May 31, 2013

Why veganism is not the answer

I passionately believe in the importance of animal rights and environmental issues. It's somewhat understandable that, knowing this, people assume I'm vegan.

They are mistaken.

But this is not only an incorrect conclusion about myself. It is an incorrect conclusion about veganism, animals, and our environment.

No such thing as a vegan
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Since animal rights issues have become entwined with veganism, I wish to explain my conviction that such a partnership is not compatible.

In fact, it is actively detrimental.

It's bad for cats. My favorite pet is an obligate carnivore. They will die if they do not eat animal products. If the embrace of veganism becomes part of the cause of animal rights, cats become targets for mistreatment.

There's already a movement afoot to blame cats for the decrease in bird populations; even though the decline is actually because of habitat destruction and other environmental damage. It's simply so much easier for humans to not change anything about themselves... when they can blame cats, instead.

Because they are predators, cats are painted as "killers." This makes our efforts to get cats better societal treatment even more difficult.

It's bad for animals. Aren't we showing how much we love animals by choosing not to eat them? Isn't veganism the highest moral choice? Isn't this the way to stop animal cruelty?

It sounds so good, doesn't it? But like a lot of well-meaning ideas, (Communism, industrialized food, and low-rise pants,) it turns out that it doesn't work in the real world. Not only that; it makes things worse.

If we do not support animals any more, what will become of them? We have created them in their current, domesticated, dependent on humans, state. Some extreme elements of the animal rights movement characterize them as "slaves to be set free." But these are no longer wild animals. If they are "set free," they will suffer, and die, and then, die out.

Is that really the right path for "animal lovers" to take?

It's bad for humans. We still have domesticated animals, and still eat some of them, and we always will. Because it's a fantasy to think there is another way of handling the Cycle of Life.

Just like cats, we also need animal products to live. Vegans like to claim the way they eat is the healthiest. In My Health Is Better Than It Has Ever Been, a young woman describes the turnaround in her well-being... when she becomes an ex-vegan.

What about science? Studies show that vegetarianism suppresses the immune system. The China Study turned many people towards vegetarian diets for health reasons. Except the data, accurately examined, turned out to show the opposite.

Orthodox Hindus who emigrated to Great Britain started coming down with megaloblastic anemia; caused by a B12 deficiency. How could this be? Their religious traditions had made them vegans for centuries without these health problems!

Turns out, the food they ate in India had insects in it, an animal product that was enough to stave off the deadly anemia. In Britain, the cleaning standards were much stricter... and they lost this protection.

So I'm not surprised that, in a 2003 study:

Of self-defined vegetarians, nearly 2/3 (214/334, or 64%) ate a significant quantity of meat on at least one of the two days for which their dietary intake was surveyed!

When I speak with vegetarians, it often turns out they have meat "once in a while," or "when I get cravings," or on "special occasions," or simply don't consider fish to be "meat." As science shows, even a small amount of animal products can safeguard our health.

But we must have that small amount.

It's bad for the environment. It's become "accepted knowledge" that grazing animals are bad for the environment. They eat the happy plants to death, and trample down the soil, and toot out killer quantities of methane!

Except... none of that is true.

In High Priest of the Pasture, Polyface Farm demonstrates that plants and animals work properly in symbiosis; a mutally dependent relationship. After all, the buffalo and the grasses of the Great Plains got along for millenia. Yet, in a few short decades, monocultural farming practices created the Dust Bowl instead.

Many countries are reclaiming arid, ruined land... by pasturing animals on it. How did the land get ruined? By intensive agriculture, and its attendant irrigation and petroleum-based fertilizers. Our current farming practices are not self-sustaining. And we all pay a terrible price.

The way to stop animal cruelty is to stop animal cruelty.

By focusing on veganism and not wearing leather, people feel they are actually doing something for animals. But the eating of animals and the utilization of animal products goes on... because it must go on.

Nature is unavoidably structured so that predators eat prey, who eat plants, who need animals to return vital nutrients to the soil. Break this chain at any point, and none of it works.

When feedlot farms are run on mistreatment and antibiotics, the real cruelty is in the animal's life.

Not their death.

    This recent TED talk, Allan Savory: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change is an excellent summing up of some of my points about environmentalism. Please share!

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