What kind of vegan are you
Make a vegan argument: This is how you confidently answer the most frequently asked critical questions about a vegan diet
You have made a decision: something should change in your life ... more precisely: in your diet. No more meat, no more dairy products, no more eggs. From now on you are vegan. Welcome to the club!
Perhaps you are like many others before you and you find that it is not as difficult and complicated as you feared. You will discover new foods and delicious recipes every day, and you will gradually find great plant-based alternatives to your previous favorite dishes.
You are in the flow and enjoy your vegan journey of discovery. And then comes the criticism:
- But that can't be healthy!
- The rainforest is being destroyed for your soy!
- But don't the cows have to be milked?
- Vegan is totally unnatural - we humans are omnivores!
It can be quite exhausting to discuss your decision to go vegan with family members, friends or colleagues. Especially if you are only at the very beginning of your vegan path, you may still lack the practice for such conversations, and you do not yet have a quick answer for every question.
And that's exactly what we're going to change now!
To the point formulated answers for difficult conversational situations
In this post, we have compiled the most frequently asked critical questions about vegan nutrition and lifestyle that you will come across again and again in your conversations with non-veggies.
With the short, to the point formulated answers, you can now confidently master even difficult conversational situations and confidently represent your convictions.
Feel free to write us a comment if you miss a question from our list - we will be happy to add it!
Here we go!
Vegan is way too extreme!
It's true: the vegan diet is extreme in that it deviates far from the societal norm.
However, many vegans find exactly what is currently considered normal by many people to be extreme: our dealings with "farm animals" and the catastrophic health, ecological and ethical consequences of factory farming.
From this perspective, a vegan lifestyle is therefore not extreme, but the exact opposite of it.
Vegan is unnatural!
This is a so-called naturalistic fallacy, because the “naturalness” of a thing says nothing about whether it is good or bad.
In this sense, one could also argue that vaccinations, clothing, houses, appendix operations and electric light are bad because they are "unnatural" - which very few people would subscribe to.
Man is an omnivore!
That may be true - but it does not change the fact that a balanced and well-planned vegan diet can meet the nutritional needs of people in all phases of life.
This view is now taken by numerous international specialist societies.
You cannot meet your nutritional needs with a vegan diet!
This is wrong. There are no essential nutrients for humans that are only contained in animal foods, or that cannot be taken in the form of a supplement in a very uncomplicated way (such as the vitamin B12 often mentioned in this context, but also iodine, vitamin D or certain omega-3 fatty acids).
A vegan diet does not provide enough protein (iron, calcium)!
Protein, iron and calcium are of course also found in plant-based foods, so that the need can easily be met with a varied vegan diet:
- Good vegetable protein suppliers are, for example, legumes, nuts and whole grain products.
- Iron is found in many seeds, kernels and nuts, whole grains, legumes, herbs and dark green leafy vegetables.
- The calcium supply can be ensured with fortified vegetable milk, low-oxalic acid and calcium-rich vegetables, certain seeds and nuts, tofu, calcium-rich mineral waters or the red alga Lithothamnium calcareum *.
Soy is unhealthy!
First of all, you have to realize that vegans are by no means dependent on soy products. Soy is a, but nowhere near the onlygood source of vegetable protein.
Apart from that, there is a broad consensus among nutrition societies and medical specialist organizations that soy products are by no means unhealthy, but regular consumption can even have positive health effects (an overview of the various statements on the subject of soy can be found, for example, in Niko Rittenau's book Vegan cliché goodbye! *).
Soy is destroying the rainforest!
That's true - but people who eat meat products have a much larger share of this than vegans who buy tofu and soy milk.
The majority of the world's soy harvest (around 70-80 percent) is processed into animal feed. For one kg of chicken meat, around one kg of soy is fed. For pork it is around 650 grams of soy per kg, and for beef it is still 230 grams per kg (source).
Most of the soy used to make tofu and other plant-based foods comes from Europe or Canada.
If you want to be vegan, why do you have to eat meat substitutes?
Many vegans decide to stop eating animal products for ethical, ecological or health reasons - and not because they don't like them.
It is therefore not a contradiction in terms to live vegan and still use plant-based alternatives to meat, cheese and the like that are based on the taste and consistency of their respective "original".
Incidentally, a study commissioned by the Albert Schweitzer Foundation has shown that many vegetable meat alternatives are better than their reputation and often even perform better than meat and sausage in terms of health.
But no animal has to die for milk and eggs!
Unfortunately this is wrong.
Cows only give milk when they have given birth to a calf and are therefore kept permanently pregnant. The calves are killed after birth or fattened for a short time and then processed into veal. And the dairy cows themselves usually only reach about a quarter of their natural life expectancy in freedom.
Even more animals have to die to produce eggs. Since only female chickens can lay eggs, the male chicks are sorted out and killed immediately after hatching, usually by asphyxiation with CO2 or shredding.
Rearing or fattening these chickens, which are bred for the highest possible laying performance (instead of meat production), is not profitable for economic reasons.
Cows have to be milked!
This is wrong. Cows only give milk if they were previously pregnant and need to care for a calf (this is just like us humans and all other mammals).
For this reason, “dairy cows” are repeatedly artificially inseminated throughout their lives and separated from their calves, which are usually killed directly or processed into veal.
I think you should take care of problem xy first - that's more important!
A vegan way of life has a positive effect on many of our currently greatest problems - from the most common diseases of civilization such as diabetes, cancer and heart attacks, to the destruction of our environment and resources, to the ethical questions of the billions of suffering caused by industrial factory farming.
Of course, one can argue about which of the many problems facing humanity are more important and which are less important. But even if you come to the conclusion that there are more important problems than the above, nothing prevents you from being vegan AND dealing with these other problems at the same time.
You can't be 100% vegan at all!
That's right, but that's not the point either. The Vegan Society defined veganism as follows:
Veganism is a way of life that seeks - as far as practically feasible - to avoid all forms of exploitation and cruelty against susceptible animals for food, clothing and other purposes.The Vegan Society
So the vegan lifestyle is about as much suffering as possible to prevent. That you never any suffering there is no reason not to try it in the first place and just carry on as before.
What would happen to all the animals if all of them suddenly went vegan?
Quite simply: there would be far fewer pigs, cows and chickens - but we could then enable them to have a livable existence, for example in sanctuaries or pastures, instead of letting them live their short lives under the worst conditions in fattening farms.
I read that plants can feel pain too!
According to the current state of knowledge, the prerequisite for feeling pain is a central nervous system, which plants do not have.
But even if it is true that plants can feel pain, it would make sense to eat a vegan diet. In order to produce 100 calories in the form of animal foods, far more than 100 calories in the form of plants have to be fed.
Anyone who eats meat therefore “consumes” more plants than someone who eats the plants directly and without going through the animal.
But in nature the right of the strong also applies!
The fact that we are no longer just controlled by our instincts, but can make moral decisions, is one of the characteristics that distinguishes us humans from other animals.
Today, thanks to technological advances, we have the opportunity to consciously choose not to kill other living beings and to act compassionately and responsibly instead.
What would happen to all the jobs in meat production?
The world of work has always changed: When demand changes or new technologies make old ones superfluous, certain job profiles disappear and new ones emerge.
Exactly the same thing will happen in the food industry when the demand for animal foods falls and the demand for plant-based foods continues to rise: Instead of in slaughterhouses or dairies, workers are needed in companies that produce plant milk, vegan cheese or soy products.
Vegan nutrition is a luxury for people with a lot of money!
On the contrary: The “basics” of a plant-based diet such as potatoes, rice, pasta, legumes, fruit and vegetables are even among the cheapest foods ever.
If you swing the wooden spoon yourself and do without unnecessary extras such as so-called "superfoods" and vegan convenience products, you can eat a healthy and balanced vegan diet even on a small budget.
Diet should be a private matter!
How we eat has an impact on our environment, our fellow human beings and of course on the animals that suffer and die for it. Anyone who says that nutrition should be a purely private matter and that there is no better or worse is making it too easy for themselves.
Of course, we should still allow everyone to implement changes at their own pace. And we should always remember that others may be a bit “further” than we are in other areas of life.
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