3 Things Wrong With Your Vegan Diet

As of late, it’s becoming a lot more popular to be vegan or vegetarian. And while at first glance, that seems like a good thing, there's more than meets the eye. Don't get me wrong, I’m very supportive of people being more mindful about what they eat, where their food comes from, and why they eat what they do. This food mindfulness is also a great way to explore food interests, and find new things that you enjoy eating. 

However, there’s quite a few issues that can come about from blindly “going vegan." And believe it or not sometimes, vegan or vegetarian alternatives are worse for the environment. Not to mention that one person changing their diet to improve the environment is about as helpful as one person not driving. Huge corporations are the real source of waste in our society; even if every individual lived perfectly, that would only decrease global carbon emissions by an estimated 30%. So while your newfound vegan or vegetarian diet may have the best intentions, it isn't faultless. So with that, here are three things that may be wrong with your vegan/vegetarian diet. 

 

1) Shaming or judging those who don’t eat vegan

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, as it’s the most common issue people have with most diet changes. However, it’s a bit deeper than just “don’t tell me what to eat.” Expecting people to eat only vegan alternatives is both classist and arguably racist. Not everyone can afford to eat these diets, because they’re much more expensive, and will continue to increase in price as they increase in popularity. Many people argue that they aren’t more expensive, but think more critically about it. Most vegan meals require more time and effort to make. And, as they say, time is money. Someone working two jobs and struggling to get by isn’t going to have the time to prepare those meals; they’d much rather have a more filling meal that takes minutes to buy or prepare.

Also, there are many culturally important or traditional dishes that aren’t vegan. Expecting people to stop eating foods that make them feel closer to their respective cultures is insensitive at best.

 

2) Intentions

It’s important to consider your intentions for choosing another diet. For example, if you’re upset about how the dairy and livestock industries treat animals, going vegan may be one way to combat that in everyday life. If, on the other hand, you’re doing it because it makes you feel superior, you might want to rethink. Also, if you’re seeking to lose weight, I’d invite you to think about alternatives as well. Diet culture is bullshit, of course, and weight should have no place in determining a human being’s value. Eating healthier is good, but some vegan diets I’ve seen are just glorified eating disorders. And in a society that heavily encourages women to participate in disordered eating, I’m wary of any diets claiming to be “healthy” or “more natural.” There's quite a lot of evidence that vegan diets are actually worse for humans, and they're downright deadly for infants and carnivorous pets.

This brings me to another point, the idea of “natural” being better. Yes, there are issues with heavily processed foods, and there are huge problems with monopolies in the agricultural industries. But eating a “superfood,” which is just modern-day snake oil quackery, isn’t going to change that. GMO’s are bad because Monsanto has a monopoly on almost all of them, and charges huge fees to farmers. They aren’t bad because they have “chemicals” or “are unnatural.” Guess what other foods have lots of scary “chemicals?” Literally everything you put in your mouth. Chemicals make up everything around us, that’s the point. And fearmongering through names of chemicals, or the idea that you “shouldn’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce” is nothing short of ridiculous. An everyday apple includes catechins, flavanols, quercetin, epicatechin, and procyanidins. If chemicals were bad for us, we’d all be long dead.

3) Selective caring

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism.” It means that no matter what we choose to buy, someone or something is going to suffer, because that is the nature of capitalism. Apply this to veganism. If you buy milk, someone milked a cow, and, although there is a plethora of evidence to the contrary, many people think this is cruel. For the sake of discussion, let’s say it is. So, instead, you buy soy milk. Who’s producing that? Are they paid a living wage? Furthermore, who’s picking your kale? Who’s making your faux-leather clothing? Many people love to rant about the evils of eating animals, and how horrible the conditions those animals live in, but get quiet when we discuss the horrible conditions that exist for migrant workers producing your alternatives. If you’re worried about how the system hurts animals, but not worried about the human beings suffering in the capitalist system, you need to look at your priorities.

 

Plus, I’d be surprised if anyone could live perfectly vegan. Gum base, an ingredient in jellies, jams, and gum, is made with bone meal sourced from slaughterhouses. It would be very difficult to actually be vegan, and expecting purity in that effort is genuinely hilarious.

One specific issue I’d like to broach is that of honey. It’s frankly ridiculous to consider what beekeepers do “stealing” from bees. But I’ve seen vegan propaganda claiming exactly that. That’s not even the issue, however. A commonly touted vegan alternative to honey is agave nectar, a sweet substance that requires clear-cutting huge swathes of rainforest to produce en masse. Do you honestly think beekeepers collecting honey, one of the only reasons we still have bees, is more dangerous to the environment than cutting down rainforests to give you a fancy “exotic” alternative?

I encourage everyone to find out where their food comes from, but I promise that there isn’t ever going to be a perfect way to live. The system is designed to exploit everything it can, and it’s impossible to live in a capitalist society and only consume ethically made products. They aren’t selling you superior, more environmentally friendly products, they’re selling you the delusion of superiority over your peers. The new, bougie “natural” supermarkets are rarely selling you something more ethically produced, they just know that you’ll pay extra if you believe they are. That’s not always horrible, encouraging corporations to be more moral is nice, but they have thousands of loopholes and will always, always prioritize profits over living beings.

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