December 20, 2008

Vegan Time Traveling


I was having a discussion with a friend of mine recently, and as discussions often do, the subject turned to time travel. The following ethical dilemma was posited: If you were to travel in time, as a vegan would you be prohibited from eating meat in your past time, prior to when you first became a vegan?

It is natural as a vegan to want to travel into the future, to a time when our more enlightened society has forever transitioned to a meat and dairy free existence.

But let's assume I use my time machine to travel to 1994. I was not a vegan then, not even a vegetarian. We used to mock a friend of ours who had become a vegetarian to lose weight and replaced meat in his diet with Doritos and Macaroni and Cheese. When I reenter 1994, will I be governed by my current world view, or my past world view?

Of course eating meat in the past will affect our present, in the same way our dietary choices today will affect our future. That is the whole reason I became a vegan after all. But which present will be affected, our current present, or an alternative reality present that is spawned by my voyage into the past? Am I ethically bound as a vegan to think about all these separate realities? At the same time, what is the point of time traveling at all if you are unable to eat bacon when you get there?

One of the rare examples of a question of physics and morality left unanswered by Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is an easy one: you're bound by your moral system no matter how far back you go. To illustrate, imagine that you went back hundreds of years before your birth. You wouldn't entertain for a second the idea of personally engaging in witch burning or slavery even if it was a cultural 'norm' at the time. Shouldn't your dietary views be the same?
On the other, there might be an exception if you went back before the development of agriculture. I guess if you had the choice between eating a woolly mammoth and starving to death morality (and Veganism) goes out the window.

However, if you really wanted to eat bacon, you should travel to the future. This way you'll be able to eat lab grown muscle tissue that was never a part of any creature's nervous system and isn't nearly as resource intensive as growing a whole animal.

Anonymous said...

Hello Good Doctor~
Sorry I'm not here to read your articles.
Saw your message about our great country blocking access to NY Times.
Do you know something more?
Curious.

The Good Doctor said...

i've heard people talking about the reason why, but i prefer not to post about it online. i think if you do a google news search you should be able to figure out what is going on.