The logic of the larder is an objection to the argument that people concerned with farmed animal welfare should abstain from consuming products derived from animals raised in factory farms. The objection is that reducing demand for meat, eggs or milk causes fewer animals to come into existence, and thus reduces net animal welfare.
A number of responses have been given to this objection. First, many of the animals raised in factory farms have net negative welfare. Causing fewer of these animals to exist, therefore, reduces overall animal suffering. Second, rearing domesticated animals reduces the number of wild animals that exist by an even greater number, so the assumption that veganism causes fewer animals to exist may be false. Finally, even if increasing demand for animal products was positive on the whole, there are other, more cost-effective ways to help animals, and to improve the world (Matheny & Chan 2005).
However, Carl Schulman (2013) has pointed out the tension involved in promoting dietary change as a way to reduce farm animal suffering and expressing concern for wild animal suffering. If wild animals tend not to lead net-positive lives, and a vegan diet increases the number of animals in the world, a vegan diet will increase, rather than decrease, the number of beings living net-negative lives. Partly for these reasons, some animal advocates in the effective altruism community favor methods of reducing animal suffering that do not involve dietary change, such as humane slaughter methods (Tomasik 2008).
Hanson, Robin (2002) Why meat is moral, and veggies are immoral, Robin Hanson’s Website, July 10.
Matheny, Jason Gaverick & Kai M. A. Chan (2005) Human diets and animal welfare: the illogic of the larder, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, vol. 18, pp. 579–594.
Shulman, Carl (2013) Vegan advocacy and pessimism about wild animal welfare, Reflective Disequilibrium, July 30.
Tomasik, Brian (2008) How does vegetarianism impact wild-animal suffering?, Essays on Reducing Suffering (updated 17 June 2019).