Shoot to Kill: Vegans and Video Games



There is a Facebook group called “Veganism” that has over 30,000 members (this original Facebook page no longer exists but you should join Veganism for All. From time to time I like to post comments or questions, share my vegan point of view, or get feedback from fellow vegans.

This past weekend I posted an image of a video game, Big Buck Safari (this link is to the trailer and worth watching before finishing this post), that I saw at our local mall, with the following caption:

… unbelievable. This is an actual arcade game? In addition to the “Big Buck” you can also kill elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, and … ostriches. Really?

I’m worried about the kids who enjoy playing this.

I clicked “post” and expected overwhelming support, encouragement, and understanding about why I was disgusted by this video game featuring elaborate, gorgeous, detailed animations of wild animals frolicking in their virtual habitat — with a target on their back.

What I didn’t expect (in the 150+ comments) was:

It´s just a game! I prefer that people kill animals in a game rather than in real life.

… and …

Eric get a reality check. It’s NOT REAL. Every gamer knows this. Do you think people get possessed by Satan just because they like heavy metal too?

… or, this winner …

Anyone who thinks this way is a fucking idiot. I’m more worried about oppressive fuckstains than about kids playing hunting games. Those games are harmless fun.

Keep in mind, I posted this on a vegan page.

Now I’m all for video games. In fact, I used to spend hours playing Doom over a 9600 baud modem and loved grabbing the BFG (Big Fucking Gun) and blasting away all the bad guys. Or my opponent.

At bad guys or my opponent.


Not wildlife. Elephants and ostriches. Animals.

As each comment was posted I felt my point drifting further and further away. I started to feel like I discovered the dark underbelly of some people’s idea of veganism. Ahimsa, anyone? Again, I am not ignorant in thinking that this is real life but I am clear in my thinking that these comments are being made by vegans. Vegans who apparently enjoy (and will spend money on) lifting a rifle, pointing it toward a running animal and pulling the trigger. I wonder if this is where Kendall Jones got started?

Want to know what these “vegans” might look like? Click here. Notice how before each round the player is reminded to aim for vital areas: HEAD and HEART.


As I continued to try to make my point (as well as fuel the content for this blog post), one other phrase kept coming up by my opposition: you need to separate reality from fantasy.

Fantasy: the forming of mental images, especially wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing.

One of the last comments on this post pretty much summed up my entire experience and my point about the disconnect between some vegans and video games promoting the killing of animals:

Well, Eric C Lindstrom, it’s too bad you thought this kind of oppressive and classist bullshit was welcome here. Next time you think that you have any business expressing this sort of shit opinion, maybe just shove a handful of rocks in your mouth instead.

Spoken like a true vegan.

Go vegan.

Look for my forthcoming book, The Skeptical Vegan from Skyhorse Publishing coming out August 2017.


14 thoughts on “Shoot to Kill: Vegans and Video Games

  1. This is appalling. What sort of vegans are those people? I agree with you 100 %. This is upsetting and a cause for concern. I’d even say shooting at virtual people is a problem. Many people suffer from lack of empathy. People who play this type of game probably ‘practice’ lack of empathy and become even more cold and unfeeling.


    • I think I tapped into a minority but they still exist. Gamers are younger people (for the most part), opinionated and may not know better. They justify what they are doing because “it’s fun” to them.

      I should hope that more “mature” vegans wouldn’t support this kind of activity.

      Thanks so much for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! To me, this is like the kid that tortures an animal and moves towards being a psychopath. I can’t see how people can fail to see the distinction between the game and the vegan point of view.
    How can you possibly be entertained by something that depicts animals being murdered (or worse, allow your children to be) and then claim to be a vegan and lover of animals?
    Might as well be munching on beef jerky as you play.


  3. Fred Remus

    Maybe coming from a 60 year old fart makes a difference, but I really just don’t get it. The thought of bringing pain to any animal, nonhuman as well as human, real or make believe, hurts my heart.
    How does a vegan “fantasize” about putting a bullet in an animals heart? Really?
    I wonder how these people felt about the bow and arrow target of a woman’s torso that “bled” when you hit it?
    Or teabaggers who were using a photo of President Obama for target practice?
    Violence is a sickness, real or imagined.


    • Thank you, Frank. You’ve summarized all of my points into one sentence: violence is a sickness, real or imagined.

      If anything, I hope my pointing this out to people makes those who take part in this stop to think about what they are doing.

      Thanks, as always, for commenting.


  4. I am not a fan of that board. There is so much negativity thrown around on there to vegans and non-vegans alike. So, I’m not at all surprised at the reaction that you got. Carry on Eric… I’m on your side. It’s a horrible game…


  5. But feeling hearts that truly care... are fragile to the flow of air...

    Hello, I found your blog today, after finding out something disturbing from a video game series I enjoy.

    Since childhood, I’ve played video games to escape this hell-ish thing known as existence. (Made hell-ish because of humans, and their human inventions of money and religion.)

    I want to note that I am a pessimist, an atheist, and a misanthrope.

    You seem like a very kind and wise person (something extremely difficult to find in this world, in my personal experience) so I apologize if you’re not fond of negativity. (But I feel that reality has a bit of a negative bias.) I just really need to vent a little bit, and perhaps show a different perspective on things.

    Today, I came came across this (I’m a fan of The Legend of Zelda series, and I only found out about this event below today, also I haven’t played this particular game, so I was dumbfounded and grossed out):

    If Link hits a Cucco too many times, Marin will change her attitude for a moment as if she’s enjoying the moment.

    “Ha ha ha! Do it! Do it! Do it moooore! … … Hunh? No, it’s nothing… I didn’t mean it.” — Marin

    I’ve also been a fan of Harvest Moon since childhood, but I sold all my HM games except one last year because I wish to have less possessions in my life, also for vegan reasons partly too. Now I just own the one for 3DS called A New Beginning. And another called Innocent Life, which is a beautifully lonely (and under appreciated) game.

    Luckily, in many Harvest Moon games, you don’t have to own animals or even collect animal products from them. You can just live your life growing vegetables.

    I’ve even found cute videos before of a guy trying to be vegan in the first Harvest Moon game:

    But despite that, after becoming vegan (I’ve been vegan since February of 2013), I also found out about this disturbing event in Harvest Moon:

    And then there’s this:

    (One) Marriage requirement:
    Have killed 50 or more of your animals

    And stuff that people find funny like this:

    Whenever I discover something extremely messed up, I always hope to find someone like-minded who feels the same, but, coming online, I feel it’s nearly impossible most of the time. Humans have just become so severely desensitized to everything and brush off/give excuses for the most heinous things.

    I also found this, before I found your blog. Unfortunately, I don’t think this gross mindset is all that uncommon:

    I’m 24 years old myself. From my personal experience, a lot of gamers are in the millennials and up demographic since the dawn of video gaming started with millennials basically. Millennials are considered the 1980s to the early 2000s generation, that’s definitely when video games were really taking off. (So a large number of young adults to 30-somethings and older are the really hardcore gamers, in my opinion.)

    I have to say, I’m really sick of humans who condone violence in video games and other media or see violence as just “great entertainment”.

    People can say that what they like doesn’t reflect who they are as a person, but I feel that’s just a complete disingenuous lie. And if they do think that, I feel it just shows that they’ve been severely desensitized. Same goes for certain characters. People say “I wouldn’t love this (such and such toxic, evil, bad, etc.) character in REAL life” well, why do they love them in what they consider to not be “real life”? It makes no sense to me.

    These people that say they get so much joy and fun out of killing animals in video games, and how it’s okay because it’s “not real”. Would they also enjoy a game where the goal is to beat up or kill LGBT people or other minorities “for fun”. Or a game where you have to shoot as many children or babies at a playground or in their homes as “fun”. Or a game about raping people? Or a game where you’re a slave master who has to run a plantation and beat your slaves? If all those things sound horrendous and disgusting because they involve humans, then why is the thought of shooting and killing animals SO MUCH innocent FUN to all these “vegans”?

    What if there was a game where people shoot hunters instead of animals? I bet there would be a lot of outrage over that.

    There’s also a video game called ‘Hatred’ which the only goal is to kill people. And I’ve seen more outrage over that than any hunting game.

    I think this shows just how truly speciest even people who claim to be vegans are.

    And I don’t see how someone that claims to be vegan would “vote with their dollars” and give money to people who ARE definitely condoning animal violence/murder through hunting games.

    I feel unless the game has some equality (like fighting games where two humans know self-defense) a hunting game should be seen as the equivalent of killing a virtual child “for fun” (or a human that can’t defend them self). Enjoying a hunting game, is enjoying the “fantasy” of murdering something that doesn’t have as much power as you, and that is beyond sick.

    I’ve always hated things like horror movies too, or people who create gory animations, and others who applaud them for being so “artistic” and “creative” and “brave”.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of Gary Yourofsky, but after what I’ve seen from other “vegans” today, I agree with what he says about hating vegans:

    It doesn’t matter what peaceful ideology a human identifies with (or claims to identify with), they could still turn out to be the most awful person you’ll ever meet.

    I absolutely, positively, have zero hope in the future of humankind. Zero.

    But I still have complete respect for people like you, Gary Yourofsky, or people like this:

    (I’m not a nihilist, by the way, but I can understand the sentiment.)

    Or people like Hayao Miyazaki, who takes the time to clean up a river:

    Even knowing that ultimately, humanity is going to destroy everything. Because there are too many humans. And too many humans, who don’t care about anything but themselves, or nothing at all.

    “In the past, humans hesitated when they took lives, even non-human lives. But society had changed, and they no longer felt that way. As humans grew stronger, I think that we became quite arrogant, losing the sorrow of ‘we have no other choice.’ I think that in the essence of human civilization, we have the desire to become rich without limit, by taking the lives of other creatures.”
    ― Hayao Miyazaki

    “Personally I am very pessimistic. But when, for instance, one of my staff has a baby you can’t help but bless them for a good future. Because I can’t tell that child, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t have come into this life.’ And yet I know the world is heading in a bad direction. So with those conflicting thoughts in mind, I think about what kind of films I should be making.”
    ― Hayao Miyazaki

    My life partner (who is the most genuinely gentle, peaceful soul I have or will ever know) is the only thing keeping me tied to this world. We are both vegans, and we’ll always be vegans. We’ll do our best not to put anymore harm to the environment, even though we know things aren’t looking good for the future of humanity.

    But the thing is, humans are just killing themselves by destroying the planet and the non-human animals. (And there are animals much more important than humans. If certain animals die off, humans will too. If humans die off, Earth will thrive.)

    Earth will heal without humans. I only feel badly for the suffering animals are going through because of humans, and I feel badly for (the very small percentage of humans, in my eyes, like Hayao Miyazaki) that do their best not to harm the animals or the planet, and who are genuinely kind, down-to-earth and not materialistic. (Because materialism is definitely destroying this planet and killing animals.)

    As a pessimist, I always expect the worse in any situation that humans are involved in, (which has actually brought a lot more peace and equanimity into my life) I think positive changes are possible in this existence, but a lot of the times, humanity seems to take one step forward, then five giant leaps back.


  6. Some guy

    I can’t speak for others and I’m vegetarian but not vegan; I stumbled onto this through a google search. Many of us, quite often, are forced into situations we don’t want to be in and will never be who we want to be — this is hard for those that have had relatively normal lives to understand. You don’t need a source to vent your anger; most who play games desperately do and repeatedly stress the difference between things that do affect their ideology in some sense and acts which are outright horrible – there are clear line between the two.

    Your lack of insight with this regard betrays the position you’re trying to take. Published author or not, modesty can make the difference between rationally opinion post and slam piece.


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