10 Arguments Against A Vegan Lifestyle
There are a whole host of reasons why you should continue to eat meat, dairy, eggs and use products that are derived from, or tested on, animals. Because the arguments that qualify for this list are too numerous to account for fully here, the list below has been limited to just ten of my personal favorites.
ARGUMENT #1: If we didn’t eat animals, they would quickly overpopulate the planet and most likely starve to death.”
The population of domesticated farm animals in the USA in 2008 is estimated roughly at around 20 billion. This figure is quite small since the actual number of animals slaughtered for food for the US was 10,270,019,000 (that’s: ten billion, two hundred seventy million, nineteen thousand animals).
What this means is farm animals outnumber human beings by a 65 to 1 ratio in the USA.
As it may appear from these statistics, non-human animal populations seem to already be vastly out of control. You might think that to kill these animals would be the best solution since they are already consuming 80% of our corn grown in this country and 60 billion pounds of our soy each year, but unfortunately no matter how many animals Americans kill and eat each year, there continues to be more of them.
The reason for this is quite simple. Animal farmers have intensive breeding operations where they artificially inseminate as many female animals as possible to create even more offspring than the year before. Without giant egg hatcheries and other artificial forms of breeding, animals would never have any hope of reaching, let alone sustaining, current populations.
As far as animals suffering from starvation due to over population goes, the amount of grains and other crops consumed by US livestock is enough to feed 800 million human (animals) who are currently starving to death worldwide.
The argument against a vegan lifestyle stated above could also be reworded to read as “But if we didn’t slit the throats of animals and eat their flesh, they might die horrible deaths.”
ARGUMENT #2: If we didn’t milk cows, their udders would explode and they would die.”
It is true that if a dairy cow is not relieved of the milk her udders are producing, they can be become so painfully distended and swollen with milk that she may be incapable of walking to reach water or food and, therefore, die.
The reason this is remarkably rare in nature is that bovine animals, like virtually all mammals, only lactate after giving birth or when they have nursing young.
Because farmers want to take milk from a cow who is producing it, they steal her newborn calf from her and instead hook her up to milking machines that roughly simulate the nursing of calves. If a farmer forgets or neglects to milk cows who have had their babies taken from them, the cows will moo their distress from the incredible discomfort.
If farmers didn’t take calves from their mothers, they would suckle naturally every 20 minutes or so and the mother cow would never experience the discomfort and potentially lethal result of underutilized milk.
ARGUMENT #3: Humans are meant to eat meat.”
Human beings have the ability to consume other animals’ flesh and display the predator characteristics of forward pointing eyes and four sharper teeth called “canines.” Unfortunately this is where the basis for this reasoning ends.
Human beings’ bodies, by virtually every measure, are intended to eat plants, not flesh. We have flat grinding teeth with jaws that can move from side to side. Virtually no other meat-eating animal has jaws that move side to side, because for animals that eat flesh the possibility of injury is too high in jaws with lateral flexibility, in addition to the fact that meat-eating animals don’t chew their food, but instead tear pieces from carcasses and swallow them whole, and thus don’t need flat teeth.
The canine teeth we possess are dubiously small for any sort of the stabbing all other species use their canine teeth for. It you compare our canine teeth to those of our distant relative gorillas, which are completely vegetarian, you will see that even those gentle giants have canines that outmeasure our own greatly.
Humans have long folding intestines that allow for food to move slowly through our digestive system, which allows our bodies to absorb as many nutrients as possible before the food is passed.
Animals who eat meat regularly have incredibly short intestines because meat may contain harmful pathogens and will putrefy in their guts if not processed quickly.
We lack the proper PH in our stomach acid to digest meat properly without thorough cooking. An animal who eats meat has the stomach PH of less than or equal to 1, whereas plant-eating animals have a PH of 4-5, which is what human beings have.
This argument can also be stated as “If we weren’t supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat?”
ARGUMENT #4: Humans are more intelligent than other animals and so we have the right to do what we want with them.
Human intelligence has long been cited as justification for any number of actions. It is true that humans display an amazing ability to manifest abstract thought into physical forms, but because measuring intelligence is not an exact science and due to cultural — or in this case species — differences, quantifying intelligence remains subjective.
Major problems exist with the theory that higher or greater intelligence grants us the right to dominate and consume others though because it provides us with the argument that it is all right to eat human babies and people with mental disabilities because they potentially lack the same intelligence we possess.
The argument of perceived higher intelligence has been used widely throughout history to justify unspeakable atrocities. It allowed for slave masters to dominate their slaves, for pioneers to murder American Indians, for denying woman the same rights as men, for the rape of Nanking and the Holocaust.
This higher intelligence argument is also linked to the argument of humans having larger brains than other species. Unfortunately, this again has a history of justifying extreme racism and sexism.
This argument can also be stated as: “Animals are stupid and deserve to be eaten.”
ARGUMENT #5: If it’s wrong to kill animals, should tigers and other predators stop eating other animals too?
Humans have the ability to kill and consume other animals, somewhat like other predators such as tigers, lions and wolves. The obvious difference between humans and true predators is that we lack the ability to kill most animals without the use of a tool of some kind.
Without a gun, trap, knife, club or large rock, humans have a tremendously difficult time killing and eating other animals. Unlike a tiger, which kills with her claws and teeth and can immediately begin eating, humans must fashion a killing and butchering tool first. Even for animals who we can kill with our bare hands such as rodents and birds, we would struggle eating their bodies without a cutting utensil.
The other obvious difference is that carnivorous animals have no choice but to eat other animals. Humans have the ability to live remarkably well without eating the flesh of other creatures.
There are of course human communities who have little or no other choice but to kill and eat animals to survive, but this tends to be limited to indigenous communities living a traditional way of life.
ARGUMENT #6: Living a Vegan Lifestyle is Too Expensive.
It is true that if you buy pre-prepared and convenience foods, you can spend a large amount of money each month on food. But this is certainly not limited to a vegan lifestyle.
If you compare the price of meat and other animal products against the price of vegetables and grains, you will find that vegetables and grains will routinely be more affordable.
I personally have yet to visit a place where vegetables and grains are more expensive than meat. Having spent time in over 23 countries with very little money and most of my friends being world travelers, I still have not found a place where it was more expensive to be vegan.
Luxury foods such as soy meats, cheeses, and spreads are usually more expensive than their counterparts, but these foods again are luxuries, not necessities. If you compare the price of vegan cheese or meats to organic non-vegan cheeses and meats they are usually comparable.
It is estimated if it weren’t for federal subsidies to the meat and dairy industries, a pound of beef would cost $815 in the US.
ARGUMENT #7: Animals don’t have feelings.
It is true that we cannot be absolutely sure that what we perceive to be happiness, sadness, love and pain in other species is the same as it is for our own. But any person who has ever spent even a very short period of time with a dog can attest to their ability to feel emotions.
Denying that other animals have emotions much like ours is a great justification for allowing the most unspeakable violence to be committed against them.
Professor Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson said in an article about research done for his book, The Pig Who Sang To The Moon., “A pig could be as devoted, as affectionate, as good a companion, as a dog, given half a chance. Chickens, like many birds, could form close bonds with a human who took the time to get to know these fascinating animals. Sheep, who had been dismissed as stupid animals, turned out to have remarkable discriminating powers, allowing them to recognize, know and have feelings about two hundred other sheep. Goats were as individualistic and as mysterious and complex as cats, and when permitted could live in delightful harmony with humans.”
ARGUMENT #8: If everyone became vegan, all those farmers would be out of business.
It is true that if humanity was suddenly overcome with compassion and respect for all other animals in such a strong way that everyone would forgo killing other creatures needlessly, a tremendous amount of people would be out of work.
Unfortunately for the billions of animals slaughtered each year, the possibility of a sudden and mass shift to a vegan lifestyle is remote, although still possible.
As more and more people transition towards a vegan lifestyle, the demand for animal flesh and other products will diminish and exploitative industries will either adapt to the new market, or will downsize gradually.
The main issue with this argument is that it can, and was, used to justify human slavery. “What will happen to all those poor plantation owners if we outlaw slavery?”
It was true that slave masters on plantations suffered heavy profit losses when they no longer had a free labor force. Does this mean we should have continued to allow human slavery so that an elite few could go about business as usual?
ARGUMENT #9: A vegan diet isn’t healthy.
One of the most common arguments against a vegan lifestyle is the fact that vegans are perceived to be deficient in a number of nutrients and vitamins.
Protein, calcium, and vitamin B12 are the nutrients cited as being lacking for those who do not eat animal products.
Pinto beans, which are easily accessible in virtually all of the US, have only slightly less protein than meat, but with no saturated fat or cholesterol. Pinto beans are just one of many legumes and other plants that are high in protein.
Many soy products are fortified with added calcium and B12, which are also readily available.
For those who have dealt with less than ideal health while on a vegan diet, this is usually due to the lack of a balanced diet without enough iron.
The fact that the leading cause of death in the US is heart disease — caused almost exclusively from the consumption of animals — is usually ignored by those who argue the health aspects of a vegan diet.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit group made up primarily of doctors who promote the ethics and health benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
ARGUMENT #10: If we didn’t test on animals a lot of people would die from unsafe drugs.
Non-human animals have been used for over a century to test experimental medical treatments and procedures for humans. The reasons to justify the use of animals in testing that will not benefit their own species are many, most of which are touched on in the arguments listed above.
The truth is that every single effective medical treatment that has ever come about did not necessitate the use of other animals. Because doctors and scientists are searching for cures to human diseases, to test on another species that does not share 100% of our genes seems to be a flawed science.
Unfortunately, millions of people suffer from diseases that still lack effective treatment, but many of them are more than willing to allow themselves to be used as test subjects to experiment on for cures.
Effective medical treatments are held up for years, or completely abandoned, due to the use of animal test subjects who react differently to drugs and treatments.
For effective and ethical treatments, the use of animals as test subjects should be abandoned.
In conclusion, there are many arguments as to why you shouldn’t care about animals and instead should continue to support industries that exploit and kill them — unfortunately most of those arguments are not logical.