In defense of Veganism

The stereotype of vegans is that they like to berate and lecture dairy and meat eaters at every opportunity.

As a vegan, and friend of several vegans, I haven’t witnessed this. The vegans I know will talk about their eating habits in person if asked, and on social media. But even then it’s a celebration and explanation of their food choices, rather than a haranguing.

I realise that blogging about this could be seen as your Typical Vegan Rant, but I’m not trying to lecture anyone.

Every time I speak to someone outside my friend group about food, and mention that I’m vegan, people unfailingly feel the need to ask “Why?” in horrified tones, and then give me all their arguments against Veganism.

It’s always fun.

This weekend I was at an awards ceremony which involved dinner. At one point the entire table felt entitled to explain at great length why no one should be vegan.

So one last time, I’m going to try and answer the questions that non-Vegans invariably ask on here. Because I couldn’t get a word in on Saturday.

But if we didn’t eat farm animals, they would have died out!

They also wouldn’t be slaughtered at young ages. A a cow’s natural lifespan can be up to twenty years. Dairy cows can be slaughtered at only six, veal bulls are killed at four or five months.

Pigs can live up to fifteen years naturally. If they’re being bred for meat, they are slaughtered at five to six months.

Chickens can live up to nine years. They are killed at five or six weeks for meat, or at eighteen months if they are laying hens .

I could go on, but I won’t. The information from the four paragraphs immediately above is from the RSPCA site

Being farmed isn’t good for animals’ health. They are bred to create a higher yield, but this can lead to inbreeding and health problems. Over half of Ireland’s purebred cattle was inbred in 2004.

Other animals, deemed less useful due to the fact that humans don’t consume them, also suffer. More and more land is being used for farming, leaving less available for wild animals and making extinction of other animals more likely 

Aren’t you worried about your health?

Veganism has been proved not to affect bone mineral density or alter body composition .

It has also been proved to help achieve good health and avoid diseases like osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease and cancer .

But thanks for your concern, and for voicing it as I’m sure you do with all your friends who smoke, drink, or don’t exercise. Because if you’ll talk to one person about your concerns about their lifestyle choices, you’ll do it to everyone else right? You don’t just pick on vegans. ‘Course you don’t.

What about the jobs that rely on the meat and dairy market?

I am not suggesting that everyone in the world converts to veganism immediately. But as it gains popularity, the meat and dairy industries can wind down gradually. Jobs will hopefully be created in other sectors, like green energy.

Besides, automisation is already causing job losses. In a post-automated society, changes will need to be made to the way the labour market is run. The dairy and meat industry won’t save the good old-fashioned 9-5 from extinction.

But it must be so hard to cook! What do you eat!?

You’d be amazed at how many edible foodstuffs aren’t made of animal products.

I will admit that, just after making the change, it can be difficult. But, as with everything, the longer you do it, the easier it gets. You get to know the products you can and cannot buy and have a reserve of go-to recipes until it becomes second nature.

Where do you get your protein from?


Seriously, though. Vegetables, nuts, soy, quinoa, tofu, lentils, beans… we’re fine. Same goes for calcium.

Don’t you miss bacon?

I was never a bacon fan, sorry. But other vegans may have been in the past, but are choosing not to eat it anyway. Thanks for bringing it up.

Am I making you uncomfortable by eating meat in front of you?

Thanks for checking, but we’re all consenting adults. I’ll let you eat what you want to in peace if you do the same for me.

If you don’t eat the animals/dairy, someone else will. You’re not reducing the number of dying animals.

I know. But I’m more comfortable not supporting the industries that do these things. And, as more people hopefully become vegetarian/vegan, demand will decrease and fewer animals will die.

I would be vegan, but I love cheese too much!

So, go vegan except for cheese. It’s about minimising the impact you have. Any reduction is good. It’s not a religion or law: eating meat and dairy is not a sin. You’re allowed to slip up. You’re allowed to cheat. Doing your best is the best you can do.

But WHY!?

It’s a very personal thing and every vegan will give you a different answer.

For myself, it’s about reducing the suffering in the world and for the environment. The amount of land being used to grow crops for farmed animals to eat, and the land being used as grazing for those animals, could be put to use growing crops for humans. This would reduce the amount of land required to feed everyone, reducing deforestation and increasing yields.

Plus, when you stop eating meat and dairy and take a step back to look at it objectively, animal products are kinda gross.

So there you are! That was my attempt to address the most common things people say to vegans.

Next time you’re out to dinner with a vegan, and think of saying one of these things, please… don’t. I guarantee you, we’ve heard it all before. Many times.



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