Do vegans have a point?
This has been an ongoing issue for the past few years in my life. A conflict has arisen that almost seems to be descending into egos and irrationality when so much is at stake (excuse the pun). Do they have a point? Of course they do, but the topic is much more complex than the narrowed viewpoints I often hear.
It’s a situation that impacts my waking hours on a daily basis, to eat meat or to not eat meat. I’ve read the books, seen the documentaries such as Earthlings, Food Inc and Cowspiracy and each time I’m torn.
The arguments made by many vegans are compelling and I think veganism has many universal merits and benefits. On the flip side, I do see this irrational anger from them, an accusatory stance that harms themselves and the agenda they are trying to push… which is at its core a very noble one.
I don’t imagine anyone can watch Cowspiracy and come out the other side happy with the status quo in animal agriculture. The facts surrounding the cost of producing beef and milk are clear, it is not sustainable. I’m not going to quote the figures here but you can find them all on the Cowspiracy fact page. The damage to the environment and the amount of land and water required make it a nonsense. This is before we have looked into health or cruelty arguments. It’s a non starter from what I can see, for the purposes of our future survival, I don’t see how it can continue.
Meat farming, just isn’t going to be sustainable. It’s not sustainable now, so future meat farming certainly won’t be with the current rate of global population growth.
What is it then that I’m so confused or at conflict about. Am in denial? Or am I showing discernment?
Well the arguments for eating meat but amending our food supply methods are equally compelling and I can see clearly that life consumes life in order to survive.
There are certainly three main things that bring the vegan perspective into question for me:
Biologically, humans have the digestive system of an omnivore (short colon, long small intestine and high levels of stomach acid), we are omnivores which means our diet consists of meat and plant sources. We thank our ancestors for their ability to eat almost anything, it has been part of our survival. Many tribes studied by revered nutritionist Weston A Price, had high levels of animal product in their calorie intake from a hunter gatherer diet. Their health and resistance to modern diseases was observed to be outstanding. It raises the question, do many of the health benefits from Veganism exist, simply because the person has reduced their intake of processed food? Studies are also showing that our brains grew on the basis of our meat eating diet, though like all studies, this is still questionable for me and doesn’t necessarily prove that we still need meat.
Back to genetics, looking at your blood group will give an indication of your ancestry and the kind of diet you will thrive on (not just survive), which for some may be vegan/vegetarian. For me, blood type O, my body tells me to eat meat, that it wants meat. We could get into a conversation about the truth of this but I trust myself.
I’m not for one minute saying that I should eat farmed meat or that I should eat meat all the time or every day. I’m saying that at times my body needs meat. I’d prefer it to be shellfish, chicken/turkey or wild game but I will need it. And I have no problem killing it myself.
My body needs B12, Iron, omega 3s, fatty acids, purines etc. My brain in particular, runs on certain fats. I could certainly go without it, I could go without water for a certain amount of time, but eventually it will catch up on me.
I confess, I have been in the past a mindless meat eater that eats meat with reckless abandon, neither considering source or quantity. I’m now really pushing it back and considering the amounts and frequencies with which I eat it. I can really see the sense in a lot of the vegan perspectives and for the most part I enjoy vegan meals tremendously. My post workout shake is completely vegan, ha, I sound like a racist saying my best friend is insert blank.
What vegans are doing for the planet is wonderful, however, sometimes, as with anything that is taken out of balance, the damage can work either way. The more militant you become, the more you harm yourself and your cause.
The Hypocrisy and Aggression
Very rarely do I converse with a vegan without it turning into an absolute argument of black and white with no greys areas. I'm talking more about strangers as opposed to vegans that I know as friends. There are definitely grey areas that need exploring. I agree with much of the vegan argument, however, the belief system seems too rigid to consider some other important areas.
Vegans, whether they think it or not, can come across like they have found the holy grail of food supply, when in fact, plant agriculture is in itself damaging to the environment and kills many animals. This case study for Australia gives the facts on loss of life for animals and damage to the environment in a plant vs meat system of agriculture. Many famous environmentalists and former vegans including the Guardian’s George Monbiot, have since reconsidered their vegan diet.
Then there are the posts, the graphic posts. Yes I have seen dead animals before, yes I have seen dead humans before, neither is particularly joyful or a pleasant experience.
I could equally ask,
“Do you pay your taxes as a vegan? The same taxes that are spent bombing countries in the middle east, maiming and killing innocent children? You do. Well you fund that killing, yet I don’t spend my time condemning you, I accept it as an unfortunate part of the society we’re all part of.”
We can all play the blame game in a thousand different ways on a thousand different levels of cause and effect, but it never helps. Together we need to discuss and implement change, which is why I loved Cowspiracy. It didn’t name call or impose its will, it just presented the facts. Finger pointing is just going to piss people off, creating resistance and dissonance. Which is what I see many vegans creating within their meat eating counterparts.
Change is coming but it won’t happen overnight. Pushing, shouting, shaming and guilting will only bring up resistance. The blind fury, sometimes makes me wonder if it’s a diet related thing, whereby the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, don’t have the nutrients for optimum interaction between neural pathways. Taking on the weight of the vegan argument carries the danger of great anger and bitterness. If it consumes you in this way, then it really is doing you more harm than good.
The Cruelty Argument
The cruelty argument stacks up when it comes to quality of life and method of death, yet when it comes to the killing and eating, the whole ‘meat is murder’, I feel it falls down.
Consciousness permeates through everything and plants, well plants in my experience are more intelligent than humans and animals combined.
“Let’s see a plant build a computer.” cries the materialist from the back of the room.
They don’t need to from what I've expereinced, they’re already super computers connected inter dimensionally, and with the sophistication to manage this power in ways that we can’t even imagine in our wildest dreams.
And you’re eating them… and that’s part of the ecosystem you live in. It’s designed so.
Are plants intelligent? Yes
Are animals intelligent? Yes
So why differentiate? Carrots may not cry but all vegetation has a defensive response and contains intelligent life. The only thing on this planet that actively wants to be eaten to perpetuate it’s existence is fruit.
Unless you’re Frutarian, you’re throwing stones from a glass house.
We can only do what feels right, and I am OK with killing a chicken, deer, rabbit, oyster etc for food, the wilder the better, and this is a direction I’d like my life to move in, closer again to my own food supply. Life takes life in order to survive, I accept my place as an omnivore in this wonderful ecosystem. I wouldn’t kill you, a docile farm cow seems excessive and dolphins are a no no. In the same way a leopard knows taking on an elephant is a bad idea. We fit into the ecosystem where we do, which is why agriculture on all levels has taken things out of balance. The excess and monetisation has corrupted things and it's impacts are being felt globally - which means by all of us.
Ha, what solution! That’s still in our hands. First off, lets stop getting pissed off and blaming each other. Anger may feel righteous and justified but it’s completely unproductive.
For the record, I’m impressed and delighted if you’re a vegan. I really don’t want to piss you off. It might work really well for you and environmentally you’re playing a part to create change for the bigger picture, with a heart that is in the right place. We all need to eat a lot less meat and consider our choices, even if we don’t cut it out completely.
We also need to consider our entire food supply chain, not as vegans or as meat eaters but as humans. Not just our food supply but our energy, our waste, where we live, how live, how we treat each other… the way we produce food is one small piece of a much bigger jigsaw.
Can we live in balance and harmony? For me this includes eating animals, this does not include enslaving animals, torturing animals and cruelty to animals.I'm not saying I live and die by this at the moment, yet it's a process of directional change for me.
Shifting towards a vegan diet has been really helpful for me, but I don’t feel the need to give up eggs from free roaming, well fed and cared for chickens, nor do I feel it would be good to completely give up meat. I do fancy doing my own experiment measuring health vitals and athletic performance (strength, endurance) whilst on a vegan VS meat diet. There is so much propaganda on both sides of the coin that I feel this is potentially the only path to the truth.
Documentaries like Cowspiracy, where we look at the facts honestly without telling people what to do, I feel, are the best foot forward regarding all the above topics. Lets keep the information flowing and lets ensure it's credible with any vested interests being firmly highlighted.
As with anything, facts can be amended, scoped and presented in a fashion that suits a particular agenda, so ongoing conversation and discernment is essential. At the moment less than 8% of the world is vegan/vegetarian so it’s not gaining mass appeal. Yet, what could a 50% reduction in meat from just 40% of the population achieve?
My heart and head are still both undecided, as a shaman, I did some work to get answers and all were heavily in favour of responsible meat consumption. That said, for me the conversation is ongoing.