Arguments Against Veganism

by Kieron George
(Yorkshire, Great Britain)

One good argument is the human are mostly carnivores, this is true because an all-meat diet and humans can consume any non-poison meat, this however is (as I understand) not true for plant matter. It is also possible to live only meat (not just only animal products but meat) this is not true if we take a say vegetable diet as consumption of fruit and other plant matter is necessary for healthy vegan diet.


Importantly, the very thing that makes us human is meat, the brain enlarging protein, the cooperation required to hunt and the cultures and tools it inspired. The human body is clearly carnivorous as the stomach contains hydrochloric acid which is used to break down animal proteins, the pancreas produces enzymes for turning animal proteins into amino acid and the human body is designed for endurance hunting.

Another good argument is that many domesticated animals would be extinct or endangered if not for their use by humans, arguably any life is better than no life at all. This couples with the fact wild animals usually live shorter, harsher lives which end with the fleeing in fear only to be ripped and bitten. On the other hand, farm animals usually live long, happy lives that end on full bellies in the hands of caring farmers or quickly and painlessly in slaughterhouses.

Also, there is the partial fallacy of veganism preventing world starvation, this does not consider that meat is the best source of food in harsh environments such as desert and Arctic regions. Another error is the use of beef in the argument a highly inefficient if we instead consider such things as meal worms then it changes the argument considerably and admittably meal worms aren't high on many people's food intake but neither was sushi or even fruit relatively recently, so who knows.

Another fallacy: vegetarians claim they are among the healthiest people around, and they can expect to live nine years longer than meat eaters. The 'nine-year advantage' is an oft-repeated but invariably unsourced piece of anecdotal evidence for vegetarianism. Consider that all vegetarian foods are also available to meat eaters, the inference would be that the eating of meat is, in itself, harmful. This is dubious as meat's value as a primary source of the eight 'essential' amino acids, vital minerals and trace elements including iron, zinc and calcium.

I find it funny how there is a popular misconception that mankind no longer has natural predators; in fact there are thousands of microscopic creatures that will make their living at our expense if our immune systems permit them. Should we disable our cruel antibody mechanisms to protect the welfare and rights of the invaders? (There are, of course, viral invaders that will happily do the job for us.) Vegans read the small print on food packaging so as not to inadvertently consume microbes, but we must wonder how they feel about dealing effectively with bodily infestations of parasites or with killer diseases resulting from bacterial or viral infection. A doctor who was also a vegan would face a moral dilemma with every patient presenting.


Editor's Response:

Thank you for presenting your argument. This is a hugely pro-vegan website, but we are always interested to know why people are anti-vegan, if for no other reason than to understand the human psyche. Hopefully my response provides some answers.

1. Humans are not built to be complete carnivores, but more as selective omnivores with a mostly herbivorous diet. The main differences between carnivores and herbivores include talons/claws vs. flat fingers/blunt nails; sharp teeth for ripping flesh vs. flat teeth for grinding grains; short, smotth digestive tracts for quick escape vs. long, bumpy, winding digestive tracts to dissolve fiber; and acidic saliva and stomach acid to break down protein vs. alkaline saliva to process plant matter.

2. Unfortunately, the commonly held belief that farm animals live long, happy lives is about 50-100 years out of date, although most humans are unaware of this fact.

Jonathan Safran Foer has an absolutely sensational book out right now called Eating Animals that is rocking the world with its facts and poetic writing. Foer spends some time talking about how, arguably, farm animals would actually be better off not being born at all rather than live the way they do now. I think of Eating Animals as the modern day Animal Liberation which was written by Peter Singer, and did a great job of presenting the philosophical argument behind humans eating other animals. To see my summary of factory farms, where 90-99% of human meat comes from, click on this link. You can also read my ebook, which condenses the information I've read in countless full-size books on factory farming and the lives animals lead to give us meat.

*Warning: the information on these pages and in these books is extremely graphic and upsetting, but is well-worth knowing so people can begin to learn the true nature of lives on factory farms. Plus, if the animals have to go through that treatment, we should have to read about it.

3. To be fair, the current meat consumption has nothing to do with preventing starvation. Those on the lowest rung of wealth do not eat meat. Meat right now is produced for those with wealth, and because the demand for it is so high, the prices have remained lower than any other food product in history, leading to the obesity and disease problems in today's society, as well as the horrible treatment of food animals. I'm not familiar with the eating conditions in harsh areas like the desert or the Arctic, but I do know that most of the world doesn't live in hypothetical eating situations.

4. There are countless studies on the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, and even the FDA (which has an extremely close relationship with animal farmers) says that these diets are lower in cholesterol, saturated fat, etc. To learn more about the health benefits of a vegan diet, and more importantly, to learn more about the diseases that are directly linked to meat consumption, click these links.

5. I haven't heard of the concept that humans have no natural predators, and I agree that it's completely false. There are plenty of animals who would gladly feast on us! As far as microbes, much of the rampant bacterial and viral infection problem stems from our relatively new resistance to antibiotics. Because the demand for cheap meat is so high, "farmers" are forced to keep huge numbers of animals in packed conditions which leads to disease, and to counter it they feed them antibiotics. Those antibiotics rest in the flesh of the animals as well as rinse out in their urine and feces. The flesh is consumed by humans, who then develop antibiotic resistent diseases. The excrement from the animals isn't required to be treated like human excrement and so it is piled into huge cesspools which leach into the earth and groundwater and end up in our faucets, which also leads to antibiotic-resistent disease. It's a horrible cycle and though the solution seems so clear to many of us, it's still so far from being solved.

~Cathleen

Comments for Arguments Against Veganism

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In the middle
by: Small town child

So, I'm 17 and was raised in West Virginia and Alaska. In both places I have been to farms and seen meat and dairy cows treated amazingly. One farm even had a lower to the ground trampoline which I saw a calf enjoy for a good hour or so. My stepmom is vegan very healthy and grew up that way. In W.V where my dad and I are from we grow up on farms and raise and slaughter our own meat. We do this as respectfully as possible, but we also most definitly eat vegetables as well. In fact southern parents are all about eating healthy well rounded meals. We are omnivores and are ment to eat meat and vegetables. Thank you for the information that everyone has layed out, it definitly helped me on my paper. I think that people who eat vegetables and meat are healthy and I don't believe that your healthyness is dependent on what you eat, but your life style as a whole.

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Easy answer.
by: 1Singularity

Ethics >>>>>>>> Dietary concerns that could be false anyway that can easily be rectified. Taking a supplement vs. the horror that's caused by meat and dairy consumption...seriously, people need to pull their heads out of their ass.

Like the current unsustainable state of our environment, it's an issue that people enjoy sticking their fingers in their ears over.

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Veganism and Vegetarian
by: Adam

I like this article, because you are right in saying that humans are omnivores (mainly vegetarian,), but meat is also part of it's diet, but nowadays we can choose if we want to eat meat or animal products or not. Also the idea of farm animals living ok, is mainly false today in general, specially intensive farming. (but that doesn´t mean they are suffering all the time, but most of it, in some way mentally). Small scale farm animals, can have quite a good life,(but maybe not a good death) a bit like 50 or 100 years ago. But even then, some animals, were not treated so well and were killed in awful ways. I think the arguments in this article are well balanced in the way of thinking. I don´t like some arguments by meat eaters as if they were nutritionists, or being imposed, but I also don´t like some arguments by vegans saying meat is so bad, or toxic etc etc, because if that was true, humans wouldn´t be alive today as a species. But modern life has brought us good things but also bad things, and the more different we act from Nature's way of living, the more problems we´ll face.

Adam.

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People are Carnivore
by: Anonymous

Wierd. I thought a high protein, lean meat only diet would kill you. There is and overload of protein and not enough carbs and lipids to survive. I must be wrong though, because some random article on the internet said so. :P

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Question for a Vegan
by: Brianna

What exactly do you propose we do with our dairy cattle?! Do you want us to STOP milking them?? I have never gotten a solid answer to this question that didn't fix the problem here at hand. If in fact vegans were somehow able to stop this industry and we let our cattle free, all of the cows who don't get hit by cars, (which btw idk if you've ever been hit by a car.. But good luck survivng that!)will have such distended and swollen udders from not being milked that before long it will reach their bloodstream and in turn the cow will get blood poisoning and suffer anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. That sounds like an extremely painful way to die if you ask me! If you want us to do that then you might as well just have us send them all to the slaughterhouse because at least they wouldn't be in so much pain. Why don't you come out to the farm and visit my HAPPY cows... The cows who come running up to the fence to see us everytime they hear someone... Does that sound like the behavior of an animal who is being abused?!

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Farming
by: Anonymous

I don't know how you can say an animal that has its throat slit is being treated humanely. It's like saying, "I am going to kidnap someone's dog raise it and then cut its head off, but while it was alive I was nice to it." The logic here escapes me.

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I cant speak for everyone. But for me. Personal facts blow away stats
by: Mick

I am here because I was looking for a counter argument to veganism. (I am a vegan since January 2012) I am writing a paper about it for school.

I can't speak for statistics, because I dont care about them. I read people coming at this like its total BS. I will state, here, facts. That are indisputable. I will begin with "My mom". She has been stricken with a chronic osteo arthritic condition for the past 10 years. Wicked attacks that left her almost immobile and writhing in pain for days at a time. She is allergic to pain meds, and also anti-inflammatories. What a condition to have being allegic to those drugs right?

I decided to go vegan after seeing the savage barbarism in the slaughterhouses. That in conjuntion with my own health problems with severe hypertention and gout got me started. I don't have health insurance so getting meds is expensive. So I decided to "Let food by thy medicine". I once talked like a lot of the people here and thought that veganism was for dirty hippies who didn't have jobs and wanted to live on the commune. I work out hard, am pretty muscular and whatever. Anyway.

So I took my blood pressure before I got started. I don't know much about what numbers mean but suffice to say that my lower number was in the one hundred and teens. (This is supposed to be a 2 digit number) After living all of my adult life I had dangerously high blood pressure. 1 month after eliminating animal based products from my diet, blood pressure is normal! No Gout attacks either.

My mom after a month or so bumped into slaughterhouse footage and did the same. Since then...1 osteo attack and way mild and shorter lived. Her constantly elevated liver enzymes normalized.

I am 38 years old and stronger than ever and building lean muscle. (Yep I said 38 years old) I also haven't been sick with anything since. So people can spout statistics and say we're supposed to this and not supposed to do that. I don't care about that stuff. It's done very well for me and everyone I know who has done it.

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Questions for Editor
by: Anonymous

"I'm not familiar with the eating conditions in harsh areas like the desert or the Arctic, but I do know that most of the world doesn't live in hypothetical eating situations."

Although you don't explain what you mean my "most of the world," (I am assuming you mean the first world), a large portion of the world's population (one sixth= more than 1 billion people) live in deserts.

See: http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/desert-profile/

And some four million people live in arctic states (maybe four million is not enough to warrant your attention?).

See: http://www.discoveringthearctic.org.uk/8_countries.html

How would you suggest feeding these people?

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why veganism is total crap
by: meatlover

This is the best talk I found on the net about why Veganism is total crap.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fslwu30pJRQ

I work in the Pharmaceutical R&D arena and when I hear false statements about studies proving a Vegan / Vegetarian diet to be healthier than a Omnivore one it makes me angry. There is no single study that proves that Veganism / Vegetarianism (eliminating animal products from your diet) prevents chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease etc. As Denise points out in her talk there are numerous factors and other lifestyle differences that lead to these results.

Also, if you are wondering whether we are supposed to eat meat - YES we are. Follow the links Denise mentions in her talk.

Lastly - Veganism reminds me of Religion. There is no evidence so stop believing.

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Thanks for an unbiased article.
by: B.W

I just want to thank you for writing this article where you bring up good points from both side. It's a rare sight in this world where either one is right and one is wrong.


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50/50
by: Nicole

I've always straddled the fence with this debate regarding vegetarianism.

I'm all for people who make that choice, but we have to remember that it's a choice. And that being one or the other does NOT outweigh who a person is overall.

I met a guy who called me EVIL for eating meat. Prejudice like that is more than enough to turn me off. The guy didn't even bother to get to know me as a person.

For one thing, I don't eat a lot of meat, period. When I do eat it(only specific kinds of fish, poultry and on a blue moon, beef), it's only to make up for energy that I've lost because I do a lot of activity (abnormally high metabolism) and I'm naturally lean, therefore, an apple just isn't gonna cut it.

Plus, you have vegetarians who do it because of their philosophy of animal cruelty or how the animal died. Then you have vegetarians who do it because of their philosophy of taking another life.

I'm kinda curious about the motives. Because in the case of animal cruelty/welfare, what if in the hypothetical situation an animal is treated very well, living life as it should and then later on it gets eaten, is it ok then?

And in the case of the "taking a life" mantra, how do you define "life"? Does that count amoebas, bacteria, fungi, and all of the microscopic organisms that we tend to kill every day? What about plants? Do they live? What about the ants we step on every day as we walk outside?

I feel that if there's going to be talk of saving lives (no matter what the organism), then let's take about ALL of them. And not just for sake of diet, but in all other aspects of lifestyles. But we all know that's impossible at the moment, so therefore, I find it a little hypocritical.

I'm not saying all vegans adopt think this way.

Bottom line, I'm 50/50 on both sides.




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What?
by: Kevin

1. "Humans are not built to be complete carnivores, but more as selective omnivores with a mostly herbivorous diet."

Also known as - not vegan.


2. "Unfortunately, the commonly held belief that farm animals live long, happy lives is about 50-100 years out of date, although most humans are unaware of this fact."

Which provides good reason to know where your meat came from - or if possible raise your own animals.

That a lot of meat is coming from bad places doesn't mean meat itself is bad...

3. "To be fair, the current meat consumption has nothing to do with preventing starvation."

Correct - Though if you do happen to be in a country where hunter/gatherer is still common (where is this?) you just eat what you can get. They don't have the luxury of soy milk or almond milk in the jungle.


4. "There are countless studies on the health benefits of a vegetarian diet."

Yes - Vegetarians are not vegans. They benefit by the inclusion of foods like eggs, yogurts, etc in moderate amounts.

Thus people who eat too much meat or dairy and people who eat no meat or dairy both lack the benefits of eating a moderate amount of certain foods.

5. "I haven't heard of the concept that humans have no natural predators, and I agree that it's completely false. There are plenty of animals who would gladly feast on us! As far as microbes, much of the rampant bacterial and viral infection problem stems from our relatively new resistance to antibiotics."

Basic biology here.

First, viruses are not bacteria. Viruses don't develop drug resistance to antibiotics. Viruses includes things like, the flu, common cold, HIV, and Hepatitis. There are antivirals, but they don't work like antibiotics.

Bacteria on the other hand can and are becoming resistant to antibiotics, but this just really brings us back to before we had antibiotics. When a simple bacterial infection could and often would kill you. Until we have a new way to fight bacteria drug companies will have to continue producing new antibiotics to kill off bad bacteria. This will happen whether animals are given antibiotics or not, because we give antibiotics to ourselves but are very poor at taking them as long as they are prescribed for (and even then a few little buggers might survive!)

If you don't understand the difference try this:

1. Get Chlamydia or syphilis - you go to the doctor, they give you antibiotics (in the case of Syphilis simple penicillin still works!) and you get all better.

2. Get Hepatitis C. Go to the doctor. Not good.

Final Word:

Veganism is a drastic over reaction to real and concerning evidence and changes in our diet.

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Key Word "?"
by: Anonymous

I keep stopping myself from offering what many would believe to be a bias view. I have an opinion on every other sentence, from both the editor and the author of the article, but will only bring up one point.
Both "sides" have valid points and if you can cut the BS from the truth it comes down to a choice of lifestyle. There is one keyword that both "sides" have used. The word? Omnivore...In saying we are omnivores you accept we are meant to eat both meat and vegatables. Yes my teeth are flat, my intestines long, and my fingers weak. Yet I am still able to eat beef, chicken, goat, meal worms...Flat teeth mean I chew small smaller pieces,my intestines long and absorbing mean I cook my meat to rid my food of bacteria. Comparing these traits to animals is unfair because an animals cannot cook food or understand when bacteria are present and meat has spoiled.
As an, "omnivore," as such stated by the vegan side, I am infact a mammal that has a choice. Meat or vegatables. It's that simple.
Now this is MY opinion, and I am offering it because this site seems to accept differing opinions with an open mind. I do not ram my opinion down others throats and would appreciate the same. It seems as though strong willed vegans or vegatarians like to tell me why they do what they do and why everyone should be like them.
In the end lets talk being natural. Walking into Zehr's to buy my veggies or vitamin supplements is just as unnatural as buying processed meats. The difference being an emotional tie to our food.
I agree we have more choice with what we eat nowadays. You can be a healthy vegan (CAN BE), you can be a healthy omnivore. Moderation and nutrition. Moderation and nutrition.
I did not insult, I did not ask you to deepthroat my opinion. I did ask you to have an open mind, both of you.

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Arguments With A Bias
by: Chris T From DC

It is apparent from what I read of the Op Ed and the editors rebuttal that both parties make their arguments with a strong bias and therefore over play their facts on both ends of the spectrum. We have neither completely carnivorous or herbivorous. We are omnivores and there is nothing selective about that. We do have the ability to choose what to eat in this day and age but it is because of our adaptation to being able to eat both meats and veggies that have allowed us to evolve into the people and the society that we are today to make those choices.

Indeed without meat it is possible that we would not have evolved intellectually into who we are today. As many of the nutrients attributed to our brain development comes primarily from meat. it is then quite possible to say that without meat we would not have as much sustainability in vegetarianism as vegetarianism and especially veganism require a level of variety in produce that only a global society can provide.

I think that all of the facts both sides put forward say this. We can act like herbivores, or carnivores. either would require a high level of attention as it pertains to getting all of the required nutrients in their proper quantities for what ever lifestyle you may have. But we are in fact omnivores and we shouldn't let our choices cloud that fact.

It is this ability that has allowed us to survive in hard times. So, make whatever choice you like but remember what we are and where it has brought us to as a people.

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USDA vs. FDA
by: Anonymous

It is the USDA who has close ties to the dairy industry, not so much the FDA.

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Purely Negative Farming View
by: Anonymous

Ok where do i start??? First off, i am a dairy farmer in ontario canada, and if whoever wrote your section on dairy farming would actually go out and spend a week, no, less than a day on a typical canadian farm i believe you would have quite a different view on dairy practises (at least for those in canada).
Canadian dairy cows are not allowed to be treated with growth hormones or steroids of any kind. It is simply not allowed and the dairy will not accept milk if it tests positive for this (all milk is rigourously tested here). Some animals will be treated with antibiotic if they have a major infection but antibiotics are NOT allowed in milk either so they are only used as a last resort. and as for animal feeding protocol, there are strict guidlines for these as well. I could go on but am limited by the number of characters this allows. My advice get a copy of the canadian farming code and it will have all of this outlined in detail. So in conclusion, the canadian farming sector is not the house of horrors that it is made out to be here. Ok, animals are not in their natural environment, but neither are the dogs, cats, gerbels etc we all have as pets. Furthermore, most farm animals live healthy, happy, productive lives, free of the stress of a natural environment (food shortages, predators, shelter etc.). Visit any canadian farm and find out for yourself.

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