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Much of the time, becoming vegan is not just a result of discovering new facts. Sometimes, of
course, veganism is motivated by the discovery of facts about how the animals are treated. But
the basic relevant facts are known to all, even from a young age: other animals are killed in
order for humans to eat them (or experiment upon them, or wear them…). These animals are
bred by humans, live in captivity, and die young. Most people would not be surprised at
discovering that the sausage they are eating comes from what used to be a living pig. What
really motivates the shift towards veganism, I argue, is not knowledge but attention: a specific
way of relating to facts, which is first-personal, engaged, and involves the intellect, the senses
and the emotions. The same facts, regarded attentively or inattentively, yield different
understandings, which motivate one to act accordingly. In this paper I explore the process of
attention to other animals, particularly those used for food, and the relationship between
attention and motivation. Is attention to other animals either necessary or sufficient for
becoming vegan? Does attention yield the same understanding and motivation for everyone?
What if it does not?
(School of Philosophy, University College Dublin)