Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What I Think About Veganism

While I am somewhat familiar with the terms of vegans and veganism, it can be said that I am not the most educated person out there when it comes to this concept. I'd thought veganism was a pretty neat kind of lifestyle when it came to eating- not the most healthiest perhaps, but definitely one that showed strong will to your cause. I didn't really think much about it after that but I've had to this past week. Here's what I've learned about Veganism.

Before I begin, I just want to add a disclaimer. If you are a vegan because you love nature, if you are a vegan because you are against animal cruelty, if you are a vegan because you are against genetically modified animals or unhygienic meat handling, if you are a vegan because of your religion, then I fully support you in your endeavors. I am really proud of anyone and everyone who is staunch enough in their religion, beliefs and ideals to abandon the consumption of meat. The only kind of vegan I might not support as much would be the person who is a vegan because they think meat and animal products are biologically harmful to their bodies.


Let's start off with a simple definition. According to the Vegan Society,

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

By this definition, veganism is basically a lifestyle aimed at boycotting any activity that involves animal exploitation and cruelty, which includes food products like milk and cheese, material products like leather and hairs, as well as labor products, like tilling the soil or preparing the field for crops. I think I will assume that veganism is fine with using cattle manure for fertilizing crops, while having a cattle herd itself might be something against the principles. How one can work without the other, I'm not exactly sure.

Veganism mainly involves looking for alternatives to animal based products, mostly through plant based products. Honey is considered an animal based product and is against vegan principles, maple syrup on the other hand, is the vegan way to go. Veganism also centers on being environmentally friendly, mostly by boycotting products instead of actively raising concern for environmental issues, or improving the environment on their own by planting more trees and flowers. Another issue that I would like to highlight is that veganism centers around the developed first world countries where the meat industry truly is quite filthy and where a wide variety of alternatives can be found to easily adapt to a vegan lifestyle.

From this point of view, I can fully support veganism. Boycotting animal products in an effort to improve the quality of life for animals is a just cause. However, as mentioned before, such a fighting cause is often found in the developed first world where cattle are sucked dry for milk, meat and leather, fed genetically modified food, perhaps given steroids, packed in cramped conditions and killed in a variety of violent ways.

I am not a vegan because my religion has considered all of these problems, 1400 years prior to today. There is a verse in the Quran which differentiates between lawful and unlawful meat. I will highlight the vegan related commandments.
"Forbidden for you are carrion, blood and pork, and what has been dedicated to other than Allah, and animals which have been strangled, and animals which have been killed by a blow, and animals which have fallen to their death, and animals which have been gored, and animals which wild beasts have eaten–except those you are able to slaughter properly–and animals which have been sacrificed on altars, and deciding things by means of divining arrows–that is deviance. Today those who disbelieve have despaired of overcoming your religion. So do not be afraid of them but be afraid of Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you and completed My blessing upon you and I am pleased with Islam as a religion for you. But if anyone is forced by hunger, not intending any wrongdoing, Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur'an 5:3)
So according to this, any animal that has been killed in a violent fashion is automatically 'haram' or unlawful and cannot be consumed by a Muslim unless threatened by hunger and starvation. Another thing I want to highlight is that any animal that has been slaughtered in the name of anyone besides Allah is haram. So our Creator gives us permission to consume animals for sustenance, so long as we treat them with kindness and we slaughter them in His name. There's clearly no room for any sort of veganism here, so this is one major reason why I would never be a vegan.

I've covered the religious reason for why I'm not vegan and why I don't promote veganism. I'd like to clarify that there is a difference between supporting a vegan and promoting veganism. Supporting a vegan is a passive role, you are letting them do what they want and you let them know that you're 100% OK with it. Promoting veganism means discussing the pros and why you should be vegan- it is an active role.

Speaking of which, there are several myths used in an effort to scare people into becoming vegans. It's one thing to scare people by showing them the legitimate meat industry- it's totally another ballgame if you twist science and biology to serve your ultimate purpose of proving that humans were not 'designed' to consume meat. You can find a well written discussion disproving these myths here on AuthorityNutrition.com.

There are several websites out there that end up spewing more opinions than facts in an effort to promote veganism. Here's an example. The writer of this page explains that a vegan diet is what makes you healthy and strong, as opposed to meat. Their proof? Cows, rhinos and elephants are all sturdy and strong animals because they eat only herbs as opposed to chickens and vultures, which look "scrawny and unhealthy", because they will eat just about anything. Does this even sound like scientific facts to you? Like, I'm not even going to bother explaining that these are all completely different animals. You cannot attribute just diet to their differences in features! Cows, rhinos and elephants are mammals while chickens and vultures are birds- I think that is a much bigger reason for difference in physique than their diet! Clearly, this article has been written by drawing poor conclusions in an effort to support their opinions.

The biggest myth of all must be "humans were always herbivores". People who ruthlessly promote veganism have gone as far as to draft similarities between humans and herbivores. I would like to say that while our anatomy may align with herbivores more than omnivores or carnivores (in regards to sweat pores, jaws and teeth, claws, length of digestive system), I'd also like to add that while herbivores can consume plants whole, we can't. Humans cannot digest cellulose, which makes up most plants. While cellulose is an essential part of our diet for preventing constipation by providing dietary roughage, it is in no way broken down and absorbed into our blood for energy, as opposed to cows, who by the way, have more than one stomach and constantly bring their food back up to chew again and again. Humans have characteristics common to carnivores and herbivores- as a result we are omnivores, able to consume both herbs and flesh. Of course we aren't carnivorous in the true animal-like way since we cook meat instead of eating it raw but it's still meat you know?

I would also continue by explaining the health benefits of meat, but that is something I have yet to study. It is a topic I will be covering with the Gastrointestinal System module I'll be having in a few months.

So what are your thoughts on veganism?

4 comments:

  1. I'm a vegetarian (on account of cruelty against animals), and I think veganism can be a great thing! Although it may not be the biologically healthiest diet in the universe, there are plenty of other diet styles which are worse, and I don't think veganism is super unhealthy.
    Yikes! Those ruthless promoters you mentioned in the last few paragraphs don't sound good in the least. I don't like the idea of veganism being represented by such people, not in the least bit.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. Veganism is a great thing- I think it's pretty noble act. It might not be the most healthiest lifestyle, but it's still healthy in a lot of aspects- you're less likely to have high levels of cholesterol in your blood and also lay off weight.
      The only thing I disagree about veganism is when they draw blunt conclusions and claim that eating meat is an unhealthy lifestyle because it's not.
      Also, way to go Ellie! Stay strong against animal cruelty!!

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  2. I completely agree with this whole post! I support vegans that became vegans because of animal cruelty or because of other personal beliefs, because that is some strong will power.
    But I am against vegans that say a no-animal-produced-food diet is healthier; it can be healthier in one way, but it's also less healthy in another way. :)

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  3. I guess you already know my opinion on the matter, haha. Seriously though, I'm fine with everyone doing their own thing as long as they don't shove their opinion down my throat or insult me to make their point seem stronger.
    I know that the meat industry is a bit messed-up in first world countries, but I'll never feel guilty for eating some meat. That's mostly because I live near a farm, I know a couple of farmers, and I've been invited to said farm on multiple occasions. The cows get to be outside in the fresh air as soon as Spring comes around and can come back inside whenever they feel like it. The chickens can roam all over the property, the same goes for the goats. It's like that on most of the farms near me, so I can't feel bad in any way about consuming products from local farmers, since I know the animals have a nice life here.

    x Envy
    Lost in Translation

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