Sometimes people ask me why I am vegan. In our conversations they may bring forward worries and counterarguments. In my view, these are usually based on misunderstandings. In this article, I will first discuss my reasons for being vegan. Then, I will address several common misconceptions.
- Animal Welfare and Rights: Veganism supports the idea that animals inherently have rights, including the right to a life free from exploitation and suffering. This includes not only avoiding animal suffering but also recognizing animals as beings with their own interests. By the way, he interests of humans and animals are often aligned.
- Environmental Protection and Climate Change: By reducing dependence on animal agriculture, veganism contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution. This is crucial in the fight against climate change, as animal agriculture is a significant source of methane and CO2 emissions.
- Health Benefits: A well-planned vegan diet can be rich in essential nutrients and low in saturated fats, which contributes to a lower risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.
- Lower Pandemic Risk: A vegan diet can contribute to reducing the risk of pandemics. This is due to two main factors: firstly, reducing antibiotic resistance, which is exacerbated by the overuse of antibiotics in intensive animal farming; and secondly, minimizing the risk of viral infections that can emerge and spread in intensive animal farming conditions. Both antibiotic resistance and zoonotic diseases from animal farming are significant contributors to the potential for global pandemics.
- Solving global hunger: Another significant benefit of a vegan diet is its potential to make a great contribution to solving global hunger. Much of the plant-based food currently grown is fed to livestock, not people. Shifting to a plant-based diet can redirect these resources to produce food directly for human consumption, improving the efficiency of global food resources. This could enhance food availability and distribution, particularly in areas facing food shortages.
- "Aren't animal proteins superior and necessary?" It's a misconception that animal proteins are the only complete source of protein. Many plant-based sources also contain all essential amino acids, and a varied vegan diet can fully meet protein needs.
- "Don't we need dairy for calcium?" Dairy is not the only source of calcium. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are excellent plant-based sources of readily absorbable calcium.
- "Isn't B12 only available from animal products?" While B12 is primarily associated with animal products, it can also be obtained from fortified plant-based foods and supplements, as the vitamin is naturally produced by microorganisms.
- "Is meat not essential for a healthy diet?" A well-composed plant-based diet can provide all essential nutrients, countering the claim that meat is essential for health.
- "Aren't omega-3 fatty acids only found in fish?" Omega-3 fatty acids are not exclusive to fish. Plant-based sources such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and algae can also fulfill the need for these essential fatty acids.
- "Doesn't research show that saturated fat is not a problem?" Contrary to some claims, saturated fat is indeed a risk factor for heart disease, and this is supported by a majority of scientific literature.
- "Is the environmental impact of animal farming not overstated?" The environmental impact of animal farming is significant, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, land use, and water consumption, often underestimated in pro-animal product narratives.