1. Vegans understand that going vegan doesn‘t solve the world’s problems and all humans make negative impacts by getting their basic survival needs met like clearing land for housing and heating our homes. I personally don’t drive or fly, but most people, vegan and non vegans do. When we say “cruelty free”, we are referring to cruelty to animals. We also know that this is not 100% and I‘ll say more about that.
2. When people use the term “zero waste” ~ no one is refuting that term even though we all know they are not literally living “zero” waste. But no one has an issue with that because people are not defending their right to use plastic, like they are to eat meat, dairy and eggs or use leather and wool.
3. I don’t believe in the idea that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. You can buy Nestle chocolate, or you can buy from a brand off the Food Empowerment Project's ethical chocolate list. I’d rather live my life making the best choices with the options I have, than not bother to care or try at all.
4. The vegan movement is not about supporting mono-crops or taking over plant agriculture in any way that would be worse for the animals and the environment they live in. We would also like the land and water to be used in a more practical and fair way than it currently is. The problems occurring in plant agriculture today are not a result of not using animals. While we understand that clearing land for any crop can cause harm ~ animal farming will only cause more of that harm.
5. Vegans make up such a small percent of the population, the big systems of plant agriculture are not catering to our crop needs. They are catering to the needs of livestock. If you have livestock, you need to feed them. There are 3 times the amount of animals bred into existence than the human population. Most soy, corn and alfalfa (water intensive crops) are grown for livestock feed, not out of the demand for vegan products.
6. Vegans understand that there is worker exploitation in plant agriculture. Worker exploitation is not a result of veganism. You can boycott animal products, and also boycott palm oil, or chocolate from child labor. It’s not an either-or situation as people making this argument try to frame it.
7. If you farm animals, you are increasing the amount of plant crop worker exploitation, because we need to grow way more plants to feed livestock. On top of that, you add in a new group of exploited human workers, the slaughterhouse workers, who are usually made up of people who can’t get better work due to issues of immigration and/or poverty. And then there is the incomprehensible amount of farmed animals that are being exploited.
8. There are ways to improve the conditions of how we farm plants, and to improve workers rights ~ but there is no way to farm animals that does not exploit them. This is what the whole vegan debate comes down to really. Non vegans don’t see animals of something that needs to have consideration in the same way that vegans do. Vegans see animals as individuals with their own set of natural rights. Mainly, the right to not be bred into existence, to live a life that is not their own.
9. Again, vegans make up a small percent of the population compared to omnivores. We are not the only ones eating avocados and quinoa or all the other foods that people point out to try to prove a vegan diet being worse. Is it really the case that omnivores eat only local meat and then all their other food is not the same grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables as vegans are eating? We all need to eat plants to survive. But we don't need to eat animals or their milk and eggs.
10. I understand that people making the argument that "a vegan diet kill animals too" are referring to crop deaths that happen in the process of land clearing and harvesting. But when vegans use the term ”cruelty free” , they are usually referring to issues like beak burning, ear clipping, tail docking and castration without anesthetics.
11. While I'm not saying I don't care about crop deaths, there is a difference between unintentionally killing field animals in harvesting, and pre-planning the birth, life and death of a cow, pig or chicken. Also, the field animals do have the option to escape, and they have good hearing and can feel the vibrations. But a cow in a slaughterhouse is sent down a narrow path with a human with a rod behind them, forcing them down the line into a room where a human will cut it's throat. There is a difference.
12. I 100% am not attached to using the term cruelty free. I understand what is meant by it, but if it’s getting in the way of the message, I don’t mind finding another way to put words to how I feel about these issues.
As a reminder, veganism is not a diet. It is the rejection of the idea that humans have the right to use animals for food, clothing, entertainment, transportation, or testing.
Emily (aka) Bite Size Vegan, and Ed Winters each have a video discussing this topic in more detail that gets more into the data and studies.
Ed Winters' Video
Why are you still eating animals? For flavor? We certainly don’t need it for health. It’s a big problem for personal health, public health, deforestation, water use, and climate change. We need to stop making excuses, stop defending our ways, take a moment to be humble, realize that this is wrong, that it’s easy to change, and you can change your mind about how we see animals in our world right now. You literally can make that decision in the next hour if you want to.
How can we say we are against oppression and exploitation, and then support breeding animals into existence, having them live a life of confinement and fear, to be killed when they are still very young, against their will, and then eat them.
How can we argue for woman having the right to make choices about their bodies ~ but then support the dairy and egg industry, which relies on controlling their reproductive systems, forcing cows to live a life of being pregnant over and over again for the entirety of their lives, each time to have their baby taken away from them, their lives spent hooked up to machines, so we can drink their milk. Hens, who used to lay eggs once a month, now after many years of breeding them, altering their bodies, lay eggs everyday which is not healthy for them.
Do not be offended ~ I am not comparing humans to animals ~ I’m comparing the thought process behind our behaviors. And if I did compare humans to animals, would it really be an insult? We are conditioned to call people dogs or pigs as an insult. Humans have made animals the bad guys from the beginning in order to justify taking over their lives ~ just as human oppressors to do other humans. People say, "they treated us like animals". Well, why is it okay to treat animals like this evil thing that deserves no rights or compassion?
We are animals too. And just because we are smarter, does not give us the right to take advantage of the vulnerable. We understand this when it come to issues of human ableism, but when it comes to our food and clothing choices, this awareness disappears. You can hear Soytheist's thoughts on veganism and ableism here.
“But plant agriculture causes harm too.” Yes, I know that. But we don’t have the option to give up eating plants. We can make the best choices we can with the options we have. If we can support local organic farmers, great. If we don’t have that option, we make the next best choice. But humans need to eat plants to survive, and we don’t need to eat animals or the things that come out of them, and it’s better for our health if we don’t. And by farming animals, we need to grow way more plants to then feed all that livestock. I have a blog post dedicated to this subject here. And you can watch what Ed Winters has to say about that topic here, or Emily from Bite Size Vegan’s video here.
“But not everyone can go vegan.” Yes, I know that too. Sometimes people have situations where they are not in full control of their food options, usually for reasons of poverty. In those cases, you can still make the best choices with the options you have. The problem with this argument is that usually, the people making it are not in the position of not having control of their diet. They have the means, access and ability to go vegan. It doesn’t make sense, or feel fair, to use the excuse that someone else can’t live vegan, as to why you yourself can not.
“It’s expensive and unsustainable to eat a vegan diet”. While this may be true of some plant based diets ~ not seeing animals as as something to eat ~ is not reliant or dependent on eating any specific plant food. A convenience food/junk food diet can consist of plant burgers or any prepackage food. A raw food diet may consist of expensive nuts and coconut. An environmentally unsustainable diet may consist of agave and palm oil ~ but again ~ none of those items are required to eat ~ in order to stop eating animals. As a person who cares about my health, the environment, and is also on a budget, I eat things like rice and beans, pasta and tomatoes, apples and bananas, and potatoes and kale. I don't buy agave, palm oil, beyond burgers or almond milk.
“It’s wrong to ask people to change their cultural traditions.” If people once needed to hunt to survive, then that was their best at that time with the options they had. But if today, you don’t need to hunt to survive, then you should make the choice not to. And if you have a family tradition of eating a certain meal at a holiday, you can simply adjust it to a plant based version of the same meal. You can keep your culture and make adjustments to evolve it to something more compassionate. Changing the ingredients in a meal, is a minor inconvenience, compared to the life of a factory farmed turkey or even the peaceful deer in the woods who did not want to die.
“Veganism is Colonialist.” Some people say this to suggest that vegans are pushing certain crops and a certain way of living on everyone. But this is a misrepresentation of veganism. The intent of veganism is not to plant any particular crops, or push a certain diet or way of living on anyone. Rather, it’s simply about not seeing animals as a food option. You can watch another perspective on this topic in Soytheist’s video here.
"It's my personal choice to eat animals." Personal choice is a valid excuse for wearing a dress rather than pants. It's not a valid excuse when there is a victim. People understand this concept when it comes to wearing a mask or getting vaccinated or even voting because they understand that their personal choice has a great effect on others. (Ironically, people's "personal choice" to support the use of animals is actually the reason many diseases exist like swine flu, bird flu, measles, even covid). What about the animals we eat? Why does our personal choice to eat them, override the consideration of what these animals have to go through, because our personal choice?
“But plants feel pain too.” Yes, plants respond and have a certain intelligence ~ but they don’t have a brain or spinal cord, and don’t feel pain, fear, and joy in the way the animals do. There is a big difference between sticking knife in a cucumber and sticking a knife in a cat.
“But our ancestors ate meat.” Our ancestors also did a lot of other things like ate their own feces and raped others in their tribe, so why are we using something our ancestors did so long ago an excuse to why we eat meat today? Why are we attached to glorifying this one aspect?
“It’s the circle of life.” A lion eating in the wild, has no other option and does not have the same sense of morality that we humans do. That, is the circle of life. Breeding is not the circle of life. Fishing is not the circle of life. Buying packaged meat is not the circle of life.
Yes, there are many injustices happening in our world. It’s not a competition as to which one is the worst. Many, as regular everyday people, we don’t have direct control over. But we do have the option to stop thinking of animals as something we have the right to take advantage of. You have control of your heart and your mind and how you treat others and no one can take that away from you.