Answering the most common vegan questions
Molly Waring-Moore • January 22, 2019
Ever wondered where vegans get their protein? Don't know how to answer the endless questions from your family? We've answered the most common questions that vegans get to help eliminate some of the confusion.
Where do you get your protein?
Protein is found in almost all plant produce as well as animal products. On average, vegetarians and vegans get 70% more protein than they need every day. The better question is are YOU getting your fiber? 97% of Americans are deficient in fiber which is only found in plant foods and vegans triple the average American intake of it.
What else are you missing out on?
A plant based diet meets every nutritional requirement, but it is advised that everyone, including meat eaters, should supplement B12. We used to be able to absorb this nutrient easily but as society has become more and more obsessed with cleanliness, our sterilization means that the active nutrient is no longer found in our diets. It is found in animals, however, it is generally low quality and not very well absorbed.
Don’t you miss XYZ?
Missing the flavour of something doesn’t make it right to eat it. Going vegan isn’t about and you’re not longing for that bacon now that you know the truth.
What about when you have kids?
You want what’s best for your child and will look at all of the nutrients they need and the best sources for them. Meat and dairy is never the best source for any nutrient.
It’s not unfair to dictate what a child eats - a baby cannot make a conscious decision for the first few years of its life and if it could it might not be what's best for it. A baby isn’t born asking specifically for cow’s milk and ham sandwiches.
The only concern for a vegan pregnancy and raising a child as vegan is making ensure that nutritional needs are met and you can absolutely do that, in a healthier way, on a vegan diet.
And yes, the child can make its own decisions when it's older.
Eating meat is natural
The only things that are deemed to be natural are ones that can be achieved with our innate resources. Fingernails and teeth are our sharpest weapons and they wouldn’t do very well against animal flesh with how blunt they are.
It might be natural for animals with huge canines and claws but if we have to use tools and get someone else to do it for us behind closed doors, it isn’t very natural.
Despite the physical evidence, if you’re unable to hunt, catch, slaughter and prepare your own food - blood, guts and all then it’s not very natural. If looking at the blood and guts of an animal is unappealing to you, it’s not very natural.
If you were on a desert island, would you eat meat?
The point of this question is odd as it doesn’t seem to reveal much about veganism but more about what you think you’d do to survive in a ridiculous scenario. Eating for survival is very different to eating for pleasure and so whatever the personal answer is, what does it answer?
The better question is if we don’t need meat to survive and there’s an abundance of food and your convenience, why WOULD you eat meat?
Your pets aren’t vegan
Feeding animals meat that they need to survive is different to humans eating meat who don’t need it to survive. Buying meat for that animal doesn’t come close to the damage from unnecessarily buying meat for human pleasure. Veganism is about limiting the harm to animals where practically possible.
But they’ve had a good life
A good life is nonsense if it’s ended prematurely. A baby might have a great first year of life but that doesn’t mean it’s then justifiable to kill it. Organic, free-range animals aren’t eaten after they've died naturally, their lives are ended short and still go through abuse like having their calves taken away from them or being force fed. When producing chickens, the male chicks are ground alive as they won’t produce eggs or become meat. Even if the females were then allowed to roam free, their production involved atrocities and buying their eggs or meat contributes to that. A free-range chicken stipulates that it cannot be killed before 56 days of age. 56 days isn’t a long happy life.
A final point is that animals are intelligent. Animals know where they’re going when they’re sent to slaughter and they cry and shake in fear. That’s not a happy way to go.
But you’re hurting innocent plants
This is often meant to be a funny statement and regardless of our understanding of plant pain responses, is it not better to only hurt plants than to hurt both plants AND animals? If you’re concerned about hurting innocent beings, going vegan is the best thing you can do to reduce the harm.
And by the way, plants do react to their environments but they do not show signs of sentience and consciousness in the way that animals have been proven to.
If we didn’t eat animals, they’d overpopulate
Animal populations control themselves. The problem is when humans interfere. The population of agricultural animals is as high as it is because humans have bred them into those numbers. In that breeding, we have bred in traits for our own production and consumption that would not be sustained in the wild and therefore the farm animals would die out.
As the animals die out with the meat and dairy industry, we’d actually see a drastic improvement to the world’s environment as we stop contributing to greenhouse gases, water usage and pollution, and the destruction of land and habitats.
Cowspiracy is a great place to start learning about this.
It’s not going to change anything
Every day that you are vegan you save 1 animal’s life, 40lbs of grain, 30 sqft of forest, 1100 gallons of water and 20lbs of CO2. That’s just one person in one day.
If you went vegan for 1 year you’d stop 365 animals being raised and slaughtered.
Even just one person can change a lot.
But eggs and dairy don’t kill the animals
Often the egg and dairy industry is the scariest. Taking eggs and milk doesn’t kill the animal, it just subjects them to years of suffering. Cows don’t just randomly produce milk all of the time, they produce milk like humans do - for babies. A cow needs to be pregnant and then needs its milk to feed its baby. But if we want that milk, we need to take away the baby so we can have it instead.
If we want the milk all the time then we need to make sure the cow is constantly going through pregnancies to continually produce milk. So they’re artificially inseminated, have their babies taken away from them and then hooked up to painful machinery to steal their milk.
Eggs? Male chicks are destroyed (ground alive) as they’re useless to both the egg and meat industry. The females that survive are subject to horrific ‘living’ conditions.
Sheep will die if we don’t shear them
We’ve bred sheep, particularly merino, to have move skin so that they produce more wool. This is where the danger is. The extra skin means:
- Extra wool, which causes them to overheat
- Infections in the folds of skin
The shearers don’t always shear with the most care for the sheep as they’re paid by the volume.
One of the worst activities is called ‘mulesing’ where they cut chunks of skin off their hinds (without anaesthetic) so that it’ll scar over and flies won’t settle in the area. This is obviously extremely painful and traumatic for the sheep and they don’t always survive.
If sheep were left without human intervention and breeding, they would not need to be sheared as they would not have produced a dangerous amount of wool and skin. This would’ve been a trait that would cause them to die out in the wild.
It doesn’t mean that now we need to carry on the practice for their survival, it means we need to stop buying wool to reduce the demand and therefore reduce or stop the breeding.
I buy organic and free range
Marketing from the meat and dairy industry leads us to believe that organic and free-range means ethical. The official requirements are:
- Free range hens for eggs: No more than 9 hens per square metre
- Free range chickens for meat: No more than 13 hens per square metre, no younger that 56 days at slaughter, access to daytime open-air runs with vegetation for at least half of their lifetime.
- Pigs & cows for meat: No official requirements
- Cows for milk: No official requirements
These are very low standards. Free range doesn’t mean fields to run and play in, it means just a little less appalling. But the whole practice is set up on cruelty so even if a portion of their life is ‘free range,’ they still get sent to slaughter and suffer from the abuse of the system.
As for organic, this just refers to what they’re fed. There are certain restrictions on pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics. On a wider scale, this doesn’t have much impact on the animal’s welfare and it still allows for some pesticides and chemicals to be used - just not the ones on their list for accreditation.
Have any other questions about veganism or questions you're regularly asked? Let us know @daisilyuk or email email@example.com