Monday, August 13, 2012

Link of the Day: How the Health Argument Fails Veganism


By Ginny. Excerpts:

The ethical argument for veganism pertains to everyone, but health arguments target a very specific population. In a trailer for the book The Engine 2 Diet, one person who went through “the program,” is no longer on it, because “she doesn’t need to be.” That is—like many omnivores—she is in good health and sees absolutely no reason why she should be vegan....

The health argument isn’t unique. People who are focused only on the health aspects of a vegan diet are more likely to be enticed by other dietary philosophies that make promises about improved health. For ethical vegans, there is no comparable or alternative way of eating and living. The counter-argument to all of this, of course, is that getting people to go vegan for any reason is a good thing. It reduces animal use and it helps shift paradigms about food choices—which can eventually open minds to the issue of animal liberation. I’m in favor of most efforts and campaigns that do those things. But here is the problem with using the health argument in this way—it’s that there isn’t any health argument for veganism.

There is, of course, a pretty good argument for eating more plants (lots more plants) and less animal food, but no one has shown that you must eat a 100 percent plant diet in order to be healthy. So to make an argument for a 100% vegan diet based on health benefits alone, we have no choice but to stretch the truth. We have to overstate the benefits of vegan diets, and sometimes minimize or dismiss the risks. And as soon as we stray from the actual facts, our advocacy is on shaky ground.