t care about working with meat.
But what about working at a slaughterhouse?
It’s a line of work where many workers get PTSD, and have high rates of suicide. These are not easy jobs to fill.
Similarly, I know meat packing factories in my area always have a tough time hiring enough employees.
Working at a place like this can affect the total output and demand for animal products. That’s where a job might stop being in line with a vegan philosophy.
2. Will Doing Your Job Well Increase Demand for Animal Products?
Picture this, you’re a commercial director who works for a fast food restaurant.
You do such a good job on the commercials, that the demand for their all new “massive meat burger” skyrockets.
In that case, you’ve increased the demand for animal products, and people will likely end up eating more meat than they would have normally.
The same thing can happen in other occupations: cooking, web development, automation, etc.
In a case like that, doing your job well doesn’t seem very vegan.
It’s one of the few times where I’d say the best thing to do is “phone it in” and do a mediocre job, or decline the work altogether if at all possible.
3. Can You Use Your Job to Save Animals?
While researching this topic, I came across some interesting stories of vegans working with animal products who found a way to decrease animal product demand.
For example, if you work preparing lunches for schools or nursing homes, you can create some really great vegan/vegetarian meals. You likely can’t switch 100% of the meals, but even a small portion will have a significant impact.
Another example I’ve seen a few times is from waiters at restaurants like steakhouses. Wearing a vegan bracelet or having a tattoo can spark a conversation with visitors and have an impact. Although you need to be sure you can stay relaxed in that sort of situation, which isn’t always easy.
There are even some vegans who work inside slaughterhouses just to help shed light on what happens there to the public. I wouldn’t recommend that path, but it does show that there are many ways to make a positive impact.
4. Can You Find a New Job?
Look, you need money to live.
If you don’t have money, you can’t help anyone. And if you end up homeless, you’ll end up having to eat what’s given to you (likely not vegan), or starve.
So if you need this job to get by for the time being, then so be it.
You don’t have to enjoy it, but you don’t need to feel like a hypocrite for doing it to survive.
If you hate it, find another job that’s in line with your morals, but do it before you quit so you don’t find yourself in a bad situation.