A counterattack to common non-vegan arguments
So you are watching a vegan video or reading a vegan article and you come across some carnist commenters who have the same tired non-vegan arguments. Here are some of the more common arguments I run into, along with some counterpoints.
Ridiculous carnist arguments
What is a carnist? Ideology that supports the use of animals for food, clothing or other consumer products. Dr. Melanie Joy
Argument 1: The Bible, Quran or some other text says it is ok for humans to eat meat.
Answer:Answer: Just to take on one of these religious texts, let’s take a look at the Bible. The Bible also says you should, “Abstain from “meat of strangled animals and from blood.” Acts 15:20, “you must not eat the blood of a bird or any other animal,” Leviticus 7:26, “But flesh with its life, which is its blood, shall you not eat.” King James 2000 Bible, “”The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.” Deuteronomy 14:8. “Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.” Leviticus 11:12 So just so you know, yes, a cow has a divided (cloven) hoof, along with sheep, goats and many other animals.
So, basically, this rules out eating pigs, rabbits, birds, and some sea creatures; but seriously, do you really need to hear this? Aren’t you able to see the ridiculousness of following the rules of such outdated text? And no, you cannot pick and choose what you want to follow and what you do not. Either you follow it, or you don’t.
In addition, religious philosophies such as Jainism specifically advocate for not killing any other creature? Is only your religion correct, and specifically, only those verses you pick and choose?
Argument 2: Humans are carnivores, omnivores or whatever.
Answer:Actually, the science is still out on that, but does it really matter? We have more herbivore traits than we do carnivore. We do not have the fast twitch muscle fibers of the majority of carnivores that allow them to run quickly to catch their prey. We do not have the large pupils that carnivores use to hunt more efficiently, and limit prey from seeing what they are targeting. We do not have sharp canine teeth that allow for carnivores to tear a carcass open. We do not have the stomach acids or other necessary elements that allow carnivores to process raw meat.
Yes, humans can survive on almost anything. We are a very adaptable species. That is exactly why we can adapt to an all vegetable diet. The question should not be “are we meant to eat meat,” because there is really no answer for that. What does that mean exactly? Are we “meant” by whom? Our bodies can easily adjust to an all vegetable diet. Why wouldn’t we if we can?
If you know that 70 billion animals are tortured and killed in horrible ways, most of them babies, why wouldn’t you make the decision as a civilized human being to stop contributing to these atrocities? We are constantly developing as a species, but until we reach a deeper level of empathy, we will be unable to fully evolve.
Essentially, because humans refuse to adapt a more compassionate way of living, which includes allowing other species to live in peace, we will destroy our environment and kill off humanity through our ignorance. Carnist behavior in particular, which includes our egocentric way of thinking, is contributing to environmental decline.
Answer:This is a tale the meat and dairy industries have been feeding humans for at least the last several decades. This is completely untrue. There is plenty of protein in vegetables, legumes and vegan foods and supplements. And seriously, when exactly are you worried about getting enough protein or nutrition? This seems to only occur when carnists are talking to a vegan.
Argument 4: Animals cannot feel like humans (are not sentient) so why shouldn’t we eat them?
Answer:Animals can feel, just like humans, and some people think animals feel even more deeply than humans. There have been incidences of cows that had a calf taken from them who then starved themselves to death. It is well known that a grieving cow will cry out for days after their babies are stolen from them. Pigs are known to be as intelligent as four year old children. Do you think a four year old feels? Chickens and turkeys are also highly intelligent, and will remember you from week to week if you come visit them. Fish learn to know their caregivers, and an analysis of over 200 studies indicate that fish have a high level of cognitive ability and sensory perception.
One of the things I always hear from people is that animals don’t “think” like people, so they are a lower form of life. So then, you would consider a person with a disability a “lower form of life?” Why is it that when an animal is unable to speak our language that humans assume they are less intelligent? Intelligence is not only measured by intellect and language. There are many types of intelligences including, but not limited to, spatial, artistic, musical, naturalistic and existential. Many animals have highly developed senses in other areas such as visual and musculature. Do we count that? Have you ever spoken with a chicken? How do you know they are not intelligent? Do not judge animals by what humans do.
We should not be the yardstick to measure other creatures. All animals, fish, birds and reptiles have their own strengths and weaknesses. We are not better than them. If all of the plankton in the sea died, humans die. If the bee dies, humans die. Who can say one creature is more important than another?
Argument 5: Plants feel too.
Answer: Plants do not have a central nervous system, nor are they sentient, therefore, they do not feel pain in the way animals and humans do. In addition, humans most often eat the plant seed (maize, coffee, nuts), fruit (tomato, apples, oranges)or leaves of a plant (cabbage, lettuce), and more. This is the way plants naturally propagate. Most plants do not die when we eat them.
Argument 6: If you don’t eat animals the world will overpopulate.
Answer: In the United States alone there are 20 billion farm animals that humans have raised to consume. These animals would not exist at all if we did not breed them for food. They are artificially inseminated on farms and factories around the country, and around the world. The 70 billion farm animals that are slaughtered annually take up much of the land that could be available for wild animal and human populations. In other words, we are breeding these animals into existence and they are taking up our land. If we did not breed them, they would not exist. If we stop intervening, natural balance would occur on this planet. Human intervention and breeding is what is contributing to planet overpopulation with “farm” animals.
Argument 7: What about all of the starving people?
Answer: Again, animals are taking up land that could be used to raise crops for people. It is estimated that if we took back all of the land we now use for “farm” animals we could feed an additional 4 billion people. Over 80% of the corn grown in the U.S. and 60 billion pounds of soy are fed to farm animals each year. Farm animals outnumber people by a 65 to 1 ratio, and most of the food is going to feed them. Just the grains we use to feed farm animals today could feed an additional 800 million people (that does not count the land that would be freed up if we stop growing food for these animals (again..that we breed). We are essentially starving millions of people on this planet by eating meat. Rich, industrialized countries eat animals, while poor countries feed these animals the grain they might use to feed their own populations.
Argument 8: Cows have to be milked or they will burst.
Answer: Yes, mother cows produce milk, because they had a baby. In the dairy industry the artificially inseminate these cows. Stop artificially inseminating cows to get milk and you do not have to worry. In addition, if you allow the calf to drink the mothers milk, the calf would suckle naturally every 20 minutes or so, thereby alleviating the pressure the mother cow feels. This is natural. It is what is supposed to occur when a cow becomes pregnant naturally.
Argument 9: Other animals eat meat, so why shouldn’t we?
Answer: Obligatory carnivores such as cats eat meat out of necessity. Many studies on animals have shown that if animals are well fed, they will not eat “prey” animals that are put in their environment, but instead, they will friend them. Humans, who can very easily survive without animals, do not NEED to kill them to survive. These other animals do. Humans harm animals for pleasure, not necessity. When you purchase a piece of animal flesh, such as a steak, and eat it for the pure enjoyment of it, you have contributed to the death of that animal solely for your pleasure. Why would we subject animals to torture and murder if it is not a necessity? Other animals also kill their young..should we do that as well?
Argument 10: We have always eaten animals, so why shouldn’t we continue?
Answer: Whether humans have always eaten meat or not is irrelevant. We no longer need to eat meat to survive, so why would we murder other animals? We have many other violent traditions that we no longer follow that involve slavery, rape and murder. Should we continue to participate in these traditions as well?
Argument 11: I only buy cage free chickens and grass fed beef.
Answer: These phrases were developed by the agricultural industry to help people to assuage the guilt associated with consuming animal products. These animals are subjected to the same horrible conditions as any other. In most cases, they never see sunlight, have barely enough room to turn around, are fed steroids to make them grow to four times their normal size very quickly, and are fed antibiotics to stop the diseases that would run rampant in these awful conditions. Even fish are now raised in factories where they have inches at best in which to swim. It is a horrific existence. But let’s just say you buy your animal flesh from a farm next door to you. Do you think it is any less horrific for an animal to feel they are loved and then be murdered by their caretaker? How must those last moments be for them? Nothing wants to die, and you do not have to contribute to their murder, so why would you?
Argument 12: If the world went vegan, many workers would be out of a job.
Answer: Like any other industry that dies, workers would find other means of support. Farm workers would transition into growing plant foods. Slaughterhouse workers murder animals via slitting them open, electrocution, boiling them alive, tearing off their skin or fur, beating them, and other atrocious acts. Although I don’t give a damn if they are out of a job, I am certain they would find other sadistic positions where they could thrive. In a more compassionate world, those with less compassion, who existed by exploiting or hurting others, would gradually, cease to exist.
Argument 13: It is just how things are, and you can’t change it.
Answer: Of course this is a fallacy, because we can easily go back in time and look at changes that were made in societies, even when the existing social structure dictated otherwise. Human slavery is a great example, because it aligns perfectly with what we are doing to animals today. Slavery was widely accepted worldwide throughout history. People were enslaved because they were of a different culture, race, religion, etc. They were owned by their masters and could be sold, tortured, raped or murdered according to their masters will. In these times, people saw nothing wrong with these practices. Can you see the similarities? We enslave animals today and do the same thing. Just because the masses are ok with doing these things now, does not mean they always will be. Just a few years ago, only 2% of the world was vegan. Now, 10% identify as vegan in some countries, and veganism is increasing overall worldwide. Times are rapidly changing. Just as it is now against the law to own slaves, it will at some point be against the law to murder and eat animals. It is a matter of time and evolution. If you choose the carnist lifestyle, you are on the wrong side of history.
Argument 14: Vegans kill more animals than meat eaters.
Answer: The whole idea is that when crops are harvested, a number of animals are killed in the process. Let’s go back to how many crops are grown to feed animals, shall we? Animals that are raised for food are fed up to 70% of the crops grown around the world. Therefore, when we harvest crops to feed these animals, many more animals are killed in the process.
So those are just a few of the arguments carnists have for continuing to consume animal products, and yet there is not one valid reason for continuing this barbaric practice. Maybe you should get real with yourself and just admit that you eat and wear animals, and consume their secretions because you are an ignorant, egocentric, selfish human who lacks empathy and is obviously less evolved than your vegan counterparts.