Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Interview of the Year!

Gary Smith, who previously talked with Nikki Benoit, interviewed Vegan for Live co-author Ginny Messina. The entire article is worth reading; one excerpt:

Though you are a registered dietician, you have written in the past that the best argument for veganism is the ethical/animal argument. Why don’t you believe that the health argument should be the driver?

I think it’s great if people want to talk about the health benefits of eating more plant foods and fewer animal foods. Unfortunately, though, we have no data to show that you need to go 100 percent animal-free in order to be healthy. So there really isn’t a “health argument” for vegan diet, let alone vegan lifestyle.

This means that if we want to promote veganism for personal gain or health benefits, we need to overstate the findings and tweak the science. And what does it say about our movement if we’re advocating for animals by using a not-quite-honest or not-quite-scientifically-supportable message?

Some might say that we should appeal to every possible motivation in getting people to stop eating animals, and that’s a tempting argument. I’d probably buy it if I thought it would work. But I don’t see that advocacy built on a shaky factual foundation or on precepts that are ever-changing can prevail in the long run.

No one knows what the exact “ideal” diet for humans is, or if there is any single diet that fits that definition. I talk with my colleagues frequently about new research and whether we need to reassess some of our recommendations or advice based on the latest findings – because ideas about the best way to eat are forever changing. Who knows what the research will be showing 40 years from now? But an ethic of justice doesn’t change. The argument in favor of animal rights today will be the same in 40 years. So why not stick with the argument that is 100 percent unassailable, the one that we never have to scramble to defend in light of new findings?

In addition, I think there is a real problem in shifting the focus of veganism away from an ethic of justice for animals toward more anthropocentric concerns. It actually reinforces the idea that our food and lifestyle choices should be all about us – a belief that lies at the center of animal exploitation.

Full interview here.