The vegan philosophy and lifestyle has grown significantly in recent years. I was exposed to the idea of not eating animal flesh on one of my radio programs a decade ago but it didn’t stick. It seemed to me that the guest had some valid arguments but I just didn’t wish to change my very comfortable lifestyle habits.
Eventually, I succumbed to its message of caring and love. I have been vegan for 2 years now and I was a vegetarian for 2 years before that. When my veganism is questioned, many are somewhat surprised to hear what some of the motivating factors were for me in going… and staying Vegan.
I realized that was being contradictory
For the last few years I have been vegan. Why? Well, I chose to go vegan as something just didn’t sound right about the statement. “I love animals”, while simultaneously and purposefully contributing to an industry that contributes to their pain, suffering, and death. Moral, ethical, ecological, and health arguments aside, that realization was one of the major catalysts that started my journey towards veganism; and, it is my primary argument for veganism. It’s simple and easily defensible. As a logical, rational, critical thinker, consistency and attempting to avoid contradiction is paramount. Continuing to eat meat seemed to be a rather blatant and inexcusable contradiction.
But what if humans must eat meat?
In speaking with purposeful meat-eaters who hear my argument, typically there are three responses: 1.) “I don’t care. I like meat.” 2.) “Morality is subjective, so you can’t tell me that I’m wrong.” 3.) “But we need meat.” Out of these three, the 3rd one in my view is a more addressable and easily researched to see if this is true. There just aren’t valid studies showing that in a 1st world society, that humans “need” to eat meat to survive. In fact, almost all studies show health benefits to switching to either less meat, or none. Whereas meat consumption, in general, in 1st world countries are attributed to a large variety of sicknesses and illnesses in humans.
There is no scientific evidence that humans biologically “need meat” to survive. In the past, some populations of humans and human cousins became dependent on sources of animal protein (including insects) in their journeys northward and in lean times. In modern times, humans near the oceans have become dependent on sea life to thrive but it is NOT some biological axiom that they must do so. Animal nutrition aids in these population’s survival, but so would plenty of fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, seaweed, and possibly an occasional vitamin (though not necessary). Many humans today have a more cultural perspective about meat intake which typically isn’t very conducive to health as these products are high in sodium and saturated fat. A good-sense diet rich in fiber, starches, green leafy plants, nuts and legumes is the best way to go and can in many cases reverse or lessen the severity of many diet-based medical conditions. Can I eat very little meat and be healthy? Sure! But if I don’t need meat to live and survive, why would I purposefully contribute to the pain, suffering, and death of innocent sentient beings?
Why not be more compassionate?
As I alluded to above in (1), some humans just don’t care about the lives of other animals, they feel non-human animals are beneath them, and that they can do whatever they wish to do to them. Their sensation of taste and satiety makes more sense to them than making conscious and caring efforts to prevent the needless suffering and harm to sentient beings. For those people, I have no argument and wouldn’t attempt to debate them as we are on diametrically two different playing fields. You cannot make someone care. Either you do care, or you don’t. For me, since becoming vegan, I have found myself more compassionate and loving of most people and animals.
Some have argued that just existing as a human has negative consequences for other life on this planet. I cannot find fault with this argument as it is a true statement; however, pointing out that I harm life regardless doesn’t justifying increasing as much harm as possible or trying to do nothing at all.
In my short time as vegan, I have found it odd at the gross amount of teasing, anger, hate and vitriol that I see against vegans online and in-person (yes, I have seen vegans do similarly to meat-eaters). In my case however, I am not the kind of vegan that insults you cowardly online nor would I kick a cow muscle burger out of your hands and mouths but I do adhere to rational dialogues. Sadly, I get random and unrequested comments quite often when I am at non-vegan restaurants. I ordered a veggie sub at Subway once and the guy behind me commented, “Man, I can’t do that. I need meat! I’m a carnivore!” I didn’t say anything about his meal nor his ignorance about animal diet categorizations, but he chose to say something about mine. Why? Just the very presence of a vegan incites discomfort, anger and insecure feelings among some meat eaters. It’s odd. Could it be that deep down, they wish to make changes as well? Is it some non-conscious, knee-jerk defense of their carnistic rituals? Admittedly, some vegans are ignorant insecure bastions of pseudoscientific stupidity and some real jerks to boot! However, most vegans, I surmise, are just passionate about animal life and they wish to share that passion, love, and concern to all; much in the same way that most humans are against dog-fighting or child-abuses. I remember sharing my atheism with friends and family thinking they’d actually have rational discussions about the topic. I was horribly naive. Just as many atheists find it difficult to shut-up when they hear really bad scientific and theological arguments, how can a compassionate and caring vegan be silent when they see humans contributing to the needless pain, suffering, torture, and death of innocent beings?
On a Healthier Note
Even though I didn’t start this journey to improve my health. I do in fact sleep better and rest more peacefully. My blood pressure has returned to normal and my cholesterol has lowered. I no longer have GERD and my esophageal H. Pylori has seemed to magically disappear (last test shows that it’s gone). I also seem to have alleviated symptoms generally associated with hypoglycemia (Diabetes tends to run in my family.) Granted, I have picked up my physical activity which could account for some of these positive changes. And yes, eating less meat can also provide many of the same benefits. I’m not a big fan of health arguments, but as some readers may be curious, I included that here as well.
Well, this is only a few reasons why I became a vegan and why I will most likely stay the course. Thanks for reading. This is a running document and will be updated as newer thoughts come to me.
Edutainment, Documentaries, and Films I recommend (search youtube): Lucent, Earthlings, Meet Your Meat, Okja, Food Inc, Forks Over Knives. I have found flaws in the docs I listed above; however, I still recommend them as I find them impactful and accurate in crucial areas. Type “vegan” on Amazon and Netflix. Plenty of Free Content. For my scholars and academics, please visit google scholar to research “vegan diet”. I think you will be quite stunned at the latest research. For other casual investigative readers, you may enjoy NutritionFacts.org as well.
Thank you for reading. Can we please do what’s right by our animal cousins? 🙁
“As long as humanity continues to make excuses for harming innocent sentient beings, we will always be an unnecessarily violent species.” – Reginald V. Finley Sr