Vegan Diets Make Sense Even For Those Who Promote “People First”

Over the weekend I read a negative piece about vegan diets that claimed, among other things, that vegans are “anti people.” The author noted that we humans are the only ones in a cerebral position to consider matters of food choice—which lends us a certain status. Part of our decision-making, he noted, has to be about where to draw the line. He believed that when we place the rights of animals on a par with the rights of humans, we diminish humanity.

His complaint wasn’t with those who choose vegan diets, but with those who want others to choose veganism. Well, I guess that latter group would include me. But do my attempts to promote vegan diets diminish humanity?

All vegans have heard that silly question: “How do you know that plants don’t suffer when you eat them?” My response is that I don’t know it for an absolute fact. But I do know that humans need to eat plants to survive. I’m in favor of feeding our families in a way that ensures their health and well-being. We must eat plants or we die. On the other hand, we may like to eat meat and eggs and dairy—but we don’t need them to survive. So I can promote the health and welfare of my own species without hurting animals.

My role as a vegan dietitian is to help people understand that vegan diets are nutritionally adequate. I’m not an ethicist. But as someone who counsels about food choices, I feel some obligation to point out all of the impacts that diet has—not just on personal health but on the world around us: animal suffering, the environment, and effects on food availability for the rest of the world. What people do with that information is, of course, up to them.

We do have a certain status in the world because of our ability to think about a host of philosophical issues. We just have to decide whether that status entitles us to do as we please or obligates us to consider the welfare of others. It’s hard to imagine how taking a stand against animal suffering could possibly diminish humanity.

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One Response to Vegan Diets Make Sense Even For Those Who Promote “People First”

  1. cyrell October 26, 2010 at 12:57 am #

    Not to forget that beeing vegan is 'pro people' because factory farming pollutes water and air…and we all need water and air, but also it endangers human life not only in third world countries.
    Let us face it..what was all that will salmonella in spinach, tomatoes, salad and herbs..even peanuts?
    Where did the harmful bacterias come from? From factory farms where thousands of animals hve to live in constant contact with their own wonder nearly every animal is tested positive on salmonella.
    The people do get hysteric about some couple cases of salmonella because of plant foods which were infected through fertiliser, but they do not bat an eye when thousands of pople get ill each year because of infected meat.

    And all the chemicals to kill bugs or weeds, not only on fields but also kill fleas and lice in the stable.
    I saw what happens without  spraying these stables constantly..not only in summer but also winter because all the parasites survive with the body heat the animals produce.
    The whole floor crawling with worms, is gross. And the chemicals are also absorbed by the animals, the people often do not even bother to clean the feeding equipment after it is not only absorbed through skin but also by feeding.
    If you read the instructions and researched a bit you know how farmfull these chemicals are.T
    They will not kill the people who eat the animal products, but what will all the health issues which have gone sky high? Autismus is a good example.
    And sooner or later the people which work with these chemicals get some kind of nerv issue.
     Shaking of limbs, lost feeling and such things.
    People in south america which work on the big soy fields often have no equipment to protect them against the chemicals and there cancer goes up, especially blood cell cancer, lymphoma, children are born crippled, people become sterile…
    The third world is still on this planet, so it will influence every country, no matter which 'world' it is.
    So meat eating is 'anti people'…vegan is 'pro life'

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