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sunrisemoonshine

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Veganism has to be reconsidered - for ethical, environmental and health considerations

Over the last years, veganism has seen a steady increase in popularity. From Netflix documentaries to celebrities to everyday people that are concerned about their environmental footprint or want to overcome personal health issues, going plant-based has become a ubiquitous phenomenon. And there is a multitude of reasons why ever more people are following the plant-based movement. The three main reasons for going vegan are a. ethical considerations, b. environmental considerations and c. health considerations. According to proponents of the vegan movement, the vegan way of living is promoting health in humans, helping to mitigate climate change and destruction and ending unnecessary animal suffering. While I think the vegan idea is well intentioned and benevolent, I see some problems in the logic of its arguments on whom I want to elaborate on in this post.

First of all, I would like to touch upon the health argument, which is fundamental in the logical construct around veganism. When watching media outlets of all sorts that promote veganism, like Netflix documentaries, health and medical influencers on YouTube, where most people get their information from, one gets the impression that a plant-based diet is the way to go in order to live a long and disease-free life. Many medical doctors with an online presence that advocate for a plant-based diet claim that there exists a scientific consensus regarding a vegan diet being optimal for human health and that no animal products need to be consumed. However, they admit that in order to stay healthy long-term on a fully plant-based eating regimen, one has to supplement with some vitamins and minerals and eat a well-balanced diet consisting of whole foods.

Here is where I see a few problems. A fully plant-based diet either leads to malnutrition or requires the import (in the case for most western countries, where veganism has gained the most popularity) of plant products from all over the world. Not only is the production of these foods problematic in some cases (e.g., avocados which require vast amounts of water and are grown in places where water is scarce in the first place) but so is the demand for transportation they create. Furthermore, people are dependent on pharmaceutical corporations that produce supplements that are essential to consume when living 100% plant based.

Secondly, I would like to touch upon the argument related to environmental sustainability. There is no denying that the industrial way we consume and produce animal products in the west is harming animals, humans and the planet. Factory farming ought to be forbidden and the agricultural sector decentralized. I argue that this could only have happened because people, due to separation of labor and specialization beginning with the Industrial Revolution got out of touch with nature. Profit-maximizing thinking rendered animals to be a commodity where the maximum value should be extracted from. The result therefrom is sick and suffering animals that put pressure on the environment and make the people who eat them sick and miserable. While I agree that we are eating too much of poor-quality animal products, it is a scientific reality that humans need to consume at least some animal protein and fats to maintain their health long-term. Yes, plants have many of the essential nutrients in them, but in too small amounts or with low bioavailability. There exists no indigenous/tribal people that live fully plant based anywhere in the world.

Finally, I would like to address the ethical argument. In my opinion it is a noble aim to reduce suffering, be it in animals or humans. However, it is not straightforward that adopting a vegan lifestyle is reducing aggregate suffering. Yes, animals will not suffer in slaughterhouses and factory farms, yet humans may suffer all sorts of health problems and the increasing demand for cropland and water puts additional pressure on the environment, not to mention all the animals that are killed in the process of conventional plant-based agriculture in harvesting and field maintenance. (Yes, a large proportion of these plant crops are fed to factory farmed animals, which I see as absolutely problematic.)

To conclude, I would like to mention that I agree with the plant-based movement on that the status quo is not good. Conventional animal agriculture is putting a heavy toll on human, animal and planetary health. However, the answer to ending this problem does not lie in going vegan. Much rather I would suggest that people are more critical about what they actually need and about consumerism in general. Yes, I think people do require some animal products to live healthfully, yet nowhere near the quantity we consume today. The paradigm of quantity ought to be replaced with quality and the globalized food chains ought to be replaced with local consumption. I believe that part of the solution to the issue of nutrition, health and the environment lies in moderation and mindful consumption. Should you consume animal products daily and consume factory farmed products. No. Are you improving your environmental footprint by going plant-based? Most likely (when compared to a standard western diet). But is veganism sustainable long-term and does it lead to humans and the planet thriving? Most certainly not (if you don’t assume that the planet is better off without humans on it).



Thank you for reading. I am very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts and replies.
 

Emma JC

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Veganism has to be reconsidered - for ethical, environmental and health considerations

Over the last years, veganism has seen a steady increase in popularity. From Netflix documentaries to celebrities to everyday people that are concerned about their environmental footprint or want to overcome personal health issues, going plant-based has become a ubiquitous phenomenon. And there is a multitude of reasons why ever more people are following the plant-based movement. The three main reasons for going vegan are a. ethical considerations, b. environmental considerations and c. health considerations. According to proponents of the vegan movement, the vegan way of living is promoting health in humans, helping to mitigate climate change and destruction and ending unnecessary animal suffering. While I think the vegan idea is well intentioned and benevolent, I see some problems in the logic of its arguments on whom I want to elaborate on in this post.

First of all, I would like to touch upon the health argument, which is fundamental in the logical construct around veganism. When watching media outlets of all sorts that promote veganism, like Netflix documentaries, health and medical influencers on YouTube, where most people get their information from, one gets the impression that a plant-based diet is the way to go in order to live a long and disease-free life. Many medical doctors with an online presence that advocate for a plant-based diet claim that there exists a scientific consensus regarding a vegan diet being optimal for human health and that no animal products need to be consumed. However, they admit that in order to stay healthy long-term on a fully plant-based eating regimen, one has to supplement with some vitamins and minerals and eat a well-balanced diet consisting of whole foods.

Here is where I see a few problems. A fully plant-based diet either leads to malnutrition or requires the import (in the case for most western countries, where veganism has gained the most popularity) of plant products from all over the world. Not only is the production of these foods problematic in some cases (e.g., avocados which require vast amounts of water and are grown in places where water is scarce in the first place) but so is the demand for transportation they create. Furthermore, people are dependent on pharmaceutical corporations that produce supplements that are essential to consume when living 100% plant based.

Secondly, I would like to touch upon the argument related to environmental sustainability. There is no denying that the industrial way we consume and produce animal products in the west is harming animals, humans and the planet. Factory farming ought to be forbidden and the agricultural sector decentralized. I argue that this could only have happened because people, due to separation of labor and specialization beginning with the Industrial Revolution got out of touch with nature. Profit-maximizing thinking rendered animals to be a commodity where the maximum value should be extracted from. The result therefrom is sick and suffering animals that put pressure on the environment and make the people who eat them sick and miserable. While I agree that we are eating too much of poor-quality animal products, it is a scientific reality that humans need to consume at least some animal protein and fats to maintain their health long-term. Yes, plants have many of the essential nutrients in them, but in too small amounts or with low bioavailability. There exists no indigenous/tribal people that live fully plant based anywhere in the world.

Finally, I would like to address the ethical argument. In my opinion it is a noble aim to reduce suffering, be it in animals or humans. However, it is not straightforward that adopting a vegan lifestyle is reducing aggregate suffering. Yes, animals will not suffer in slaughterhouses and factory farms, yet humans may suffer all sorts of health problems and the increasing demand for cropland and water puts additional pressure on the environment, not to mention all the animals that are killed in the process of conventional plant-based agriculture in harvesting and field maintenance. (Yes, a large proportion of these plant crops are fed to factory farmed animals, which I see as absolutely problematic.)

To conclude, I would like to mention that I agree with the plant-based movement on that the status quo is not good. Conventional animal agriculture is putting a heavy toll on human, animal and planetary health. However, the answer to ending this problem does not lie in going vegan. Much rather I would suggest that people are more critical about what they actually need and about consumerism in general. Yes, I think people do require some animal products to live healthfully, yet nowhere near the quantity we consume today. The paradigm of quantity ought to be replaced with quality and the globalized food chains ought to be replaced with local consumption. I believe that part of the solution to the issue of nutrition, health and the environment lies in moderation and mindful consumption. Should you consume animal products daily and consume factory farmed products. No. Are you improving your environmental footprint by going plant-based? Most likely (when compared to a standard western diet). But is veganism sustainable long-term and does it lead to humans and the planet thriving? Most certainly not (if you don’t assume that the planet is better off without humans on it).



Thank you for reading. I am very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts and replies.

You won't get much support on a vegan forum, where many of us are also whole food plant-based, for a post like this. I am sure others may address your points directly but I will just say " I believe you are wrong on every point " do your research as most of us have done.

Emma JC
Find your vegan soulmate or just a friend. www.spiritualmatchmaking.com
 

David3

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All mainstream health organizations have stated that properly-planned vegan diets are healthy.

I would say that veganism is sustainable long-term. I've been a vegan for 30 years.

The original post is long on words but includes no substantiating evidence from reputable sources. The original poster is advised to improve his/her science education.
.
 

Sax

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OP is worried veganism is catching on too much? Sounds like a win to me :broccoli:
 
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silva

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You took some time to write that post---but it's so wrong I can't bother to correct it all, and I'm quite sure it wouldn't matter :rofl:
 
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sunrisemoonshine

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All mainstream health organizations have stated that properly-planned vegan diets are healthy.

I would say that veganism is sustainable long-term. I've been a vegan for 30 years.

The original post is long on words but includes no substantiating evidence from reputable sources. The original poster is advised to improve his/her science education.
.
I think that the rational behind the support for the vegan movement by these health organizations is that a plant based diet is healthier than a conventional diet. This is most likely true, yet doesn't render veganism to be optimal for health. If you still believe that veganism is optimal for human health then I would suggest doing some research.
 

Indian Summer

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MOD POST
I've locked this thread and banned the OP as it's in violation of our rule #1(<- link). Basically, VF is a forum that promotes a vegan diet, and therefore we simply don't allow posts that attempt to argue for the consumption of animals. It doesn't matter whether it's long-winded and wordy, or just plain FUD, or if it's a more low-brow troll just posting photos of animal carcasses.

As I'm the admin and owner of this forum, I will nevertheless take this opportunity to clear up a few points.

A fully plant-based diet either leads to malnutrition or requires the import (in the case for most western countries, where veganism has gained the most popularity) of plant products from all over the world. Not only is the production of these foods problematic in some cases (e.g., avocados which require vast amounts of water and are grown in places where water is scarce in the first place) but so is the demand for transportation they create. Furthermore, people are dependent on pharmaceutical corporations that produce supplements that are essential to consume when living 100% plant based.
"All over the world" is obviously a bit of an exaggeration, but it's true that we often can't grow all the foods we need locally. However, the transportation is actually often not so bad for the climate as it's sometimes made out to be. Compare e.g. tomatoes grown in greenhouses locally in a northern country vs growing them out in the open somewhere closer to the equator and then transported to said country. The transported tomatoes win the climate footprint contest.

Also, avocados are not a vegan necessity.

How is dependency on pharmaceutical companies to produce supplements a problem? We're in 2021 and already depend on all kinds of technology to function in our daily lives. Not to mention that meat-eaters also depend on supplements or fortification, either directly e.g. as iodine added to table salt, calcium fortification of flour or other food products, or indirectly through supplements fed to livestock.

Secondly, I would like to touch upon the argument related to environmental sustainability. There is no denying that the industrial way we consume and produce animal products in the west is harming animals, humans and the planet. Factory farming ought to be forbidden and the agricultural sector decentralized.
Then how exactly are we going to be able to obtain all the meat needed to feed billions of meat-eaters? Are they going to eat only "organic" meat from grass-fed cows and sheep who lounge on green fields in a fairytale land? There simply isn't enough land on the planet for this.

While I agree that we are eating too much of poor-quality animal products, it is a scientific reality that humans need to consume at least some animal protein and fats to maintain their health long-term. Yes, plants have many of the essential nutrients in them, but in too small amounts or with low bioavailability.
No, and you have not provided any evidence for your claims.
There exists no indigenous/tribal people that live fully plant based anywhere in the world.
No, probably because B12 needs to be supplemented, and because indigenous/tribal people lived in a world where their existence was under constant threat from a plethora of dangers, so they at least sometimes needed to just eat what they could find and exploit every possible food source.

BTW, are you saying we should live like indigenous/tribal people? All 7.8 billion of us? Because that's not particularly realistic. Also, why should we live like indigenous/tribal people?
Yes, animals will not suffer in slaughterhouses and factory farms, yet humans may suffer all sorts of health problems and the increasing demand for cropland and water puts additional pressure on the environment, not to mention all the animals that are killed in the process of conventional plant-based agriculture in harvesting and field maintenance. (Yes, a large proportion of these plant crops are fed to factory farmed animals, which I see as absolutely problematic.)
Veganism would mean less health problems and less land and water usage as we would no longer need to feed all the farm animals. C'mon, this is veganism 101 material!

But is veganism sustainable long-term and does it lead to humans and the planet thriving?
There are many examples of thriving long-term vegans, and health authorities in the USA and elsewhere have stated that a vegan diet is healthy and suitable for all stages of life. As anecdotal evidence, Donald Watson, co-founder of the Vegan Society in 1944 and the person who coined term "vegan", lived to 95 years of age.

I think that the rational behind the support for the vegan movement by these health organizations is that a plant based diet is healthier than a conventional diet. This is most likely true, yet doesn't render veganism to be optimal for health. If you still believe that veganism is optimal for human health then I would suggest doing some research.
Properly-planned vegan diets are healthy. Whether they are optimal for human health is unknown. If there is a diet that is optimal, that is also unknown. But in any case, there are many examples of successful vegan athletes, see e.g. these threads:
 
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