Below is a list of all the arguments against veganism, and their respective replies. Feel free to directly copy and paste these replies to anti-vegan arguments when debating with non-vegans. If you find a factual or logical error in one of my replies, or if you can’t find the argument you’re looking for, please contact me so I can update this list.
Table of contents
- Animals eat other animals
- Top of the food chain / Circle of life
- Eating animals is necessary
- Eating animals is natural
- Humans are omnivores
- Most people eat meat
- Our ancestors ate meat
- Eating meat helped us evolve
- Eating meat is healthy
- Farmed animals are bred to be killed
- Farmed animals would go extinct
- Farmed animals would overpopulate
- Farmed animals would be killed in the wild
- Animals don’t understand morality
- Animals would eat you if they could
- Humans are superior to animals
- The animals are already dead
- I eat every part of the animal so they don’t go to waste
- God put animals here to eat
- The dairy industry doesn’t harm animals
- The egg industry doesn’t harm animals
- People would lose their jobs
- It’s legal to eat animal products, there are laws to protect animals
- You buy products from sweatshops
- You can’t be 100% vegan
- Going vegan doesn’t make a difference
- The whole world will never go vegan
- I only buy locally grown, free-range, organic meat
- Humane slaughter
- Animal products are tasty
- Vegan food is tasteless
- It’s a personal choice
- Vegans are so judgmental
- Morality is subjective
- Not everyone can be vegan
- Focus on more important issues / Human rights are more important
- Plants feel pain
- Animals die in crop harvesting
- You take medication that has been tested on animals
- Hitler was a vegetarian
- Veganism is expensive
- Veganism is unsustainable
- Vitamin D
Yes, this is true. But we should not base our ethics as a society on what animals do in nature. Lions eat their offsprings if they don’t have enough food, engage in violent territorial disputes and forcibly impregnate females. Dogs smell each others’ backside when they first meet. Many animals even kill members of their own species. If you say that animals doing something is a justification for us doing it, then by this logic you could advocate murder, infanticide, rape and several other unethical and/or disgusting behaviour that you don’t engage in.
Another crucial point is that animals in nature kill to survive. We don’t need to eat other animals to survive, and doing so causes suffering, so if we can avoid it, we should. Animals are not good ethical role models.
Scientist have proven that we are in fact not at the top of the food chain. This study by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States concluded that “humans are similar to anchovy or pigs and cannot be considered apex predators”. This means that everyone that uses the “circle of life” or “we’re at the top of the food chain” argument should be fine with being violently eaten by other animals higher in the food chain like lions or bears. In fact, they should be fine with having the same treatment as pigs since we are at their same level.
It’s not. There are millions of vegans from all paths of life and in all circumstances that follow a vegan diet. In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the United States’ largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals, states the following:
“It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity.”
The largest study ever done on vegan nutrient profiles states the following:
“In strict vegetarians low dietary intakes of vitamin B12 and D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to iron and zinc, have often been of concern 25. In the present study, mean intakes of these nutrients were above minimum requirements 26 in strict vegetarians.”
So eating animal products is not necessary for health and well-being.
It doesn’t matter if it is, because something being natural doesn’t mean it’s ethical or good. This is an “appeal to nature fallacy”. You don’t do things solely because they’re natural. You use planes, cars, medicine, operations, doors, buildings, clothing, cutlery, cups, and an array of things that are not natural. There are other natural things you avoid, such as killing members of your own species and forcibly impregnating females, because nature is a violent place. Some diseases and health problems are natural, but you do whatever you can to unnaturally get better.
Our civilisation is based largely on focusing on reducing suffering rather than in staying aligned with nature. In many cases, we strive to avoid the perils of nature. You should do what’s ethical, not what is natural. Abusing and killing animals when you don’t need to is unethical, regardless of it being natural.
There is still a debate about whether or not we are omnivores. There is a lot of evidence pointing towards humans being herbivores, or at least scavengers (like rats, who eat their meat after it has been killed by other predators). This article by William C. Roberts, MD argues humans are plant eaters because only herbivores develop atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). I personally think vegans are omnivores just because we can digest meat, but that our preferred source of fuel is plants. But it doesn’t matter, because we can be completely healthy as vegans, and eating meat causes harm to animals, so we shouldn’t do it.
Having the ability to do something doesn’t mean it’s right to do so. Human beings can carry out many atrocities, and some do, but those that do face punishment because their actions are wrong. Having canine teeth or the ability to digest meat doesn’t justify eating animals in the same way having a fist doesn’t justify beating someone up.
So what? This is an “appeal to popularity” fallacy and holds no true logical value. Most people in the past thought slavery was acceptable and that women shouldn’t vote. Most people usually agree with a certain oppression and it is a small group of people that fight to change the status quo.
Our ancestors did many things that you would find disturbing, including killing each other, and don’t do many things you do today that improve your life. Basing your ethics on cavemen is not going to take you very far. Our knowledge has improved, and our ethical behaviour should improve accordingly.
It doesn’t matter if it did, because we live in a very different world and different things today will make us evolve other than eating meat. Also, that something helped us evolve doesn’t mean that such behaviour is ethical or acceptable today. Early homo sapiens used rape as a strategy for gene-promotion when they could not get access to consensual sex. This helped the human species evolve to where we are today, but I don’t see anyone justifying rape because it might have helped us evolve.
In addition, most scientists agree that it wasn’t meat, but cooking foods, that made our brains evolve. This would explain why we’re the smartest animals and the only animals that cook, while other more carnivorous animals like cats are less intelligent than us. The hypothesis is that cooking allowed humans to get more energy from the same amount of food, and to spend less time chewing, which meant this extra energy helped fuel brain growth.
You can be completely healthy eating a non-vegan diet, as long as you limit your intake of meats with high saturated fat and cholesterol and eat enough fruits and vegetables to get essential micronutrients. Many meat eaters live long and healthy lives. The vegan argument doesn’t say that veganism is right because you can’t be healthy otherwise, it merely states that given the choice of being healthy as a vegan or a non-vegan, you should choose the former since it is more ethical.
Bringing any animal into existence for the purpose of abusing, using them and harming them is not ethical under any circumstance. If you breed a dog for dogfighting, the harm inflicted on the dog by the fight is not ethical. If you breed bulls for bullfighting, the harm inflicted on them is never justified.
The animals that are being used and killed do not care about why they were bred, they just want to live and avoid suffering. It is not our right to go against those interest just because we brought them into existence.
Livestock animals have been selectively bred and modified by humans to be profitable. They suffer all kinds of health problems because they are bred to be much bigger than their natural ancestors. Continuing to breed them serves no purpose, even if everybody was vegan there would be no logical reason to keep breeding these animals, knowing they will suffer health problems due to the manner of their selective breeding.
But if we really wanted to keep pigs, chickens, cows and the animals we eat alive, we can conserve them in the same way endangered species are, i.e. not by slitting their throats. There are many animal sanctuaries that exist today where farmed animals are rescued and live their entire lives, so they wouldn’t go extinct.
The animals we eat, wear and experiment on have been artificially bred to meet the demand for their bodies and their secretions. If the demand for animal products decreases, the number of animals brought into existence will decrease too. There was no problem with overpopulation of cows, chickens and pigs before humans started messing with their bodies and altering them for profit. If we stop breeding them out of control, they wouldn’t overpopulate.
Vegans don’t want all domesticated animals to be released into the wild. You can’t do that because those animals are domesticated, and are not natural breeds, they were selectively bred. So it would be releasing billions of animals into ecosystems which would cause so many unknown problems. What vegans want is for animals to stop being bred. It isn’t a question of either they get eaten by wild animals, or by us. We don’t need to be breeding them and eating them at all.
Most animals do have at least a basic understanding of right and wrong, because this is an evolutionary advantage. Altruism often results in something positive in return, and bad actions usually result in negativity. If a dog doesn’t kill other dogs, you’re less likely to be killed by a dog.
But regardless, animals aren’t morally valuable because of their ability to understand morality, they’re valuable because of their sentience (ability to experience pain and pleasure). Some humans, like babies and mentally disabled adults, sometimes cannot discern right from wrong, but they still have a right to life because they’re sentient.
This is not even an argument, it is a far-fetched hypothetical situation. What logical conclusion follows from this? If an animal would like to eat me if they could, does that mean I should base my morality on less intelligent animals and eat other animals too? The funny thing is that people use this argument to justify eating herbivorous animals that actually can’t eat us, like pigs and cows, but they don’t use it to justify eating cats, lions and bears, that could eat us.
In some ways, yes. We’re superior in intelligence. We’re not superior in our ability to fly or see in the dark. But remember that some humans are superior to other humans in similar ways to animals. Some humans are smarter, faster, stronger, better looking and so on. By this logic, the “superior” humans could in theory abuse and kill the inferior humans. This is why the “might makes right” argument is a logical fallacy; it can justify several unethical behaviours and the measure of “superiority” is completely arbitrary.
Superiority doesn’t grant you a right to abuse other sentient beings. In fact, this line of thinking is what justified many atrocities in the past, like The Holocaust, black segregation, disenfranchisement of women, and so on. “They’re less than us, so they can be killed or their rights can be taken away”. Of course, nobody wants animals to have the same rights as humans, like the right to vote, because it doesn’t make sense. What does make sense, however, is to grant them the right to life because their sentience means they have an interest to live, just like us.
Yes. But veganism is not about saving the dead animals in the supermarket, it is about reducing the demand for animal products to prevent further animals from being tortured and killed. This is basic supply and demand theory from economics. If we demand more animal products, the businesses that produce them will supply more, therefore killing more animals. We have the power to vote with our money, and every time we pay for animal product you’re indicating you want more of that product.
The animals don’t care what you do with their bodies after their death, they care about their throats being slit. If you’ve already committed the unethical, unnecessary action of killing an animal, what you do after doesn’t make it any better. By this logic, American cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer should have received a shorter sentence, because he used nearly every part of his victims’ bodies. He ate various parts of them and even turned some body parts into household items.
No religion mandates meat-eating. You don’t have to eat animal products to be a devout Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, etc. So regardless of what it says in the Bible, Koran or Torah, you should do what is right today. Ancient religious texts should never be used to justify our behaviour, because they include an array of terrible things like slavery and misogyny.
Plus, don’t you think if God is wise and omniscient, that he wouldn’t give pain receptors to animals and then tell you to kill them? Surely God would approve of you being vegan, therefore causing the least amount of harm possible to animals and the environment, both of which are God’s creations.
Cows in the dairy industry, arguably, live more miserable lives than cows raised for meat. This is because they are continuously abused throughout their lives for their milk, and then killed. This is how the dairy industry works:
Since cows only produce milk when they’re pregnant, the process begins with forced artificial insemination of cows. The farmers insert their arms into the sexual orifice of the cows and pump bull semen into them to impregnate them. This is a necessary step for milk production and occurs in small family farms all the way to factory farms.
Once the cow has a baby, two things may happen. If the baby is male, then he is no use for the farmers since he will never produce milk. Therefore, the baby is either killed at the farm, or sold to the veal industry for meat. If the baby is female, then she will have the same future as her mother and will go through several cycles of emotional and physical abuse. In both cases, the mother is not allowed to stay too long with her baby, and cows tend to cry for days after their baby is stolen.
After about two or three milking cycles, the cow’s milk production becomes unprofitable, so the cow is killed. At this stage the cow is usually six years old. The natural lifespan of a cow is around twenty years.
This video summarises the dairy industry: Dairy Is Scary.
In the egg industry, only females are required since only they lay eggs. So at the hatcheries, male and female chicks are separated by workers called “sexers”.
Males are considered useless so they are killed at the hatchery, either by being macerated alive, or by being gassed, drowned, or suffocated in a sack. Females are painfully de-beaked and sent off to the farm, where they will lay a painful 300+ eggs per year due to genetic manipulation (as opposed to a wild chickens 20 or so per year). This process happens in any farm, regardless of it being free-range, organic or whatever.
After the egg-laying hens stop producing a profitable amount of eggs, they are sent to slaughter, which involves being thrown into an electric bath to be ineffectively stunned, then hoisted up upside down and going along a conveyor belt to have her throat slit. Many chickens will remain fully conscious after their throats are slit and will be boiled alive in the de-feathering tank afterwards. Their slaughter happens at around two years of age. The natural lifespan of a chicken is eight years.
Yes, this is a sad reality. But as consumers, we aren’t responsible for keeping all industries in business. When you go to the supermarket, you don’t buy every single product they sell to make sure nobody goes out of business. As consumers we choose where our money goes and we pay for the products and services we want to see more of, and we don’t buy those we dislike. We all understand this, which is why when someone quits smoking or drinking alcohol, people don’t tell them they’re putting people in the tobacco and alcohol industries out of jobs.
However, it is important to realise that jobs aren’t lost, only displaced. If you’re not buying milk, therefore funding the dairy industry, you’re buying soy milk, therefore creating jobs in that industry. While it is true that dairy farmers will have a tough time, for example, it is also true that there is a growing demand for other crops like rice, soy and oats which is putting more people into jobs in those industries, which is only for the best.
Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. Less than 200 years ago, slavery was legal in the United States.
The laws in place to “protect” farmed animals still allow significant harm to be inflicted to these animals. Organisations like the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) claim to work to prevent unnecessary harm to animals. But since we know that eating animal products is unnecessary, isn’t all the harm caused in the meat, dairy and egg industries unnecessary?
This is an excerpt of what the Humane Slaughter Association deems a “humane” way to kill an animal:
“Infant lambs, kids and piglets can be humanely killed by delivering a heavy blow to the head. This must only be used if no other method is immediately available.
- Hold the animal by the back legs and deliver a firm blow to the back of the head with a blunt instrument, e.g. an iron bar or hammer.
- Hold the animal by the back legs and swing it through an arc to hit the back of its head with considerable force against a solid object, e.g. a brick wall or metal stanchion.
With both methods it is essential that the blow is delivered swiftly, firmly and with absolute determination. If there is any doubt that the animal has not been killed effectively, the blow should be immediately repeated.”
You can clearly see that there is nothing humane about the way we treat and kill animals. In UK law, chickens can still be debeaked, pigs and male calves can be castrated, pigs can have their teeth pulled out, and more. Needless to say, the best way to stop all animal abuse from happening is to end animal agriculture altogether.
The fact that I have a computer made with components that were produced in sweatshops but am vegan is no different than you having one and being against human slavery or racism. Having a laptop does not invalidate the ideologies of gender/race equality, in the same way it does not invalidate veganism. The fact that anybody funds sweat shops doesn’t mean you must also pay for animal abuse.
You buying animal products is not helping workers in unfair conditions. So being vegan and buying from sweatshops is still better than not being vegan and doing so. If you’re interested in buying fair-trade, there are several companies that pay their employees decent living wages, and you can buy from them. The logical conclusion is that if you’re against slave labour you’re against all oppression, including animal oppression, so you should be vegan.
Trying to invalidate veganism by telling a vegan that they also contribute to harm because them buy sweatshop products is a form of the “al tu quoque” fallacy. If I say it is wrong to murder people, but I murder people myself, that doesn’t make murdering people right. If I say it is wrong to kill animals for food, but I cause harm elsewhere by buying from sweatshops, that doesn’t make killing animals right. It is impossible to cause zero harm, and no vegan claims perfection, but we’re trying to reduce our impact as far as practicable and possible. There is a practical solution to animal abuse that is under our direct control, let’s take it.
This is also an “al tu quoque” fallacy. If a vegan says “it is wrong to mutilate pigs”, the argument tries to say “well you step on ants and use cars with tyres that have animal products, so who are you to speak?” This argument tries to invalidate veganism by suggesting that there is no difference between a vegan contributing 1% to animal abuse and a meat-eater contributing 100%.
The reality is that boycotting the meat, dairy, egg, wool, silk, fur, and leather industries alone already account for 99% of all animal abuse. In our modern world, where it is impossible to live a life without coming into contact with some sort of animal product or by-product, the fastest and most practical way to end animal abuse is by boycotting the big producers of animal abuse. Once the majority of the world becomes vegan, then it will become impractical for car manufacturers to use animal by-product in their tyres, because the only reason they use them is because it exists in large quantities and it’s waste that can be used.
Veganism is both a matter of principle and a practical solution to animal abuse. If you’re against paying others to torture and kill animals, then you shouldn’t do it, regardless of whether you will actually change something. However, being vegan also has real effects because of supply and demand laws. If you buy vegan alternatives to meat products, every day, three times a day, for a year, you’ve reduced the demand for meat quite significantly for one person. If you combine the thousands of millions of vegans in the world that do this, you’re talking a serious drop in demand. The UK has seen a 360% increase in vegans in the last 10 years, and other indicators also show veganism is on the rise. If you want a large number of vegans to have an impact in the world, then you need to begin by becoming part of the group.
It is very hard for the whole world to do anything. The world will always have some sexism, racism, homophobia and violence. That doesn’t mean we must tolerate these things when we see them and that we mustn’t fight to eradicate them. Even though there will always be people that abuse animals, we should still try to end animal abuse as much as possible. Having people in the world doing something unethical is no reason for you to copy them. You have control over your decisions and you can choose to be ethical regardless of what others do.
In all farms, regardless of how the lives of animals are before slaughter, the animals die at a fraction of their lifespan. Animals get killed as soon as their purpose is served, or as soon as they reach a profitable size. The definition of grass-fed / organic / free-range animals is very loose and can vary wildly. It doesn’t mean that the animals have any kind of quality of life necessarily, it just means the farm has to meet some arbitrary requirements to earn that title.
You can, in theory (and not at the large scale required to feed 7 billion humans), kill an animal without any pain. However, this does not make the killing morally acceptable. Killing animals, thus depriving them from their right to life, for no necessity, is wrong. The definition of “humane” is “having or showing compassion or benevolence.” Synonyms include compassionate, kind and considerate. Therefore, “humane” and shooting animals, are not compatible. No humane person would want to take the lives away from animals for no necessity.
Animal products are the result of suffering and killing of animals. If you justify eating animals and their secretions by saying that you like the taste, this means you believe that unethical actions can be justified by the personal pleasure you derive from such action. This is clearly problematic. Using this line of thinking you can justify stealing because it feels good to have more money, or raping because you enjoy it. Harming another sentient being for your own pleasure is morally despicable.
Most of the food humans eat is vegan. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, pasta, bread, potatoes and soy. You enjoy these foods every day and you don’t think they’re unpalatable. The food your prepare is as good as you make it. There are award winning vegan food products and restaurants all over the world. You can easily find online recipes to veganise your favourite meals. There are plenty of dairy milk alternatives in the market. If you don’t like soy milk, try oat, rice, coconut, hazelnut or almond milk.
And even if vegan food was tasteless, morality trumps personal pleasure. An animal’s desire to live will always be greater than your desire to eat a steak, and deep down you know this.
Personal choices, by definition, only affect the individual making the choice. With eating animal products, there are other sentient beings involved. It is not a personal choice to harm animals for trivial and unnecessary pleasures. Your personal choice ends where someone else’s choices begin.
Some vegans are. There are idiots in every movement, and veganism isn’t an exception. But adherents to a movement don’t represent the validity of the ideology behind it. If you’re against animal abuse, you should be vegan. If you don’t like judgmental vegans, become a vegan and be the counter-example.
People are fast to use subjective morality to justify things they do when it’s convenient, but wouldn’t tolerate this argument if they were the victims. If I kill you, or your dog or a friend, by your logic this wouldn’t be unethical because in my subjective view of morality killing isn’t wrong. Morality must be based in facts and reason, it can’t be completely arbitrary, or else anyone can justify an atrocity by saying their morality is subjective. We must have at least some objective measurements of what is and isn’t ethical. Agreeing that killing beings for pleasure or convenience isn’t ethical is a good place to start to prevent violence towards humans and animals. Veganism follows from this.
Even if you believe morality is subjective, I think most people would agree that animals have some moral value, and that they shouldn’t be harmed for no reason. So by your own subjective morality you can agree that veganism is right because harming animals unnecessarily is wrong.
That’s true, but you can. There are certain, extremely rare circumstances where individuals cannot be vegan due to uncommon medical conditions or life situations. Everyone that can be vegan, should. If you can’t there is nothing that can be done. Veganism is about doing what is practicable and possible to end animal exploitation. If you’re reading this, you can decide to stop harming animals at any moment.
Veganism is a non-action. In other words, you don’t need to actively do anything to be vegan, so it doesn’t take more of your time. As such, you can continue to fight for human rights issues or other “more important” causes while eating a veggie burger or stir fry instead of a steak. You don’t need to harm animals while you fight against human oppression. Plus, if we wait until all human rights issues are solved before addressing animal suffering, we would never get there since there will always be human conflict.
It is also worth putting the animal suffering problem into perspective. Worldwide, 56 billion land animals are killed every year for food. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and Amazon deforestation. Nowhere in the world are humans being exploited in the magnitude and severity as non-human animals are. If they were, there would be a global uproar and the issue would be solved immediately.
Animal abuse is interlinked with human suffering, too. High meat and dairy diets are responsible for some of the United States’ leading killers, like heart disease and strokes. In areas where slaughterhouses are set up, the rates of domestic violence and crime go up. Many human rights violations occur in factory farms because of the high production rate required to meet the demand for meat. Some US factory farm workers wear diapers to work because of lack of bathroom breaks. Don’t you think the animal rights issue is at least as important as some human rights issues?
If you’re really serious about this and no amount of scientific evidence will sway you, then it comes down to numbers. If a blade of grass is of the same moral value to you as a dog, pig or chicken, then it makes no sense to feed livestock on with plants, and then kill the animals to eat. This would result in far more plant and animal casualties than if you ate plants directly. If you truly care about plants not feeling pain, it is better to minimise those plant deaths by feeding yourself on them, rather than feeding many more plants to animals.
But let’s be reasonable. Plants lack brains, a Central Nervous System, and anything else that neuroscientists know to cause sentience. Some studies show plants to have input / output reactions to certain stimulation, but no study suggests sentience or an ability to feel emotions or pain. You can clearly understand the difference between a blade of grass and a pig. Comparisons between the two are completely absurd.
This is true, and no vegan claims to cause no harm to animals. Vegans try to avoid animal deaths with practical solutions i.e. boycotting these industries. But an argument against veganism that uses this fact is an argument several times stronger against eating meat. Why? Because you require about 10 times more crops to feed 56 billion farmed animals per year than if 7 billion humans ate the crops directly. So if you’re truly concerned with minimising animal deaths from crop harvesting, you should be vegan. That way you minimise the torture and abuse in the meat, dairy and egg industries and you also minimise the accidental deaths in crop harvesting.
You might argue that we could eat exclusively grass-fed animals who do not require grain, but this is impractical. Firstly, most “grass-fed” animals are not fed 100% grass anyway, and secondly, it’s not sustainable at all to try to feed 7 billion people exclusively on grass-fed beef. There isn’t the space available for such a thing, and good luck living exclusively off beef and nothing else.
The definition of veganism is: “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”.
It is not practicable and possible to die or get ill because you don’t take a medication you need. It is the law in the US, the UK and Europe that all medicine must be tested on animals before being released to the market, so as vegans we cannot practically avoid this since there aren’t any non-tested medicines.
But this is entirely different to eating meat, dairy and eggs for pleasure and convenience when there are thousands of other options available in the supermarket, many times in the next shelf. If the option is between dying or taking medicine tested on animals, you take the medicine. You’re not in this situation when you buy animal products and this argument is a complete cop-out. Also it is worth mentioning that buying the medicine is not actually increasing demand for animal testing, since the medicine was tested before entering the market and never again, whereas animal products require animal deaths every time.
Historians are still unsure about this, and there is evidence to suggest that he wasn’t. But let’s assume he was for this argument. The argument suggests that everything that Hitler did, we must do the opposite. This makes no sense. Hitler liked dogs, and brushed his teeth and ate and showered. Should we avoid doing all these things because he did? Of course not!
Also, why are we singling out Hitler? If you look at all dictators, serial killers, rapists, and tyrants throughout history, you can be sure that the vast majority are actually meat-eaters. So if the behaviour of heinous criminals dictates that you do the opposite, then why are you ignoring all of them and only talking about Hitler?
Not true. As a matter of fact, veganism can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be. But pound for pound, a plant-based diet is by far the least expensive one on the planet, given that the staple foods of the most poverty-stricken societies worldwide are rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, bread, and so forth. For much of the world, meat and animal products are a luxury item.
Quite the opposite, actually: eating meat is completely unsustainable. The United Nations has been urging for years that people move to a plant-based diet because “lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change”. This is because animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions, about 18%, than all the transport systems combined in the world, around 13%. It is also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones and several other environmental degradation indicators. You can find more on this here.
In fact, we could feed more people with less land, water and resource usage if everyone was vegan than if people ate meat. A Cornell University article states that the US alone could feed about 800 million more people “if all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people”.
Protein is an incredibly bio-available nutrient. You can get all the protein you want from plant sources without the adverse health effects of eating meat, dairy and eggs (cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, etc). The largest study ever done on vegan nutrient profiles show vegans on average get almost the same amount of protein as non-vegans without supplementation (see Figure 1 here). This is because all plant foods contain protein and when you eat enough calories of a variety of these you easily meet all your protein needs. Protein deficiency is only seen in subjects with chronic under-eating. Even then, it is more likely that you die of fat deficiency than protein deficiency in a state of starvation.
If you eat 2000 calories of pure white rice, you’ll get 41 grams of protein. This is already the recommended daily intake for sedentary women that eat 2000 calories per day. Rice is considered to be a low protein food, so if you add vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, pasta and tofu, you’re going to get more than enough. Protein isn’t an issue for anybody.
You can get calcium on a plant-based diet, it is in no way exclusive to animal products. Indeed, there are cultures who never had cow’s milk, and there isn’t a wave of osteoporosis. Cow’s milk production requires domestication of animals, so by definition could only be achieved relatively recently in human history. Prior to that, did we all have osteoporosis?
Milk is is not for adults. Mammals consume it during infancy, and after the weaning process, adult mammals do not require their mother’s milk. If we really needed milk, don’t you think we’d keep on drinking it from our mothers? If that sounds weird, consider that you’re drinking milk from someone else’s mother, and not even from your own species.
Good vegan sources of calcium include: dried herbs, sesame seeds, figs, tofu, almonds, flax seeds, Brazil nuts and kale. Most vegan milks are fortified with calcium, so you could just consume those as you would do any cow milk.
Vegans and vegetarians don’t have a greater incidence of anemia than meat-eaters. This is a complete myth. Read this quote from a study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:
“An appropriately planned well-balanced vegetarian diet is compatible with an adequate iron status. Although the iron stores of vegetarians may be reduced, the incidence of iron-deficiency anemia in vegetarians is not significantly different from that in omnivores.”
The largest study ever done on vegan nutrient profiles states the following:
“In strict vegetarians low dietary intakes of vitamin B12 and D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to iron and zinc, have often been of concern 25. In the present study, mean intakes of these nutrients were above minimum requirements 26 in strict vegetarians.”
In table 3 of the same study, you can see vegans get 31.6mg of iron per day, and meat-eaters get 32.9mg, both way above the minimum daily requirement of 8-15mg.
Good sources of plant based iron are nuts, beans and dark leafy green vegetables. Vegans generally have a better intake of vitamin C than meat-eaters, which aids iron absorption. The type of iron found in meat (heme-iron) is the type your body cannot regulate properly, and forces its way into the bloodstream. This encourages production of free radicals, which can damage DNA and increase cancer risk. So it is safer as humans that we consume plant-based sources of iron (non-heme iron).
It is a common misconception that animals produce B12. In reality, it is bacteria found in animals, excrement, unwashed vegetables and dirty water that produces it. So B12 isn’t exclusive to animal products.
Vegans have to supplement B12 by an oral supplement or by eating fortified foods, but this doesn’t invalidate veganism. If the argument is “you can’t get B12 naturally as a vegan, therefore veganism is bad”, then this is a logical fallacy called “appeal to nature“. Not only this, but 99% of people that live in modern society supplement in one way or another.
The bread you eat is fortified with vitamins, juices are fortified, cows milk has vitamins added to it during the manufacturing process, table salt often has iodine added to it and breakfast cereals are fortified. All these foods are fortified because the vast majority of people (i.e. non-vegans) fail to get adequate nutrition without them. In addition, a B12 supplement is injected into livestock before slaughter to keep their levels up due to soil being too intensively used and lacking in certain nutrients.
So the question becomes: would you rather take a B12 supplement yourself and be vegan, or supplement animals with B12, and then kill them to obtain B12? The former choice is clearly more desirable.
You can get omega-3 fatty acids from ground flaxseeds, hemp seeds, canola oil, walnuts, algae and other plant-based sources. If you think you can’t get enough omega-3 or your body can’t absorb it, an algae-based DHA supplement will have you covered. Eating plant sources of omega-3 is actually superior to eating fish to get DHA. This is because fish is riddled with heavy metals such as mercury and PCBs, which damage the brain and counteract the positive effects of eating the omega-3 in fish.
A study that looked at 33 fish species and its impact on brain development concluded that, “for most fish species the adverse effect of MeHg on the IQ score exceeded the beneficial effect of DHA.” You can read more about why it is preferable to get omega-3 from plants here.
Our body produces vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, when exposed to sunlight. You need about 20 minutes of sunlight exposure per day to get your daily amount of vitamin D. Most people don’t get this, which is why the UK government recommends that everyone should take a vitamin D supplement. This is because “limited amounts of the vitamin are found in foods such as oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals”.
The best sources of iodine are sea vegetables (seaweed, kelp, and dulse). Be careful not to eat too much, though, as your iodine levels might be too high if you do. If you don’t like or can’t find sea vegetables, you can consume iodised salt or take a supplement.