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Quin Pitcher attempts to debunk some common misconceptions around going vegan
I have seen a lot of arguments against veganism over the years, and I wanted to use this opportunity to debunk some of them. I firmly believe that people can do whatever they want with their lives so I am by no means trying to convert you, but I’d just like to clarify some things.
“Eating other animals is natural.”
It’s true, humans are omnivores. Omnivores generally either hunt and kill or scavenge for food, which is all completely natural.
What isn’t very natural is to systematically raise and exploit other species and causing 91% of deforestation.
What humans do resembles in no way what happens in the wild. If you eat meat, chances are that you’ve never had to kill what you eat. There’s nothing natural about getting a chunk of meat wrapped in plastic from the fridge section of a supermarket.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong with us eating meat. It’s eating meat in the way that we do it that is the problem.
“The dairy and egg industries don’t harm animals.“
Humans produce milk just like any other mammal. We produce it after pregnancy because the milk is for the baby; cows are the same. In dairy farms, cows are forcibly inseminated and then have their calves taken from them after birth so they don’t drink the milk. Then the mothers get strapped to milking machines and get milked until there’s nothing left. Then the cycle starts again. The cows know what’s happening, too – often they try to hide their calves to prevent them from being taken.
Cows aren’t milking machines. Once you realise that, it becomes pretty clear how messed up the dairy industry is.
The egg industry has very little regulation so people can essentially do what they want with the chickens. “Free-range” eggs might be by chickens that are allowed in a tiny yard for half an hour a day. They’re usually kept in crowded conditions and often without any sunlight.
If you don’t care about the wellbeing of animals, then alright. I’m not going to try to change your mind. But let’s not pretend that the dairy and egg industries do no harm to farm animals.
“Vegan food doesn’t taste good.“
I understood this statement more a couple of years ago. But you can’t deny that vegan food has improved and become more accessible. There are vegan versions of everything and they usually taste pretty similar to the original. I haven’t yet found vegan Yorkshire puddings, although they probably exist somewhere out there.
And, I know, vegan cheese is not much like real cheese. It has a weird sticky texture when it melts. But I used to REALLY like cheese and after some adjustment, I eat the vegan stuff just fine. Something I found useful was not to imagine it as a cheese replacement but instead something that can be used in the place of cheese. Once you stop comparing it to cheese it’s not as offensive to the senses. That kind of thinking can be used for other substitutes, too.
A lot of things are accidentally vegan, too. You’d be surprised what you find if you look it up.
“Vegan food is expensive.”
It’s true that meat and cheese substitutes are often expensive. But you don’t need to eat them all the time and not all vegan food is a substitute for something. A lot of cheap food staples like rice and most bread and pasta are vegan, and they go a long way.
To provide myself as evidence, I am vegan and I spend just over £10 a week on food shopping. I am a tad on the extreme side because I hate spending money but what I buy works for me perfectly fine – I eat enough and I’m happy with what I eat.
It may take some time to find a balance when changing up your diet, but I adamantly believe that veganism is not inherently expensive.
“Veganism is bad for you.”
“But where do you get your protein?” From a lot of things, actually. It may shock you to hear this, but in all of my years of not eating meat, I have never had a protein deficiency.
There are a lot of people who have tried veganism and then had their health suffer. But these are usually the people who try to live off of nothing but fruit and vegetables and assume that it’s doing something good for their body. It isn’t – we need to eat a wide variety of foods to stay healthy. Or, on the other side, some eat nothing but meat substitutes and vegan junk food. As with all diets, balance is important.
Though a vegan diet isn’t inherently bad for you, there are some exceptions, leading to my next point.
“Not everyone can be vegan.”
For once, I agree! People are massively different and there are some conditions that make it simply impossible for someone to thrive on a vegan diet. I refrained from becoming vegan for a long time because I thought that, with food-related difficulties that I have, I would simply not be able to survive with further restriction. Thankfully, this turned out to not be the case. Not everyone is so lucky.
As much as it’s great to feel like you’re making a difference in the world, your own health always comes first. If you are considering veganism but are concerned about how it would affect your health, I’d strongly advise talking to your GP first.
“Going vegan doesn’t make a difference anyway.”
In a way, I agree with this too. One person cutting out meat, eggs and dairy isn’t going to change the world.
I wouldn’t say that it doesn’t make a difference at all, though. Any money that you don’t spend on meat and dairy is money that you aren’t giving to the industry, and whether that’s £1 or £1000 – it’s still going to make a difference. The amount of people who are doing so is bigger than you think – Veganuary participants have grown from 3,300 in 2014 to 168,500 in 2018.
Veganism is a growing movement. I’m not going to tell you what to do, because ultimately whatever you do with your lifestyle is your choice, but just make sure you are making an informed decision.