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In every vegan’s life, there comes a moment where a skeptical meat and dairy eater challenges your choice. Often, people who eat animal products feel that by us choosing not to, it is somehow a judgment on how they eat. When you have someone coming at you with criticism and skepticism, perhaps you get flustered, and you forget your veganism arguments. Or maybe you are vegan, but you aren’t entirely sure of all the facts! So, that’s why we put together this article of answers to 5 common veganism arguments that you can put in your arsenal!
Holiday time can be a tough time
Plus, this time of year you may well find yourself in a setting where the issue is on people’s minds. Holiday gatherings with friends and family are often centered on expansive spreads of food. Those lavish meals are often even more laden with animal products than usual omnivore meals are. Therefore, you can be confident you’ll have a few veganism arguments!
1. Aren’t you worried about protein deficiency?
(AKA “Where do you get your protein?”) This is probably the question that vegans have to answer the most, particularly in our protein obsessed culture. As veganism arguments go, this is a big one! However, we guarantee that even if you’re trying to “get swole” you need A LOT less protein than you think. The fact of the matter is, the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) is 0.8 g protein per kilogram of body weight. To put this into perspective, a 150pound person is roughly 68 kilograms. This means their RDA is 54.4 grams of protein per day, which is only slightly more than ONE 6oz chicken breast! Most meat-eaters eat WAY more than that. The protein obsessed don’t understand that there are real risks to excess protein intake, including osteoporosis, increased cancer risk, kidney damage, heart disease, etc.
It’s important to keep in mind that everything you consume has some protein in it (OK, maybe not water). That means there are plenty of easily available sources of plant protein; all legumes, grains, and many greens are especially high in it. At this point in the conversation, you may also get the clever response about “complete protein.” There was an old idea that the various “essential amino acids” that make up dietary protein needed to be present all at the same time. If they weren’t, our bodies wouldn’t get the benefit. What we now know if that they just need to be present over time, like 24 hours or so.
Further reading: The Protein Myth
2. Well, you need meat and dairy for vitamin D and B12, don’t you?
Now, if someone has asked you this, then they may have just googled “veganism arguments.” Meat and dairy eaters often use vitamin D and B12 as a justification for eating animal products. But have no fear, for we have done some googling (okay, and some real research) of our own. And here’s the fact: Vitamin D is not a vitamin at all. It is a hormone that our bodies produce when exposed to sunlight, which is free and doesn’t involve killing anything. As a matter of fact, Vitamin D is added to milk as a supplement, because milk doesn’t have it in the first place!
As for B12, animals don’t have that, in the first place, either. Neither plants OR animals produce B12. It’s straight up bacteria, which happens to grow in animal’s guts, which is why you can technically use animals as a source for getting B12. Way back when, we could find B12 by drinking out of streams or wells, but drinking water chlorination nips that in the bud! So, as a vegan, all you need to do is take a B12 supplement, and you will be okay. But feel free to mention to whoever asked that they get their B12 intake by eating bacteria out of animal guts. Just saying!
Getting Enough B12?
3. Okay, but you need dairy to get enough calcium, right?
The idea that cow’s milk keeps your bones strong is due to some brilliant marketing and powerful lobbying. And if someone asks you this question, then hit them with this reality bomb: none of it is true. Osteoporosis is highest in cultures with a high meat and dairy intake. This is because the chemistry of cows milk is acid-forming and our body has to maintain a very delicate PH. When we introduce something acidic into our body, it forces our body to demineralize (release a basic material) to balance our PH again. Guess what is very basic? Calcium. Guess what the biggest source of calcium in our body is? Our bones.
That’s right, people. Reality bomb dropped.
To sum that all up, the acidity of cow’s milk forces our body to release the calcium in our bones to maintain our extremely delicate PH. Which, as you may have guessed, weakens our bones. And the added supplement of calcium in milk is not going to counteract that process.
Getting the calcium
What people don’t realize is that cow’s milk may have originally had traces of calcium in it, but only because cows used to eat grass. The easiest way to get vitamins and minerals is by eating them in their whole form. And if the cows were smart enough just to go right for the grass, then why aren’t we? If you feel like you need to up your calcium intake, instead of reaching for milk, reach for the collard greens or a nice serving of black beans and rice!
There are lots of tasty natural sources (meaning not artificially supplemented) of calcium such as kale, collards, soybeans, black beans, broccoli, etc.
Here are some resources for you:
The best veggie source of calcium: Collard greens!
Great list of plant-based sources of calcium at pcrm.org
4. Well, God created animals for us to eat.
This may not be the most frequently asked question to vegans, but it is a common “dinner-time at the family gathering” comment. Veganism arguments should probably be added to politics and religion as “what not to talk about when you’re with extended family.” Here are a few pointers of how to respond:
- We don’t need to eat animals. In the creation story, God gave plants for food to everything that has the breath of life. This includes men, women, and animals. After the flood story, God told Noah they could eat animals. You know why? Probably because that little thing called the flood destroyed all the crops.
- Animals are sentient beings: they love their young, they can play, they feel fear and pain. What kind of God would create an animal with such awareness and intelligence if their only reason for existence was to suffer at human hands?
- Would any religion, or God, support the starvation of some people because the grains that they could eat were fed to livestock instead? Simply because other people wanted it that way?
We understand that these points touch on tender spots for some people, but I feel that it is important. There are deeply entrenched religious beliefs and perceptions that support the exploitation of animals. We should never shy away from addressing them. Some great books address this subject as well.
5. But, what do you even eat? Grass?
Okay, honestly, why does everyone think we only eat salads? This is the veganism argument that often happens when someone is listening to you, thinking about it, but is totally perplexed. They just have no idea about #whatveganseat. If anyone asks you this question you can smile and say: “I eat anything I want, I just don’t choose animals”. And then you can send them directly to our website and show them some real life examples of what vegans really eat!
Now you have some answers for those veganism arguments!
Whether at a family gathering or turning down some pepperoni pizza a co-worker just brought in, it’s important to have answers to these questions. Think of it as your veganism toolbox; we should all be aware of the facts of the benefits of veganism in order to share our knowledge with those around us. And as passionate as many of us are, remember that you can catch more flies with honey (We understand the irony of that statement in this context, but it still works) and so remember to be respectful and encouraging when people ask questions.
Thanks for reading, and we hope this was helpful!