The Complete Guide To EVERY Anti-Vegan Argument
Part One (of Four)
Below is a list (part one of four) of arguments against veganism and the well thought out counter argument. It's a handy guide for vegans to refer to when they find themselves in a debate defending their beliefs. If you find a factual or logical error in one of the replies, or if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please drop us a message in the comments.
1. Animals eat other animals
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.
2. Top of the food chain / Circle of life
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.
But we are superior to pigs!?
3. Eating animals is necessary
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.
"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."
4. Eating animals is natural
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.
5. Humans are omnivores
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.
6. Most people eat meat
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.
7. Our ancestors ate meat
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.
8. Eating meat helped us evolve
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.
"The animals we eat, wear and experiment on have been artificially bred to meet the demand for their bodies and their secretions."
9. Eating meat is healthy
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.
10. Farmed animals are bred to be killed
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.
11. Farmed animals would go extinct
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.
12. Farmed animals would overpopulate
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.
In our next issue we will cover 12 MORE rebuttals to anti-vegan arguments. Stay tuned!
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