As a vegan I do my best to represent the best of the lifestyle. That means being healthy, active, compassionate and understanding to others who haven’t yet come into the fold of veganism. That also means answering (sometimes ridiculous) questions, getting into heated debates and ranting about the evils of factory farming and it’s contribution to the demise of the planet and all living beings. But see, now I’m getting all fired up…
I do my best to live a 100% vegan lifestyle, and that means not eating, purchasing, or otherwise promoting products made with or by animals or their byproducts. Living a vegan lifestyle means abstaining, to the best of my knowledge and ability, from cruelty and exploitation of animals. It also means not living in ignorance (real or self-inflicted) so that I can avoid changing my ways (that’s what meat-eaters do). I consciously try to keep an open-mind and evolve when challenged with new information. It is because of this that I love it when people challenge my veganism. Here are a few popular (but senseless) arguments against veganism and the ill-logic behind why they don’t make sense!
Illogical argument #1: Plants are living things…
This argument can be debunked with a little cartoon from VeganSideKick (on Instagram!) below! Basically, agricultural animals eat way more plants than humans and feed less people, therefore meat eaters actually cause more plant matter destruction than vegans. So if you are worried about the ethical treatment of plants, you should go vegan!
- 2 acres of rainforest are cleared each minute to raise cattle or crops to feed them* 136 million acres cleared, according to Cowspiracy.
- Dr. Garth Davis: Animals use over 600 million acres of grazing land, of which 20-30% has been overgrazed and ruined. 75% of the soy, corn, and wheat crops grown are used to feed the animals we eat.
In the U.S., most viable land is planted to mono crops like corn and soy, which are fed to fatten animals up fast (though it is not their natural diets). Mono-crop planting destroys the viability of the soil because there is a loss of biodiversity as well as increased amounts of pesticides and herbicides sprayed on the crops destroys the soil.
The leading cause of deforestation is animal agriculture. Deforestation as well as overgrazing of land by animals also leads to desertification over time, rendering the soil useless. By consuming animal products, many more plants are harmed and the resources that could have grown and watered more plants are instead being used to feed and fatten animals for consumption.
Illogical argument #2: So you never kill insects then, huh? What about ants…?
Sometimes non-vegans like to ask about the value of insects. They will either point out that vegans accidentally kill insects like ants when they walk, or purposefully swat mosquitoes. Another popular argument is that many insects are killed when plants are harvested (again with the plants thing). Besides the fact that the people who ask these questions very rarely care about insects themselves, the main point is just an attempt to catch the vegan in a moral contradiction. Isn’t that kind of immature?
I can’t speak for all vegans, but I am confident that ethical vegans so their best to protect and respect ALL living things. I can’t lie and say I love insects like I love pigs and chicks and cows, but I respect their value to the planet. For instance, I don’t kill spiders because they catch flies, and I definitely don’t like flies! When you recognize the worth of a life (and all life has worth) it becomes easier to protect that life. The longer someone is a vegan, and the more they educate themselves, it becomes just as instinctual to save a spider rather than step on it (or an other insect).
As for indirectly harming insects by eating plant foods, see my reply to Illogical Argument #1 (above) concerning plant consumption. And as for stepping on insects or inadvertently harming them in other ways….seriously? Just because it is futile to avoid killing all insects does not mean that I should chuck it all and go back to killing animals too! Do the least amount of harm whenever possible!
Illogial argument #3: Bacteria are living things too! Vegans kill bacteria!
Really? Really? People for the ethical treatment of bacteria can come at me because you’ve certainly got me there! Yes, I wash my hands and look after my hygiene. The last thing I need to happen is to get sick and have people blame it on my vegan diet!
I could also point out that every human possesses an immune system, whose sole purpose is to kill invading bad bacteria to prevent illness.
And, I could point out that the rise of antibiotic resistant “superbugs” is due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics….and 80% of the antibiotics dispensed in the U.S. are given to farm animals in an attempt to mitigate the infections and sickness caused by the terrible conditions of factory farming. It’s a coin-toss, but meat eaters may actually win on this one. By using antibiotics to kill all the weaker bacteria of the species, the meat eaters are forcing the survival of super-strength bacteria species as they adapt to withstand our puny human medications!
* Robinson Simon, David. MindBodyGreen, “10 Things I Wish All Americans Knew About the Meat & Dairy Industries” Sept. 3, 2013.