I recently read a post on WhatsApp urging people to go vegan quoting a statement from 16-YO Greta Thunberg. She said: “You can’t be a meat-eating environmentalist. The fishing, meat, dairy, and egg industries aren’t just relentlessly cruel to animals – they’re also a nightmare for the environment.” I thought of writing my views on why I should not go vegan and veganism isn’t the answer to save the earth.
I want to start by saying: I don’t hate vegans and this is not about why vegans are wrong. I believe everyone needs to make his or her own choices in life and one way of eating may not work for everyone. Veganism is a personal choice. You have the right to choose what you eat and how you live, after all.
We live on a planet that is home to over seven billion people, and amongst that massive population, there are many, many different cultures. Some are vegetarian by nature, some plant-based by nature, others eat a lot of meat and animal products, and of course, there is a wide range in between. Vegan people are happy to eat vegetables, no objection, but it is better not to advise others on their taste, eating habits and ethics. The moral high ground of food just shifted a little bit.
Violence has nothing to do with food. Almost all the tribes of the world were traditionally meat-eaters. Even isolated island tribes also eat meat. So it can be said that meat is also a natural food of man. Hunting for food is never violence, but normal behaviour. Just because it’s harder to see doesn’t mean the history isn’t there. We also know that the plant is sensitive if it gets hurt when cut, then what do you say about sensitivity?
Human canine teeth are not as sharp as of a tiger or a dog, that’s right. Having a set of four somewhat elongated teeth is not a solid indicator of diet structure. The simple reason is that people don’t hunt with teeth or nails. Humans have the most effective hand for that purpose. No other organism has such a well-controlled organ.
Vegans may argue that producing a pound of animal protein takes 100 times as much water as it takes to produce a pound of grain protein. It takes a lot of water to clean the animal, but that’s it. We are actually using the wrong source of water for the wrong purpose. 70 years ago, we were not dependent on groundwater. For fear of germs, we have started using the groundwater, we have become dependent on filtered water. In this fear, we have forgotten the traditional use of surface water. We have ignored ponds, water-meadows, lakes, canals, streams, and rivers, and in fact, we have destroyed them. For the sake of convenience, we have invited problems. We must return to use water normally again. There is no other way.
The production of vegan-based fashion materials can cause just as much harm as traditional production methods. Whilst the material has changed, the way this is developed and crafted may not. The fashion industry alone causes 20 percent of the world’s water pollution. And the worst part? Organic cotton, a more sustainable and environmentally friendly solution is used by under 0.1 percent of cotton manufacturers.
In the long term, the amount of agricultural land currently on Earth will be nowhere near enough to supply everyone with sufficient food. Different crops require different types of land for an adequate yield. Very often nothing can be cultivated on standard pastureland due to the fact that the soil doesn’t provide the necessary nutrients.
There are two aspects to covering the story of greenhouse gases with livestock. Many animals are grazing in many grasslands of the world, they are spreading greenhouse gases, so do they need to be killed? No, those animals are for the balance of nature. Livestock farming does produce more greenhouse gasses than plant-based farming, but when considering other factors animals do have a role in food systems, animals recycle the co-products of plant farming which are inedible to humans, and the leftover biomass would go to waste if animals were to be excluded. The problem is that natural animal agriculture has been sacrificed at the altar of modern factory farming.
The factories are producing meat products with complete disregard for animals being living beings. Chickens are grown too big for them to walk. Female chicks are debeaked shortly after birth and the male chicks are thrown into the trash. Pigs are grown in cages so small that they never get to stand up. Cows never get to graze in the field and barely see the light of day. We are pumping our animals full of dangerous hormones and antibiotics that are not only doing a huge injustice to the human race but also to other animals.
A vulture is exposed to a mortal dose of diclofenac if it eats from the carcass of an animal that has been treated with diclofenac recently. Researchers have expressed concern overuse of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac in cattle since it was approved for veterinary use, as the drug is toxic to vultures who may consume it via dead cows.
The greed of large corporations for increasing their profits is responsible for this inaccurate method of animal farming. There should be calls for an end to high-carbon, polluting, unethical, intensive forms of grain-fed meat production instead of asking people to go vegan to save the earth.
The demand should be for encouraging sustainable forms of meat and dairy production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing rather than asking people to eat genetically modified soy and grains, which are no less harmful to humans.