Is veganism the best way to be a #GlobalCitizen?

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paintingThere is no doubt that eating less meat and dairy products from the over-industrialized farms that plague our world today is definitely a step towards a healthier lifestyle change. Not only is it better for the animals and our health, it is apparently also more sustainable and environmentally friendly. I have witnessed many arguments between meat-eaters and vegans where the vegan debunks any myths towards meat being the “best” source of protein, which it most definitely is not. However, there are many arguments against the blanket statement that all humans should go vegan. Speaking from an environmental point of view, there are many instances where it may seem more appropriate to eat meat than to eat veggies depending on geographical circumstances. Rob Greenfield, an environmental and social activist, has brought up an argument that left an impact on my view of veganism; vegan diets, like many diets, vary. For example, some vegan diets may include food that is shipped halfway across the globe and is covered in packaging that can be resource-intensive. He even states that raising cropland to grow plant-based food can kill or displace animal populations. Stemming from this sort of vegan diet, he then argues in defense of meat-eaters. In his article, “An Argument Against Veganism… From a Vegan,” he argues:

“-There’s the exploding wild boar population in Texas that is causing serious environmental problems. They are one of the most destructive invasive species in the US today displacing native species populations, devouring crops, and tearing up the land they roam. I think that hunting and eating these boars has a much smaller environmental impact (and likely even a positive impact) than just about any vegan food you can buy at the supermarket.

-Hunting deer in your own neck of the woods, like my friends in Wisconsin do, can also be far less destructive than being dependent on large-scale production of any food. These deer live wild, eating grasses their whole life, and no unsustainable resources must be used in their existence. Plus, by having to hunt their food themselves, these hunters can be much more connected to their food than the urban vegan.

-The Inuit people live primarily on animals that they hunt and trap locally. Imagine if they instead had all their food shipped in from warmer lands where it could be grown. That would be so much more detrimental than living off their land.”

When it comes to these circumstances, one is left questioning whether personal survival is more important than the animal’s survival especially if the human has many other food options. Not only that, but does the wild boar pose more of an environmental threat than humans have for the past century? As for the overpopulation of deer, humans have actually encouraged that in order to benefit deer hunters. Perhaps action towards the root of the problem would be more helpful than justifying the killing that is “needed” when it is only “needed” to justify the killing. Lastly, when thinking deeply about the Inuit people, one must take into account that there’s a misconception that the Inuit are healthy in spite of having meat-heavy diets. In fact, their mortality rates are 10 years lower than the rest of Canada in 1991 (and has fallen further behind), and they have higher cancer rates. This leaves us to question whether killing animals and indirectly killing yourself is a better option than transporting vegetables in a way that is not environmentally friendly. However, when trying to study the economy of the Inuit, it is clear that many attempts to make them have a wage-economy have failed and that most of their economy comes from trading animal products. According to Encyclopedia.com, “Traditionally, the Inuit economy revolved around the changing seasons and the animals that could be successfully hunted during these periods. The Inuit world was so closely linked to its subsistence economy that many of the calendar months were named after game prey.” That being said, it is apparent that they need to kill animals in order to survive and due to their economy or lack of our Western American-style economy, they might not be considered enough of a demand to supply vegetables for. Veganism for a consumer-based economy definitely reaps more pros than cons, but other than a spiritual reason, this diet may not be well suited for people around the world. Where do we draw the line between sustainability and morality when it comes to have compassion for animals we view as food?

 
  • Stevan Zivkov Andricin

    There is no ‘some vegan diets’ and we don’t need ‘food that is shipped halfway across the globe’. Also, no excuse in killing any animal. We are not so smart to know the purpose of any animal life.

  • Susan MacKenzie

    I respect those who choose a vegan diet, but I don’t respect vegans who act as though they are morally superior to meat eaters. They should learn to respect meat eaters, as meat eaters respect vegans. In many cases veganism borders into a cult, like my “religion” is the true religion, and everybody else are “heathens”.

    • Stephanie Londono

      I can see why you feel that way, as I also used to feel the same. However, it is difficult to accept the whole “respect my right to eat meat” statement, especially when you think that you have some inherent “right” to kill others just for pleasure (because eating meat is not a necessity). You are not disrespecting vegans, you are disrespecting and aiding in the murder and torture of thousands of lives on earth. Vegans are not vegan just to flaunt it about as a cool trend, vegans are vegans because they are done giving money to a system that perpetuates slavery, murder, torture, and rape to other species. It is not about having moral superiority, it’s about having morals in general. It’s about not being hypocritical and discriminatory when you say you don’t believe in animal abuse but only extend that compassion to dogs, cats, and lions. I hope my article didn’t come off as if vegans were morally superior, it was a speculation as to whether veganism is best for everyone around the globe environmentally.
      But if we are on the topic of respect for one another, here is one of my favorite quotes that convinced me to go vegan as someone who cares about social injustices:

      “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men. -Alice Walker”

  • http://www.TheBlueSkyBand.com J.P. Conques

    “There is no doubt that eating less meat and dairy products from the over-industrialized farms that plague our world today is definitely a step towards a healthier lifestyle change.”
    There most certainly are doubts. You quote several of them yourself. Statistically there is no correlation between general health and vegan diet, much less evidence of causation.

    • Stephanie Londono

      There are many studies with statistically proven data that a plant-based diet has a DIRECT correlation to better general health. Eating meat does prove to be causation for many illness in America. I would like to suggest a book to you “Diet for a New America” by John Robbins. Also, if you would like to watch “Cowspiracy” – that talks a lot about the studies that show the direct correlations you are doubting. I hope this helps!

  • Meghan Carney

    I like how you presented both sides of the argument about whether veganism is the way to go, but the statement, “This leaves us to question whether killing animals and indirectly killing yourself”, seems a little extreme and presumptions.

    • Stephanie Londono

      I was speaking in the case of the Inuit people where most die due to diet-based choices as the cause. Obviously that is presumptuous to say of all meat-eaters but in their case, meat is the main source of food and scientifically speaking, our bodies are not evolved enough to eat more meat than fruits and vegetables. We do not have teeth like carnivores or claws or digestive tracts that are made to rip apart and digest raw meat. If you look at many of the illnesses plaguing our citizens today, most are preventable through a plant-based diet. Eating meat, especially the “mysterious” hormone-dense factory-farmed processed meat, is definitely a way to slowly kill your body whether you’d like to admit it or not. But like anything else, we pick our vices haha

  • Mike Ott

    Great read, as a non vegan it gave me a look into why a vegan life style maybe a better choice. I think kicking a habit like eating meat would be quiet the task, but I do see why it would be worth it in terms of the environment.

    • Stephanie Londono

      It can be a task, but slowly is what worked for me. Every has their own path and way to transition. Even if you reduce your daily intake of meat per day, or per week or per month, all of that makes a change. It’s not about becoming vegan overnight or even becoming vegan at all- it’s about starting to be more mindful and conscientious about how our habits and lifestyles choices affect the rest of the world. :) I’m glad you’re interested!

  • Jennifer Posada

    I understand the vegan point of view, but it seems more like trend than anything else. To say that veganism is the only “correct” diet, is a bit wrong, as people are not dying or “killing themselves” because they eat meat. I think ultimately is a personal choice that people should not really weigh their opinion on.

    • Stephanie Londono

      I completely see where you are coming from, in fact, that why is I chose to write about a topic in which veganism is NOT the only way to live. It’s very much circumstantial, but seeing as our consumer-based economy has lead to devastating results environmentally due to animal agriculture, it’s important to see how we can shape the demand towards something less harmful. We are not the Inuit, we are many more people seeking to eat meat multiple times a day. That is something that we need to look at as a collective and make our voices heard with our dollars.

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