I’m sure you’ve encountered some well-intentioned people who have tried to “educate” you through tired, been-there-done-that half-truths in order to justify their decision to eat animals. So let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions about veganism and set ’em straight!
Myth: You need to eat meat to be healthy.
Fact: The American Dietetic Association (ADA) states that vegetarians and vegans enjoy lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, lower body mass indexes, a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease, and lower overall cancer rates. The ADA concludes that vegetarian or vegan diets “are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
Myth: Plants feel pain too.
Fact: Since they have no central nervous systems, nerve endings, or brains, there is no reason to believe that plants feel pain. If you want to be responsible for the least number of deaths possible, a vegetarian diet is still preferable to a meat-based one, since the vast majority of grains and legumes raised today are used as feed for cattle. By eating vegetables directly, you save many more plants’ lives than you would if you ate animals such as cows, who must consume 16 pounds of vegetation in order to produce 1 pound of flesh.
Myth: Vegan foods are expensive.
Fact: Vegetarian staples, such as pasta, rice, tofu, and beans, are much cheaper than meat. The money that you save from not buying meat can go toward paying just a little extra for nondairy milk and other staples, such as fruits and vegetables. You can also save money by buying food in bulk at grocery stores, on the Internet, or through catalogs. Click here to browse hundreds of free vegan recipes.
Myth: They’re destroying the rain forests to make tofu.
Fact: If you take a look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s graph regarding agricultural use of Amazon rain forest land here, you will notice that the vast majority of land cleared in the Amazon region (86 percent) is used as pastureland for animals raised for food rather than for growing soybeans (4 percent). It is also important to note that 80 percent of the soybeans grown worldwide are used to feed animals raised for food. It takes 13 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat. About 20 percent of the world’s population, or 1.4 billion people, could be fed with the grain and soybeans that are fed to U.S. cattle alone.
Myth: Cows have to be milked.
Fact: In order for a cow to produce milk, she must have a calf. Cows on dairy farms are impregnated every year so that they will produce a steady supply of milk. In nature, the cows’ calves would drink their milk (eliminating their need to be milked by humans). But on dairy farms, cows’ babies are taken away within a day or two of birth so that humans can have the milk that nature intended for the calves. Female calves may be slaughtered immediately or raised to be future milk producers. Male calves are confined for 16 weeks to tiny veal crates too small for them even to turn around in so that their flesh, sold as veal, will be atrophied and nonmuscular. Then these weak, 4-month-old youngsters are sent to the slaughterhouse.
Have you faced tough questions as a vegan? Share your stories in the comments below.
The article was written by Ashley Palmer and originally appeared on PETA.org.