Organ Donation and the Mythical Vegan Handbook

I recently found myself in a debate on a vegan Facebook group. This happens about once a week for me, and it usually involves cat food or omni friendships. The same tired old arguments are rolled out time after time, with photos of someone’s “perfectly healthy vegan cat” from one side and the words “obligate carnivore” from the other, or yet another suggestion for some poor newbie vegan to dump their omni partner for eating cheese.

“Do ‘Vegan Morals’ mean I shouldn’t be an organ donor?”

An issue was raised about organ donation and veganism, which for me is a no-brainer. Much like my reasons for donating blood,  it’s something I’ve always felt strongly about, and I have been registered as an organ donor for as long as I can remember. When I became vegan, this didn’t change. Not even for a split moment or a nanosecond did I ever become a self righteous asshole with a superiority complex who wants to pick and choose who I deem ‘worthy’ of receiving my donated organs. Not to mention it’s problematic as hell. 


“What if we could choose who our organs would be donated to?”

It seems some vegans feel their organs should only go to fellow plant-based peeps, and that the omnis on the transplant list should wait their turn for a heart or liver from a fellow meat-muncher. They don’t want their precious lungs to save the life of some *gasp* chicken-chomping child, because they wouldn’t be deserving.

Everybody deserves the best health care available to them, regardless of personal lifestyle choices. It doesn’t matter if the recipient of your vegan kidneys, untouched by the taint of processing digested animal products, could one day be a pivotal vegan activist or the doctor who finds a cure to cancer. That person does not need to be exceptional to deserve a chance at a healthy life. 

The idea that this could ever happen horrifies me. Aside from the vegan issue, imagine the ramifications of a system where donors were allowed to dictate who COULDN’T receive their organs. Would they stop simply at veganism, or would individuals then be given the option to exclude those of a different race, religion, sexual orientation or gender?

A person who claims they have compassion for animals, but who would be willing to see a human suffer or die rather than receive the care they need just because they eat meat is a hypocrite.

“What if my heart/lungs/liver/kidneys go to a prolific milk-drinking meat-eater?”

It’s ok to have our own morals. It’s also ok to have our own thoughts, views, and opinions without checking them against some mythical vegan moral compass. It essentially just opens ourselves up to judge others for never being “good enough” or “vegan enough”. Organ donation is an incredible, selfless act, and to put qualifiers on it seems a oxymoron.

Organ donation isn’t a vegan issue. Giving your organs willingly to someone who needs them when you no longer have use for them causes no animal exploitation.

So let’s recap; if you are a vegan, and you are in any way concerned that your hypothetical donated organs could save the life of a meat eater and therefore hypothetically cause the suffering of a non-human animal, you need to get a grip. If you are able to consider the very real possibility that another human might need your donated organs, and are still happy to withhold them because of their personal lifestyle choices, then you are a jerk. You are not vegan. You are not compassionate. And you really need to rethink your priorities.  







  1. Woah! People are actually worried about that? Also, everyone changes. Even if they could dictate that it went to a vegan, there’s nothing to say that person will stay a vegan forever?

    1. Author

      It wasn’t something that had ever occurred to me before, it just doesn’t make sense does it?? I saw a post on a fb group about it & some of the responses made me want to bang my head against a hard surface. Such weird priorities! ?

  2. WOW. I had no idea this was even a debate! To be honest, the flip-side kind of freaks me out. I haven’t eaten meat besides fish since the last millenium, and the idea of getting a transplant organ of someone who eats red meat kind of gives me pause. I don’t know, I guess I just assume (possibly falsely?) that vegans are just healthier than carnivores? I’m sure that’s not 100% true, anyway, I’ll wager there are health fanatics who eat beef & pork and there are probably vegans who just eat Oreos and popsicles all the time. Gosh almighty, thanks for sharing this!

    1. Author

      I know, right? I used to think all vegans were super healthy gym bunnies…back-to-back crossfit classes & raw salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I wouldn’t last an hour without cooked food tbh!

      I’d never even thought about the whole organ transplant/vegan issue until I read (and silently screamed through) that thread. I’d probably pause as well if offered the heart of a prolific steak-gobbler or the lungs of a smoker though. x

  3. Good grief… I’ve been on the organ donor register since I was 12 in 1993 and I also wouldn’t have considered changing that for a second when I became vegan. Bravo for having the Facebook debates though; I can’t bring myself to join 99% of vegan groups on FB these days!

  4. Many of my family members are non vegan and of course I view most neat eaters as still being worthy of receiving my organs but my concern would be the risk it could go to someone who abuses animals like people I’ve seen in sick slaughter house footage or someone who goes home and kicks their dog. I’d honestly rather those people died so the advantage of knowing your organs would only go to a vegan would rule those bastards out. I also think that generally speaking anyone who loves animals enough to go vegan is likely a kind and compassionate person (most likely) so could help rule out the chances of a rapist or murderer or similar getting my organs. If I’m honest there’s alot of evil people on this planet that I’d probably rather see dead than alive and I would love to have the peace of mind that there was a way of ruling out these sort of people getting to live on through my organs. I’m not saying meat eaters are all murderers or rapists but I am saying people with vegan mentality are less likely to be of an evil or violent nature.

  5. I have opted out of the organ transplant list for the same reason: I do not want my body to be used to extend the lives of humans who eat meat. Their survival means more animals will suffer so, frankly, the more of them die the better. I would happy donate to a fellow vegan whose lifestyle does not cause pain and suffering.

  6. I am therefore ruled out as a donor as well. Donating to a meat eater, which is likely going to happen, will eventually cause animal exploitation. The possibility of donating my organs to a future animals rights activist or whatsoever is far more unlikely to happen than to keep a potentially violent individual alive. Based on my own life experiences i do definitely value animals over humans. It’s just my own opinion. I would be more than happy to donate my organs to a vegan though. And i think that it is a pity that I am not allowed to set preferences.

    1. Author

      Being able to “choose” who gets our donated organs would be hugely problematic; imagine the repercussions if potential donors could dictate their recipient’s race, religion, skin colour, or sexuality. It’s just another form of eugenics.

      I find it shows a distinct lack of compassion to refuse to donate organs based on whether someone is a vegan or not; unless you were born an raised vegan, most of us made the transition at some point in our lives. Many vegans seem to forget this little detail…

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