The vegan do no harm ethics mean trying to live so that no injury or discomfort is caused to any conscious being. We consider animals to be sentient and so our do no harm ethics code applies to them. This includes what they produce, meaning that our ethical stance precludes many vegans from eating honey, eggs, or dairy products. Lots of vegans won’t use shoes or clothing made from leather.
Vegans are certainly not the only group that seeks to stem harm to any being. The American Counseling Assoc abides by the ACA code of ethics-do not harm. Other mental health providers like the American Psychological Association enforce the APA code of ethics do no harm. For psychiatrists, they already have the American Medical Association’s AMA code ethics do not harm. This medical code ethics do no harm applies to all physicians, including psychiatrists. Indeed, Hippocrates’ oath states first do no harm ethics.
Do no harm principle ethics are not unique to health care providers or vegans. Many Buddhists follow do no harm ethics of ahimsa, a Sanskrit term about injuring no being. Religious principles can be a strong influence in refraining from eating animals. Some people may be surprised to learn that some practitioners of witchcraft state that they are vegetarian for this same do no harm reason.
It is pretty easy for most moral people to agree that no human should suffer because of one’s behavior. Extending that to all creatures is, unfortunately, not something upon which all people agree. Even some vegetarians see no ethical problem with consuming some animal products. Vegans feel theirs is the better code of ethics that avoids deception of the self.
Highly moral and ethical people can see these moral concerns differently. Even the morality of circumcising a newborn little guy may be the topic of great disputation. Indeed, the association of pediatricians recommends against it, some religious groups such as Jews consider it a requirement of their faith, and some public health officials believe circumcision plays a potential role in cutting down the transmission of some sexually transmitted diseases and the incidence of cervical cancers in the female sexual partner.
That is just one example of the struggle it can be to find answers to what are the choices that will eliminate harm. Other such decisions involve considering the earth as a being and not harming it. The morality of environmentalism is clear for vegans, but sometimes financial pressures seem to limit the options.
How healthcare providers and vegans live out these codes may seem to be clear morality. Unfortunately, the right thing to do is not always obvious. In the mgmt. of research, does the import of the study to human life justify making subjects—whether human or animal—go through distress? Most ethical vegans would oppose this and want no part of it. Long ago a now discredited deceptive research project on how people accede to authority led to at least one suicide by a human subject.
To stem research on laboratory animals, some animal liberationists have attacked people and facilities to free the animals. To stem the abuse of animals by injuring people doesn’t make sense to an ethical vegan, but most of us do want to stem the use of animals in labs.
The vegan do no harm ethics need to be passed to others. Sometimes people first rely on sentiment. A Kurt Davos role in an episode of Wagon Train has been viewed a lot as an expression of humane values toward both people and animals. Testimonials to the value of animal and human relationships can and should help to motivate people to greater concern for animal welfare.
Vegans are propelled by compassion and ethical dealings toward all animals, in medical research, healthcare practices, etc. For more details, please follow my Amazon.com page where you will find my currently published books (Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss: The Daily Diet, Cleanse & Green Smoothie Detox Book and Vegan Diet & Animal-Free Lifestyle – A Journey Into Veganism) as well as those which I intend to publish in the future.
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