The only thing harder than turning vegan is having to hear other people's criticism.
Once upon a time, I went to cooking school, and although I decided that cooking wasn’t for me and I already forgot most of what I learned, there’s still one thing I keep practicing after all these years: veganism. I chose to become a vegan after I was introduced to the livestock production process in the US as part of a food purchasing class. I was horrified by the way we over-consume protein: the demand is so high that farms and slaughterhouses have opted to genetically modify animals' genes so that they grow faster, bigger, and “healthier” (long lasting). These practices completely forget about any respect for life by slaughtering animals in such a massive production way that’s not only unethical, but also cruel. After doing some research about how I could make a difference, I came across PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and took their suggestions to turn vegan in order to reduce the protein demand worldwide.
My decision wasn’t easy. At first, I couldn’t help but feel tempted by the animal products I was used to consuming. Yet, I found strength and support in the idea that no animal would be hurt by my desire for protein. Changing my diet was, ironically, the easiest part of it all. Vegans’ ideals are often questioned by others, and even judged. These folks watch our actions very closely, hoping we break our own rules and get a chance to call us hypocrites: “those shoes are made of leather … liar”; “the cookies you ate are made with eggs and butter, so I guess you aren’t vegan after all”; “what kind of cream did you put in your coffee? Is it animal-derived cream?” They treat us as if we were doing something wrong, when we're only trying to save lives. Here are other arguments that vegans hear all the time from meat-eaters.
"You're not making a difference."
Actually, veganism has grown exponentially in the last few years. According to a report by GlobalData in 2018, the number of people who identify as vegans in the US grew by 600%. In 2014, only 1% of consumers declared themselves vegans, whereas in 2017, the number was 6%. Regardless of what the numbers say, every single decision we make does make a significant difference in the world. Think of how much meat one person eats throughout their entire life and how many animals must be sacrificed in order to achieve that. When one person turns vegan, another one follows, and then another one, until we reduce the slaughtering epidemic taking place in our world.
"You can’t live without animal protein."
Yes, you can. In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics confirmed that a vegetarian diet can satisfy all nutritious requirements for a person. Plus, we can find protein in many other products like nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and grains. It’s fair to point out that veganism does demand a lot of planning and frequent doctor check-ups, but overall, the lifestyle shouldn’t harm you.
"We're supposed to eat animals; they're part of the food chain."
One things is to kill animals to ensure our survival, and another is to genetically modify them, so that we can have grilled chicken on our Caesar salad. No vegan will deny the process of life: some animals are the prey of others, but we disagree with the inhumane treatment in which living creatures are being slaughtered and the fact that we kill them for unnecessary reasons, like clothing, accessories, cosmetics, and all-you-can-eat wings on Tuesdays.
"Veganism is a fad."
It’s not a fad. It’s a lifestyle and a solution to the growing problem that causes illnesses in meat-eaters and spreads viruses. People who turn vegan do it because they couldn’t tolerate watching other animals suffering and being violently slaughtered for their sake. Veganism means a love of nature and justice, and it shouldn’t be considered something to brag about. If a vegan is telling you about the consequences of slaughtering animals industrially, it's because they're trying to help you, not bother you.
"If we don’t eat animals, they’ll…"
Believe it or not, I’ve heard a number of arguments starting with this sentence, from “animals will die, if we don’t eat them,” to “animals will take over the world,” or overpopulate it. These are all fallacies meant to justify their cruel actions. Animals have managed to survive on this planet without altering it for a long time and the only being that is changing it and overpopulating it is us humans.
I really don't know why some people dislike our way of life so much. There are many websites dedicated to criticizing veganism, and they are constantly trying to "catch" us eating or consuming animal products. This need to stop. Vegans don’t want to pick a fight with other consumers. They want to help them see the atrocities being committed by the meat industry, as well as the alternatives available to reduce protein consumption. Vegans are sacrificing their food options, so other people can enjoy them. However, even this isn’t enough. The demand for protein products keeps on rising, faster than the number of people turning vegan. In an ideal world, we all reduce the amount of beef, dairy, poultry, pork, and fish we consume.