Over the last few years people have been telling me why being a vegan is wrong. Here are some of the most common arguments I hear.
“You won’t get enough protein”
Most people eating a normal amount of food get enough protein – it’s just that the meat and dairy industries have been very effective in making us believe we need more than we actually do. Nuts, lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas, quinoa, soya, kale, broccoli, mushrooms – all great sources of plant protein.
“We’re supposed to eat meat”
Our physiological characteristics resemble those of herbivores more than carnivores. Early in our evolution we were somewhere in the middle of the food chain – eating mainly foods we could gather and scavenging the remains of dead animals after other more powerful animals had taken their fill. Our teeth, hands and digestive organs indicate that we are designed to eat mostly plants.
“Think of all those poor farm animals who wouldn’t be born if we didn’t eat meat”
Yes, I really have heard this one. Given the choice between being born a factory farmed chicken, pig or dairy cow and not being born I know what I’d choose.
A short, unnatural life of constraint, pain and fear is not a life – it’s a sentence.
“Vegans eat soya and growing soya is bad for the environment”
Yes, some vegans eat some soya. But the vast majority of soya – for which vast tracts of rainforest have been and still are being cleared – is grown for feeding to farm animals – and thus ultimately for meat and dairy.
“You can’t grow enough plants to feed everyone in the world”
It takes between 3 and 10kg of plant protein to grow 1kg of animal protein. Do the maths!
“You can always eat ethical meat”
Sounds good, but what is ethical meat exactly? Is it where the animals don’t suffer? Or where meat production doesn’t produce toxic waste or use excessive amounts of water? Yes, some of the smaller meat producing farms are better than the majority, but I’ve yet to come across a satisfactory definition of ethical meat. And meat that is described as ethical comes with a price tag that means it is out of reach for most people.
“Vegans are all pale and scrawny”
That’s a bit like saying that omnivores are all fat and flushed. Both can be true if they don’t eat sensibly on their respective diets. Like all diets, a vegan diet needs thought and planning to be healthy.
“Plants feel pain too”
This comment is usually made mischievously. There is evidence that plants react when cut or damaged but without a central nervous system that can’t equate to pain as we and animals know it. And as noted above it takes 3-10kg of plants to create 1kg of meat so ironically you’d save a lot of plants by eating more of them!
It can be if you’re always looking for a meaty or cheesy hit. There are lots of pricey meat and cheese substitutes on the market. They can be useful for those transitioning to a plant-based diet but they’re not essential to a balanced diet. In fact, omitting real meat and cheese will save a fortune in the long run!
“Vegan food tastes terrible”
Just like non-vegan food, it can do. But it can also be really, really delicious. It takes a little more planning and preparation but it’s well worth it. Or just order a take-away from Miller Green!
Being vegan suits me but it’s not for everyone and it’s unrealistic to think that we’re all going to give up meat and dairy. But if we all moved to a diet that’s at least 90-95% plant based and 5-10% animal based, we’d be a lot healthier, the earth would be a lot healthier and there’d be far less suffering for the farm animals.
Just a few thoughts for World Vegan Day.