The majority of people eat animals and their by-products on a daily basis, not thinking or caring about how our dietary choices inflicts suffering and death to billions of animals every year. When someone makes the decision to stop this cruel lifestyle and switch to a plant-based diet, many people are quick to question and criticise this choice. Without any scientific evidence but purely based on what they have heard and believe without checking the facts.
Meat eaters always have a hard time answering the question of why they claim to love animals, but still kill them. They might argue that they don´t kill the animals themselves, but anyone should be able to understand the concept of supply and demand. If you eat animals, the reality is you are paying for them to be slaughtered, and there for contributing to their death. To kill them yourself or to pay someone else to kill them for you is essentially the same thing.
What I have learned in my time as a vegan, is that there are actually no valid arguments against veganism. Today most people are fine with other people being vegan and mostly use these arguments to justify their own choices. People cling on to habits, traditions, convenience and pleasure, and will make up any excuse to feel better about their choices and give themselves guilt-free passes to continue to eat meat, no matter how illogical or incorrect the argument is.
Here are some very common arguments people will use against veganism and how to respond to them:
1. the hypocrisy argument – Vegans are not cruelty free, so why should I be?
The argument that vegans have blood on their hands too, because of all the field rodents that gets killed when harvesting plant crops. If the mice and rats that die in the files is what´s bothering you, then you should definitely go vegan cause guess what, - animals eat plants too. It is actually an argument for veganism.
The definition of veganism is living in a way that seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation and cruelty towards animals, as far as possible, and that´s the key word. When living on earth you are bound to cause some degree of unintentional suffering to animals, no matter how ethical and compassionate you are trying to be. Just because there will always be some form of cruelty, doesn´t mean that we shouldn´t do our best to avoid it. People need food, but we don´t need meat. It´s like saying that because we can´t stop all the violence in the world, we should just allow all violence to happen. It´s not about eliminating suffering but reducing it as much as practically possible. Veganism never claimed to be perfect, and it never will be, but it´s about making the world a less cruel place to live for all beings.
2. People have always been eating meat, this has been our diet for thousands of years!
Just because we have been doing something for a long time, doesn´t mean that we should keep doing it. Remember that humans have done all sorts of horrible things that were approved of at the time. Slave trading, holocaust, sexism, systematic racism, wars. All clearly wrong, but people have been doing it for hundreds or thousands of years. Today’s evidence shows that we can live healthy on a plant-based diet, there is no need for meat so there is no justification for this cruelty.
3. Eating animals is human instinct, we are omnivores!
If it was instinctual to eat meat, why do we buy meat that is trimmed, prepared and wrapped in plastic? Seasoned and flavoured? Most of the meat people eat today looks nothing like animals, and I can´t remember ever seeing an animal and feeling the urge to hunt it down and put my teeth into its flesh, like any natural omnivore would.
Just because something is an instinct doesn´t necessarily make it right. Violence, rape and murder could also be argued as instincts or natural urges, but it doesn´t make it okay to abuse and kill people. Imagine you´re hiking and you come cross a hurt baby cow or a deer on the road. What´s your instincts telling you to do? You call the wildlife rescue, you don´t finish it off and serve it to your kids. the same goes if you see someone kicking a dog, you would stop them because it is incredible cruel. Why don´t wlet people stab pigs in slaughterhouses?
4. It´s a personal choice, don´t force your believes on me
Something is not a personal choice when it is taking the life of another. I am all for the right to do whatever the hell you want, as long as it doesn´t affect others. When you make the choice to eat meat you are literally paying for the exploitation, abuse and slaughtering of a sentient being. We don´t let people abuse other people just because they feel like doing so. Vegans are not forcing their believes on you, they are simply refusing to participate in animal cruelty.
5. We have developed canine teeth, it means we are omnivores!
Many people will point to their two slightly sharper teeth and say that we are biologically made to eat meat. Firstly, do you think you could use these teeth to kill an animal, rip it open and eat it´s raw flesh with these teeth? When comparing our teeth to omnivores and carnivores we can see that they are quite different. Not only our teeth, but our digestive system, skeleton and muscles as well. Humans are much more similar to herbivores. And even if we had massive canine teeth it wouldn´t necessarily mean we are supposed to eat meat. The largest teeth in the animal kingdom belongs to the herbivore hippo. Secondly, do we have claws like a carnivore? No, we have hands and fingers to pick and peel fruit and vegetables.
6. Eating meat helped us develop as a species
If humans are the most intelligent species because we eat meat, then why are we smarter than natural, obligated carnivores? Even if we did evolve to our present state because we ate meat, it doesn´t mean we should keep eating it. There is heaps of proof that you can be heathy on a plant-based diet. Evidence also shows that cooking food is what caused us to develop our brain size, and the necessity for meat humans had in the past has not been carried on to the present. From a scientifically perspective, we also know that eating meat is detrimental to our heath, as meat eater are more prone to cancer, hearth disease and inflammation. So, if we are smart we should do what is best for our health, as well as seeing the ethical and moral side of it.
7. What about lions? Animals eat other animals, it´s the circle of life!
Firstly let´s just ask, are you a lion, sir? Not a very logical argument as it is comparing humans to an entirely different species. Lions are obligated carnivores which means that they have toeat meat to survive. Humans are not obligated carnivores, and not all animals eat meat as many are herbivores and only eat plants.
Just because other animals are doing it doesn´t mean that humans should. Animals fight, kill each other and their babies sometimes, lick their own anuses and smell each other’s butts when they meet. I don´t think anyone would agree that we should do those things, so singling out only one thing that animals do to justify your behaviour doesn´t make a lot of sense. Lions and other animals also doesn't breed, raise and slaughter billions of animals every year in factory farms for food.
8. Vegans will get malnourished
Going vegan, family and friends will tell you how this is extreme, that you will ruin your health and become malnourished. Many people believe that you can´t get the required nutrients, vitamins and minerals from a vegan diet, and that you have to really carefully plan your diet to do so. The fact is that studies have shown that you can be perfectly healthy on a vegan diet, and that vegans actually are generally healthier than non-vegans. Besides, any diet needs to be planned well to be healthy! Tell be again how you get all your required nutrients from a Maccas meal.
There will always be a few studies that show the contrary, but it´s important to look at who is funding these studies, as it will almost always be the meat, dairy and egg industry itself promoting biased information.
9. Vegans kills plants!
Maybe the most illogical arguments of them all, the “plant massacre”. Hopefully nobody actually believes that slicing up a carrot is the same thing as slicing the throat of a cow. Animals are sentient beings with consciousness that breath, feel and wants to live. Plants don´t have brains or nervous systems. And again, this would be an argument for veganism, as the animals we eat are also eating plants.
10. I only eat meat from my local butcher, it´s better for the planet
It seems that every meat eater that wants to argue with a vegan gets their meat from a small, ethical, organic, local farm. We have to remember that the marketing labels on the meat packages are designed to make us feel better about our choice to eat meat. They don´t really make a difference for the animals. And even if you do get your meat from your neighbour’s backyard cows, killing animals to pleasure our tastebuds is still wrong. And If you look at the health and environmental spectrum backyard cows are just as bad for our heath and the environment. It´s proven that even the least sustainable vegetables are still more sustainable than meat.
11. But it´s okay we kill animals humanely
Some people insist that if the animals had a good life before they were murdered, it´s okay to kill them as long as it is done quickly with as little pain as possible. But how can you kill someone that doesn´t want to die, humanely? Domestic violence is not okay just because they usually treat them well. Raping someone is not okay just because they were nice to them before doing it. Treating someone well before you hurt them doesn´t justify any other actions, so why should it justify killing other animals? We don´t have to eat animals, so we are causing them unnecessary suffering and death, simply because of our tastebuds. Ethical farming is a fairy-tale.
If we didn´t breed them, they wouldn´t be alive. Bringing an animal to life does not justify exploiting, abusing and slaughtering them. It´s like saying you can do whatever you want to your ow children because you made them.
12. If we stopped eating animals they would overpopulate the earth!
While remembering that we are breeding these animals to be so many, the world won´t turn vegan overnight. It´s about gradually transitioning into a plant-based diet. Less animals will be bred into existence as demand for meat decreases, until we stop breeding them and let nature do its job keeping the population to a sustainable number.
13.Meat tastes good and vegan food is expensive. Besides, one person can´t make a difference
It might taste good, but momentary pleasure should not be more important than a life. Remember that there are people out there who enjoy the taste of cats and dogs, but we argue that it is cruel and wrong. The price really depends on what food you decide to eat. Processed food like mock meats and vegan “dairy products” can be expensive, however seasonal fruit/vegetables, grains and legumes is all likely to be cheaper than meat.
A meat eater will be responsible for the death of thousands of animals in a lifetime. One person’s choice to stop eating meat will make a difference for the animals and will no longer financially support the animal faming industry. Making the decision to no longer harm animals will also inspire and influence other people around you to do the same, veganism is the words fastest growing movement, we are making changes.