The Trolley Problem

One of the classic thought-experiments in philosophy is the trolley problem. For the people that haven’t heard of it before:

Imagine an empty trolley running out of control down a track. In its path are five people. The trolley will kill those five people unless you pull a lever and change the direction of the tracks. However, the new path leads to a person standing alone. Whoever the trolley hits is sure to be killed. Do you pull the lever?

It’s an interesting, but morbid, conversation starter. 

Now I’ll give you another problem, an alternative trolley problem more relevant to this blog…

Imagine an empty trolley running out of control down a track. In its path is nothing, absolutely nothing. To make this realistic, let’s say eventually the trolley would hit a wall but the wall is strong enough to withstand the impact of the trolley so no damage would be done. Alternatively you can pay the operator of the tracks £5 to change the direction of the trolley. The new path leads directly to a cow and the trolley would hit and kill the cow. Do you pay the operator?

I can’t take credit for this thought-experiment, I found this meme on Reddit


This meme hits the vegan nail on the vegan head.

When I asked (non-vegan) Wonderful Husband what he would do, he said that he would do nothing, and then he added…

“because you’d have to be sadistic to hit the cow.”

OK maybe he didn’t say it in a way that deserves bold, red font. But he said it!

He’s a non-vegan speaking the vegan truth. Although he didn’t like it when I extended the vegan thought-experiment to the supermarket… 

Do you see the similarities in paying the operator and paying a supermarket? Both cause unnecessary death. If you do see similarities that make you feel a bit strange then maybe consider putting your money towards cruelty-free foods at the supermarket. For example, don’t eat dead cow burgers, you could try a different kind of burger…

Mushroom-Quinoa Burger


This is my absolute favourite burger at the moment.
We make them in bulk and freeze them. To me they
taste quite meaty (but I haven’t had meat in over 10
years so my opinion might be slightly void).

Sweetcorn & Chickpea Burger


This is another tasty go-to burger for Wonderful Husband
and I. We make it at least once a month and it’s super healthy,
unless you melt
Violife cheese on top of the burger like me.

Portobello & Peach Burger


These burgers are quite a lot of faff to make, but
if you don’t mind faff then you should totally go
for it because they are super tasty (and juicy!).

Blackbean Burger


We haven’t tried these burgers yet, but they are supposed
to be
 incredibly healthy so I’ll have to make some
time for them one day.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich


Pulled pork is one of Wonderful Husband’s favourite foods
so these sandwiches are definitely a high priority for us to try. 

Green Goddess Pesto Burger


I LOVE PESTO! Who doesn’t love pesto? You don’t exist.
Pesto + Burger = Love.

All burger photos have been stolen from their corresponding linked website.


So finally, I’m super interested to know what you’d do. Would you pay the operator and kill the cow or would you let the trolley keep going (and instead go home to make one of the yummy burgers listed above)? I’m looking forward to reading your comments below. 

Thanks for reading 💚


24 thoughts on “The Trolley Problem

  1. Hyde says:

    I wouldn’t pull. Why not? Cos death by train would kill them all instantly…a painless death. Yes. Train track death is in the top 5 most humane methods to kill humans.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marie says:

    It is not as simple as that though. I expect many non vegans would not deliberately switch the trolley to kill the cow with or without having to pay a fiver for the privelige. That does not mean they are contradicting themselves. Eating meat is something we are conditioned into from childhood unless born into a vegan or vegetarian family. Meat eaters don’t think they are the killers, they just go to the shop and take it from the fridges. I hope this well written blog helps change the perceptions.
    However, that trolley thought experiment is a headf***!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Crumby Vegan says:

      I love that you disagree with the concept of the post but you still write that it’s well written. You are a true friend 🙂

      I don’t think I claimed that if a non-vegan were to not pay the operator then they would be contradicting themselves, I’m simply trying to show the fact that it is avoidable (for the majority of us). Even for people like yourself, who suffer from soy intolerane etc, and you still manage to not eat meat and you haven’t for years now.

      To eat meat in a country where you can find alternative foods is just unnecessary, just like going out of our way to pay the operator to pull the lever.

      You’re right though, the trolley problem does make my head spin a little haha 💚


  3. Joanna says:

    To be honest, I am not sure that I see the point in the second experiment because of course everyone will choose the first path so that nobody gets hurt. The first experiment is indeed a moral dilemma that has no answer but that is because there is a choice between two tragic endings. The second one only offers one tragic end so vegan or not, everyone will chose the one in which nobody gets hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Crumby Vegan says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Joanna.

      So of course the second thought-experiment is obvious, but that’s the whole point. If you’re not starving, eating meat is also pointlessly killing an animal and this thought-experiment highlights that 💚


  4. says:

    I am not a vegan, but often think that I should be. I do love black beans and black bean burgers. Have never heard of the mushroom quinoa burger, but want to give it a try. I need protein, but don’t want to have to rely on the red meat to obtain it. Thanks for sharing these “burger” options.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Crumby Vegan says:

      Thanks for commenting! I think you’d LOVE the mushroom quinoa burger, it’s so good. I get wayyyy more protein then I need on a vegan diet so if you’re worried you can check out some of previous posts on protein. Let me know if you have any questions 💚


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