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“We need animal products to be healthy.”“we need animal products to be healthy.”“we need animal products to be healthy.”all-objections health-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]the question of whether any nutrients necessary for good health can only be obtained from the animal kingdom is an important one. here's why: one of the main ideas of veganism is that it’s wrong to cause unnecessary harm to animals. if a certain nutrient necessary for good health could only be sourced from animals, some suffering might be deemed necessary, depending on the nature of the nutrient.for veganism to be valid, it is not necessary to show that a vegan diet is beneficial, only that it's adequate for good health. showing that a vegan diet has benefits does lend credence to the viability of a vegan diet, however, so we do a bit of that here.even if a future discovery, however unlikely, finds there is an animal product we need to be healthy, veganism would still be relevant because we would still be ethically obliged to consume only the animal product needed—and only in the smallest amount needed and in the least harmful manner.
prominent health organizations embrace a vegan diet.harvard medical school((“becoming a vegetarian.” harvard health publications harvard medical school, march 18, 2016. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian )), mayo clinic((“vegetarian diet: how to get the best nutrition.” mayo clinic. accessed august 2, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/vegetarian-diet/art-20046446 )), cleveland clinic((“understanding vegetarianism & heart health.” cleveland clinic, december 2013. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/understanding-vegetarianism-heart-health )), kaiser permanente((phillip j tuso, md, mohamed h ismail, md, benjamin p ha, md, and carole bartolotto, md, rd. “nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets.” the permanente journal - the permanente press - kaiser permanente - permanente medical groups, 2013. http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2013/spring/5117-nutrition.html )), and newyork-presbyterian((ask a nutritionist: plant-based diets.” newyork-presbyterian, march 30, 2017. https://healthmatters.nyp.org/plant-based-diet/ )) all say that a 100 percent plant-based diet is healthy.these organizations also acknowledge the ability of a plant-based diet to fight health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol.((“becoming a vegetarian.” harvard health publications harvard medical school, march 18, 2016. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian )) ((“vegetarian diet: how to get the best nutrition.” mayo clinic. accessed august 2, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/vegetarian-diet/art-20046446 )) ((“understanding vegetarianism & heart health.” cleveland clinic, december 2013. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/understanding-vegetarianism-heart-health )) ((phillip j tuso, md, mohamed h ismail, md, benjamin p ha, md, and carole bartolotto, md, rd. “nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets.” the permanente journal - the permanente press - kaiser permanente - permanente medical groups, 2013. http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2013/spring/5117-nutrition.html )) ((ask a nutritionist: plant-based diets.” newyork-presbyterian, march 30, 2017. https://healthmatters.nyp.org/plant-based-diet/ ))kaiser permanente even advises their doctors to recommend a plant-based diet to their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.((phillip j tuso, md, mohamed h ismail, md, benjamin p ha, md, and carole bartolotto, md, rd. “nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets.” the permanente journal - the permanente press - kaiser permanente - permanente medical groups, 2013. http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2013/spring/5117-nutrition.html ))here are a few representative quotes from these organizations:
- "nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses." —harvard medical school((“becoming a vegetarian.” harvard health publications harvard medical school, march 18, 2016. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian ))
- "healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods." —kaiser permanente((phillip j tuso, md, mohamed h ismail, md, benjamin p ha, md, and carole bartolotto, md, rd. “nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets.” the permanente journal - the permanente press - kaiser permanente - permanente medical groups, 2013. http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2013/spring/5117-nutrition.html ))
- "there really are no disadvantages to a herbivorous diet! a plant-based diet has many health benefits, including lowering the risk for heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. it can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, plus maintain weight and bone health." —cleveland clinic((“understanding vegetarianism & heart health.” cleveland clinic, december 2013. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/understanding-vegetarianism-heart-health ))
- "plant-based diets are believed to be an effective means of treating chronic disease, including diabetes. they also combat obesity and lower blood pressure and the risk for cardiovascular disease." —newyork-presbyterian((ask a nutritionist: plant-based diets.” newyork-presbyterian, march 30, 2017. https://healthmatters.nyp.org/plant-based-diet/ ))
dietetic associations endorse a vegan diet.the endorsement of totally vegan diets by dietetic associations is authoritative because human nutrition is their primary concern and the focus of their research.the academy of nutrition and dietetics (operating in the united states)((“vegetarian diets.” academy of nutrition and dietetics. december 2016. http://www.eatrightpro.org/resource/practice/position-and-practice-papers/position-papers/vegetarian-diets )), the dietitians of canada((“healthy eating guidelines for vegans.” dietitians of canada, november 2017. https://www.dietitians.ca/downloads/factsheets/guidlines-for-vegans.aspx )), the british dietetic association((“british dietetic association.” the vegan society. accessed august 3, 2017. https://www.vegansociety.com/society/whos-involved/partners/british-dietetic-association )), and the dietitians association of australia((“vegan diets: everything you need to know – dietitians association of australia.” dietitians association of australia. accessed august 3, 2017. https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/healthy-eating/vegan-diets-facts-tips-and-considerations/ )) have all made pronouncements on the viability of a vegan diet.the academy of nutrition and dietetics issued a formal position statement that a vegan diet is fine "for all stages of life, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes."((“vegetarian diets.” academy of nutrition and dietetics. december 2016. http://www.eatrightpro.org/resource/practice/position-and-practice-papers/position-papers/vegetarian-diets ))
the us government says a vegan diet is healthy.in its dietary guidelines for 2015–2020, the united states department of agriculture (usda) acknowledged that a vegan diet is a healthy eating pattern.((“usda food patterns: healthy vegetarian eating pattern.” dietary guidelines for americans, eighth edition. accessed august 4, 2017. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-5/ )) this is particularly telling since the usda is a strong supporter of animal agriculture.((“agriculture and health policies in conflict: how subsidies tax our health: government support for unhealthful foods.” text. the physicians committee for responsible medicine, april 13, 2011. http://www.pcrm.org/health/reports/agriculture-and-health-policies-unhealthful-foods ))
there are no nutrients that must come from animals.even though certain vested interests have insinuated that certain nutrients must come from the animal kingdom, there is no convincing evidence to support this. if such evidence existed, the prestigious organizations mentioned could not have endorsed and praised a vegan diet. it is impossible to name even one required nutrient that must come from animals.
related objections are weak.whenever the subject of vegan nutrition is discussed, it's almost certain that related objections will be presented, bringing forth various fallacies and myths about certain aspects of a vegan diet. none of these objections can withstand scientific scrutiny.the comprehensive edition of brenda davis's book becoming vegan provides the most exhaustive treatment of vegan nutrition—and in the process provides answers to these objections, fallacies, and myths.((davis, brenda, and vesanto melina. becoming vegan the complete reference to plant-based nutrition. com edition. summertown, tennessee: book pub co, 2014.))we provide summarized responses to these frequently presented nutrition-related objections, drawing on the expertise of brenda davis and others in the objections section of this website.
“Plants are sentient and have feelings too!”“plants are sentient and have feelings too!”“plants are sentient and have feelings too!”all-objections nature-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]this objection to animal rights and veganism is usually not from a concern for the well-being of plants but to illuminate a perceived inconsistency. if both plants and animals are sentient and have feelings, and if we abstain from eating animals for ethical reasons, then we must also abstain from eating plants.claims of plant sentience and intelligence make for provocative titles and seductive clickbait, but a closer consideration of the evidence renders these claims vacuous.
plants differ from animals in ethically significant ways.plants cannot feel pain. because plants lack a brain, a central nervous system, and pain receptors, they cannot feel pain. plants may sense they are being eaten through mechanoreceptors, but they don't care.((“we asked a biologist if plants can feel pain.” vice. accessed july 26, 2017. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xd74nd/we-asked-a-botanist-how-sure-science-is-that-plants-cant-feel-pain-302 ))plants cannot experience emotions. emotions are processed in the hippocampus and amygdala regions of the brain—neither of which are present in a plant.((rand s. swenson, m.d., ph.d., “review of clinical and functional neuroscience.” dartmouth medical school, 2006. https://www.dartmouth.edu/~rswenson/neurosci/chapter_9.html ))plants have no self-awareness or sense of the future. thinking requires a brain, and without thought, there can be no self-awareness or sense of the future.plants do not have desires, preferences, or interests. there is no evidence that plants have the cognitive ability to have these traits.
eating animals kills more plants than eating plants.if you actually believe plants are sentient and feel pain, then you will cause less plant pain by eating plants rather than animals. while this may seem counterintuitive, it is true, because animals are very inefficient at converting plant calories to animal calories. this inefficiency is in part because of the calories expended for metabolism as well as the calories and food that go into producing nonedible parts, such as bones, cartilage, feathers, fur, fins, skin, and organs.as indicated by feed-conversion ratios, it takes twenty-five pounds of feed to produce one pound of beef, nine pounds of feed to produce one pound of pork, and five pounds of feed to produce one pound of chicken.((professor smil vaclav. “eating meat: evolution, patterns, and consequences.” population and development review 28, no. 4 (2002): 599–639. http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~vsmil/pdf_pubs/pdr2003.pdf )) the total amount of plants consumed is far greater when you eat the animals that eat plants than when you eat plants directly.
there is no reason plants would experience pain.because pain is a response to avoid tissue damage by withdrawing or fleeing, and since plants have limited ability to withdraw or flee, there is no reason they would have evolved to feel pain.leonardo da vinci realized this. in one of his notebooks, he said, "though nature has given sensibility to pain to such living organisms as have the power of movement—in order thereby to preserve the members which in this movement are liable to diminish and be destroyed—the living organisms which have no power of movement do not have to encounter opposing objects, and plants consequently do not need to have a sensibility to pain, and so it comes about that if you break them they do not feel anguish in their members as do the animals.”((da vinci, leonardo. leonardo da vinci’s note-books: arranged and rendered into english with introductions. empire state book company, 1908, 130 ))
some plants depend on being eaten for the survival of their species.some plants depend on being eaten to enhance the chances that their species will survive. the indigestible seeds of the plants will be spread over a wide geographical area as the plants are eaten by animals and then deposited in the animals' excrement.
visceral reactions differ with plants and animals.at a less cerebral and more visceral level, i think we all sense the difference between pulling up a dandelion and slitting the throat of a chicken. watching someone mow the lawn doesn't evoke the same reaction as watching someone kick a dog.
plants are sentient and intelligent only by the very broadest definitions.plants are sentient and intelligent only in a way similar to how bacteria and other single-cell organisms are sentient or intelligent. that is to say, plants generate and respond to chemical and electrical signals.
“Protein is a problem for vegans.”“protein is a problem for vegans.”“protein is a problem for vegans.”all-objections health-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]perhaps the most frequently asked question to vegans is, "where do you get your protein?" the implication is that the plant proteins from a vegan diet lack quantity, quality, or completeness.we should be vigilant about all of our nutritional requirements, including protein. but the evidence does not justify the near-obsessive level of concern that we have regarding protein. below, we will show that plants can easily satisfy all our protein needs and then point out that in some ways plant protein is advantageous to animal protein.
plants readily supply abundant and complete protein.abundant protein can be found in such plant foods as beans, peas, broccoli, lentils, peanuts, quinoa, spinach, tofu, corn, and many others. a peanut butter and jelly sandwich contains more protein than a mcdonald's hamburger ((the calculation assumes two slices of whole wheat bread and two tablespoons of peanut butter)), and broccoli has twice as much protein per calorie as steak.((fuhrman, joel, and mehmet oz. eat to live: the revolutionary formula for fast and sustained weight loss. reprint edition. little, brown and company, 2005, 138))the quantity of protein is not the only concern—some feel that the quality of protein in plants is lacking. yet authorities agree that if you eat a variety of plant foods and consume sufficient calories, then you get sufficient and complete protein—all nine essential amino acids, in the proportions needed.the academy of nutrition and dietetics even says that "using the terms 'complete' and 'incomplete' to describe protein is misleading." they further state that "eating a variety of plant foods will supply all the protein you need."((melina, vesanto, winston craig, and susan levin. “position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics: vegetarian diets.” journal of the academy of nutrition and dietetics 116, no. 12 (december 2016): 1970–80. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2016.09.025 ))the british dietetic association agrees: "as long as you’re eating a mixture of different plant proteins you’ll be getting all the essential amino acids your body needs."((“food fact sheet | vegetarian diets.” british dietetic association, march 2016. https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/vegetarianfoodfacts.pdf ))dr. andrew weil sums it up best: "research has discredited that notion, so you don’t have to worry that you won’t get enough usable protein if you don’t put together some magical combination of foods at each meal."((weil, md, dr. andrew. “vegetarians: pondering protein?” drweil.com. accessed october 4, 2017. https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/vegetarians-pondering-protein/ ))finally, harvard medical school, mayo clinic, cleveland clinic, kaiser permanente, newyork-presbyterian, the academy of nutrition and dietetics, the dietitians of canada, the british dietetic association, the dietitians association of australia, and others have declared a vegan diet to be not only sufficient but advantageous. they would not make this pronouncement if there were a problem with getting complete protein from plants.
essential amino acids are manufactured only by plants.many people are surprised to learn that the essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that we must get from food, are manufactured only by plants. when we eat animals, we are getting essential amino acids originally made by plants that were then eaten by animals.since all the essential amino acids are made only by plants, it's illogical to believe we must eat animals to get them.((davis, brenda, and vesanto melina. becoming vegan: the complete reference to plant-based nutrition. comprehensive edition. summertown, tennessee: book pub co, 2014, 83 ))
protein deficiency is rare.hospitals don't have kwashiorkor units. you will find cardiovascular, endocrinology, hematology, nephrology, oncology, pulmonary, and rheumatology units at your local hospital. you would be hard pressed to find a unit for treating kwashiorkor, the protein-deficiency disease. it is almost unheard of in the developed world, and when it happens, the underlying cause of the protein deficiency is a calorie deficit.((allowances, national research council (us) subcommittee on the tenth edition of the recommended dietary. protein and amino acids. national academies press (us), 1989. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/nbk234922/ ))it's difficult to design a protein-deficient vegan diet. dr. joel fuhrman "tried to compose a natural-foods diet deficient in any required amino acid" and declared, "it was impossible."((fuhrman, joel, and mehmet oz. eat to live: the revolutionary formula for fast and sustained weight loss. reprint edition. little, brown and company, 2005, 139 ))jeff novick, registered dietitian, tried as well: "any single whole natural plant food, or any combination of them, if eaten as one’s sole source of calories for a day, would provide all of the essential amino acids and not just the minimum requirements but far more than the recommended requirements."((novick, jeff. “the myth of complementary protein.” forks over knives, june 3, 2013. https://www.forksoverknives.com/the-myth-of-complementary-protein/ ))
animal protein carries health risks.animal protein promotes disease. according to dr. joel fuhrman (and others), animal protein promotes cancer, bone loss, and kidney disease. it also raises cholesterol and accelerates aging.((fuhrman, joel, and mehmet oz. eat to live: the revolutionary formula for fast and sustained weight loss. reprint edition. little, brown and company, 2005, 140 ))animal protein is associated with higher mortality risk. a study published in the jama internal medicine in august, 2016, the largest study yet to examine the effect of different sources of protein, found that animal protein is associated with higher mortality risk while plant protein is associated with lower mortality risk.((massachusetts general hospital. “high animal protein intake associated with higher, plant protein with lower mortality rate.” science daily, august 1, 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160801113654.htm ))animal protein is packaged without fiber. when you eat mostly animal protein, you may not be getting enough fiber in your diet. fiber is packaged with plant protein and does not exist in animals. while a protein deficiency is rare, fiber deficiency is rampant, with only 3 percent of americans meeting the daily requirements for fiber. most get less than half the requirement.((greger, dr. michael. “where do you get your fiber?” nutritionfacts.org, september 29, 2015. https://nutritionfacts.org/2015/09/29/where-do-you-get-your-fiber/ ))
you need less protein than you may think.the recommended daily allowance (rda) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal or healthy body weight. a safety factor of almost double is built into the recommended daily allowance. ideal body weight is used because extra fat tissue requires relatively little protein.((davis, brenda, and vesanto melina. becoming vegan: the complete reference to plant-based nutrition. comprehensive edition. summertown, tennessee: book pub co, 2014 ))for a 150-pound person (based on your ideal or healthy body weight), the rda for protein calculates to 54 grams—or 34 grams when you remove the built-in safety factor. the average american consumes 100 grams of protein per day, which is unhealthy.((fuhrman, joel, and mehmet oz. eat to live: the revolutionary formula for fast and sustained weight loss. reprint edition. little, brown and company, 2005, 139 ))
the strongest animals get their protein from plants.vegans get their protein from the same source that the strongest animals on the planet get their protein—plants. these animals include elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and horses. it's also noteworthy that almost all the land animals we eat, namely cows, pigs, and factory chickens, get their protein from plants.although these nonhuman examples don't prove anything specific to humans, they do suggest that since plants alone are capable of providing the protein needed by these animals, plants alone might also provide the protein that humans need.
some prominent bodybuilders rely on vegan protein.kendrick farris, the only american weight lifter to compete in the 2016 olympics, the gold-medal winner at the two pan american championships before that,((cave, james. “kendrick farris, the only male u.s. weightlifter in the olympics, is totally vegan | huffpost.” huffington post, august 10, 2016. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kendrick-farris-olympics-vegan_us_57ab6be7e4b0db3be07ccc07 )) and whom men's fitness magazine called america's strongest weight lifter, is 100 percent vegan.((rodio, michael. “america’s strongest weightlifter, kendrick farris, is 100% vegan,” august 10, 2016. http://www.mensfitness.com/life/entertainment/americas-strongest-weightlifter-kendrick-farris-100-vegan )) he adopted a vegan diet for ethical reasons.((steele, lauren. “why america’s best olympic weightlifter is vegan.” men’s journal. accessed october 11, 2017. http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/articles/why-americas-best-olympic-weightlifter-is-vegan-w434203 ))patrik baboumian, at the time of this writing, still holds the world dead-lift record five years after adopting a vegan diet. he claims that his meat-free diet gave him more energy and endurance in the gym than ever before.((english, nick. “the 5 strongest vegans on earth.” barbend, january 3, 2017. https://barbend.com/strongest-vegans-on-earth/ ))barny du plessis, the 2014 amateur mr. universe champion, stated that after he went vegan he "found himself in better shape than ever" and "had more energy and endurance than ever before."((kirkova, deni. “vegan mr. universe, 40, says meat-free diet has made him stronger than ever.” metro news uk, september 24, 2015. http://metro.co.uk/2015/09/24/vegan-bodybuilder-40-aims-for-mr-universe-title-as-he-says-meat-free-diet-has-made-him-stronger-than-ever-5351168/ ))you need only take a look at the bios page of a single vegan bodybuilding site (http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/?page=bios) to realize this is a robust segment of the bodybuilding community.((“bios page.” vegan bodybuilding & fitness. accessed october 11, 2017. http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/?page=bios ))although the preceding examples are from the sport of weight lifting because of its obvious connection to protein, endurance athletes need protein too. so we'll briefly mention that scott jurek, the world's most dominant ultramarathon runner, is also vegan.((finn, anna. “vegans in the rise of ultra running - one green planet.” one green planet, april 12, 2012. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/vegans-in-the-rise-of-ultra-running/ ))
“Humans have souls—animals don’t.”“humans have souls—animals don’t.”“humans have souls—animals don’t.”all-objections objections religious-objections [toc label="talking points"]this objection to animal rights and veganism posits the tenuous idea that how we treat animals should be tied to the presence or absence of a soul. the belief that animals do not have souls is used as a justification for their exploitation and mistreatment—or, at a minimum, to assert that animals deserve considerably less moral consideration than humans because of this deficiency.there is not even a consensus across cultures or religions on whether animals have souls or even whether souls exist at all. but because the belief in a soul (and, by implication, an afterlife) is widespread, this objection is worth exploring.
the existence of a soul is not relevant.there is no logical reason having a soul should be a requirement for moral consideration. having immortality makes a difference about what happens when our bodies die but not about how we should be treated while we are alive.the vileness of slitting the throat of a cow, chicken, goat, or any sentient being is unrelated to whether that being has a soul. if you saw someone mercilessly kicking a dog or beating a pig with a whip, would your first thought be that this is perfectly ok because these animals do not have a soul?
some believe that animals do have souls.if you believe that both humans and animals have souls, then this objection is defeasible.some believe the christian bible teaches that animals have souls. we are only relating to a christian perspective here, as most of our readers are from predominantly christian countries.elijah d. buckner, in his 1903 book the immortality of animals, concludes, "the bible, without the shadow of a doubt, recognizes that animals have living souls the same as man."((buckner, e. d. the immortality of animals: and the relation of man as guardian, from a biblical and philosophical hypothesis. kessinger publishing, llc, 2006, 38 ))pope john paul ii declared to a public audience in 1990 that "also the animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren."((“jpii said animals do have souls…” global catholic network, march 15, 2011. http://www.ewtn.com/v/experts/showmessage.asp?number=604934 ))job 12:10 teaches that in god’s hand "is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind."many indigenous peoples believe that animals have souls. a number of native american tribes not only believe that humans and animals have souls but also that the spirit, or soul, stays in the same world or journeys to another world after death.((ojibwa. “some american indian beliefs about an afterlife.” native american netroots, june 22, 2016. http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/1936 ))((danchevskaya, oksana y. “concept of soul among north american indians.” accessed september 13, 2017. http://www.se.edu/nas/files/2013/03/nas-2011-proceedings-danchevskaya.pdf ))
the absence of a soul could elicit better treatment, not worse.philosopher tom regan believes that c. s. lewis, one of the most important christian theologians of the 20th century, turns this topic on its head.according to regan, c. s. lewis believed that because animals do not have souls, they deserve higher moral consideration because there is no possibility they will enjoy compensation in an afterlife.((jackson ethics center. animal rights and environmental wrong, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kjnhqmnivc , 25:45 ))
“Don’t force your values on me—what I eat is a personal choice.”“don’t force your values on me—what i eat is a personal choice.”“don’t force your values on me—what i eat is a personal choice.”all-objections ethics-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]this objection to animal rights and veganism is made by those who are not aware of the implications of eating animals or by those who are aware but are unwilling to change. it is often accompanied by a statement such as, "i respect your right to be vegan; you should respect my right to not be vegan."this objection is usually an implicit admonition to back off.
personal choices are not necessarily ethical.just because it is a choice you personally make does not make it an ethical choice. for example, you may choose to be rude to someone because of their gender or color. the fact that you are not legally restricted from such an action does not imply the action is ethical.also, the personal-choice declaration can be and has been used to defend all manner of indefensible positions:
- "it's my personal choice to own slaves."
- "it's my personal choice to pay women less money than men for the same work."
it's not just a personal choice.it is a personal choice in the sense that it's a choice you can personally make, but for any choice to be only a personal one, all those affected must give consent. for example, i may personally choose to cut in front of you in the grocery-store line, but unless i get your permission, it negatively affects you.if it involves harming others, then it is as much a social choice as it is a personal choice. as the saying goes, "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."
this choice has a victim.it is inescapable that eating meat and animal secretions (such as milk, cheese, and eggs) harms animals.when we buy or eat animal products, we are not just ignoring the victim—we are complicit in the violence the victim has endured. we are complicit because even though we are not inflicting harm directly, we are paying someone else to do so.
awareness changes your perspective.when you become fully aware of the harms resulting from eating animals or their products, it is impossible to view it as merely a personal choice. when you take a little time to educate yourself on the atrocities inflicted on animals before they become the food on your plate, you will less likely choose to harm other sentient beings whose lives are as important to them as yours is to you.
“I can’t afford to be vegan—it’s too expensive.”“i can’t afford to be vegan—it’s too expensive.”“i can’t afford to be vegan—it’s too expensive.”all-objections objections situational-objections [toc label="talking points"]some have claimed that going vegan is expensive and, for some, unaffordable. the implication is that eating a vegan diet is a luxury that only the affluent can afford.
vegan diets are usually less expensive.if you continue eating the same amount of fruit and greens but replace your meat with staples such as potatoes, beans, rice, oats, and corn, then it's hard to see how you would spend more.mayo clinic considers lower costs to be one of the benefits of meatless meals. in stating that meatless meals are budget friendly and can be used to save money, they add that some plant-based proteins "tend to be less expensive and offer more health benefits than meat."((“it’s time to try meatless meals.” mayo clinic, july 26, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/meatless-meals/art-20048193 ))registered dietitian ginny messina confirms, "replacing the meat, dairy, and eggs in diets with lower cost foods like grains, beans and tofu isn’t just frugal, it’s much more healthful."((messina, ginny. “the high cost of ethical eating.” the vegan rd, january 20, 2010. http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/01/the-high-cost-of-ethical-eating/ ))research bears this out. a study published in the journal of hunger and environmental nutrition concludes that even an economic version of a government-recommended meal plan costs $745 more per year than a plant-based meal plan and provides "fewer servings of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains."((flynn, mary m., and andrew r. schiff. “economical healthy diets (2012): including lean animal protein costs more than using extra virgin olive oil.” journal of hunger & environmental nutrition 10, no. 4 (october 2, 2015): 467–82. doi:10.1080/19320248.2015.1045675 ))
many foods cost the same.you may be surprised to find that many common foods in the grocery store are already vegan and, consequently, your costs for these items won't go up.these include everything in the produce department, all bulk items (except jerky), most cereals, most breads, all grains and beans, most canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, most condiments, such as mustard, ketchup, pickles, relish, and sauces, and virtually all spices.
vegan specialty foods are optional.some vegan items, such as burger patties and mayonnaise, are no more expensive. vegan milks cost no more than organic, hormone-free cow's milk. vegan cheeses and meats can be more expensive but are becoming less expensive as demand increases.prepared foods will almost always cost more, vegan or not, and many of these foods you can make yourself for considerably less.all of these processed foods are optional—you can choose to just leave them off the menu.
your medical bills may decrease.a study published by the national academy of sciences calculates a health-care savings of over $1,067 billion annually with a vegan diet.((springmann, marco, h. charles j. godfray, mike rayner, and peter scarborough. “analysis and valuation of the health and climate change co-benefits of dietary change.” proceedings of the national academy of sciences 113, no. 15 (april 12, 2016): 4146–51. doi:10.1073/pnas.1523119113 )) that's over $3,000 for each person in the united states. the savings are a result of less medical care needed because medical problems are less likely on a vegan diet.
consider the cost to animals.we are often willing to pay more for convenience. we are often willing to pay more for items that have a smaller carbon footprint. we are often willing to pay more for designer items.eating vegan is not more expensive. but even if it were, shouldn't we be willing to pay more for items that don't support, directly or indirectly, the breeding, enslavement, mutilation, and slaughter of sentient beings who have lives that are as important to them as our lives are to us?
here are some tips for saving on groceries.here are a few tips for saving on your grocery bill:
- buy in bulk and at farmer's markets.
- shop seasonally.
- buy vegetables frozen, since they often cost less and are just as healthy.
- compare prices. a pound of green peas costs around $1.30 at walmart, trader joe's, and whole foods market. the same pound of peas can be as high as $3.00 at other grocery stores.
- limit specialty foods, such as vegan meats and cheeses. they are unnecessary. while they may be more healthy than animal-based meats and cheeses, they are not as healthy as whole foods.
“It’s OK to eat animals that have been treated well—I only eat certified humane, pasture-raised, cage-free, free-range products.”“it’s ok to eat animals that have been treated well—i only eat certified humane, pasture-raised, cage-free, free-range products.”“it’s ok to eat animals that have been treated well—i only eat certified humane, pasture-raised, cage-free, free-range products.”all-objections ethics-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]people are becoming increasingly concerned about the welfare of animals used for food. this concern is spawned by undercover videos, social-media postings, documentary movies, and reporting by the press.some people hope to act on that concern by buying products that bear one of the humane-certification labels or that brandish some other designation, such as cage free, free-range, grass fed, or organic, thinking that such purchases cause little or no harm to the individuals whose flesh and secretions have been packaged for sale.first, we explain why—even if specific humane claims are true—using animals for food is still not humane. because using animals for food is still not humane, it's not necessary to show that the humane-sounding labels and certifications are misleading. but we do so anyway just so there can be no doubt. we also reveal that cruel practices are systemic to the process of using animals for food.after the evidence is presented, it's easy to conclude that these labels have little to do with the well-being of the animals but are designed to at once assuage our guilt and compel us to spend more.
animals are harmed by depriving them of their lives.research by cognitive ethologists and neurobiologists has confirmed that the animals we exploit for food, including fish, have desires, preferences, and emotions. they have a sense of themselves, a sense of the future, and a will to live. they have families, social communities, and natural behaviors.((bekoff, mark, colin allen, and gordon burghardt. the cognitive animal: empirical and theoretical perspectives on animal cognition. a bradford book, 2002 ))in these ways and others, they are like us, and what happens to them matters to them. they each have an inherent value apart from their usefulness to us. so even if humane-sounding labels were aboveboard, using animals for food is still not humane because we are depriving them of the only life they have and a life they value.this is true no matter how the killing is done, and it is true not only for animals used for meat but also for animals used for dairy products and eggs. those used for dairy and eggs, like those used for meat, are slaughtered very early in their lives. they are slaughtered when their reproductive systems are used up and they are no longer profitable. none of the animals we use for food are allowed to live out their lives.taking the life of anyone who wants to live is to harm that individual, regardless of their species. just as we would not consider killing for food humane if it were done to dogs, cats, or humans, then by any measure of fairness and justice, it is not humane when done to other sentient beings.humane slaughter is an oxymoron. humane means showing compassion or benevolence. to slaughter is to kill or butcher someone who does not want to die. slaughter is a violent act, not an act of compassion or benevolence.
humane-sounding labels and certifications are mostly meaningless.here we address the most common labels and certifications. some labels and certifications cover some forms of abuse, and others cover different forms of abuse, but none address all forms of abuse. but even if they did, the standards are often not enforced.free-range. the usda standard for free-range requires only that chickens are given some access to the outdoors. there are no stipulations for the size or quality of the outdoor space, and there is no requirement that the chickens actually spend time outdoors.((“fsis.” food safety inspection service, usda, http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/meat-and-poultry-labeling-terms)) also, the claim does not have to be verified through inspections.((“what does ‘free range’ mean?” greener choices | consumer reports, april 25, 2017. http://greenerchoices.org/2017/04/25/free-range/ ))so it's not surprising that investigations by consumer reports (and others) reveal that most chickens labeled free-range spend their lives confined inside a crowded chicken house. the free-range space itself may be nothing more than an enclosed concrete slab that the chickens never use. these individuals lack the room even to turn around, much less engage in their natural behaviors of preening, nesting, foraging, dust bathing, and perching.((“what does ‘free range’ mean?” greener choices | consumer reports, april 25, 2017. http://greenerchoices.org/2017/04/25/free-range/ ))this has led consumer reports to say that "'free range' is one of the most potentially misleading labels because of the discrepancy between what it implies and what is required to make the claim."((“what does ‘free range’ mean?” greener choices | consumer reports, april 25, 2017. http://greenerchoices.org/2017/04/25/free-range/ ))cage free. consumer reports advises you to “ignore cage-free claims” for chickens.((“a ‘cage-free’ claim: does it add value?” greener choices |consumer reports, march 5, 2018 http://greenerchoices.org/2018/03/05/cage-free-add-value/ )) "'cage-free' does not mean the chickens had access to the outdoors." it only means the chickens were not confined to a cage.((what does ‘cage free’ mean?” greener choices | consumer reports, february 6, 2017. http://greenerchoices.org/2017/02/06/cage-free-mean/ ))cage free chickens, like free-range chickens, may be confined not by a cage but by crowding so extreme that turning around and engaging in those previously mentioned natural behaviors of preening, nesting, foraging, dust bathing, and perching is difficult or impossible. such extreme crowding in large metal warehouses is the norm, with each chicken allowed less than a square foot of space.((ibid.))pasture raised. according to consumer reports, “government agencies have no common standard that producers have to meet to make a 'pasture raised' claim on a food label, no definition for ‘pasture,’ and no requirement for the claim to be verified through on-farm inspections.”((“pasture raised” greener choices | consumer reports, april 4, 2017, http://greenerchoices.org/2017/04/26/pasture-raised/ ))grass fed. the usda-regulated grass fed label in the united states requires that the bovine is fed grass their entire life. the designation has only to do with feeding and does not prohibit routine cruelties, such as dehorning, castration, confinement, harsh living conditions, rough handling, and lack of veterinary care.enforcement is weak,((“labeling guideline on documentation needed to substantiate animal raising claims for label submissions.” usda fsis, n.d. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/bf170761-33e3-4a2d-8f86-940c2698e2c5/label-approval-guide.pdf?mod=ajperes)) and the animals are still slaughtered at an early age.((whisnant, dvm, patricia. “faq grass fed beef.” american grass fed beef (blog). accessed october 25, 2018. https://www.americangrassfedbeef.com/faq-grass-fed-beef.asp ))organic. some have the perception that organic means humanely raised, but that is not the case. organic farmers are free to treat their animals no better than non-organic farmers. this is because the usda, which controls the organic label in the united states, ruled that the label does not allow "broadly prescriptive, stand-alone animal welfare regulations."((whoriskey, peter. “should ‘usda organic’ animals be treated more humanely? the trump administration just said no.” washington post, december 15, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/15/should-usda-organic-animals-be-treated-more-humanely-the-trump-administration-just-said-no/ ))consumer reports informs us that while there are organic standards relating to animals, they lack clarity and precision, letting producers with poor standards sell poultry and eggs.((“do you care about animal welfare on organic farms?” greener choices | consumer reports, february 6, 2018. http://greenerchoices.org/2018/02/06/care-animal-welfare-organic-farms/ ))certified humane raised and handled. consumer reports says that "we do not rate certified humane as a highly meaningful label for animal welfare, because the standards do not have certain requirements that a majority of consumers expect from a 'humanely raised' label, such as access to the outdoors."((“certified humane raised and handled.” consumer reports—greener choices | consumer reports, january 30, 2017. http://greenerchoices.org/2017/01/30/certified-humane/ ))whole foods's global animal partnership (gap) certified. the open philanthropy project criticized gap for having weak enforcement and for providing only slight improvements over standard factory farming conditions.((“global animal partnership.” open philanthropy project, march 26, 2016. https://www.openphilanthropy.org/focus/us-policy/farm-animal-welfare/global-animal-partnership-general-support )) for example, according to consumer reports, "standards for slaughter do not exist at any level for chickens and there is no limit on their rate of growth."((“global animal partnership step 5+.” greener choices | consumer reports, may 23, 2017. http://greenerchoices.org/2017/05/23/global-animal-partnership-step-5/ ))gap doesn't even publish standards for dairy cows, arguably the most abused of any of the farmed mammals.american humane certified. according to consumer reports, "the requirements fall short in meeting consumer expectations for a 'humane' label in many ways."((“american humane certified.” consumer reports—greener choices | consumer reports, january 11, 2017. http://greenerchoices.org/2017/01/11/american-humane-certified/ ))united egg producers certified. consumer reports says that while the label is verified, "it is not meaningful as an animal welfare label because certain basic conditions, such as the freedom to move, are not required."((“united egg producers certified.” greener choices | consumer reports, march 23, 2017. http://greenerchoices.org/2017/03/23/united-egg-producers-certified/ ))usda process verified. according to consumer reports, process verified claims can be written by the manufacturers themselves—and the claims do not have to be meaningful to the welfare of the animals.((“usda process verified.” greener choices | consumer reports, march 7, 2017. http://greenerchoices.org/2017/03/07/usda-process-verified/ ))animal welfare approved. this is the only certification that consumer reports says has strong standards, yet the standards still allow for mutilations((“animal welfare approved.” greener choices |consumer reports, november 16, 2016. http://greenerchoices.org/2016/11/16/awa-label-review/ )) and other injustices. also, products with this label are challenging to find. a search using their own product finder reveals that it's unlikely you will find any products with this label at a grocery store near you.((“find products.” a greener world. accessed october 4, 2018. https://agreenerworld.org/shop-agw/product-search/ ))certified sustainable seafood. sustainability has nothing to do with the treatment of the fish. fish typically die of suffocation because they are left in the air, or they die by having their throats slit while they are alive. although our concern for fish is typically less than it is for other animals, research in cognitive ethology and neurobiology reveals that fish show intelligence, feel pain, display emotions, and have many of the other characteristics of the land animals we use for food.((balcombe, jonathan. what a fish knows: the inner lives of our underwater cousins. scientific american / farrar, straus and giroux, 2016. ))not only that, but the sustainability claim itself is suspect. in a piece titled "is sustainable-labeled seafood really sustainable?" npr reports that scientists and other experts believe fisheries are being certified that should not be. in addition, fish are being incorrectly counted, rendering the claims of sustainability doubtful.((“is sustainable-labeled seafood really sustainable?” npr.org, february 11, 2013. https://www.npr.org/2013/02/11/171376509/is-sustainable-labeled-seafood-really-sustainable))backyard chickens. although backyard chickens are not associated with a certification or label like the others that we are covering here, they deserve a closer look. a considerable number of people regard the practice of keeping chickens in the backyard for food as innocuous. these backyard chickens are of the same or similar variety as those on industrial farms—the very farms that account for most of the cruelties outlined below.baby chicks often die in transport. a quick search will find numerous reports of chicks being shipped alive to backyard hobbyists and dying in transport—and reports of those that make it being greatly stressed.backyard chickens, like those on industrial farms, have been selectively bred, which stresses their bodies. here are just a few examples out of many:
- laying hens are bred to lay large eggs, which stresses their reproductive systems and causes such problems as osteoporosis, bone breakage, and uterus prolapse.((jamieson, alastair. “large eggs cause pain and stress to hens, shoppers are told,” march 11, 2009, sec. finance. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/4971966/large-eggs-cause-pain-and-stress-to-hens-shoppers-are-told.html ))
- another stressor for laying hens is the number of their eggs, which is the result of selective breeding. a laying hen produces more than 300 eggs a year, but the jungle fowl from which they are bred lay 4 to 6 eggs in a year.((cheng, h.-w. “breeding of tomorrow’s chickens to improve well-being.” poultry science 89, no. 4 (april 1, 2010): 805–13. https://doi.org/10.3382/ps.2009-00361 ))
- chickens used for meat have been bred to grow at an unnaturally fast rate and have large breasts. this selective breeding comes with serious welfare consequences: leg disorders; skeletal, developmental, and degenerative diseases; heart and lung problems; respiratory problems; and premature death.((stevenson, peter. “leg and heart problems in broiler chickens.” compassion in world farming, january 2003. https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/3818898/leg-and-heart-problems-in-broilers-for-judicial-review.pdf ))
- in the hatcheries from which backyard chicken hobbyists order baby chicks, the males are either ground alive in macerators, gassed, or smothered to death soon after they are hatched. this is because the laying hens are selectively bred for producing eggs, not meat, rendering the males useless for their intended purpose.((blakemore, erin. “egg producers pledge more humane fate for male chicks.” smithsonian, june 13, 2016. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/egg-producers-pledge-more-humane-fate-male-chicks-180959394/ ))
- backyard hens are likely to be slaughtered when egg production wanes, preventing them from living out their natural lives. as one hobbyist euphemistically put it, "when the expenses outweigh the value, then changes have to be made."((“at what age do you kill a laying hen?” backyard chickens. accessed november 2, 2018. https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/at-what-age-do-you-kill-a-laying-hen.837302/ ))
cruelty and suffering are systemic in using animals as commodities for profit.the abuses inflicted on farmed animals are many and often severe, and they're part of the normal operations of exploiting animals for food. these abuses include confinement, crowding, mutilation, deprivation of natural behaviors, debilitating selective breeding, cruel handling, separation from their offspring, and, of course, slaughter.because many of the abuses are systemic, they cannot be humanely-labeled away. to be profitable, animal agriculture depends on animals being mistreated. for any label or certification to omit all animal abuses would render the products unaffordable by all but the most affluent.the cruelty stems in part from the attitudes that surround the commodification of animals, as exemplified by a piece in hog management, which recommends that farmers "forget the pig is an animal—treat him just like a machine in a factory."((prescott, matthew. “your pig almost certainly came from a factory farm, no matter what anyone tells you - the washington post,” july 15, 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/15/your-pig-almost-certainly-came-from-a-factory-farm-no-matter-what-anyone-tells-you/ ))here are a few specific examples of cruelty not covered earlier. these are allowed under many, if not most, labels and certifications.
- the early separation of calves from their mothers, depriving the calves of the love and milk of their mothers and depriving the grieving cow of her nurturing instinct((university of veterinary medicine, vienna. (2015, april 28). early separation of cow and calf has long-term effects on social behavior. sciencedaily. retrieved october 26, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150428081801.htm ))
- painful debeaking of chickens, depriving them of their ability to engage in preening and foraging((welfare implications of beak trimming.” american veterinary medical association, february 7, 2010. https://www.avma.org/kb/resources/literaturereviews/pages/beak-trimming-bgnd.aspx^^“upc factsheet - debeaking.” united poultry concerns, inc. accessed march 28, 2018. https://www.upc-online.org/merchandise/debeak_factsheet.html ))
- forcing a hesitant animal to move by any methods necessary, including whipping, prodding, dragging, and forklifting (the evidence for this can be seen in numerous videos and the several firsthand accounts in the book slaughterhouse by gail a. eisnitz)
- the dehorning of cows, which one professor of animal science calls "the single most painful thing we do,"((dehorning: ‘standard practice’ on dairy farms,” abc news, january 28, 2010,)) done via acid, burning, sawing, or cutting with a gigantic clipper((m’hamdi, naceur, cyrine darej, and rachid bouraoui. “animal welfare issues concerning procedures of calves dehorning.” department of animal sciences, national institute of agronomy of tunisia and hiher school of agriculture of mateur, bizerte, tunisia, 2013 ))
- the clipping of teeth and tails of piglets, a painful procedure usually performed without medication and which may also result in infections, tumors, and the suppression of natural behaviors((“welfare implications of teeth clipping, tail docking and permanent identification of piglets.” american veterinary medical association (avma), july 15, 2014. https://www.avma.org/kb/resources/literaturereviews/pages/welfare-implications-of-practices-performed-on-piglets.aspx ))
humane-sounding labels and certifications may be best thought of as marketing.the animal agriculture industry is aware of the growing concern for animals and know that if they appear to be uncaring, sales and profits will decline. they also know that few will examine these humane-sounding claims to see if they are true. so these labels and certifications give the appearance of being humane, assuaging the guilt of compassionate buyers.they may also engender higher profits, because the industry also knows that concerned, kindhearted consumers are willing to pay more for products they perceive to be humanely produced.
you cannot buy products made from animals that have been treated humanely.even if you buy into the idea that it’s ok to eat animal products as long as the animals are treated well, there is virtually no chance that the animals have, in fact, been treated well, regardless of what label is on the package. while certain labels may represent less suffering for some of the abuses, other abuses remain. the mitigation of some of the cruelties does not justify the remaining ones.as we have shown and as exposed via consumer reports and other sources, the standards for these humane-sounding labels are weak and they often go unenforced.the life of any farmed animal can only be described as one of commodified, abusive servitude ending in brutal slaughter. when viewed objectively, free from the fog of our cultural norms, their treatment and slaughter, no matter the label or certification—and by any standard of fairness and justice—cannot be considered humane.
“Eating animals is natural—it’s part of the circle of life and we are apex predators on top of the food chain.”“eating animals is natural—it’s part of the circle of life and we are apex predators on top of the food chain.”“eating animals is natural—it’s part of the circle of life and we are apex predators on top of the food chain.”all-objections anatomy-objections ethics-objections nature-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]in objecting to veganism and animal rights, some invoke a series of statements centering around the idea that eating animals and their secretions is natural. these statements often include a reference to the circle of life, apex predation, and the idea that humans are on top of the food chain—all in an attempt to prove that the eating of animal flesh, chickens' eggs, and cow's milk by humans is as natural as the laws of physics.here we show that these declarations are not germane to the case for veganism. but even if they were, they are still defeated by taking a closer look at the assertions, which we do.
assertions as to what is natural are not pertinent to the validity of veganism.simply put, the case for veganism is that it’s wrong to cause unnecessary harm to animals. eating products made from animals harms animals, and because we don't need animal products to be healthy, the harm is unnecessary. the issues of harm and necessity are covered in our article "an introduction to veganism."so even if the practice of eating animals were natural, even if it were somehow part of some nebulous circle of life, and even if we were apex predators on top of the food chain—all that would still not justify causing unnecessary harm to others.
naturalness says nothing about rightness.the occurrence of a behavior in the natural world says nothing about the morality of the behavior. rape, defined as forced sexual intercourse, is not unusual in other species. amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish, and mammals engage in the practice.((palmer, craig t. “rape in nonhuman animal species: definitions, evidence, and implications.” journal of sex research26, no. 3 (august 1989): 355–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224498909551520 )) infanticide is committed by dolphins, lions, and baboons.((thompson, helen. “why some mammals kill babies of their own kind.” smithsonian, november 13, 2014. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-some-mammals-kill-babies-own-kind-180953318/ )) we would not say these behaviors are moral, but we could not deny that they are natural in the sense that they occur in nature.
our natural abilities suggest we are not natural predators, much less apex predators.we may be apex predators in the sense that we are not eaten by other species, but this is a consequence of our not living in a more natural environment, such as the wilderness, as well as our ability to use our mental faculties to avoid being eaten. it is not because of physical strength or agility, as is the case with other apex predators, such as the african wild dog, the lion, or the tiger.natural predators have physical characteristics that allow them to seize and kill their prey, rip and tear their prey's flesh, and then eat the raw flesh. humans are not so good at this. although we have developed tools that overcome our physical limitations, we don't have what it takes to do this unaided. also, we insist on cooking the flesh we eat, which no other species of flesh eater does.
our physiology and anatomy suggest that flesh is not a natural food for humans.a comparative review of the physiology and anatomy of animals reveals that humans match closely with herbivores, not omnivores or carnivores. we cover this topic in more depth in our post in response to the assertion that "humans are natural omnivores—we digest meat, have canine teeth, and have front-facing eyes."as that post demonstrates, the length of our intestines, the structure of our teeth, nails, jaw, mouth opening, and facial muscles, our digestive enzymes, our stomach acidity, our ability to detoxify vitamin a, and our urine concentration all point toward humans being herbivorous.((mills, milton r. “the comparative anatomy of eating.” vegsource interactive inc 26 (1996). https://www.scribd.com/doc/94656/the-comparative-anatomy-of-eating ))
there is nothing natural about how we get our meat, dairy, and eggs.selective breeding has resulted in farmed animals that produce far more flesh, far more eggs, and far more milk than their forebears would produce in a natural environment.dairy cows produce more than three times the amount of milk they did several decades ago, which burdens them and results in their development of unnaturally large udders.((blayney, don p. the changing landscape of us milk production. us department of agriculture, economic research service, 2002. https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/47162/17864_sb978_1_.pdf?v=41056 ))an egg-laying hen produces more than 300 eggs per year, but the jungle fowl from which they were bred lay four to six eggs in a year.((cheng, h.-w. “breeding of tomorrow’s chickens to improve well-being.” poultry science 89, no. 4 (april 1, 2010): 805–13. https://doi.org/10.3382/ps.2009-00361 )) also, laying hens are bred to lay large eggs, which they are not evolved for; this stresses their reproductive system and causes such problems as osteoporosis, bone breakage, and uterus prolapse.((jamieson, alastair. “large eggs cause pain and stress to hens, shoppers are told,” march 11, 2009, sec. finance. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/4971966/large-eggs-cause-pain-and-stress-to-hens-shoppers-are-told.html ))the modern broiler chicken is unnaturally large and has been bred to grow at an unnaturally fast rate and have large breasts. this selective breeding causes numerous afflictions: leg disorders; skeletal, developmental, and degenerative diseases; heart and lung problems; breathing difficulty; and premature death.((stevenson, peter. “leg and heart problems in broiler chickens.” compassion in world farming, january 2003. https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/3818898/leg-and-heart-problems-in-broilers-for-judicial-review.pdf ))farmed animals are far from natural—they could not survive in a natural environment. in our contrived animal agriculture system, the concepts of "natural," "circle of life," "apex predation," and "food chain" simply don't apply.
we shouldn't base our morality on animal behavior.we humans have moral agency, meaning we can judge the consequences of our actions. this implies a degree of responsibility, or duty, to do what is right. nonhuman animals seem to lack the ability to fully contemplate the moral consequences of their actions.((regan, tom. the case for animal rights. university of california press, 2004. 152-154 ))but even if they could, that does not mean we should model our morality on the behaviors of other species. instead, we should use our moral agency to make ethical decisions, not invoke nebulous and impertinent concepts of what is natural to justify behaviors that unnecessarily harm others.
“With all the problems in the world, we should spend our time helping humans first, then animals.”“with all the problems in the world, we should spend our time helping humans first, then animals.”“with all the problems in the world, we should spend our time helping humans first, then animals.”all-objections ethics-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]this objection is one that vegans and animal rights activists hear a lot. it is often expressed something like this: "there are so many problems in the world and so much human suffering, we should focus on these pressing human concerns rather than spend our time and energy on animals. maybe after we make real progress on human problems, we can then help the animals."
living vegan does not take more time.insofar as this objection is addressed to vegans who are not also animal rights or vegan activists, it assumes that just living a vegan life takes an inordinate amount of time—time that could be spent helping humans.yet vegans go about their lives in the same way as everyone—going to work, preparing recipes, eating out, buying groceries, and embarrassing their children in front of their friends.once you learn a few new recipes (or adapt your favorite ones) and choose brands of underarm deodorant and toothpaste that are not tested on animals, it takes no more time to be vegan than to not be vegan.
vegan activism does benefit humans.animal rights and vegan activists do spend time helping animals, but that time is also helping humans, as well as helping the earth that sustains both human and non-human animals. to the extent that vegan activism succeeds, humans benefit in some significant ways. there is perhaps no other cause that embodies so many benefits on so many fronts.it offers peace of mind. by embracing veganism, you gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are living your life in accordance with your own values of justice, fairness, and compassion.it benefits human health. the suffering and expense humans encounter due to health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and early mortality, can be mitigated and sometimes eliminated by a whole-foods, plant-based vegan diet.((tuso, philip j, mohamed h ismail, benjamin p ha, and carole bartolotto. “nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets.” the permanente journal 17, no. 2 (2013): 61–66. doi:10.7812/tpp/12-085 ))it addresses human equity and impoverishment. because animals are so inefficient at converting the calories in plant feed to calories in meat, dairy, and eggs, many times fewer impoverished people can be fed by animal-based agriculture than by plant-based agriculture.((cassidy, emily s., paul c. west, james s. gerber, and jonathan a. foley. “redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare.” environmental research letters 8, no. 3 (2013): 034015. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034015 ))it prevents violence. educating others, especially children, to show civility toward animals can help in preventing violence to humans. studies show an undeniable link between cruelty to animals and violence toward humans.((siebert, charles. “the animal-cruelty syndrome.” the new york times, june 11, 2010, sec. magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/magazine/13dogfighting-t.html ))it helps the environment. we should do all we can to minimize harming the environment that sustains us all. the significant contributions of animal agriculture to climate change, depletion of fish, destruction of wildlife, deforestation, water depletion, and other environmental issues would all be eliminated.((hyner, christopher, and j.d. candidate. “a leading cause of everything: one industry that is destroying our planet and our ability to thrive on it.” stanford environmental law journal (selj). accessed september 23, 2017. https://journals.law.stanford.edu/stanford-environmental-law-journal-elj/blog/leading-cause-everything-one-industry-destroying-our-planet-and-our-ability-thrive-it ))
all oppression has the same roots.one of the problems plaguing the world is the oppression of others based on color, gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity. these problems are all rooted in the indefensible notion that others are less valuable because they differ in some way that is not pertinent. it’s the same with our exploitation of animals.all forms of oppression are interconnected. if we taught our children at an early age to value the lives of all sentient beings, it is unlikely they would grow up to hate and oppress other humans because of these irrelevant differences.
the objection is disingenuous.the people who raise this objection would not raise the same objection to people who volunteer at the local humane society for the benefit of companion animals—or to people who volunteer to organize purely gratuitous events, such as a game-day tailgating party.
the objection presents a false choice.there is no reason why one cannot work both for humanitarian causes and for animal rights causes. many vegan and animal rights activists, if not most, are engaged in other causes that directly help humans.they volunteer to feed the homeless, deliver meals to the elderly, work with drug addicts, and work with a variety of issues, such as civil rights, women's rights, and other causes of which humans, not animals, are the beneficiaries.when presented with the objection that we should spend our energies helping humans instead of animals, professor tom regan very simply and eloquently said, "we can do both; we should do both."((“tom regan; animal rights.” weeac. accessed september 23, 2017. http://goo.gl/mpa9bd ))
“There are no true vegans. Animal products are in car tires and everywhere.”“there are no true vegans. animal products are in car tires and everywhere.”“there are no true vegans. animal products are in car tires and everywhere.”all-objections ethics-objections objections situational-objections [toc label="talking points"] some have objected to veganism on the grounds that there are no true or pure vegans by virtue of the widespread inclusion of animal-derived products in many everyday items. this complaint, at best, reveals a lack of understanding about the definition and essence of veganism. at worst, it is an attempt to apply standards to veganism that would not be applied to any other cause or movement.
vegans seek to minimize harm to animals, not be perfect.vegans seek to eliminate harm to animals, according to the most widely accepted definition of veganism, "as far as is possible and practicable." there are some items containing incidental amounts of animal products for which there are no viable substitutes or for which substitutes are very difficult to obtain. automobile tires are one such example.this situation is beyond our control in the short term. it would be nonsensible to say that because we can't be perfect vegans, we shouldn't do anything. with the wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds available to most—as well as an increasingly large selection of processed vegan foods—it is not at all logistically difficult for most to adopt a vegan diet. adopting a vegan diet would eliminate, by far, most of the unnecessary suffering and slaughter that we pay others to inflict on animals.
once we stop eating animals, other uses will be eliminated or greatly reduced.the incidental use of animals in everyday products will take care of itself as veganism gains acceptance and people adopt a vegan diet. many of the products used, for which there are already alternatives, are byproducts of the slaughter process. as animal slaughter becomes less commonplace, nonanimal substitutes will be used and new substitutes will be developed.
no one objects to other worthy causes just because perfection is unobtainable.it would be difficult to think of any movement or cause in which perfection is obtainable. no one would say that because we will never completely stop discrimination, we shouldn't try to do what we can. no one would say that because we will never stop child abuse completely that we shouldn't even try. no one would say, for any worthwhile cause, that if we can't do everything, we shouldn't do anything. it seems disingenuous to apply such a standard of purity or perfection to veganism while ignoring it for other causes.
“Veganism would devastate the economy and cause massive unemployment.”“veganism would devastate the economy and cause massive unemployment.”“veganism would devastate the economy and cause massive unemployment.”all-objections ethics-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]the claim that veganism would devastate the economy and cause massive unemployment seems to be one of the most concerning objections to veganism and animal rights. after all, animal agriculture is a major segment of the economies of all industrialized nations. this objection is, however, defeated by a closer examination of the topic.
economies will have ample time to adjust.it's beyond improbable that everyone would go vegan at once. it will happen gradually, over a period of years or maybe even decades. as with past shifts in consumer preferences, economic resources and jobs will shift to accommodate the movement away from animal products.such shifts are not unusual. we are now witnessing a shift away from fossil fuels to more sustainable sources of energy, including a switch from gasoline-engine-powered cars to electric cars. the trend toward internet sales is continuing to cause job movement. in the past, we have seen a shift from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy to an information economy. in all these cases, new opportunities are created as others are diminished or eliminated.
most would choose principles over a beneficial economic impact.although people frequently make purchasing choices based on pricing and principles, it seems that few make choices on the basis of their national economy.imagine a country named tobaccastan, whose economy depended on the sale of cigarettes. if you lived there, would you refuse to stop smoking because it would hurt the economy if everyone quit? would you sacrifice your health and the health of others for the health of the economy? this example, while not perfect, does shed light on the nature of our purchasing choices.
veganism benefits the economy.as illustrated here and by other sources, animal agriculture unnecessarily harms innocent animals, is destructive to the environment, damages human health, and contributes to human impoverishment. the last three of these put a strain on the economy. because of this, veganism is a net benefit to any economy, especially over time.
“Humans are natural omnivores—we digest meat, have canine teeth, and have front-facing eyes.”“humans are natural omnivores—we digest meat, have canine teeth, and have front-facing eyes.”“humans are natural omnivores—we digest meat, have canine teeth, and have front-facing eyes.”all-objections anatomy-objections health-objections nature-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]those objecting to veganism often bring up one or more in a series of related complaints: that a vegan diet is not natural, that humans are omnivores and can digest meat, or that canine teeth and front-facing eyes are indications we are predators and not prey.these protests are adequately dismissed with the first point below, which explains why they are not pertinent to the validity of veganism and therefore cannot diminish the case for veganism.although no further exploration of these claims is necessary once their lack of pertinence is demonstrated, we expound on these claims in case you're interested. it turns out that even if the objections were pertinent, they'd be nevertheless weak.
the case for veganism does not depend on humans being natural herbivores or having specific physical traits.vegan diets are beyond sufficient for human health. even if humans were natural omnivores and our teeth and eye locations supported that assertion, the science is clear that a strictly herbivorous vegan diet is not only adequate but also beneficial to our health.this is confirmed by harvard medical school, mayo clinic, cleveland clinic, kaiser permanente, newyork-presbyterian, the academy of nutrition and dietetics operating in the united states, the dietitians of canada, the british dietetic association, the dietitians association of australia, and others.((see http://justiceforanimals.org/objections/quote-we-need-animal-products-to-be-healthy/ for statements and citations ))these prominent organizations and others could only have made statements declaring the adequacy and salubriousness of a vegan diet if science supported such statements. cleveland clinic even explicitly states, "there really are no disadvantages to a herbivorous diet!"((“understanding vegetarianism & heart health.” cleveland clinic, december 2013. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/understanding-vegetarianism-heart-health ))the case for veganism has nothing to do with this issue. simply put, the case for veganism is that it's ethically wrong to cause unnecessary harm to animals. because it's not necessary to eat animal products for nutrition, any claims that we are natural herbivores are rendered meaningless.
the evidence is strong that we lean toward being herbivorous.the fact that humans are behavioral omnivores and are able to get nutrition from both plants and animals says nothing about what is natural or optimum.our anatomy and physiology suggest that we are more herbivorous than omnivorous. a number of notable people have observed that anatomical and physiological traits of humans closely match herbivores'.dr. mills's the comparative anatomy of eating((mills, milton r. “the comparative anatomy of eating.” vegsource interactive inc 26 (1996). https://www.scribd.com/doc/94656/the-comparative-anatomy-of-eating )) shows we more closely match herbivores in eighteen traits, as summarized below.
- small intestine
- carnivore: 3–6 times body length
- omnivore: 4–6 times body length
- herbivore: 10–12+ times body length
- human: 10–11 times body length
- carnivore: simple, short, and smooth
- omnivore: simple, short, and smooth
- herbivore: long, complex; may be sacculated
- human: long, sacculated
- small intestine
- carnivore: short and pointed
- omnivore: short and pointed
- herbivore: broad, flat, and spade shaped
- human: broad, flat, and spade shaped
- carnivore: long, sharp, and curved
- omnivore: long, sharp, and curved
- herbivore: dull and short or long (for defense) or none
- human: short and blunted
- carnivore: sharp, jagged, and blade shaped
- omnivore: sharp blades or flattened
- herbivore: flat with cusps vs. complex surface
- human: flat with nodular cusps
- carnivore: no digestive enzymes
- omnivore: no digestive enzymes
- herbivore: carbohydrate-digesting enzymes
- human: carbohydrate-digesting enzymes
- stomach type
- carnivore: simple
- omnivore: simple
- herbivore: simple or with multiple chambers
- human: simple
- stomach acidity with food in stomach
- carnivore: ≤ ph 1
- omnivore: ≤ ph 1
- herbivore: ph 4–5
- human: ph 4–5
- stomach type
- carnivore: none; swallows food whole
- omnivore: swallows food whole or simple crushing
- herbivore: extensive chewing necessary
- human: extensive chewing necessary
- carnivore: sharp claws
- omnivore: sharp claws
- herbivore: flat nails or blunt hooves
- human: flat nails
- carnivore: angle not expanded
- omnivore: angle not expanded
- herbivore: expanded angle
- human: expanded angle
- joint location
- carnivore: on the same plane as molar teeth
- omnivore: on the same plane as molar teeth
- herbivore: above the plane of the molars
- human: above the plane of the molars
- carnivore: shearing; minimal side-to-side motion
- omnivore: shearing; minimal side-to-side motion
- herbivore: no shearing; good side-to-side, front-to-back motion
- human: no shearing; good side-to-side, front-to-back motion
- major muscles
- carnivore: temporalis
- omnivore: temporalis
- herbivore: masseter and pterygoids
- human: masseter and pterygoids
- mouth opening vs. head size
- carnivore: large
- omnivore: large
- herbivore: small
- human: small
- facial muscles
- carnivore: reduced to allow wide mouth gape
- omnivore: reduced
- herbivore: well developed
- human: well developed
- carnivore: can detoxify vitamin a
- omnivore: can detoxify vitamin a
- herbivore: cannot detoxify vitamin a
- human: cannot detoxify vitamin a
- carnivore: extremely concentrated urine
- omnivore: extremely concentrated urine
- herbivore: moderately concentrated urine
- human: moderately concentrated urine
the notion of a natural diet is problematic.the concept of a natural diet might make some sense in the context of gatherers and hunters. but since the invention of agriculture, with its selective breeding of both plant and animal species, the label loses its meaning.also, to make the claim that humans are natural omnivores, one needs to define what is meant by "natural" in this context. if by "natural" you are referring to the ability to obtain nutrients, then humans are omnivores, as we can digest both plants and meat. but, as shown earlier, that still cannot negate the case for veganism.if you mean it's natural because it's nutritionally the best diet for humans, then you are on shaky ground. there's an increasingly large body of research, as mentioned and cited above, supporting the contention that the closer we are to a varied herbivorous diet, the greater our general health and the lower our risk for a multitude of chronic diseases.finally, the claim that humans are natural omnivores can be thought of as an example of the naturalistic fallacy. that is to say, being natural doesn't make something ethically or nutritionally sound.
canine teeth are not indicators of dietary requirements.as elaborated on earlier, the argument for veganism does not depend on humans having any specific physical traits. but the part of the objection that pertains to canine teeth is discussed here only because it is frequently voiced.hippopotamuses, gorillas, camels, and saber-toothed deer all have sizable canines, and all are herbivorous. herbivores use canine teeth in various ways. sizable canines in herbivores are often for defense. the relatively short, blunted canines in humans can assist in biting into hard, crunchy plants (such as apples) and ripping vegetable matter, preparing the food for grinding by the other teeth. one thing seems obvious—human canines are not adequate to kill prey or tear raw flesh for eating.
front-facing eyes are not necessarily indicative of predator status.the claim is made that since many prey animals have eyes on the side of the head and many predator animals have eyes on the front of the head, it follows that humans, who have eyes on the front of the head, are designed to eat copious amounts of meat.the point is made moot, however, not only by the fact that the argument for veganism does not depend on physical traits but also by the fact that our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, the primates, have eyes in the front of the head.at least three advantages of frontal eyes for primates have been proposed.binocular vision is crucial for the manipulation of plant foods. a study titled "binocularity and brain evolution in primates," published by the national academy of sciences, concludes that "fine-grained stereopsis [binocular vision] is likely to be critical for the visually guided, delicate manipulation of plant foods."((barton, r. a. “binocularity and brain evolution in primates.” proceedings of the national academy of sciences of the united states of america 101, no. 27 (july 6, 2004): 10113–15. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0401955101 ))the ability to "see through" foliage is advantageous. theoretical neurobiologist mark changizi proposes in the journal of theoretical biology the "x-ray vision" hypothesis. according to changizi, front-facing eyes gave our ancestors the advantage of being able to "see through" the cluttered foliage in the forest. you can see this effect, he states, by placing a finger in front of your eyes and noting that the finger does not block the view of anything behind it.((changizi, mark a., and shinsuke shimojo. “‘x-ray vision’ and the evolution of forward-facing eyes.” journal of theoretical biology 254, no. 4 (october 21, 2008): 756–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2008.07.011 ))arboreal locomotion requires accurate depth and distance perception. the depth and distance perception afforded by front-facing eyes was useful to our ancestors in jumping from branch to branch and tree to tree. this idea was proposed in 1922 by edward collins and has subsequently been expanded and refined.((goldman, jason g. “evolution: why do your eyes face forwards?” bbc, october 28, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141013-why-do-your-eyes-face-forwards ))
“B12 is a problem for vegans, so a vegan diet is not natural.”“b12 is a problem for vegans, so a vegan diet is not natural.”“b12 is a problem for vegans, so a vegan diet is not natural.”all-objections health-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]this objection seeks to invalidate veganism and animal rights by asserting that vitamin b12 is problematic for vegans and that the need for b12 supplementation proves that a vegan diet is not natural. we show that even though it is true that most nutritionists recommend vegans supplement for b12, that fact does not make a vegan diet unnatural, and neither does it invalidate veganism.b12 is produced by microorganisms in the soil and in the intestines of animals, including our own. the amount we produce is not sufficient to prevent deficiency.((campbell, t. colin, and thomas m campbell. the china study: the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health. 1 edition. dallas, tex: benbella books, 2004 ))b12 deficiency can be a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. while it's true that b12 can be obtained by eating animal flesh, getting adequate b12 through vegan sources is easy and inexpensive, as discussed below.
b12 supplementation is very inexpensive.if concern over b12 is what's keeping you from becoming vegan, then the twelve cents a week that it costs to buy b12 supplements is a small price to pay to avoid harming animals—and to reap the health benefits and other positive consequences of veganism.the "twelve cents a week" figure is based on nature made brand b12, sold at walmart and other stores, in the biweekly dosage recommendation explained below.((“nature made vitamin b-12 dietary supplement timed release tablets, 1000mcg, 190 count.” walmart.com. accessed january 30, 2018. /ip/nature-made-vitamin-b-12-dietary-supplement-timed-release-tablets-1000mcg-190-count/36168191 ))
getting adequate b12 is easy.for daily supplementation, dietitian jack norris (among others) recommends 25–100 micrograms of b12 in the form of cyanocobalamin.((norris, jack. “daily needs.” vegan health. accessed january 30, 2018. https://veganhealth.org/daily-needs/ ))for biweekly supplementation, norris (among others) recommends 1,000 micrograms twice a week in the form of cyanocobalamin.((ibid.))according to dietitian brenda davis, you can also get adequate b12 through fortified foods by consuming three servings of b12-fortified foods daily, with each serving supplying at least two micrograms.((davis, brenda, and vesanto melina. becoming vegan: the complete reference to plant-based nutrition. com edition. book pub co, 2014. 221)) nondairy milk, breakfast cereals and bars, vegan meat substitutes, and nutritional yeast are commonly fortified with b12. this method requires more diligence and planning than supplementation.
the need for b12 supplements may be an artifact of modern living.countering the argument that our need for b12 supplementation proves that a vegan diet is not natural, dr. michael klaper,((klaper, dr. michael. “vitamin b12 basics.” michael klaper, m.d., nutrition-based medicine, january 27, 2017. https://doctorklaper.com/answers/answers27 )) t. colin campbell,((campbell, t. colin, and thomas m campbell. the china study: the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health. 1 edition. dallas, tex: benbella books, 2004 )) dr. alan goldhamer,((goldhamer, alan, and doug lisle. “vitamin b12 recommendations for vegans | truenorth health.” true north health center, may 26, 2010. http://www.healthpromoting.com/learning-center/articles/vitamin-b12-recommendations-vegans )) and others believe that before our modern way of life, we would have gotten adequate b12 from the soil. unlike previous times, during which one might say we lived a more natural life, our fruits, vegetables, and root crops are now grown in sterile soil and thoroughly washed, eliminating the b12 that would naturally be present in the food.
prudence is advisable for any dietary regimen.everyone should take care to ensure they are not nutrient deficient no matter what their eating pattern. b12 is not the only nutrient of concern: according to the us office of disease prevention and health promotion (odphp), americans are commonly deficient in seven nutrients: vitamin a, vitamin d, vitamin e, folate, vitamin c, calcium, and magnesium.((“scientific report of the 2015 dietary guidelines advisory committee, part d chapter 1.” health.gov odphp, 2015. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/06-chapter-1/d1-2.asp ))in order to overcome these deficiencies, the odphp recommendation is to adopt a usda healthy eating pattern,((ibid.)) such as a vegan diet.((“usda food patterns: healthy vegetarian eating pattern.” dietary guidelines for americans, eighth edition. accessed august 4, 2017. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-5/ ))
the idea of a natural diet is problematic.if a vegan diet is unnatural because of a need for supplementation, then perhaps being over fifty years old is unnatural, because those over fifty are commonly deficient in b12 and supplementation is recommended for anyone over fifty.((institute of medicine, and food and nutrition board. dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin b6, folate, vitamin b12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. 1 edition. washington, d.c: national academies press, 2000. 306 ))following a similar line of reasoning, perhaps the proverbial standard american diet is unnatural because of the common deficiencies of the seven nutrients mentioned previously.this idea of a natural diet might make some sense in the context of gatherers and hunters, but since the invention of agriculture, with its selective breeding of both plant and animal species, the label loses its meaning.also, the claim that a vegan diet is not natural is an example of the naturalistic fallacy. that is to say, being natural doesn't make something ethically or nutritionally sound. hemlock is natural but not recommended for consumption.
“If we all go vegan, farm animals will either overrun the world or become extinct.”“if we all go vegan, farm animals will either overrun the world or become extinct.”“if we all go vegan, farm animals will either overrun the world or become extinct.”all-objections nature-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]we often hear two related but opposite objections to animal rights and veganism—that if everyone went vegan, animals would either overrun the world or become extinct. of course, animals can't both overrun the world and become extinct at the same time. yet these complaints are sometimes voiced, oddly enough, one after the other by the same person. neither objection has merit. in the case of species extinction, we show that eating animals is the problem, not the solution to the problem.
as more people become vegan, we will gradually stop breeding animals.animals will not overrun the planet, because people will not all go vegan at once. over fifty billion land animals are currently slaughtered annually for food,((“meat production continues to rise.” worldwatch institute, september 29, 2017. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5443 )) but as more people go vegan, the demand for animal products will decrease, resulting in less breeding and slaughter.animal agriculture, as a profit-driven business sector, will breed into existence only the number of animals that will cover projected sales. it's a simple matter of supply and demand.
farm animals are genetic anomalies that we shouldn't continue to breed.farm animals are far different from their natural ancestors. after decades of carrying out selective breeding without regard for the well-being of the animals being bred, we have sadly made them freaks of nature.chickens raised for meat are a prime example. they have more than doubled in weight in the past century, from 2.50 pounds in 1925 to 6.18 pounds in 2017,((“u.s. broiler performance.” the national chicken council (blog), september 26, 2017. http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/about-the-industry/statistics/u-s-broiler-performance/ )) and a chicken's breast has been engineered to now be huge in relation to the rest of the chicken's body. also, the growth of these unfortunate birds has been accelerated to such an extent that the slaughter weight is reached in fewer than fifty-seven days.((“out of sight, out of mind.” georgians for pastured poultry, 2012. https://www.ciwf.com/media/1141326/outofsight-full-report.pdf ))the excess weight and rapid growth cause leg problems, skeletal abnormalities, heart and lung disease, footpad dermatitis, ascites and acute heart failure, and high mortality. walking becomes so painful that the birds move only to get food and water, spending most of their time lying down.((ibid.))other farm animals suffer similar deformities from selective breeding; the aim of such breeding is to produce the most meat, milk, and eggs in the shortest possible time with the least expense and the most profit.these innocent individuals deserve our moral consideration, but it makes no sense for them to carry on as species, except for perhaps as small numbers of individuals in sanctuaries. their bodies are frail from selective breeding, their capacity to positively contribute to the ecosystem is diminished due to their lack of independence from the agricultural systems that created them, and they cannot live on their own in the wild. they are creations of humankind and should be allowed to fade from existence.
animal agriculture is likely the greatest cause of species extinction.it's ironic that one would be concerned about the extinction of selectively bred farm animals when animal agriculture is a major cause of species extinction—most likely the greatest cause of species extinction—launching the planet into what scientists call the sixth mass extinction.according to a systematic review published in science of the total environment in 2015, which analyzed over 140 research papers and studies, "animal product consumption by humans is likely the leading cause of modern species extinctions, since it is not only the major driver of deforestation but also a principle driver of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas, facilitation of invasions by alien species, and loss of wild carnivores and wild herbivores."((machovina, brian, kenneth j. feeley, and william j. ripple. “biodiversity conservation: the key is reducing meat consumption.” science of the total environment 536 (december 2015): 419–31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.07.022 ))another study, published in 2015 in science advances, confirms what many scientists have been saying, reporting there being "an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already underway."((ceballos, gerardo, paul r. ehrlich, anthony d. barnosky, andrés garcía, robert m. pringle, and todd m. palmer. “accelerated modern human–induced species losses: entering the sixth mass extinction.” science advances 1, no. 5 (june 1, 2015): e1400253. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1400253 ))the studies cited here are just a couple of the many studies made by scientists in the last few years that reach essentially the same conclusions.
eating animals is the problem, not the remedy.i hope you can see the absurdity in first declaring that we have to eat farm animals because they may overrun the earth if we don't and then proceeding to continue breeding said animals that might overrun the earth.we have shown not only that will animals not overrun the earth but also that animal extinction is caused by eating animals and is remedied by the world going vegan, not the other way around.
“A vegan diet is not for everyone—it made me sick.”“a vegan diet is not for everyone—it made me sick.”“a vegan diet is not for everyone—it made me sick.”all-objections health-objections objections [toc label="talking points"]occasionally we hear of someone who says they got sick, didn't feel well, or lacked energy on a vegan diet. while this is the opposite of what most new vegans experience, it's heard enough to warrant a response.more often than not, these kinds of assertions are made without a professional diagnosis. and without a diagnosis, it's hard to say the cause of this for any one individual.nevertheless, we examine some possibilities and try to shed a little light on the topic, offering the following points gleaned from firsthand reports, personal experience, and those qualified to weigh in.
keep in mind that we know of no nutrients that must come from animal products.when the academy of nutrition and dietetics, mayo clinic, harvard public health, cleveland clinic, and others say that plant-based diets are adequate and even advantageous,((citations for each of the organizations mentioned are provided at http://justiceforanimals.org/objections/quote-we-need-animal-products-to-be-healthy/ )) they do not say "except that certain people must have meat, dairy, or eggs." nor do they qualify their statements by pointing out nutrients that are difficult to obtain unless you eat animal products.science knows of no nutrient that cannot be obtained—and obtained in sufficient quantities for good health—outside the animal kingdom.
realize that your malady may be caused by something other than your diet in general or your vegan diet in particular.when you combine the fact that people get sick or feel bad for a multitude of reasons with the fact that self-diagnosis is often wrong, it seems at least possible that your troubles may not be caused by a vegan diet—or even by any diet at all. people get sick all the time and attribute that to various reasons, often without adequate justification.
bio-individuality does not confer a need for animal products.sometimes the claim is made that because we are all different a vegan diet is not for everyone. it's true that bio-individuality may justifiably cause you to restrict or supplement your diet, but such restrictions have no connection to a vegan diet.for example, if you have an allergy, you should avoid foods that trigger that allergy. if you are prone to kidney stones, you may decide to restrict oxalates and sodium.((“kidney stones | health topics | nutritionfacts.org.” accessed august 9, 2018. https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/kidney-stones/ )) if you have absorption problems with any particular nutrient, you may want to supplement for that nutrient. people with diabetes will want to minimize fatty foods and added sugars.((barnard, neal. “does sugar cause diabetes?” text. the physicians committee, august 7, 2017. https://www.pcrm.org/nbblog/does-sugar-cause-diabetes ))but there is no scientific basis for saying that any given individual should not eat vegan because that individual is unique. the color of our hair and eyes, our height, and our body proportions, for instance, do not dictate which foods to eat. some attempts to link physical or physiological traits to an optimum diet (attempts such as the blood-type diet), are regarded by the scientific community as lacking credibility.((“the blood type diet: an evidence-based review.” healthline, june 4, 2017. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/the-blood-type-diet-review ))
your body may need more time to acclimate.your body may need more time to adjust to the new way of eating. some feel sickly and weak when they first start on a vegan diet. then, as their body adjusts, these feelings go away and the nutritional advantages of a plant-based diet start to be realized.
you may be eating too much vegan junk food.the science is clear that leaving animal products off the plate reduces your risks for chronic disease,((citations for several prominent health organizations are provided at http://justiceforanimals.org/objections/quote-we-need-animal-products-to-be-healthy/ )) but that alone does not guarantee a healthy diet. you might not be getting enough nutrients because you are consuming too much vegan junk food, such as oreos, potato chips, and cola.
you may not be getting enough calories.animal products and vegetable oils are calorie dense, while fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense.it takes about 500 calories to fill a stomach with fruits and vegetables but about 1,000 calories to fill a stomach with meat.((novick, ms, rd, jeff. “calorie density approach to nutrition & weight management.” forks over knives (blog), june 19, 2012. https://www.forksoverknives.com/the-calorie-density-approach-to-nutrition-and-lifelong-weight-management/ ))so if you are eating the same volume of plant foods as you previously ate of animal foods, it's possible you are not getting enough calories.
you may have introduced a food that causes a mild allergic reaction.when you adopt a vegan, plant-based diet, it's likely you will be eating a number of foods you didn't previously consume. it's possible that one of those foods will contain an allergen.
your body might need a different mix of macronutrients.if your metabolism is high or you are an endurance athlete, you might benefit from a higher percentage of complex carbs.if you are a bodybuilder or you have a job that constantly rips muscle tissue that needs to be rebuilt, you may need more protein. but before you go wild with the protein, please read our answer to the objection that vegans struggle with that nutrient.((http://justiceforanimals.org/objections/quote-protein-is-a-problem-for-vegans/ ))
you may be deficient in vitamin b12.all vegans should take care to ensure that they are getting adequate b12. known symptoms of b12 deficiency include fatigue and weakness, but a deficiency can also lead to more serious disorders.((“don’t vegetarians have trouble getting enough vitamin b12?” the physicians committee, october 13, 2010. https://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/dont-vegetarians-have-trouble-getting-enough ))if you started a vegan diet recently, your chance of being deficient in b12 is probably small unless you started with a deficiency. this is because your body normally stores enough to last well over a year.((folate, institute of medicine (us) standing committee on the scientific evaluation of dietary reference intakes and its panel on. estimation of the period covered by vitamin b12 stores. national academies press (us), 1998. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/nbk114329 ))we cover this more fully in our response to the objection that “b12 is a problem for vegans, so a vegan diet is not natural,” which includes recommendations for supplementation. virtually all professionals familiar with the topic recommend that vegans supplement for b12.
you may be one of the few people who need to supplement with more than vitamin b12.dr. michael klaper believes that it's possible some people may not be able to adjust to a vegan diet without supplementation beyond b12.he provides a discussion of the physiological process that may be at work in these cases and suggests a regiment of supplementation that might address the problems. he also offers suggestions on what to do if, after 12 months of supplementation, your situation has not improved.((klaper, m.d., michael, and john allen mollenhaur. “the failure to thrive–speculations on the nutritional adequacy of 100% plant-based diets.” nutrient rich superfoods (blog), november 11, 2012. https://nutrientrich.com/premium/the-failure-to-thrive-speculations-on-the-nutritional-adequacy-of-100-plant-based-diets-by-michael-klaper-m-d.html)) ((klaper, michael. “vegan health study.” vegan health study by michael klaper, m.d., january 4, 2017.(https://veganhealthstudy.org/ )) ((plant based science london. why giving up meat makes you feel ill-carnitine! dr michael klaper, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps4rn9rezeq)) ((klaper, m.d., michael. “thriving on a plant-based diet.” michael klaper, m.d., nutrition-based medicine, november 2015. https://doctorklaper.com/webinars/thriving-on-a-plant-based-diet/ ))it's a good idea to get a professional diagnosis for any suspected nutrient deficiency, as some supplements can be harmful.((novick, ms, rd, ld, ln, jeff. “q & a’s.” jeff novick. accessed august 9, 2018. https://jeffnovick.com/rd/q_&_as/entries/2012/10/18_supplements.html ))
you may be using the vegan diet as an excuse, subconsciously or not.it's true that a small number of people have health-related issues that are triggered by the transition to a vegan diet. but it's also likely that in some cases, such issues are used as an excuse to give up on their vegan diet. and for some, this could be on a subconscious level.humans are experts at rationalization, as ben franklin realized when he said, "so convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."((franklin, benjamin. the autobiography of benjamin franklin. amazonclassics, 2017. 48-49))
some do well on the second attempt.some have reported that on the second attempt at eating vegan, they did not experience any problems and instead felt better, as most of us have experienced.given the benefits of veganism to the animals, the planet, the starving and impoverished, and your own health,((http://justiceforanimals.org/basics/an-introduction-to-veganism/ )) please consider trying again, taking into consideration the information presented above.
“God gave us dominion over animals and put them here for us to eat—and the Bible condones eating them.”“god gave us dominion over animals and put them here for us to eat—and the bible condones eating them.”“god gave us dominion over animals and put them here for us to eat—and the bible condones eating them.”all-objections objections religious-objections [toc title="talking points"]this piece addresses several related objections to veganism and animal rights that center around religion. these objections seek to justify eating animals based on scripture and theology, enlisting several questionable or misconstrued ideas—that we have dominion over animals, that animals were put here for us to eat, and that scripture condones eating them.another related objection involving the question of souls is addressed separately in “humans have souls—animals don’t.”here we assume the perspective of the christian religion, as christianity is the predominant religion in the countries of most of our readers. see the last talking point for christian, jewish, and muslim initiatives supporting veganism and vegetarianism.
times were different then.the bible was likely written between 1400 bc and 100 ad, with much of the text centered around people living in the desert or semi-arid lands.((“when was the bible written?” biblica(blog), july 28, 2016. https://www.biblica.com/resources/bible-faqs/when-was-the-bible-written/ )) the people in those times and places most likely did not have available to them the abundance of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains that most of us enjoy today. nor did they have the science we now have that clearly shows we do not need to eat the flesh of animals or products that come out of animals to be healthy.((fuller, greg. “a response to ‘we need animal products to be healthy.’” justice for animals, october 29, 2016. http://justiceforanimals.org/objections/quote-we-need-animal-products-to-be-healthy/ ))it is not our intent to judge harshly the dietary choices of those whose circumstances differ from our own in the availability of foods or knowledge of nutrition. but for people today to use circumstances of a time and place entirely removed from them as a justification for making choices that result in unnecessary suffering seems, at a minimum, uncaring.
because the bible does not require us to eat animal products, we are each free to follow our own conscience.research reveals that most, if not all, bible scholars who have addressed this issue (e.g., rich deem((deem, rich. “should christians eat meat or should we be vegetarians?” god and science. accessed august 21, 2018. http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/vegetarian.html ))) believe that the bible permits us to eat meat but does not require it. you would be hard pressed to find a christian scholar, philosopher, or cleric who believes that god requires us to eat animal products. if such people exist, they are outliers.because the bible does not require us to eat animal products it would seem that each of us is free to follow our conscience on such matters. even the conservative christian group focus on the family,((campaign, human rights. “10 things you should know about focus on the family.” human rights campaign. accessed august 10, 2018. http://www.hrc.org/resources/10-things-you-should-know-about-focus-on-the-family/ )) which supports a literal interpretation of the bible,((“how do i interpret the bible?” focus on the family, april 27, 2009. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/the-study-of-god/how-do-we-know-the-bible-is-true/how-do-i-interpret-the-bible )) says that "the new testament makes it abundantly clear that followers of jesus are free to follow the dictates of their conscience when it comes to matters of dietary regimen."((“vegans, vegetarians, and the bible.” focus on the family, august 9, 2012. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-q-and-a/faith/vegans-vegetarians-and-the-bible ))they further state that the idea that "vegetarianism was part of god's original purpose and plan for both man and the animals" is "not an unreasonable assumption."((ibid.))
the bible seems to condone many practices that we no longer deem acceptable.it's not difficult to find passages in the bible that seem to support slavery, the subjugation of women, death for adulterers, and many other practices we now renounce, but bible scholars have hermeneutically rejected the idea that christianity is compatible with such beliefs. since the bible is contradictory on the subject of eating animals (discussed below), it’s hard to see why the same kind of reasoning does not also apply here.
the word dominion carries the obligations of stewardship and responsibility.according to genesis 1:26, "god said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."some believe this verse gives us permission to do whatever we wish to animals and the environment. but many bible scholars believe that the word dominion, in the context of this bible verse and in its original hebrew meaning, carries with it the obligations of stewardship and responsibility.((bible dominion stewardship responsibility - google search.” google search. accessed august 21, 2018. https://www.google.com/search?q=bible+dominion+stewardship+responsibility ))today's animal agriculture industry, it could be argued, is the opposite of stewardship and responsibility, both in its disregard for the lives and suffering of animals and its environmental destruction. see "an introduction to veganism" for details and citations.((fuller, greg. “an introduction to veganism.” justice for animals, may 29, 2018. http://justiceforanimals.org/basics/an-introduction-to-veganism/ ))
the bible does not support the notion that animals were put here for us to eat.as is discussed below, genesis 1:29 states that god gave man plants to eat for meat, with no mention of eating animals. since the timeline of the bible shows that animals were already created when that assertion was made, it's hard to argue that the bible supports the notion that god put animals here for humankind to use for food.
the bible presents the vegan diet as an ideal.it could be argued from the bible that god's original plan was for leaving animals off the plate. genesis 1:29, which is of before the fall, states that "god said, behold, i have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."and perhaps isaiah 11:6–9 foresees a return to a meatless diet in depicting a world where carnivores coexist peacefully with herbivores, saying that "they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” wolfs and lambs, leopards and goats, and calves and lions shall lie down with each other, and “the lion shall eat straw like the ox."
because the bible seems to contradict itself on the topic of eating meat, it's hard to draw conclusions from the bible.while there are passages in the bible that, at face value, seem to condone eating meat, there are also passages that seem to forbid it. for example, to quote the english standard version of the bible, romans 14:21 declares that "it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble," while 1 corinthians 10:25 says to "eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience."there are other similar passages in the bible that either seem to be for or against eating animal flesh—so many, in fact, that it's hard to reach any definitive conclusion from them.verses that seem to be mostly against eating meat include leviticus 3:17, leviticus 19:26, isaiah 11:6–9, isaiah 66:3, acts 15:29, and romans 14:21. verses that seem to mostly support eating meat include genesis 1:29, genesis 9:3, leviticus 11:1–47, deuteronomy 12:20, deuteronomy 14:1–29, deuteronomy 14:21, acts 10:9–15, romans 14:2, and 1 corinthians 10:25.
there are bible scholars who believe the bible directly supports vegetarianism.although you would be hard pressed to find a bible scholar who believes the bible requires we eat animal products, it's not difficult to find bible scholars who believe that the bible directly supports abstaining from animal products.richard alan young, who teaches the new testament at temple baptist seminary, is one such scholar. in his book is god a vegetarian?: christianity, vegetarianism, and animal rights, he uses biblical ethics to make an argument for vegetarianism.((young, richard alan. is god a vegetarian?: christianity, vegetarianism, and animal rights. open court, 2012 ))
religion-focused vegetarian and vegan associations can help you sort this out.the following organizations may shed additional light on the topic:
“Eating animal products is our tradition–it’s been a part of our culture and a way of living for hundreds of years.” To Do“eating animal products is our tradition–it's been a part of our culture and a way of living for hundreds of years.” to do“eating animal products is our tradition–it’s been a part of our culture and a way of living for hundreds of years.” to doall-objections objections situational-objections
“I only eat meat I hunt and kill myself.” To Do“i only eat meat i hunt and kill myself.” to do“i only eat meat i hunt and kill myself.” to doall-objections ethics-objections objections
“Farming animals gives them their lives, protects them, and gives their lives meaning.” To Do“farming animals gives them their lives, protects them, and gives their lives meaning.” to do“farming animals gives them their lives, protects them, and gives their lives meaning.” to doall-objections anatomy-objections objections
“I’m only one person—I can’t make a difference.” To Do“i’m only one person—i can’t make a difference.” to do“i’m only one person—i can’t make a difference.” to doall-objections anatomy-objections objections
“If I’m stuck on a small island, I may have to eat meat to survive.” To Do“if i’m stuck on a small island, i may have to eat meat to survive.” to do“if i’m stuck on a small island, i may have to eat meat to survive.” to doall-objections objections situational-objections
“Fish are not really animals and don’t feel pain” To Do“fish are not really animals and don’t feel pain” to do“fish are not really animals and don’t feel pain” to doall-objections nature-objections objections
“More small animals are killed in plant farming than are killed by us eating them.” To Do“more small animals are killed in plant farming than are killed by us eating them.” to do“more small animals are killed in plant farming than are killed by us eating them.” to doall-objections ethics-objections objections
“Our brains evolved from eating animals.” To Do“our brains evolved from eating animals.” to do“our brains evolved from eating animals.” to doall-objections anatomy-objections objections
“You shouldn’t compare the confinement and slaughter of animals to human slavery and the holocaust” To Do“you shouldn’t compare the confinement and slaughter of animals to human slavery and the holocaust” to do“you shouldn’t compare the confinement and slaughter of animals to human slavery and the holocaust” to doall-objections ethics-objections objections
“Vegans who support abortion are inconsistent” To Do“vegans who support abortion are inconsistent” to do“vegans who support abortion are inconsistent” to doall-objections ethics-objections objections
“Omega-3 is a problem for vegans.” To Do“omega-3 is a problem for vegans.” to do“omega-3 is a problem for vegans.” to doall-objections health-objections objections
“The Eskimo/Inuit don’t have good plant options. And BTW, they’re healthy ” To Do“the eskimo/inuit don’t have good plant options. and btw, they’re healthy ” to do“the eskimo/inuit don’t have good plant options. and btw, they’re healthy ” to doall-objections objections situational-objections
“Vegans are extreme, self-righteous, judgemental, and angry.” To Do“vegans are extreme, self-righteous, judgemental, and angry.” to do“vegans are extreme, self-righteous, judgemental, and angry.” to doall-objections objections situational-objections