Isn't it difficult to transition towards being more plant-based?
It depends on your personality and your particular context. Some find it really hard to give up particular foods and need to make more effort to rethink their dinner plates; others dive right in with no problem. Sometimes, having friends and family that are not willing to listen and understand your shift will make it a challenge emotionally—in this case, meeting other like-minded folk is important so that you don’t feel alone in your new outlook.
Is a plant-based diet healthy?
A plant-based diet can be very healthy indeed. Conversely, it’s not too difficult (nowadays at least) to be a junk-food vegan, what with all the processed vegan foods that are available in supermarkets. A whole-foods, vegan diet (which by default excludes highly processed foods) is certainly healthy and eliminates the problem that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol poses, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
Isn't being plant-based expensive?
Not unless you’re eating lots of processed products and imported “super-foods”. Whole grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruit (which form the basis of a healthy vegan diet) are much, much cheaper than meat and dairy.
Can you build strong muscles on a plant-based diet?
For sure! There are loads of plant-based athletes and bodybuilders out there. In fact, many athletes choose a plant-based diet to optimise their performance. Here are a few that you could look up online:
-Frank Medrano (bodybuilder)
-Matt Danzig (mixed martial arts)
-Fiona Oakes (marathon runner)
-Rich Roll (Ultraman)
-Carl Lewis (Olympic sprinter)
-Madi Serpico (triathlete)
-Henry Akins (Ju Jitsu master)
-Scott Jurek (ultramarathon runner)
-Brendan Brazier (triathlete)
Won't it take more land to grow plants to feed people?
No. Plant-based diets use about a third of the land to produce food for the same number of people.
Won't the animals just die anyway? And if we don't eat the animals, won't the overrun the world?
Animals are killed for food because consumers create demand for animal products: 60 billion land animals are farmed and killed for food each year, globally. If we refuse to buy animal products, producers will have no reason to continue breeding and slaughtering animals.
Won't traditional farm animals become extinct if we stop eating them?
Perhaps, in the long term (hard to imagine today, when they outnumber humans many times over). But we’re more worried about the thousands of animal and plant species that are made extinct every year, often as a result (directly or indirectly) of the livestock industry through land-clearing and deforestation.
What about insects killed by pesticides or during harvest? Or small field animals such as mice and snakes which are killed by combined harvesters?
Why should I concern myself with non-human animal suffering when there are so many people suffering in the world?
While the problem of human suffering is serious, it is also complex and the solutions are not necessarily straightforward. The problem of farm animal suffering, on the other hand, has a simple solution: we can stop eating them. We have choices to make every time we sit down to eat: eat animals, or eat plants. That said, there’s nothing stopping us from being philanthropic towards other humans, as well as making ethical food choices. In fact many vegans are active humanitarians. As Peter Singer (considered by many to have kicked off the animal rights movement) puts it:
“the idea that “humans come first” is more often used as an excuse for not doing anything about either human or nonhuman animals than as a genuine choice between incompatible alternatives… [W]hen non-vegetarians say that “human problems come first,” I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farm animals.”
What about free-range farms?
What about kosher or halal?
While the religious laws that describe how animals should be killed for food might have originated with good intentions, slaughter is still slaughter, and kosher and halaal slaughterhouses are guilty of animal cruelty and torture that is as bad as any others
What about 'organic'?
Just as with “free range” animals, “organic” animals suffer many of the same problems. In South Africa, “organic” egg farms obtain their laying hens from hatcheries that are owned by Nulaid (the largest egg producing company in the country), where they exterminate male chicks according to SA Poultry Association standards (gassing or maceration).
Why not change the laws?
With decades of animal welfare reforms, movements and campaigns behind us, we’ve yet to see significant changes. Factory farming is bigger and more cruel than ever. The only way to guarantee better lives for animals is to stop using them.
What about the large tracts of non-arable land, that would be wasted if not used for grazing animals?
What about eating fish?
How does consuming milk and other dairy products hurt cows?
Is it wrong to keep an animal as a pet?
What about animal experimentation?
Isn't soy bad?
I want to be vegan, but how can I give up the taste of milk, cheese and ice cream?
Is vegan the same as raw?
What about honey and silk?
While some people have differing opinions about this, honey is not strictly vegan since it is produced by bees, which are animals. There is a big spectrum of production practices with honey: smaller operations tend to be more ethical than industrial scale beekeeping, where the bees are trucked around the country (sometimes across continents) to pollinate orchards and fields, and their honey is removed to be sold to humans, and replaced with glucose water that provides the bees with none of the nutritional benefits of their own honey.
Silk is produced by silkworms, which spin cocoons for themselves before transforming into moths. To produce silk, humans interrupt this process by gassing or boiling the millions of silkworms inside their cocoons, and unspinning the fine silk threads, and re-spinning them into silk cloth for human use.
This being said, there is not yet clear consensus in the scientific literature about the sentience of insects, so you can choose either to go with what is unproven in the literature or to give the insects the benefit of the doubt.
What about leather?
Leather is often thought of as simply a by-product of the meat industry, when in fact it is a very profitable endeavour, which has the effect of propping up the meat industry and making it more commercially viable. By boycotting leather, you are making the meat industry less profitable. Moreover, leather production is very destructive to the environment, particularly the tanning process, which makes use of very harsh chemicals. There are many alternatives to leather available nowadays, and the technology gets better every year.
What about wool?
Wool production is a huge industry that exploits millions of sheep. The selective breeding of these animals to grow more wool means that they grow great folds of skin, inviting flies to lay their eggs. Farmers cut off these folds of skin, without anaesthetic, a practice called “mulesing”. When the sheep’s wool productivity declines, they are slaughtered for meat. The fact is simply that wool-producing sheep are viewed as profit-generating commodities, not as sentient beings with interests of their own.