Last week, I shared with you five popular myths regarding veganism. Here are five more and my attempts to address them:
6. A vegan diet does nothing to help major world problems like pollution, global warming, world hunger, water waste, etc.
This is completely inaccurate. With respect to pollution and global warming, by adopting a plant-based diet, we are dramatically lowering our impact on global warming, since the number one contributor to the production of greenhouse gases is the livestock industry. Most people assume that too many cars are the problem, however, enslaving the billions of animals for food and all that is involved with these industries produces 18% of the global emissions of greenhouse gases, as compared to 13% produced by all means of transportation combined. Furthermore, the animal food industries are notorious for water waste.
Adopting a vegan diet on a large scale would greatly reduce world hunger, since the massive amounts of grains that are grown to feed to animals (who eat way more than humans) could be used instead to feed humans directly. It is more efficient and cost-effective.
7. Vegans only care about animal suffering; what about all the people suffering?
As if we vegans only have room enough in our hearts to care for one species! Caring about animal welfare is not mutually exclusive with other causes. This cause happens to be dear to us, hence many vegans are also animal activists. We don’t choose a cause; a cause chooses us.
8. A vegan diet is too complicated, impractical, and expensive!
Actually, the opposite is true. It is very easy to have your diet focus around fresh, vegan produce. Furthermore, preparing plant-based meals, even mostly organic, is cheaper than animal-based meals. Vegetables, beans, whole grains, fresh fruits, when bought in season, locally whenever possible, are far less expensive than meats and cheeses. Once you make the decision to adopt a vegan diet, you find your favorite places to shop which are practical and affordable. Even eating out is not a huge dilemma by simply speaking to the staff and letting them know your dietary preferences. Visits to friends and family are also easily solved by bringing along vegan dishes for everyone to share. Since people generally love to eat tasty food, they will be delighted.
9. A vegan diet is unhealthy
On the contrary, a vegan’s diet has the potential to be healthier than a diet based on animal-derived foods. I say “potential” because it takes some effort and education to maintain a healthy diet, be it a vegan or non-vegan one. Certainly we have unhealthy vegans, just as we have unhealthy non-vegans. Furthermore, there is more to health than diet alone. This I know to be true based on my own quest to restore my health.
Let’s look at this optimal health potential a little closer:
Plant-based foods contain more fiber than animal-derived foods. A diet high in fiber brings with it regular bowel movements and issues of constipation, common among meat-eaters, is practically non-existent. Healthier bowel movements decrease the risk of colon cancer and other diseases.
• Avoiding animal protein, especially casein:
In The China Study, Drs. T. Colin Campbell ad Thomas M. Campbell, present the research linking animal protein, in particular casein, which is the protein found in dairy milk to cancers such as prostate and breast. This is a highly important book in the field of nutrition and demonstrates clearly how our diet can significantly contribute to obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
• More minerals and vitamins:
In general, unprocessed, fresh vegetables and fruits contain more vitamins and minerals than animal products. They are also more alkaline, rather than acidic, like meats and dairy. Disease thrives in an acidic environment.
• More antioxidants:
Antioxidants protect against cell damage. Vegetables and fruits are much higher in antioxidants than animal-derived products.
• Lower cholesterol, triglycerides and BMI:
Vegans typically have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and have a lower body mass index (BMI). This all converts to better cardiovascular health.
• Bacteria, disease and contamination:
Since animals are unfortunately raised and killed in filthy conditions, and since they are in such poor health for their short, miserable lives, the risk of bacteria contamination is very high. We can see evidence of this by the number of meat recalls just this year alone. Also, you will notice that when you adopt a vegan diet, illnesses like the stomach flu or other infections become so much less frequent than previously.
10. Animals eat other animals in the wild, so if we don’t eat them, they will eat us!
Carnivores do eat other animals, and their physiology is designed to digest meat. Our physiology is not. Our physiology is not even that of an omnivore. Our physiology resembles one of a herbivore or frugivore. We are not meant to eat animals; this is just a custom that has become part of our culture of carnism.
The animals we typically eat are the gentlest and meekest of the bunch. They are precious beings that deserve our love and protection, not exploitation. They are artificially inseminated in massive numbers and genetically modified to grow quicker and heavier. If we stop consuming them, they will stop producing them. We are not talking about things here, we are talking about living, feeling beings.
I hope you found this analysis informative.
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“People look at me as a vegan and conclude that since I stepped on a snail or because the vegetables I eat resulted in a tractor death for a squirrel somewhere in Paraguay that somehow vegans are hypocrites, which of course they’re not since perfection is an unattainable goal and is something to be driven towards, never actually achieved. The difference between you and the vegan standing next to you is that while you’re both going to step on a bug tomorrow, they’ve decided to dedicate their lives to as little harm as possible, completely independent from what you do. So in no way does the protozoan life form they step on negate your responsibility for the lamb you’re paying a stranger to cut tomorrow. And falling 1% short of an unattainable goal is really good when you’re standing next to someone who won’t even try.” ~Shelley Williams