- Where do you get your protein?”
Invariably the most common question asked of most vegans, and before going into detail let us first consider a few vegans of the Animal Kingdom. Gorillas, elephants, hippos and rhinos all survive off a plant-based diet. And let’s be honest, they’re some of the most badass creatures out there.
So where do they (and human vegans) get their protein? Quite simply all fruits and vegetables contain adequate protein for herbivores to live off; it’s just not advertised by the food industry which wants to keep you hooked on meat and dairy. Although debated, a lot of research points to the fact that humans are meant to be herbivores.
The human intestinal tract, for example, is much longer than that of a carnivore’s, whose shorter digestive system is ideal for the digestion of meat and high amounts of protein. Then there is the consistent link between the consumption of meat (of any kind) to colon cancer — thanks to humans’ inefficiency in digesting meat it literally sits rotting and unmoveable in the colon – as well as kidney failure thanks to the over-dosage of protein being metabolised. When Elvis Presley died trying to squeeze one out, the autopsy found that his gut/colon was packed with meat!
2. “If we all ate plants, there wouldn’t be enough to eat!”
There would actually be more food to eat given the fact that roughly 70% of grains produced around the world is fed to livestock being fattened for slaughter. It takes, for example, around 7kg of grain to produce just 1kg of beef, and in the US alone 800 million hungry people could be fed with the grain that Livestock consumes. Now apply that to the rest of the world and suddenly the answer as to why there is much malnutrition and starvation in the world becomes ever-more clear.
“So go grass-fed” I hear you cry. Well then there is the amount of space our co-earthlings need to feed and grow. One cow fed on grass alone needs roughly three acres of land in order to graze. If we stopped levelling ground to feed livestock, there would be more space to grow human crops.
- “Other animals kill other animals, so why can’t we?”
Quite simply humans (these days) do not need to hunt in order to survive. Modern resources thankfully mean that we can quite happily survive without animal protein. And if we were living in the wild we certainly wouldn’t be on the same sort of food chain as cows, chickens and pigs, most likely living off fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and the odd squirrel or fish depending on the environment.
Our modern food system has nothing to do with that of nature’s (when was the last time you saw a lion popping down to Tesco for his daily gazelle?) and given that the majority of livestock live desperate and painful existences it seems crazy that so many animals should suffer in the name of our taste for meat.
And on that note, if humans were indeed carnivores, then we would be consume our meat raw like a lion (or raw and wriggling, in the words of Gollum).
- “Isn’t being vegan expensive?”
Being vegan can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be, just like an omnivorous diet. There are plenty of health food fads and self-gratifying trends that people get caught up in, and they can be expensive. However a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and legumes is about as cheap as it gets and easier to buy in bulk.
- “If we all stop eating animals, they will overrun the Earth. Isn’t it better to eat them than let them just die and go to waste?”
It is true that if we all stopped eating animals today, there would be billions of farm animals who would “go to waste.” But there’s no way that would ever happen. The likely scenario is that we would gradually decrease the amount of meat we eat, and factory farmers would gradually decrease the number of animals they bred for food.
Eventually there would be no more farm animals than any other species on Earth and the ecosystem would return to a natural balance. There are numerous reports that show the measurable difference it would make if the inhabitants of Earth would eat a vegetarian diet.
- “Isn’t it hard to become vegan?”
Some people find it difficult to go vegan and others find it simple. The easiest thing to do is follow along with what you believe, and don’t force yourself to make changes faster than you feel comfortable.
I wouldn’t recommend going vegan straight off the bat. I was vegetarian for a while before going vegan, slowly phasing out dairy. I’ve heard of a few people who have gone cold turkey and rebounded because they couldn’t handle being away from cheese all of a sudden!
Even if you cut back on your meat and dairy consumption just a little to start (i.e. Meatless Mondays), you are making progress and are helping yourself and the world around you. When you feel you are ready, maybe you can add a Tofu Tuesday or a Soybean Sunday… Or something.
- “Don’t farmers treat their animals well so they’ll produce more milk or eggs?”
Contrary to popular belief, most animals are not raised on old-fashioned farms where they walk around on grassy fields, make babies when they are ready, and crow to wake up the farmers. Modern farms (factory farms) are made to process animals as quickly, cheaply, and efficiently as possible. Animals are never given medical care, are often genetically engineered, and are fed hormones, antibiotics, and medicine. They are not treated well, by any stretch of the imagination.
- “Doesn’t it help the cows to be milked?”
Cows produce milk in the same way that humans do- when they have a baby. In nature, the calf would drink his mother’s milk and then she would no longer have a supply of milk. On factory farms, dairy cows are artificially inseminated so that they constantly have milk (that requires some bloke to stick their arm or a steel rod up their arse). They also have their calf taken away from them immediately after birth and are made into either veal cows (males) or future dairy cows (females.)
Additionally, dairy cows are given growth hormones so that they produce much more milk than they would have in nature. Those hormones cause their udders to be engorged with milk, which leads to infection and intense pain for the cow. When her udders are attached to the milking machines, the udders grow external infections, fill with cuts and puss, and hurt her.
Once they are no longer able to produce a large amount of milk, they are slaughtered. Needless to say, milking a cow does hurt the cow.
- “It’s natural for chickens to lay eggs, so why is it bad to eat eggs?”
The egg laying hens go through some of the worst abuse of any factory-farmed animal. These hens are packed into cages with numerous other hens, and those cages are stacked several layers high. As the hens on the top defecate, the poop falls into the cages below. The hens are unable to stretch their wings or legs, and often develop severe bone disorders. When the chickens die, they are often left in the cages where the other hens trample them as they begin to grow around the wires.
Of the eggs allowed to hatch, the females become laying hens. The males are useless, so they are thrown into a trash heap where they suffocate or are crushed, or they are ground up alive (the videos of this will test any carnivore’s conviction).
There is also nothing healthy about eggs. Nutrition Facts obtained official documents through the Freedom of Information Act proving that the U.S.D.A. had to stop companies from asserting that eggs are healthful, nutritious or safe. They can be described as “nutrient dense,” just as a Snickers bar is nutrient dense.
60% of an egg’s calories come from fat and they have basically the same levels of cholesterol as the average Big Mac. Plus there’s the fact that they’re straight-up chicken periods!
- “Aren’t free-range farms good enough?”
The term “free range” has been badly misused in the food industry. Many people believe they are ensuring that the animals they are eating have lived a fulfilled life, when in fact their life is no different than any other farm animal.
A product can be labelled as “cage-free” or “free-range” if the animal had access to the outside, no matter how unrealistic that access is for the animals. In most cases, the access is a tiny door to a tiny yard that the animals never use because their feed is located inside the barn.
There are many ways that farmers get around using terms that make people feel more comfortable with their support for the farming industry. The only truly safe way to avoid supporting the factory farming industry is, you guessed it, by avoiding eating animals at all.
- “But meat tastes good!”
If you’re still rolling with that argument after all that then there really is no hope…