14 answers to the questions everybody is asking you!
As a new vegan, you will often have to justify your lifestyle in front of friends and family. You will find yourself responding to the same questions over and over. Are you prepared to answer them?
1. “They are called farm animals. Aren’t we meant to farm them?”
The word “farm animal” was invented by humans to justify the exploitation of the species commonly farmed for food. The term’s use creates that justification and disguises the fact that these animals have emotions, and are smart and sentient. In the animal protection realm, we refer to them as “farmed animals,” as the fact that they are used for food should not define them.
2. “What is wrong with organically produced animal products?”
The production standards of organic animal products are only minimally different from conventional animal farming. Even on organic egg farms, male chicks are killed the day they are born. In the organic dairy industry, calves are taken from their mothers so humans can drink their milk. While companies like to advertise happy animals on lush acreages, animals suffer just as much on organic farms as they do on conventional farms. Slaughter methods are furthermore the same, as everyone ends up in the same slaughterhouses.
3. “People have always eaten meat. It’s part of our culture. Why should we change?”
Calling something a tradition still does not morally justify wrongdoing. Many traditions that were sustained by millions of people over centuries are nowadays no longer ethically acceptable. The majority of people do not depend on animal products to survive. Quite the contrary. Animal agriculture is poisoning our planet and waterways, putting our existence at risk.
4. “Aren’t the animals slaughtered humanely?”
Every day, animals are slaughtered without being properly stunned in slaughterhouses. Often, slaughter lines run so fast that workers cannot keep up with the large amounts of animals they are supposed to process. Many animals have their throats slit, or are descended into scalding water, while fully conscious. Also, how do you kill someone humanely who does not want to die?
5. “What would really change if I went vegan?”
Every time you purchase a product, you cast a vote—a vote for what you want to see on supermarket shelves. And every time you opt for plant-based alternatives, you are voting to produce fewer animal products. Furthermore, your choices and behavior influence your friends and family to consider reducing their meat intake or transitioning to a fully plant-based diet.
6. “Aren’t humans more important than animals?”
Assumed superiority based on higher intelligence does not imply that humans are worth more than animals. Technically, this would mean that humans with a lower IQ are worth less than humans with a high IQ. Every human has the right to live free of harm and we should extend the same right to animals.
7. “Shouldn’t we focus on humans in need instead of animals?”
Human and animal suffering are linked in many aspects. Animal agriculture is wasting precious resources that people in developing countries need. Farmland is used to grow feed for animals instead of food for humans. Ending animal agriculture also prevents disease outbreaks and pollution. Giving up animal products consequently helps animals and humans.
8. “Everyone should be free to make their own choices, right?”
People often consider eating meat their personal choice. However, how personal is a choice if it means someone else has to die for it?
9. “Where would all the farm animals go if we didn’t eat them?”
Animals suffering on factory farms are born only to be part of the food system. If people stopped eating animal products, the industry would stop breeding them and a lot of suffering would be avoided. The land currently used to produce animal feed could be turned back into habitats for wild animals and help to preserve biodiversity.
10. “Eating fish is ok, though?”
It could be assumed that wild-caught fish live a freer and happier life than their peers farmed in aquaculture. On the contrary, regardless of how they are farmed, fishing methods are incredibly cruel. Fish are caught in nets so large that the ones on the bottom get crushed by the weight of the others. The surviving fish either suffocate on the boat or are frozen alive. Larger fish, like tuna, are speared and painfully bleed to death, or are clubbed repeatedly. Many studies have proven that fish feel pain and other emotions, including fear. Commercial fishing also threatens endangered species like turtles, dolphins, and sharks that also end up in the nets, an unwanted side-effect of the process called bycatch.
11. “Wouldn’t the hens lay eggs no matter what?”
Before genetic breeding, hens lived in small groups and laid around 20 eggs a year. The modern hen used for eggs, on the other hand, is kept in a small space with thousands of other hens and bred to produce an average of 300 eggs per year. Naturally, hens would only lay enough eggs to secure the survival of their species.
12. “Don’t we need the milk for our teeth and bones?”
Calcium, which is necessary for healthy bones and teeth, can easily be consumed through a plant-based diet. Soy, whole wheat products, nuts, and many vegetables are rich in calcium, making Dairy unnecessary. In fact, many commercial dairy products are artificially fortified with calcium.
13. “Wouldn’t the cows get sick if we didn’t milk them ”
As all mammals, cows only produce milk after giving birth to nurse their young. A mother cow carries her baby for nine months, just like a human. In factory farms, cows are artificially inseminated and their baby is taken away only hours after birth for the milk to be given to humans.
14. “Plants have feelings, too. Aren’t you a hypocrite by still eating them?”
Plants do not have a central nervous system. Animals, however, just like humans, do have a central nervous system and can feel pain and a range of other emotions.
Now that we’ve fortified you with all this knowledge, do you feel ready to brave the next family dinner/BBQ/company party? If there are additional questions we can answer for you, pop them into the comments. Good luck on your journey and remember, we’re here to help!