Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Pros and "Cons" of Veganism


Recently, our friend Lisa forwarded a request for information from a reporter doing a story on the "Pros and Cons of Veganism." The request listed what the reporter thought of as "cons," obviously having bought into the various misrepresentations and lies that many meat-eaters perpetuate to help them rationalize the status quo.

Not surprisingly, the reporter basically ignored any pro-vegan feedback; it is hard to write a "pro and con" story when the "cons" have been refuted. However, this is what we sent in reply to two of the listed cons:

There are obviously pro-vegan arguments to be made relating to and compassion for animals, though some thinking refutes this (i.e. animals can be killed in the farming of crops).

I'm sure you can find a few vegans who think they don't cause any deaths in the world, but the vast majority of vegans know a vegan diet isn't "perfect" in that (or any) regard. We simply realize the numbers involved prove following a vegan diet is better. For example:

http://animalvisuals.org/projects/data/1mc

Importantly, though, many vegans are more concerned with the suffering involved, rather than death alone (most vegans realize everything dies).

The numbers used for the Animal Visuals article are for general farming practices. Steven Davis had put forth a specific scenario where he claimed grass-fed beef caused fewer animal deaths than a vegan diet; this was shown to be based on flawed math in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics.

In short, a vegan diet causes many fewer deaths, and much less suffering, than an omnivorous one.

There are also theoretical health benefits, though some thinking also refutes this (i.e. we may need meat and/or fat in our diets).

This would indeed be a refutation of veganism, but if there was ever a need for anything not found in plants, it would be during pregnancy and childhood. Here are a list of a few kids whose mothers were vegan during pregnancy, and who have been vegan all their lives:

http://veganhealth.org/articles/realveganchildren



(Ellen, the second one listed, is our daughter. The page hasn't been updated for her in a while; she is currently a first-year student at Pomona College, where she made the Dean's list (4.0) and earned a varsity letter running cross country.)

This is in keeping with the position of the American Dietetic Association, which you can see here: http://www.veganoutreach.org/whyvegan/health.html

You can, of course, find stories of people who were unhealthy on a particular vegan diet. Jack Norris, RD (Vegan Outreach's co-founder) has counseled people in this position back to health. Here is a similar story:

http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/2013/01/facing-failing-health-on-a-vegan-diet/

The take-away isn't that some people need meat, but that we all need honest and thorough nutritional information.

Thanks so much for your time -- we appreciate your honest inquiry into the matter. There are, of course, many interests who would like to discredit vegans / veganism. Personally, I know it is easier to grasp onto anti-vegan claims and stories than to honestly face the consequences of our personal choices -- it took me quite a while to go vegetarian, and then vegan, after I learned what goes on in factory farms.

-Matt