Commentary: The ultimate vegan con

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A recent post on a pro-veggie website titled, “The Pros and Cons of Veganism” recently caught my eye. I was interested to see what the movement considered to be the downside of going vegan.

Surprise! There is no downside, no “cons” at all! Imagine that.

Here’s how the article began:

“A request from a reporter doing a story on ‘The Pros and Cons of Veganism’ listed what the reporter thought of as cons, obviously having bought into the misrepresentations and lies that many meat-eaters perpetuate to help them rationalize the status quo. Not surprisingly, the reporter basically ignored any pro-vegan feedback; it is hard to write a pro-and-con story when the cons have been refuted.”

Well, I guess that settles it.

But I have a some questions for vegans to which they really ought to respond, if only to themselves, because far from being the perfect lifestyle and the ultimate diet they convince themselves it is, veganism is fraught with contradictions, misconceptions and a wholesale refusal to engage with what those of us not living in Fantasyland like to call “reality.”

Here then, are some questions regarding those “cons” (as in “contradictions”) veggies insist are non-existent:

› History. Does human experience over so many millennia mean anything to modern-day vegans, who are supposedly so enlightened, so well-educated, so much further evolved than all those intellectually crude carnivores? If so, do the cultural, spiritual and culinary traditions of the Natives who populated this hemisphere for upwards of 20,000 years before Europeans showed up mean anything at all? Do we learn any lessons of value from the wisdom passed on through the centuries by generations of elders from among those hundreds of tribes? Do we acknowledge any recognition whatsoever for the respect and reverence with which Natives treated the wildlife they hunted, fished and trapped for sustenance?

Or do we label them as ignorant savages? Bloodthirsty carnivores? Misguided primitives who just didn’t know enough, or possess enough modern technology to subsist on soy protein, salads and processed concoctions manufactured to resemble meat, dairy and poultry foods?

Do we simply consider them conquered people who once lived in spiritual and ecological harmony with all other species, but are now just a bunch of has-beens whose time has passed? Do we pay their lifestyle lip service, but pretend that the cosmology we so reverence can simply be excised from their relationship with the animal kingdom?

What do you say, vegans?

› Land Use. Without recruiting literally millions of newcomers to agriculture, it’s difficult to envision the wholesale emergence of thousands of the small-scale, labor-intensive farms needed to grow all the fruits, vegetables, beans and grains on which vegans insist we all should live. Or is it acceptable to maintain the input-heavy, capital-intensive agricultural system currently in place, only somehow convince existing ranchers, livestock producers, dairy farmers, even farmsteads with a small flock of chickens to simply give it all up and somehow, some way switch over the growing the crops you believe could replace their lost income? Is that really plausible?

And what about the extensive use of tropical oils, spices, nuts and other food ingredients commonly incorporated in the manufacture of all those “super-healthful” vegan foods? Entire tropical ecosystems have been decimated to grow palm plantations and cultivate cocoa, sugar cane and similar crops, yet nobody in the vegan movement says peep about the environmental impact of consuming those products, nor the food miles built into their distribution to us North Americans.

Why not, vegans?

› Pricing. Most organic, vegan and similar specialty foods available at retail are already two, sometimes three times as costly as comparable products not carrying those label claims. Is that okay for the 27% of Americans living below the poverty line to be priced out of your culinary kingdom? Or do make the argument that efficiencies of scale and the centralization of production, processing and distribution—the very corporatization activists hate—would lower prices once everyone converts and creates a mass market for vegan foods?

If not, are you okay with knowing that a lot of the dietary choices you want everyone else to make are out of many people’s price range? If not, doesn’t your holier-than-thou stance on food choices reek of hypocrisy? Can you answer that question honestly, vegans?

› Pets. No one, not even the purest, most dedicated veggie believer can argue that cats and dogs are natural vegetarians. Just examine their teeth next time one of ’em yawns. They’re meat-eaters.

So is it okay to deny them the food their bodies are best suited to handle? Is it acceptable to force them to live on some formulated pet ration that’s “scientifically” engineered to provide proper nutrition with non-meat ingredients?

Aren’t pets sentient creatures? Don’t they have feelings? Aren’t they entitled to enjoy their food, just like we do? So is it right to force them to adopt your vegan lifestyle, just because it makes you feel superior? Isn’t that pretty much a master-slave relationship, and are you comfortable with that kind of domination?

And if you do decide to feed your pets what they crave, pray tell: Where does the animal protein come from, after all the ranchers and producers have switched over to weeding gardens and harvesting pea pods?

I’d really like an answer to that one, veggies, because that seems to me like a totally insurmountable “con.”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.


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scott l.    
usa  |  April, 15, 2013 at 04:54 PM

this really has no point and makes no sense. obviously, less suffering is better than more suffering and the egg, meat, and dairy industries are responsible for most of the suffering on the planet. there is, therefore, a moral imperative to boycott these horrid products. it's that simple. protect the innocent defenseless from abuse.

Graybull    
Wyo  |  April, 15, 2013 at 05:50 PM

Always sad for me when read these type of things. Such a travesty that misguided folks are compromising their health and well being while believing they are doing a good thing. If you have any doubt about this......ask Lierre Keith.

jc    
usa  |  April, 15, 2013 at 07:07 PM

The disclaimer at the end of the article says it all, "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator." That's all his "facts" are opinions.

Jennie    
IL  |  April, 15, 2013 at 07:27 PM

This is a great example of someone coming across as defensive and therefore unreasonable. The author makes some good points, especially about the sustainability of palm and other oils, but says nothing about the havoc CAFOs are wreaking on the environment. The other big point that the author conveniently omits is the issue of animal suffering. There is no justification for it, so the author merely blusters and antagonizes and ignores animal welfare entirely.

Rex    
nebraska  |  April, 15, 2013 at 11:03 PM

We grow beef and beans and peas. We were disappointed to learn that the peas we grew last year were probably going to become dogfood instead of people food. I like to think of meat as freedom to choose. You can get the protein you need from pulses or beans, but you need to eat 2 1/2 times as much. That means a whole can of beans to match a hamburger for protein content--which means there is not much of a chance to get chocolate cake without skimping on some other nutritional requirement for a vegetarian.

naturalee    
USA  |  April, 16, 2013 at 12:07 AM

Although I can't speak for other people or other countries, I can speak on living here and now. Back "in the day" the food indusrty was not trying to pass "chemically damaged","modified", or "hormone pumped" products and pass them for food to the American population. Since they have been joined with the drug(FDA) industry the main goal is to keep you on medications..(more money for them). Until the indusry stops adding "trash" to the so-called food, I will continue to do what I can to not NEED any of their medicines. (Which by the way I don't have to take anything even at my age!) En

Jo    
UK  |  April, 16, 2013 at 04:06 AM

This is clearly a polemic written by someone who has stubborn anti-vegan views, and so I shouldn't engage in rebuttal. But I feel compelled to point out that the first point on 'history' is completely disingenuous. In every aspect of our lives we have moved on from what our ancestors did - that does not mean we look down on them or dismiss them as 'savages'. I have never, ever heard of a vegan making statements like that. You probably brush your teeth and shower daily, so does that mean you condemn your ancestors who didn't have these habits as disgusting slobs? I doubt it.

Jim    
Chicago  |  April, 16, 2013 at 06:28 AM

Well, let's have a vegan respond: History: Historically, if we ate like our native ancestors, we would be eating mostly vegan. We would be eating no dairy, few eggs, and mostly soups and stews *flavored* with meat. We would be eating a diet primarily of grains, legumes, squashes, and fruits, with very small amounts of jerked meat. This picture of Native Americans sitting around gnawing on buffalo steaks is amusing. Setting aside a no meat diet, the modern meat eating diet is far more unnatural to human nutrition. Up until even 50 or 60 years ago, meat was simply a side dish served two or three times a week and then it was primarily a chunk of pork thrown into a pot of beans. Now, it is a greasy pork chop covering half the plate with a spoonful of beans on the side. You want to discuss historic diet? LOL. MOST of you meat munchers reading this are dying from your diet. Most of you are on regular prescription meds because of your diet. You are taking statins to lower your cholesterol and little blue pills to help your junk to work and you want to talk about natural? LOL!! Land use? Good grief. Did you even think this through before you posted this or is this crowd that gullible? 70% of all grain grown in the US is used for livestock. 60% of all rainforest destruction is due to livestock production and the #1 consumer of rainforest livestock is, yup, you guessed it, the USA. This point you are attempting to make is so ridiculously desperate, I am not even going to waste more time on it. I'll just laugh at you for posting it. Price? You are reaching. A meal of beans, rice, and veggies is FAR cheaper than the high fat, artery clogging, nutrient devoid meat centric meal you likely choked down last night.

david hanley    
chicago  |  April, 16, 2013 at 07:01 AM

But are people really having problems getting enough food? Seriously, do we, as a nation need to worry about saving room for chocolate cake with our obesity epidemic?!?!

Rachael    
April, 16, 2013 at 08:23 AM

Well Dan.. If you ever picked up a book, or looked into where our sustainable ingredients come from, you would know a vegan diet is far less environmentally damaging. Humans can sacrifice tradition and taste for a healthy planet, they just don't want to. Also Dan.. I used to work with dog food, scientists do actually make dog food.. I hope you know that. So regardless of the ingredients, yes it has been scientifically formulated to support your dog's/cat's healthy system. NUTRITION is what you should be complaining about.. Not veganism. Please get your information checked before you (very unprofessionally) attack a group of people who are doing nothing but trying to provide you and your children a promising future on this planet.

Graybull    
Wyo  |  April, 16, 2013 at 09:11 AM

Must be a great column, Dan. Seems that the best and most factual information brings out the vegan trolls in larger bunches.

MCPants    
Texas  |  April, 16, 2013 at 09:30 AM

Lierre Keith is a quack. She cannot back up her pro-meat views with actual science. Nutrients are nutrients.

Brian    
VA  |  April, 16, 2013 at 09:36 AM

Vegans and other nuts, Dan still believes and defends the idea of man-caused global warming so it really isn’t a mental feat to tie him in to knots. If you want to see the benefits of meat in your diet, look at how unhealthy most vegans look. Look at how many productive people need/use meat to keep going—athletes, construction workers and other busy people. You write about health benefits of veganism. What percentage of low-meat consumers have high cholesterol compared to normal people? How do you address the studies that show that real milk and healthy meat can help maintain a healthy level of cholesterol? The facts simply do not support your position.

Katie    
Norfolk, VA  |  April, 16, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Well said! I was going to write the same things. These arguments are completely ridiculous if you know the ACTUAL facts about health, the planet, and government subsidies of meat and dairy products. And I know my cats are carnivores, and I feed them meat. Just because you can't do everything doesn't mean you should do nothing. There are NO cons of veganism, in my opinion. My life is so full now that I am one, nay-sayers just make me laugh. :) Keep speaking the truth!

Katie    
Norfolk, VA  |  April, 16, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Well said! I was going to write the same things. These arguments are completely ridiculous if you know the ACTUAL facts about health, the planet, and government subsidies of meat and dairy products. And I know my cats are carnivores, and I feed them meat. Just because you can't do everything doesn't mean you should do nothing. There are NO cons of veganism, in my opinion. My life is so full now that I am one, nay-sayers just make me laugh. :) Keep speaking the truth!

Katie    
Norfolk, VA  |  April, 16, 2013 at 10:28 AM

My comment was meant to reply to the many terrific vegans who answered the author's absurd questions :)

Katie    
Norfolk, VA  |  April, 16, 2013 at 10:28 AM

My comment was meant to reply to the many terrific vegans who answered the author's absurd questions :)

Pete    
UK  |  April, 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Sad to say the author actually missed out the possible 'cons' of a vegan diet - I was looking forward to some constructive idea sharing, not a diatribe of useless garbage, that didn't consider the actual question at all. Here are some of the points that could have been covered. 1/ Eating out - it can be a pain always having to check any places you want to eat in advance to make sure they have something available to eat (barring the dreaded dry salad with an exciting side of dry bread!). 2/ Visiting - any if food is involved many people do not understand the dietary needs of a vegan & so include eggs, fish, chicken or some animal product in a meal which can make things embarrassing for everyone. 3/ Medicines - medicines are a nightmare as not only must you consider animal testing, but also many medicines use animal products in their manufacture (pills can have lactose in for example). So, most vegans hold off on many medicines as much as possible (which is probably what we should all do anyway, but it can be a pain in the behind). 4/ Gifts - Sometimes people do not think about who they are buying for. It can be very embarrassing to give or receive a gift that isn't suitable for vegans. I suspect it happens quite a lot though. Those were off the top of my head, I'm guessing if I though about it I could think of many more, but that should give you an idea of the type of article that would actually have been useful. It's a shame the person couldn't have put aside all that obvious vitriol & actually looked at the question as there are some important cons to being a vegan. This is what I call an opportunity lost! Try to do better in the future.

Jack Johanson    
New York  |  April, 16, 2013 at 05:48 PM

Greybull, actually if you read Lierre's book then you would know she wasn't actually eating a 100% plant based diet as she "often" cheated my her own admission. You can't claim something wrecked your health when you weren't actually following it. You need to look at actual research and then you might be able to see that facts are not with you on the health issue for a majority of plant-based diet folks. There are a fewultra-marathoners (Rick Roll, Brendin Brazer, etc) Footballers, and even an well known arm wrestler, Rob Bigwood all not only thrive on a plant-based diet but can compete with omnivore competitors and hold their own. Learning might cause you question your own preconceptions.

Jack Johanson    
New York  |  April, 16, 2013 at 06:53 PM

Actually the protein is not really as much of an issue as most people believe. On average Americans already consume about twice the amount of protein then is recommended. Also most all vegetables and grains have protein content.

michael    
kansas  |  April, 17, 2013 at 04:53 PM

Great Job Dan! Love seeing what crawls out of the woodwork, from under the rocks and down out of the vegetation whenever the holy truths of veganism are probed, challenged and quite properly scorned and ridiculed. It's always interesting to see that Trolls from around the globe have time to monitor the scribblings in a small industry specific publication like Pork, isn't it? What the hell do these people do for a living - Troll? What does that pay? Maybe I should look into Trolling their tiny little worlds for profit too? I can pretend to care about the earth, children, animals, peoples' health and such too; while promoting my pseudo-religious views and pontificating about how stupid, backward and cruel everyone who doesn't share my "faith" is. That's the life for me!

Graybull    
Wyo  |  April, 18, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Another great blurb on veganism..... http://haysfreepress.com/2013/04/17/hey-lets-go-vegan-not/#axzz2Qnwez1Qp Best comment is this..... I have some co-workers who have encouraged me to become a vegan. They claim I will feel better, lose weight, lower my blood pressure and live longer. Now, if I can no longer eat beef, fried chicken or a pile of bacon, then why in tarnation would I want to live longer? Great Point!

David Wishengrad    
California  |  October, 01, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Life is Most Important. <--- That is the undeniable/undebatable, mutually observed, Most Important Truth. To kill and harm animals when there is healthy vegetation to eat is to go against the Most Important Truth of all. That's a Truthful fact. If we are not thinking in proper Truth (Truthful reality) then we are thinking in illusion and lies. Lies are always the first manifestation of pure evil.

Jim    
Chicago  |  October, 02, 2013 at 07:16 AM

Setting aside all of the other ridiculous questions (I'm still laughing about the land use canard. LOL!!!), let's just address your first ridiculous question: "do the cultural, spiritual and culinary traditions of the Natives who populated this hemisphere for upwards of 20,000 years before Europeans showed up mean anything at all? Do we learn any lessons of value from the wisdom passed on through the centuries by generations of elders from among those hundreds of tribes? Do we acknowledge any recognition whatsoever for the respect and reverence with which Natives treated the wildlife they hunted, fished and trapped for sustenance?" Clearly we have not learned from them at all. The traditional diet of the Native Americans was FAR closer to being vegan than it was carnivorous. I love how people think the NA's just sat around gnawing on buffalo steaks, when, in reality, they ate mostly grains, legumes, squash, and a predominantly plant-based diet. Meat was more of a flavoring to stews and soups than it was a staple. They certainly didn't factory farm genetically engineered, hormone and antibiotic injected porcine type creatures that are anything but natural. If anyone wants to know how the NA's lived, one can simply look at how the indigenous live in the Amazon or in Papua New Guinea. Both native groups live on a predominantly plant-based diet, with very very little meat, even as they are surrounded by an abundance of animals for food. Where a fat, bloated, half-dead American, living on Lipitor, Coumadin, and insulin injections will sneer at a small perch as a tiny appetizer, that perch in the Amazon will feed an entire family. Most of you pork munchers need chemicals to stay alive. How traditional and natural is that?

Joy Villa    
New York  |  October, 13, 2013 at 04:32 AM

Well said, very well said. I agree with you on this silly argument about ancestors. Who says we don't evolve? Who says we don;t change? That we can't better our lifestyles and make our world and ourselves better by choosing to live a different way? The "cons" of my 10+ vegan lifestyle? Having to deal with ignorance everywhere I go. And it's form both sides, I have met many ignorant vegans too, so I'm not picking on my meat eating friends! But really, this article was whiney and carried no real desire to learn about veganism, just "debunk" it and make all veggies "WRONG". Tsk, tsk.

Joy Villa    
New York  |  October, 13, 2013 at 04:36 AM

First of all, that's really rude to call vegans "nuts". But I'll ignore that to adress your question about "athletes and unhealthy" nonsense: Use that thing called "Google" (It's a search engine) and type in on your computer device "Vegan bodybuilding" then click images. How does them apples look, dufus?


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