Before I started this topic I had, I am pretty sure, a rather bias opinion of veganism. Now though, over the last few months having learnt about veganism, I feel I have a considerably fairer view on the subject. One of the great things about Burnet News Club is that it gives you the resources, skills and fair, unbiased information from both sides to develop your own decision on a subject: they let you decide yourself, not forcing you into a specific opinion or way of thinking. Having learned about both pro’s and con’s of veganism, this is my personal opinion it but I don’t have a very straightforward answer to this; i don’t strongly hate or love veganism because I agree and disagree with certain sides of it.
I agree to some extent because:
1.A vegan diet can be healthy/ healthier
Many people take up a vegan diet because it is considered healthier and I cannot disagree with this. I can definitely see the health benefits of this diet: you take in a far wider range of vitamins and minerals then you might do with a normal diet and this can’t be argued with easily because there is lots of evidence to back up this claim and so i agree with this diet being healthier. It is true that there are some vitamins like Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 that you simply can’t get from non-animal sources but there aren’t many vitamins/ minerals like this and the ones you can’t get can easily be sourced from supplements. However, it is important to acknowledge that any diet can be unhealthy; carrots and avocados are both vegan but if you ate only carrots and avocados for every meal you are most definitely not going to be healthy, you’ll have deficiencies in lots of different minerals, with possibly dangerous side affects.
The people who are vegan not just for the health benefits, but because of their beliefs on how to fairly treat animals take up this diet because they want to make sure that no animals are exploited or hurt to give them their meal. They believe that animals should not be kept for human enjoyment or benefit, but they should be allowed in their natural environment, free. I completely see not eating animals; my uncle is a vegetarian and has been for as long as i can remember so I can definitely agree with not eating animals; I can see how vegans and vegetarians find eating animals cruel and that they shouldn’t be killed for food. In addition, I completely respect vegans not eating or using other animal products like eggs, wool, milk and butter but I can’t sympathize with this as much as not eating animals; an animal killed for food does definitely mean something cruel has happened to them ( them being killed ) but harvesting a resource from an animal doesn’t automatically cause it misery . I completely see that they have a relevant point however because animals are currently, worldwide being kept in cruel conditions, resulting in a life full of misery for them and so I can see why vegans don’t eat animal products at all .
I have agreed with both the main reasons for people becoming vegan: health benefits and ethically but I am not a vegan and despite seeing and mostly agreeing with their points, I know that I will still never become a vegan, for several reasons.:
- Convenience. Despite many vegans finding this diet easy, I think, if I was to take up the diet I would find it difficult and so would my family. Since I am in secondary school, I still don’t cook a lot of my meals. Even if i did, I think I would find it difficult to source meals that are vegan (I wrote a joint post with GoldRhino that shows this). Take tonight for example: my dad is cooking home made fishcakes and my brother an I are considering making brownies if we have enough time. Neither of these are vegan meals. Not just tonight, but looking back at all my meals over the past week, i don’t think any of them were vegan; they didn’t all have meat in but none of them didn’t have any animal products in at all. OK, once in a while I will have a vegan meal like when occasionally my dad makes this great leak and potato soup or vegetable risotto but the majority of my meals would need to be drastically altered to make it vegan. This would mean making two meals for me and my family which is a real inconvenience and a pain. Even when I am an older, fully fledged adult, living on my own and cooking all my own meals I think I would still find it difficult to eat vegan. I can cook OK, I help my dad in the kitchen a lot so I could cook meals but the amount of time I would have to shop, tirelessly looking at the ingredients to check there are no forbidden, non-vegan ingredients in there; I couldn’t just get home after a long day and shove some chicken nuggets and chips in the oven, for tea if i didn’t want to cook, I would, likely have to cook a meal from scratch.
- I think it is possible to get cruelty free animal produce. Although I can sympathize and respect vegans views i don’t completely agree with them: as I said earlier, I see that killing an animal, even if it is done ‘humanely’ is cruel but i think that not eating eggs, drinking milk, or consuming/ using other animal products where an animal did not need to be killed to give you that product is not necessary; animals are mostly kept in cruel, cramped conditions but I strongly believe that this does not need to be the case. I believe that it is possible to keep animals in a happy environment: where no animals are kept away from their mothers, they are all fed plenty- but not too much, and they are kept in a spacious pleasant environment. The only reason that most animals producing milk or eggs at the moment are kept in cruel conditions is because of human greed for money: farmers make cramped spaces and mass produce animals because the more product they get, the more profit they get and the less money spent on the animal’s welfare the lower price consumers can pay for it. I think that the solution is being willing to pay more for eggs, milk etc so that they can be kept in far better conditions then they are kept now: avoiding eating the product is still allowing animal cruelty to continue, even if you don’t play a part in it.
- We are designed to eat meat. We, as humans, are designed to be omnivores: we are designed to eat vegetables and meat. Although we are now able to eat just vegetables, fruit and other vegan foods as a choice, our bodies are designed to eat meat and meat is good for us. Eating meat is not necessarily unhealthy like some people assume ( although it can be in large quantities), in fact it has many benefits to us ( like proteins, fats, and certain types of vitamins and minerals that can’t be/ can’t easily be naturally sourced from elsewhere). We have been eating meat for as long as we have lived: why stop now?
- I like the taste of meat. It is quite a selfish reason, but honestly, I enjoy the taste of meat, eggs, milk etc. I enjoy eating turkey at Christmas and fish with chips on Friday. I simply enjoy eating meat because I like the taste. It is an enjoyable thing to eat, a taste which is hard to find from other things. Although you can get vegetarian/ vegan ‘meat’ like vegetarian bacon it just doesn’t taste the same.
Overall, I think that vegans are brilliant for trying to reduce animal suffering but I will never become a vegan though, I will eat meat and animal products I am pretty sure for the rest of my life. But since I enjoy the taste of animal products and meat so much I think I have a responsibility, as a consumer to be more aware and thankful for my food. Studying this topic on veganism has made me far more aware of the suffering of animals and I do not think that this suffering should go on. Animal are not brainless: they have brains, thoughts and feeling and so they can feel sad, depressed, lonely, in pain: all the emotions we can. It’s made me put myself in their shoes: I don’t want to live a life of complete misery that can be prevented if some people were just a little bit more empathetic, so why should they? This is why I, if possible will make a choice to try and get cruelty free eggs or meat. I think it is difficult, most meat is mass produced but if I see an opportunity to support a farm doing something right: not treating animals horribly over a mass -produced, meat where it was treated cruelly, I will try to do so, even it is more expensive. I think that this a belief that others should have and that rather than turning a blind eye we should think about the meals we eat, and not be wasteful of our food, but acknowledge that an animal was killed to give you that or that it came from an animal and perhaps we will be more empathetic. My hope is that one day, animals will live , as far as possible a cruelty free life to give us food. Vegans try to do this, reduce animal cruelty by not eating meat or animal produce entirely but i will try to do this instead by supporting and buying from the farms that are doing the right thing: treating animals kindly, not the farms that are mass producing animals/ animal produce in cramped, inhumane conditions. Just spending a couple of extra pounds is, in my opinion, definitely worth it if it means that an animal is treated better.
In conclusion, I do not judge vegans for their choice, I do not think they are fussy-eaters, attention-seekers, stupid or being pointless: I think they are empathetic towards animals, healthy, kind and considerate people. Just because I am not going to be vegan doesn’t mean I don’t agree with them- I think we all should and that we all have a responsibility, as consumers, as people who choose to eat meat and animal produce, to acknowledge and be thankful for the food we get from animals and that we should all do more, even if it is a simple choice of spending a couple of extra pounds to get a meat/ animal produce and support a farm that treats animals well over one that doesn’t.
I’d love to hear what you all think on this issue- what’s your opinion on veganism, and do you disagree with anything I have said- you can tell me in the comments if you want.