Many common questions posed by and to vegans are answered below. If you would like to see any questions not listed here included, then get in touch and let us know.
- Why do you try to advocate veganism isn’t it a personal choice?
- Animals kill other animals for food, so why shouldn’t we?
- If everyone becomes a vegan, what will we do with all the cows and chickens?
- Why should animals have rights? They are inferior to us.
- Do fish have feelings?
- Why can’t I eat eggs? Chickens lay them anyway.
- What’s wrong with honey?
- If I become vegan I will never be able to eat out again!
- Will a vegan diet give me enough protein?
- What about calcium?
- Are vegan egg substitutes available?
- What about milk?
- God said we could eat animals.
- Isn’t the Amazon being chopped down to make way for soy crops?
- I was a vegan but my doctor said…
Why do you try to advocate veganism isn’t it a personal choice?
Vegans support personal choice, but from a moral standpoint, actions that harm others are not personal choice. For instance, if you see a child being abused, would you interfere or would you consider the abuser to simply be exercising their personal choice?
Today our society encourages meat eating and battery farms, in the same way is it previously encouraged slavery, sexism etc. We hope to help society make yet another step towards complete equality.
Furthermore, in the light of the global warming crisis, eating meat isn’t only hurting the animals, it hurts the planet and in turn all of us.
Animals kill other animals for food, so why shouldn’t we?
Argument 1 (environment / omnivorism):
Most animals that do eat meat do so because they have to. Humans are omnivores, which doesn’t mean we HAVE to eat both plants and animals. It means we can survive on either. One is cruelty free, and one is not. It makes sense to go with a plant based diet, which in fact is much healthier as it doesn’t contain any of the harmful growth hormones, high cholesterol etc – ask any nutritionist.
Many of our closest primate relatives are vegan. Also – an animal that eats meat fits closely into the food chain, killing only what it needs, promoting survival of the fittest etc. Our model of building battery farms and consuming way more meat then the planet can afford is not sustainable.
In other words, even if we disregard ethics, it doesn’t actually make ecological sense and isn’t a dietary necessity to kill and eat other animals.
Argument 2 (ethics):
The appeal to nature is often used to question the ethics of animal rights / veganism and is, in fact, probably the most common argument employed for this purpose. The most succinct rebuttal is simply that for animals necessity usually dictates their actions, meaning we cannot really pass moral judgment on them as we would members of our own unique species (with its advanced faculties of reason, properties like theory of mind, etc.)
In other words, as humans we are afforded choice and it is the exercise of ‘cruel’ activities in the face of this choice that makes them immoral and ethically indefensible. In fact this is one of the foundations of ethical thought: if something is both cruel and unnecessary, it is indefensible.
For example, did you know that male lions sometimes kill their stepchildren so that their mother will go on heat and the male can then father his own children instead? Clearly, asserting that something is justifiable on the sole grounds that it is observed in nature is a rather dubious undertaking.
If everyone becomes a vegan, what will we do with all the cows and chickens?
It’s unrealistic to think everyone will go vegan overnight. As less meat/milk etc is needed – less and less animals will be bred for food. Eventually there will only be a few of the animals left to live out their natural lives in freedom.
Why should animals have rights? They are inferior to us.
A couple of generations ago some people believed that black people were inferior to white people. We now know this to be untrue; all that we can truly conclude is that people are different from each other, in ways that are not necessarily measurable using concepts like ‘inferior’ or superior’.
Additionally – and especially in our country, with our history of apartheid and violence based on inequality – veganism is a way of looking at common patterns of oppression.
Supporters of animal rights believe that animals have an inherent worth—a value completely separate from their usefulness to humans, just like human worth. Vegans look forward to a future where we do not look down on another living being.
For more information on animal rights, read our article on ethics.
Do fish have feelings?
Research has shown that fish can feel pain. According to Dr. Donald Bloom, animal welfare adviser to the British government, “Anatomically, physiologically, and biologically, the pain system in fish is virtually the same as in birds and mammals.” Fish have fully developed brains and nervous systems and very sensitive mouths. Fish also experience fear, reacting in a same way as humans do according to an Austrian study.
Why can’t I eat eggs? Chickens lay them anyway.
That may be true, but the chicken didn’t give us the egg. In truth there are too many of us and the demand is too high, so in order for us to obtain the egg the hen is cramped into a box the size of a filling cabinet drawer with as many as 5 other hen. The chickens develop bone problems often becoming immobile. Some birds’ feet grow around the wire cage floors, and they starve to death because they are unable to reach the food trough. they often fight and severely damage each other, hence many of them are de-beaked – a process too horrible to witness. After only two years their usefulness expires, after which – they end up in the slaughterhouse. Egg hatcheries don’t have any use for male chicks, so they are suffocated, decapitated, crushed, or ground up alive.
Even if you have the happiest farm-rescued chickens in the world you need to remember that chickens often look after their unfertilized eggs out of instinct and that they sometimes also eat these to obtain nutrients – if you’re taking their eggs you might be causing them distress and nutritional deficiency, regardless of how well you treat them.
What’s wrong with honey?
Veganism is about not using animal derived ingredients, so using honey would be ethically inconsistent. It’s not necessary to use it. There are brilliant substitutes, like fructose or syrup. Also, just as any mass production industry, it’s cruel – not only to the bees, but to badgers and other mammals too – and not always very environmentally friendly.
If I become vegan I will never be able to eat out again!
Wrong! Of course most westerners are so used to the idea of dairy and eggs in their diet, that they forget that many other world cuisines are not that way inclined. Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean cuisines etc. have many good vegan options. Even a simple, arrabiata pasta is fine, provided the pasta is egg-free and the sauce has no cream in it. Ask the chef. As with everything else in life – question everything. Do your own research on ingredients used etc, Know how to ask your chef questions. I’d rather be an annoying customer then settle for questionable options. Also as time goes by – more and more restaurants are learning the word Vegan and will be able to help you.
Will a vegan diet give me enough protein?
Yes. Dietary studies have shown that plant foods can easily provide enough protein for vegans of all ages. Some good sources of plant protein are nuts, lentils, beans, peas, grains, and seeds. Virtually all foods, however, contain some protein. The only cases of protein deficiency ever documented in the field of medicine have been cases caused by severe undernourishment and malnutrition (starvation). Also keep in mind – we don’t need all that much protein as adults!
What about calcium?
Obtaining enough calcium is not difficult on a vegan diet from dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, mustard greens, and broccoli), okra, cabbage, flax seed, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pistachios, almonds, soybeans, oats, tofu, rhubarb, papaya, carrots, cauliflower, figs, cassava, parsley, molasses, fortified orange juice, and fortified soy and rice milks. These vegan sources of calcium are better than dairy as they do not contain proteins that leach your bones of calcium.
Are vegan egg substitutes available?
Any of the following can be substituted for an egg:
*a banana, mashed
*soft tofu blended with some water
*soy flour mixed with water
*one tablespoon of flax seeds blended well with three tablespoons of water
*agar agar or egg substitute
What about milk?
Milk is not a health-giving wonderfood (contrary to the message of the notorious PR campaign of the 50s). Many of us are allergic to it, it’s full of fat, bovine growth hormone and other nasties, and isn’t even a good source of calcium because it contains dodgy proteins that indirectly leech calcium from your bones!
Milk is also exceptionally cruel because milk-giving cows have to be kept lactating, so they are constantly pregnant and every calf they give birth to is taken away to spend 6 months in a small crate before it is killed for veal. Milk cows are also slaughtered when they no longer produce enough milk – which is usually about 1/3 of their natural lifespan – and while they’re alive they suffer from horrible infections in their udders, the trauma of having their young taken away, side effects from overcrowding, medication and poor diet and a host of other terrible things.
For this reason, vegans do not consume milk, or any other dairy product (cream, yoghurt, ice-cream, cheese).
God said we could eat animals.
This is debatable – like most religious texts, there are biblical verses that can be interpreted to imply this but others that can be interpreted to say exactly the opposite.
And even if it was somehow conclusively proven that the Christian Bible endorsed the eating of animals, should this have any bearing on Muslims, Buddhists, or other religions? How about those who aren’t religious at all?
If you want to defend your meat-eating by resorting to quoting verses from your chosen religion’s holy book out of context then there’s not much anyone can say to stop you, given that defenses such as these rest upon cyclical logic. Just bear in mind that it is very likely ethically dubious, to inflict unnecessary suffering upon another creature to satisfy your dietary whims based on no more than what you think your holy book might have said.
And if you feel that it’s okay for ALL people to eat meat, regardless of their religion, simply because your chosen religion seems to imply this, would you accept that members of another religion have, for example, the right to stone adultering women simply because their holy book says so? Do you think it’s okay for Chinese people to eat cats and dogs? In other words, an appeal to religion is almost identical to an appeal to culture / tradition – it is a simple logical fallacy that fails to consider the problems inherent in that tradition / religious position.
Isn’t the Amazon being chopped down to make way for soy crops?
Yes it is; vast stretches of wilderness are being decimated to make way for soy, wheat, corn and other crops. Most people think this is a good reason NOT to eat soy – who WOULD want to contribute to the destruction of pristine tropical forest? Most of these crops, however, are grown not for human consumption but as livestock feed (and a growing amount as biofuel, a terribly short-sighted idea!) and if we were all eating a plant-based diet, we’d actually need a whole lot less land for crops, especially because many of us could grow all our food in home or village gardens or allotments!
I was a vegan but my doctor said…
Firstly, doctors know very little about nutrition, as any nutritionist will tell you. In fact, you’d be better off going to a dentist for nutritional advice!
Secondly, if going vegan DID cause you nutritional problems (or more subjective symptoms like lack of energy, tiredness, etc.) it’s not the vegan diet that is to blame but the fact that you weren’t eating a proper vegan diet. Being vegan doesn’t mean you can live on soy sausages and more than being a meat-eater means you can be healthy eating only hamburgers!
If you’re getting a balanced vegan diet though, which is really easy to do, you won’t be any more prone to nutritional deficiencies, lethargy or general malaise than the average meat-eater. In fact, recent studies have found that meat-eaters have 3x as many nutritional deficiencies on average.