Crudites

Veganism - A Picture Not All Rosy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have certainly heard of the fad of veganism. Now before people come towards this article guns drawn, I want to let you know that this is not an article attacking vegans or veganism but instead placing arguments against taking it to the extreme. Despite being rooted in science and ethics, why is it that vegans face a lot of ire on social media platforms? The answer is a lack of knowledge.

It wasn’t too long ago when people started getting more and more acutely aware of animal cruelty and other things that stood proof of the inhumane treatment of animals. Media, as happens usually, caught onto the shock factor. Before you know it, every celeb, news anchor, Instagram influencer, and animal rights activist was expressing their opinion on its immorality. Actors such as Joaquin Phoenix and sportspersons including Venus Williams began by swearing on meat and dairy-free diets. 

Amid this wave of realization, the meat industry suffered. But it quickly recovered. How? Fake meat. What gives meat its characteristic flavor is something called heme iron, a compound not found in plants. With a mix of capitalism and science, this compound was developed quickly in labs, and fake meat soon flooded major fast-food chains around the world. But as with most experimental things, the price tag and uncertainty formed a combination to deter consumers despite tasting exactly like the real thing; yet the price is justified. Vegan superfoods like avocado are native to the Caribbean and South Pacific regions. Shipping them to places such as the USA or India involves a huge cost of transportation.

But once the bug had bit, it wouldn’t leave so easily. Vegan recipes were the next wave; most of them tended to belittle anyone who consumed meat. Of course, that previous line is exaggerated, but you get the idea.

Well, now to tell you why veganism taken to the extreme is such a bad idea: The entire concept is to consume less or no meat, poultry, and milk which goes on to cause its production to suffer and eventually shut down the whole business. 

Now the thing is, veganism is said to be something only the rich can afford. While researching for this, I came across several articles stating why this is a myth, but consider this: to survive and keep our immunity up, especially in a time like this, milk and its products are necessary at the very least. Not every second grocery shop sells soy or almond or coconut milk. The ones that are meant for drinking are often found at high-end shops with a more than hefty price tag. It is easier to go vegan in certain countries as compared to others. In India, with a vegetarian majority population, avoiding meat is more natural than say places like Japan, where every other meal contains seafood. Even the US was dry of vegan options until recently.

Furthermore, certain nutrients are majorly found in animal-based products, including Vitamin B12, Zinc, DHA and EPA fatty acids, to name a few. Nutrients such as Zinc, are found in limited amounts in plant-based foods. Its absorption from the same is thus reduced. This is known to result in an impaired immune system over time. With a well-planned diet, it is mandatory to consume supplements, most of which are expensive due to their plant-based origin. 

Secondly, most people don’t consider the impact this will have on meat and dairy farmers. In India, there are more than 75 million dairy farms. A country with nearly 31 million people unemployed, we are not developed enough to take on a change such as this, so rapidly, we cannot risk causing a lack of jobs and an economic slump, especially at a time like this. 

A video had surfaced of several hundreds of chicks being buried alive due to a drop in consumption. Several vegan activists took to social media to vent their rage and point fingers. But it would be unfair to say that these activists weren’t responsible. Burying them alive was not humane, but when poor farmers who can barely manage to put a day’s meal on their table find themselves unable to sell the meat or feed them, one can hardly blame them. 

Often brought up in debates is the impact cows have on the climate and the repercussions of extensive rearing. Cow burps (not farts!) produce a compound called ‘methane’ that accelerates global warming, causing the climate to change drastically. Two things about this: Firstly, there are several methods to reduce methane production in cows that include various natural feed additives, and more recently a device was introduced that once fitted to the mouth of the cow would filter out the methane released. Secondly, grazing plays a vital role in preventing soil erosion; further, it adds plenty of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that enhance the nutritional content of the soil.

Several arguments center around of antibiotics fed to cattle, while comfortably ignoring the pesticides that are necessary to make a land produce crops past its prime. During rains, it’s these pesticides that contribute the most to water pollution. Nearly 38% of arable land cannot be cultivated and is suited almost solely for livestock grazing. As of now, a world where everyone is vegan would be highly unsustainable and inefficient. 

Another argument put against the consumption of meat is how much water it takes to produce it. Well, it so happens that meat is highly dense in nutrients and contains a lot more calories than a plant-based diet which means, a lesser amount of meat will provide the same amount of energy and make you feel more full than say a completely plant-containing diet. And if you’re worried about people going hungry around the world, remember that 30% of the food produced/cooked is wasted daily. 

Recently, a lot of vegans stopped feeding meat to their pets, causing creatures that were mere bystanders to a fad, suffer. A campaign to stop honey consumption also was catching the wind in the US but was shut down soon enough when they realized that honeybees were almost solely responsible for pollination and crop growth. Stopping consumption would discourage bee farmers, causing a drop in the bee population, causing a decrease in crop production and ending in a famine. We wouldn’t want that, would we?

These were only a couple of points. A Reddit copypasta from r/anti-vegan covers a lot more aspects with proof. Check out the first link listed in the sources. So now a couple of you, all wisened up with this article will start heating up your barbeque stoves, and that would clearly miss the point of this article. 

The science behind the benefits a reduced consumption of meat provides is hard to refute, but that doesn’t mean we abolish it from our diets. Heme iron, the compound mentioned above,  is essential in the prevention of anemia, something vegetarians and vegans are more prone to contract than their omnivorous counterparts. The greenhouse gas emissions (in terms of CO2) are less than half for vegans when compared to that of medium meat-eaters. And with a climate hurtling towards uncertainty, it definitely couldn’t hurt to reduce, if not altogether stop the consumption of animal products. So make sure your plate has more veggies, far more veggies than meat. And most of all, let people live by their beliefs. Always educate, never berate.

 

 

 

Sources: 1,2,3,4