This page was created to debunk the common misconceptions with veganism and is to be used as a tool to inform others in a non-judgemental way.
Please read and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions @veganfounded
1) But animal products taste really good:
Just because we gain sensory pleasure from something, does that mean it's justified? There are many different scenarios where one may gain sensory pleasure from an act at the expense of someone else... this does not mean that it's okay to do or justified.
Just because something tastes good, does not mean it is the right thing to do, especially in the case of consuming animal products as it is completely unnecessary and causes harm to others. Harming others for one's own pleasure is morally wrong.
Lots of people who turn vegan, still like the taste of animal products. Veganism is more than this. It's saying that your taste buds are not worth an animals entire existence of suffering. When you also consider the fantastic vegan alternatives we have today, it's more like saying the difference in taste between a vegan burger and animal-based burger is not worth an animals entire existence of suffering.
2) Humans are the dominant species
The point that humans are the dominant species is often used to assert our authority over other animals. While humans have indeed achieved remarkable technological and cognitive advancements, this assertion of dominance doesn't automatically justify actions that cause harm to other sentient beings. Dominance should be wielded responsibly and ethically. In many philosophical and ethical discussions, the concept of dominance is separated from the concept of moral worth. Being the dominant species doesn't negate our moral responsibility to treat all sentient beings with kindness, compassion, and respect. It's essential to recognise that dominance doesn't inherently grant us the right to exploit or harm others. Instead, it should encourage us to use our power to protect and care for the well-being of all living creatures and the planet we share.
3) It's my personal choice:
This was an argument I would often use until I asked myself, can it be a personal choice when another being is enslaved, exploited and killed? Just because it's what 'I' want does not mean it's a justifiable act. If I decided to murder a human or kill a dog, would this be justified by personal choice? Probably not right... but why do many think it's a reasonable argument when applied to farm animals. At the end of the day, the traits that matter in this scenario are the same in humans as animals, we all feel pain, can suffer and want to live.
4) But vegans kill more of the smaller animals:
No one is perfect, including vegans and most vegans don't claim to be. The goal of veganism is to avoid animal suffering as much as one possibly can. Although it is true, a vegan lifestyle is not free from all animal suffering, it is the best option we have available to us to reduce this. Here's a number of reasons why:
1. Way more of these accidental crop deaths occur from animal agriculture than if we actually ate the crops directly ourselves. "Animal-based foods are more resource-intensive and environmentally impactful to produce than plant-based foods (link). If we combine pastures used for grazing with land used to grow crops for animal feed, livestock accounts for 77% of global farming land. While livestock takes up most of the world’s agricultural land it only produces 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of total protein (link). The large amounts of crops grown for animal feed, far outweigh the crops we would need if we just ate the crops directly, resulting in more accidental deaths to wildlife.
2. Crop deaths are accidental, non-guaranteed deaths. This means that we can work on ways to make our crop farming processes better in the future, reducing this as much as possible. Where as animal agriculture industries and companies are built around cruelty and death, which is considered inherently as just part of the process. You cant eat an animals body part without purposely killing an animal but you can eat crops without purposely killing an animal.
5) What should we do with all the animals:
While it's unlikely that the entire world will transition to a vegan lifestyle overnight, it's essential to recognise that we won't face an immediate dilemma concerning the existing farm animals. Even if, hypothetically, we could persuade everyone on the planet to embrace veganism within a short period, the sad reality is that many farmed animals are slaughtered at such young ages that most of them wouldn't survive until then. The global shift toward veganism is a gradual but steady process, and a completely vegan world is not an imminent reality. As more individuals make the transition, there will naturally be a decline in the demand for animal products. Animals are bred in response to market demands, so reduced demand means fewer animals bred. Year by year, as more people opt out of animal products, we can expect a reduction in the number of animals bred, eventually leading to a future where farmers predominantly cultivate plant-based crops. Importantly, this transition doesn't mean job losses; in fact, vegetable farming tends to be more labor-intensive, offering new opportunities and a sustainable future for farming communities.
But then won't farm animals go extinct?
There are farm animals that currently exist in sanctuaries where they are not exploited and killed for animal products, rather they are looked after and cared for. This would still be the case even if the world went vegan.
If you are interested in reducing animal extinction it's worth noting that animal agriculture is a leading cause for habitat destruction and wildlife extinction (link).
6) What about plants then:
The notion that plants can feel pain akin to sentient beings is a common misconception. It's important to differentiate between the responses of plants to stimuli and the sentience of animals.
Plants do react to various environmental factors, but these responses are fundamentally different from the experiences of pain or suffering as animals understand them.
Plants lack a central nervous system, brain, or consciousness, which are necessary for the perception of pain. They exhibit responses like growth toward light, movement due to external factors, and chemical changes as reactions to stressors. These reactions are automatic and lack the cognitive and emotional components that constitute suffering.
In contrast, animals possess the neurological and emotional complexity that allows them to experience pain, fear, and distress. While it's essential to respect all life forms, drawing an equivalence between plant responses and animal suffering oversimplifies the ethical considerations of consuming animal products. Veganism is primarily concerned with reducing harm to sentient beings capable of suffering, which includes animals but not plants. Let's be realistic here... slicing an animals throat is different to slicing a cucumber.
Despite the point, even if plants did feel pain. We would still be obligated to be vegan. A study from Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek, the largest meta-analysis of global food systems to date, showed that if the world shifted to a plant-based diet, the amount of cropland needed would actually decrease as we can divert land used for animal fed into food for direct human consumption (link).