Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dear Vegans

Dear Vegans:

Let me start off by saying that I am vegan.  I have been vegan for 17+ years for moral/animal advocacy reasons, and I am vegan 4 lyfe *flash cool-looking hand sign.*

I appreciate your message of nonviolence and environmental stewardship.  I get it.

Now, having said that, let me now say this:

You're doing it wrong.

Now, I know this is going to piss a lot of people off.  And, of course, this message does not apply to all vegans-- there are a ton of amazing vegans out there who don't portray any of the habits I am about to describe.  But please, I ask you to read this with an open mind and maybe take a step back and see if maybe this might pertain to you in some way, and if perhaps it might make you rethink a few things.  That is all I can possibly expect, and I appreciate your time.

So, here we go.

You are not going to win many friends by shaming them for their own eating habits.  I know that before I went vegan, having people cram animal slaughter videos in my face did nothing but traumatize me, and trying to guilt me for my decidedly nonvegan ways actually pushed me away not only from being vegan, but from associating with other vegans (and to this day, I do not have a lot of vegan friends, although I have a few).

If someone has expressed an interest in cutting down on meat, that is something you can applaud.  It is not something you need to tear down, telling them it isn't enough.  For them, it is a big step, and one that does make a difference.  Embrace it-- don't criticize it.  I know that my journey started with cutting out lobster, then red meat (after years), then chicken (again, after years), and finally going vegan (once again, after years).  You know what made me go vegan?  I didn't understand why eggs and dairy were a moral problem, so (quite tentatively), I asked some vegans about it.  And what they said was, for me, the absolute best thing anyone could have said.  They said, "go do some research and tell us what you find."  So I did.  And that research, that I did on my own terms, was what did it for me.  I thank those vegans.

Please don't make up facts.  Documentaries such as "What The Health" have, admittedly, created some (likely temporary) new vegans.  But it did this based on half-truths.  This is a great article explaining this.  It is quite possible, and preferable, to argue your points using valid science and factual evidence rather than cherrypicked science and pseudoscience.  There are some great reasons to go vegan.  You don't need to make shit up.

And, while we're at it, don't make up words.  Some guy was fighting with nonvegans on a forum, antagonizing them and calling them "carnists."  Dude.  You only made yourself look like an idiot, and no one is going to take anything you have to say seriously.  There are much, much better ways to explain your point.

I love being vegan, and I love what being vegan stands for from an animal and environmental standpoint.  It makes me sad to see vegans work against themselves in an attempt to prove a point.  Do it civilly.  Do it with class.  Do it with FACTS.  And cook them something amazing (or take them to a amazing vegan restaurant, if they are willing).  You'd be surprised how far that can take you.

Now, that being said:

Dear Omnivores,

You're not off the hook.

Telling me my food is gross or "needs meat," joking that a baby cow "looks delicious..."  yeah, that's not winning you any friends, either.  And many of you are just as guilty of spreading nonfacts and propaganda.  I'll get into that in more detail another time, but just realize that all that antagonizing behavior I just chided vegans for-- you're plenty guilty of it, too.  Check yourselves.

If we all could just calm down, check our facts, and try to understand and accept each other, life would be a whole lot more pleasant.  Maybe I'm being a bit naive, thinking that this is a possibility.  After all, we are living in an age in which it is all too easy to troll each other, shame each other, and grab whatever "facts" suit us off the interwebs.

But a girl can dream, right?

12 comments:

  1. Well said. I couldn't agree more.

    Mish

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  2. Love this, from an open-minded omnivore.

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  3. @melody How do you get a high level of protein without the added carbs? I'm a bodybuilder and I can't figure out how to get 130+g protein per day while staying within my calories without living off of protein shakes, which I hate.

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    1. I'm putting out a cookbook soon that is half nutrition science and will go into a lot more detail about this there (end shameless plug), but to make a long story short:

      The highest quality source of protein for vegans is soy, hands down. It scores a 1 on the protein scale, the same as animal proteins. The next highest is mycoprotein (Quorn products, etc-- they have a few vegan items). Aside from that, legumes, vegetables, nuts/seeds, sea plants, whole grains (especially sprouted whole grains), quinoa, etc. all have protein in them with varying degrees of quality. The most important thing is to get a wide variety of protein-containing foodstuffs in order to ensure that you get all the amino acids you need. Personally, I do have a protein shake for breakfast every morning, mostly because I have to be out the door before 5am and that is what I have time for. It does, however, ensure that I get an extra 25g of high quality protein per day, and that's not a bad thing.

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    2. The only way for this bodybuilder to meet his vegan protein needs is slamming a lot of hemp/rice/pea protein shakes. Whole vegan food won't cut it (he simply can't consume enough vegan food to meet his protein goals ad he'll consume a lot of extra carbs in the process) and he definitely shouldn't be basing his protein on soy. Men should watch the soy. A little is ok.

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    3. Actually, the current consensus in the scientific community is that soy has not been shown to cause problems in normal, healthy men. If you don't want to eat it or if you have adverse effects when you do, then by all means steer clear. However, there is currently no convincing proof in published, peer-reviewed studies that soy is problematic. Even in men with prostate cancer, the amount of soy demonstrated to have any negative effect at all would be well above what any normal person would ever eat in a day. I generally recommend 1-3 servings per day of soy as a guideline for those who wish to eat it. If you don't want to eat it, that is fine; however, you are mistaken if you believe that it will cause problems for the general public.

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  4. Thank you Melody!!! I work on tribal land and I imagine it would be very difficult for any of the natives to go "all-out" vegan as their culture includes hunting etc. as part of ritual and tradition. But using your approach can influence healthy change as well!

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  5. Thank you Marius for sharing us your insights on how we can collectively move toward a more vegan world, surely not by sending an army of missionaries hanging out loose preaching veganism as the new religion that will save your soul, you sinful guilty omnivore! Greetings from Nicaragua

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  6. Agreeeeed. I'm a (newly turned) vegan myself and also an environmental science student - I find a lot of our community's lack of understanding of the scientific method and willingness to embrace pseudo-science and quackery deeply frustrating. I argued quite a lot with some of my vegan friends after watching Cowspiracy, as they seemed blind to the misleading nature of so much of that film. Interesting post on that here, if you're interested:

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2015/02/05/1361523/-Cowspiracy-The-Building-Blocks-of-an-Absolutist-Position



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  7. From an ex-vegetarian and now a Primal diet guy (I eat a little fish and fowl and tons of veggies and fruit), this article should go viral Melody. You are so right, civil discourse seems to be a lost art.

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  8. Thank you for pointing out how the mutual antagonism between those who eat meat and those who don't is really not helpful for any of us. Some of the antagonism and defensiveness is understandable given what each group believes is at stake, but it still doesn't help. I'm a hunter and see hunting as well as raising animals for food as a normal and wholesome part of life. Because it's a normal part of life, it's odd to me that hunters feel the need to brand themselves as "meateaters" and carnivores. I think many on each side think the other side has gone completely off the rails. But if my way of life is something I need to keep shoving in the faces of others, then maybe I need to take a look at my priorities and ask myself why it is that I either eat meat or don't. Surely it can't be just to feel morally superior to another group of people, can it?

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  9. Well said. A concept that I wish would make its way into the general understanding is that of "fellow travelers". A given group of vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters may have divergent views on the ethics of consuming animal products, but we might all share a similar abhorrence for the cruel practices of industrialized confined animal farming. As far as it goes, a vegan ought to agree that a world without these awful practices is better than one with, even if others will still be consumers of animal products. With some people treating veganism as a kind of all-or-nothing quasi-religion, we get exactly what you might expect: nothing and nowhere on these cruel practices that we would all of us be happy to be rid of.

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