Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Myth or Reality?

When I went vegan 20+ years ago, a common theme was to "win an argument with a meat eater." Every topic was fair game, and every question or theory -- no matter how tangential or absurd -- was argued fanatically.

I fell into this trap, too, parroting the most outrageous claims about impotence, water usage, etc. It took me a long time to realize the point isn't to show how much propaganda I had memorized, or to glorify my veganism, or to "defeat" a meat eater.

Rather, the bottom line is to help animals by helping more people make informed, compassionate choices.

At the time, though, I failed to recognize that every claim and argument I offered not only didn't advance the animals' cause, but actually diluted and distracted from the indisputable ethical case for veganism.

Many of these dubious claims continue to float around today, undermining effective advocacy for the animals.

For example, some vegans feel the need to claim that veganism is "natural" (whatever that might mean). To this end, the vegan diet (as though there is a single vegan diet) has to be perfect in and of itself, no supplements.

This leads to what is perhaps vegans' most harmful fantasy: that we don't need to worry about B12.

Jack has worked against this for as long as Vegan Outreach has existed. But there are people still more committed to myth than reality, as evidenced by the need for Jack to address the latest incarnation of this insidious fallacy.

If you aren't familiar with Jack's research on B12, please be sure to check out his post, and the links therein.

Of course, I understand the desire to believe that veganism is our natural diet (and would cure baldness, bring world peace, etc.).

But our goal isn't to show how awesome veganism is; what is important is saving animals. To do this requires an honest evaluation of reality, from the nutritional aspects of veganism to the possibilities and psychology of how people can and do change.

Please consider promoting this post. Thanks! -Matt