May 14, 2012

Planet of the Vegans

One of the complaints about low carb or Paleo-style eating is the emphasis on meat. Even after we get past the health objections, which turn out to be misplaced, we can be confronted with the ethical considerations.

How can we support eating meat when factory farms are filthy places which treat animals so badly?

This is not the answer.
This is, however, a false equivalence. The answer is not "stop eating animal products," which are, in any case, vital to keeping us alive.

The answer is to support sustainable farm practices, and humane animal handling. Far from being dangerous to the environment, animals can survive on lands that are unsuitable for farming, and even reclaim land that has been destroyed by large-scale agriculture.

How can we claim to revere life, and then ignore our own, and that of our friends and family, and that of the earth itself? We cannot.

This is why vegetarians, and vegans, despite wide-ranging mainstream support that includes medical and nutritional authorities, still feel embattled and isolated about their food choices. If they do not feel better once the honeymoon is over, if they re-commit and revamp and take more supplements and just rearrange everything, they will have that good feeling back again.

But that "good feeling" that so often results from switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet is not because meat is so bad for us; it often comes from getting rid of many junk foods, or taking up exercise at the same time, or completing other health goals as part of our transformation.

Because, despite the claims of those who embrace it, vegetarianism is not an universal answer to health. And veganism is downright dangerous. Long term lack of minerals and B 12, and has led to many prominent vegans declaring they had to be less strict for the sake of their health. Recently, they have started to promote more protein and fat than they used to, but these are often from soy and seed oils, which have their own health quandaries attached.

The question of living an ethical life is not something that can be solved by opting out of ethical questions by using avoidance.

Pretending there is no Cycle of Life is in itself life-denying.

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