Why is eating plants considered vegetarian?
Why vegan Reasons and counter arguments
Eating vegan or living vegan is a decision that more and more people are making for themselves. In Germany alone, depending on the estimate, there are between 600,000 and 1.2 million vegans. In this article we will shed light on why this is the case and what speaks against the vegan lifestyle. But first a definition.
Vegan - the definition
Those who follow a vegan diet do not consume any products that come from animals. In addition to meat and fish, which are also not found in the vegetarian diet, this also includes milk and eggs as well as all other products and ingredients that are obtained from or from animals. Insects are usually included, so that vegans do not have honey or (E-) substances that e.g. B. obtained from lice, consume.
Living vegan means extending these principles as far as possible to other areas of life such as clothing, cosmetics and everyday objects. Those who live vegan use artificial leather or microfiber products instead of leather, avoid animal wool and choose cosmetics without animal products and without animal testing.
Why vegan The ethical reasons
The most common path to veganism leads through an ethically motivated vegetarian diet: Vegetarians do not eat meat or fish because they do not want to be responsible for the killing / slaughtering of animals. When these people find out that the production of milk and eggs, regardless of the type of husbandry, cannot do without killing animals, they often opt for a vegan diet. To explain: Dairy cows are slaughtered as soon as their "milk yield" drops (usually after a few years). In addition, the cows are artificially impregnated so that they can give milk. In almost all cases, their male offspring die very early ("veal meat"), while the female offspring often become dairy cows themselves (with the same fate as their mother). Eggs are among other things. avoided, because 50% of the chicks are male when breeding laying hens, which are sorted out immediately after hatching and thrown alive into a shredder or gassed.
In addition to the question of killing, the fact that the "farm animals" suffer a great deal of suffering during keeping, transport and slaughter also plays an important role in these considerations. This even applies to organic animal products, because their animal welfare standards are mostly at odds with the good reputation that these products (still?) Have.
Other reasons: environmental protection, world food, health
There are many other reasons in favor of following a vegan diet. Since these play an important role for most vegans, but i. d. Usually not the main drive spring, these are only mentioned briefly here for reasons of space. However, the links lead to more detailed information.
The vegan diet makes an important contribution to solving environmental problems - be it the consequences of overfertilization or the emission of greenhouse gases. Nutritional justice also plays a role, because animal husbandry is generally associated with a great deal of waste of calories, proteins and other nutrients. This is because animals use up most of the nutrients they receive to build their skeletons, move around, and maintain their bodily functions. None of this produces any food. And finally there are health aspects: the vegan diet can help prevent many common diseases and even cure them. It is also a contribution to counteracting the problems of antibiotic abuse in animal husbandry and the development of resistance.
The counter arguments
Most of the time, the vegan diet and lifestyle are criticized irresponsibly. But there are also counter-arguments that are seriously raised.
Are plants also sentient beings?
From an ethical point of view, it is argued that plants are also living beings. Sometimes at least the possibility is mentioned that plants could feel pain (we do not have any serious evidence for this). While we welcome the fact that plants are also included in ethical considerations, it should be noted that animals are obviously capable of far more severe suffering than plants. And even if plants suffered just as much or more than animals, that would even be a further argument in favor of a vegan diet, because whoever eats animal products indirectly consumes more plants (as explained above) than someone who follows a vegan diet.
Is Soy Good Or Bad?
The argument against the vegan diet is that soy is harmful. In fact, moderate soy consumption should be rated as positive in terms of health. Vegan products also have practically nothing to do with deforestation for soy cultivation. If the latter contain soy, then it mostly comes from organic and / or European cultivation. Soy from cleared rainforest areas, on the other hand, is mainly used in feed for "farm animals".
What about protein and / or exercise?
Protein is one of the less critical nutrients. A sufficient supply is relatively easy to ensure with legumes, cereals, nuts, etc. - see also our protein information.
A vegan diet is also relatively easy to implement for athletes (including bodybuilders). A growing number of professional athletes emphasize that performance can even be improved with it.
Has our brain evolved from eating meat?
What ultimately led to the human brain developing through evolution has not been conclusively clarified. Most likely (as is so often the case) it was due to a variety of factors. So inter alia the ability to digest starchy plants is cited as an important factor.
What was relevant for evolution a few million years ago is, however, secondary from today's perspective. Instead, it is important to provide the body with all the nutrients that are essential for it today - which is extremely possible without animal products.
Is vegan expensive?
Like virtually any other form of nutrition, the vegan diet can be both expensive and very cheap.
Is meat organic?
From an environmental and nutritional perspective, it is often argued that some animals (e.g. cows and rabbits) can metabolize grass, converting plant material that cannot be used by humans into consumable products such as milk and meat. That is true, but several other aspects are being ignored: In addition to the question of killing, the fact that grazing animals can only produce small amounts of meat and milk is excluded. However, since the global consumption of these products is currently many times that of what can be produced by grazing animals, it is the best contribution of each individual not to consume these products at least until global consumption has fallen to the appropriate level. Otherwise, directly or indirectly, more intensive forms of animal husbandry are promoted, in which food that can be used by humans is wasted.
Is Eating a Personal Choice?
The decision whether to eat meat or fish always involves two things: the person who eats and the person who is eaten. With other animal products, too, decisions are made for other sentient beings. We summarize exactly what the consequences for the animals are in our information on animal production.
What justifies intelligence?
It is sometimes argued that our relatively high intelligence justifies fattening and killing animals that are less intelligent. Two considerations show that this is too short-sighted:
- Does that also mean that we can use / kill mentally handicapped or otherwise inferior people?
- Would we still use the intelligence argument if particularly intelligent aliens land up with us and want to eat us?
Instead of invoking the right of the stronger / more intelligent, we suggest using our relatively well-developed ability to act ethically and morally. Greater size shows who derives certain obligations from their superiority.
A related topic: Choosing supposedly little intelligent animals for nutritional purposes is not productive. The much more important questions are whether the animals can suffer and have a will to live, which is beyond question for vertebrates and probably also applies to a great many invertebrates.
How well are organic animals?
The organic sector also produces under cost pressure and animal welfare played a relatively minor role in the development of organic guidelines. Certainly it doesn't look as bad everywhere as can be seen on the website www.biowahrheit.de, but the conditions shown there are unfortunately very common.
After all, even with exemplary conditions, the ethical problem of unnecessary killing comes at the end.
Are slaughterings quick and painless?
Bad stunning and immense suffering are unfortunately part of everyday life in the slaughter industry, such as this thesis shows.
In addition, the animals almost always have to endure long and problematic transports as well as painful breeding and fattening before slaughter.
Would there be too many animals if we didn't eat them? Would they die out?
The first question can quickly be answered in the negative: The high number of "farm animals" is a result of breeding. Since animal product consumption cannot decrease overnight, but only over longer periods of time, fewer and fewer "farm animals" would simply be bred over time.
If animal products were no longer consumed, the breed lines specifically bred for the production of meat, milk and eggs would in fact become extinct. Since these lines, which were created by human hands, are mostly more or less strong torture breeds, the cessation of breeding and the associated extinction of these breeding lines would be welcomed from an ethical point of view.
Are Animal Products Natural?
From a health point of view, it is often argued that a “natural” diet must contain animal products. It should be said that our diet and our other lives are now completely unnatural - regardless of whether you consume animal products or not. So the question of naturalness is the wrong question. The real question is whether the purely plant-based diet can be healthy. This is clearly to be answered in the affirmative, as the articles linked above on the health aspects of the vegan diet show.
Is killing part of nature?
Some people declare that killing is part of nature. It should be said that man is of course also part of nature or was once part of it. But one of the main characteristics that sets humans apart from other animals is their profound ability to reflect and consider ethically. While a Leo has no choice and must kill to survive, we practically always have a choice (provided there is no severe food shortage). We don't have to cause animals to suffer or die in order to have something to eat. We can therefore make the ethical decision not to support the fattening and slaughter of animals through our consumption.
Does the topic of vitamin B12 speak against the vegan diet?
Those who follow a vegan diet should ensure that they have an adequate supply of vitamin B12. This can be z. Cover, for example, with food supplements or fortified toothpaste (B12 is absorbed through the oral mucous membranes, so that toothpaste is sufficient). Before making an argument against the vegan diet from the B12 issue, one should consider that "farm animal" feed is usually enriched with various vitamins and minerals - among other things. with vitamin B12.
Vegan - the way
Very few people manage to switch to a vegan diet or lifestyle overnight. If you would like to embark on this journey, we will be happy to help you. Via our Vegan Taste Week we provide you with comprehensive information, recipes and (shopping) tips by email. Sign up now - you will receive your first e-mail in a few minutes:
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