Veganism is a very polarizing topic in today’s society, especially on the internet. Simply drop the term vegan in any widely used and non-secular online forum or social media site and watch sparks fly. It really is that bad sometimes. However, as an idea that often causes emotional reactions (on both sides), scientific and logical debating points are often lost in a sea of sweeping statements without corroborating evidence, unfounded ‘facts’ and personal attacks.
So, we thought we’d take a quick, possibly ever so slightly biased, look at some of the most common arguments you’ll find against veganism in the world today. Bearing in mind that these definitely do not represent the most convincing or even debate-worthy arguments against veganism (because there are a few) but only the reasoning that appears most frequently in people’s anti-vegan discussions.
1. ‘Veganism is an unhealthy diet – what about Vitamin B-12, Protein and Iron?’
Well, the largest study ever done on the topic (surveying 71,151 people over five years from 2002 – 2007) stated that: “In strict vegetarians low dietary intakes of vitamin B12 and D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to iron and zinc, have often been of concern in the past. In the present study, mean intakes of these nutrients were above minimum requirements.”
The study suggested that in today’s mass-produced food environment, many common vegan suitable foods, such as cereals, smoothies and more, are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals anyway. As for protein, the USDA recommends the average adult consumes 0.8 grams of protein per KG of bodyweight per day. So, for most people, that’s about 50 grams – or 1 and ½ cups of chickpeas or lentils. Or, one 200g wheat-gluten based seitan burger. Which, by the way, can also be extremely tasty.
If you’re still not convinced, why not ask this guy if you can get enough protein to be strong on a vegan diet? Of course, it can be more difficult to get these important nutrients on a vegan diet. But it is definitely not impossible, which many healthy vegans demonstrate around the world every day.
2. ‘Farming crops causes just as much environmental damage and kills wild animals. If we stopped eating meat, more intensive farming would harm us more.’
This is one of the most flat-out wrong arguments against veganism, coming from a writer who tries to be relatively objective. Beef farming is one of the most resource intensive methods of food production on the planet, and this is backed up by almost every credentialed scientist who knows the topic. One quarter pounder burger requires (give or take) 13 pounds of feed and 56 litres of water to grow the cow, and that’s not including the land that had to be cleared to raise them, the carbon emissions given off to transport it to your local supermarket or the methane that they fart out.
If you think that in a post-meat society, every person would be eating 13 pounds, or five kilograms, of grain or vegetable-based foods for each hamburger eaten today – well, you’ve probably got ideological blinkers on. Lastly, it takes around 60 feet of land to grow one hamburgers worth of meat. The equivalent for a quarter pound of grain? Just three feet.