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Why Vegan?

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Why Vegan?
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VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Why Vegan?

Following recent conversations on the topic of veganism, I thought it would be useful to have a more informed starting point.

Disclaimer: although I consider myself an ethical vegan, I am not an authority on any of the topics presented here.

1. Vocabulary

Getting too hung up on definitions would be counter-productive, but there seems to be a need for some clarifications.

According to The Vegan Society: "Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose."

This is what I would call ethical veganism, where moral considerations are primordial. Other reasons to be vegan include personal health, environmental concerns, spirituality/religion, economics, etc. They are not mutually exclusive. For example, I currently consider myself to be 50% ethical vegan, 30% environmental vegan, and 20% health vegan.

If you are going to criticize veganism, it is important to understand that ethical vegans are not against eating meat per se. It's just that given our current technology, when we remove the products of animal exploitation we are left with "plants" (loose term including plants, mushrooms, bacteria, yeast...) In other words, ethical vegans have a plant-based diet because there is currently no other realistic option. Ethical vegans also attempt to be lifestyle vegans by generally avoiding other products of animal exploitation, especially in clothing (leather, wool, silk) and cosmetics. Some vegans are also minimalists, and I think that makes sense. Notice "possible and practicable" in the definition above: veganism does not require perfection.

I don't often hear about people going vegan for the environment (could change thanks to Cowspiracy), and yet it would make much more sense than being anti-vegan while claiming to care about water scarcity, deforestation, biodiversity, climate change, etc. Cows, giraffes, dogs, chickens, cute bunnies, ugly rats, eagles, krill: all are earthlings, just like us. And climate change isn't going to wait until lab meat goes mainstream.

Health vegans claim that animal-derived foods are unhealthy and plant-based foods, especially whole plant foods, are beneficial to human health. They may or may not be concerned with animal welfare (Dr Fuhrman's nutritarianism comes to mind), but as dietary vegans they are likely to contribute to the goals of ethical veganism.

Spiritual vegans seem to be looking for some kind of purity or communion with the forces of the universe, or following religious teachings. I am biased against this kind of thinking. However, it can be a powerful motivation for many, and at this stage veganism can use all the help it can get. We are all in this together.

Regarding the word "diet": the purpose of an ethical vegan diet is not "dieting", it is to live normally with no restriction other than animal products. Raw vegans seem to be looking for some kind of spiritual and biological purity, or technological minimalism (to me they look more realistically "paleo" than the carnist paleo people). Health vegans often promote whole-food plant-based (wfpb) and low-fat wfpb diets, and those constrain the quality of food rather than the quantity. Regardless, it is not difficult to eat vegan in a wealthy country with access to diverse foods.

Lastly, vegan is not synonymous with natural, organic, gluten-free, GMO-free ... In principle, it's not even synonymous with low-fat, and there are high-protein, low-carb, and ketogenic vegan diets (those are however less common, and I rarely hear good things about them).

2. Why am I vegan?

I was an omnivore for most of my life and used to feel unconcerned with vegetarianism and veganism. However, as a pro-science individual, I was concerned about the environment, and started to notice that agriculture was often mentioned for its many negative impacts. I slowly became mostly vegetarian, and because I was worried about my health, I also started to learn a bit more about human nutrition. I eventually acquired the conviction that veganism is safe, and maybe even beneficial, and made the switch telling myself that it was 50% for my health, 40% for the environment, and 10% for the animals as a bonus (I am not an animal lover).

Later I learned why cows produce milk: it was a light bulb moment, and I immediately became an ethical vegan. We humans pride ourselves for our ingenuity, science and technology; we openly value compassion, reason, diplomacy, peace, love, culture, beauty. Dependence on the physical and psychological abuse of sentient beings that we deem of lesser value is not compatible with those ideals, and I believe it is our moral duty as an enlightened civilization to find a way out of this disturbing situation.

I explained my personal expectations of veganism in another discussion: link
Short version: ethical veganism should be viewed as morally sound, rational, and reliant on empirical evidence and mainstream science; pro-vegan attitude and partial veganism are steps in the right direction; public acceptance and adoption of veganism are increasing, and with a sustained community effort, hopefully someday some future generation will wake up in a vegan world, the sooner the better.

3. Resources

Some vegans are anti-science or promote dangerous ideas (antivaxxers, violence). They are putting people's lives at risk and contribute to a negative reputation of veganism. Sometimes a bit of common sense should be enough to tell what's what, but generally it's best to have good sources. I find scientific papers too technical for general use, but there is a wealth of information available for free online; just make sure you double-check the info before putting your life at risk.

3.1. Tips for new vegans

In my opinion, books don't compete well against the Internet when it comes to finding up-to-date information regarding nutrition, ingredients and recipes. There are many interesting websites, like https://www.pcrm.org , https://veganhealth.org and https://nutritionfacts.org which are maintained by medical professionals who are not generally in it for the money (although they occasionally write books).

If you have no idea where to start on your path to veganism, I recommend a video that Unnatural Vegan made a while ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID_2ymmvW5w (pretend your name is Sam Harris, or tune it out if it bothers you; atheism is not required to be vegan).

The Vegan View has lighthearted conversations mixing personal experience with useful tidbits, like tips for new vegans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQCraoKN014

Youtube channel okraw offers tips and interviews with people having decades of practical and medical experience with raw veganism. For example there is a long discussion about blood test results: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orpqkp8wr9E
(this prolific youtuber also has an interview with someone arguing for veganism using biblical arguments)

3.2. Other

Plant Based News provides a compilation of vegan-related news every year: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... AqnVTGtOAJ

A bit of optimism: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... al-welfare
"Plant-based diets aren’t a trend or a fad" (Aarti Ramachandran)
"Veganism is no longer niche or difficult"

If you are interested in critical thinking and controversies regarding nutrition science, Plant Positive has made great videos covering many topics including the paleo/low-carb diets, the lipid hypothesis/Ancel Keys, the Masai, the Colin T Campbell/Harriet Hall/Denise Minger controversy, Gary Taubes, and more: https://www.youtube.com/user/PrimitiveN ... n/featured (dozens of hours of ad-free high-quality didactic videos, lots of scientific references and fact checking, errata on his blog). It is somewhat similar to Potholer54, and I think it is well worth watching as a whole. What I learned about things to look for when reading a paper on nutrition: details about the study (funding, cross-sectional, longitudinal, interventional, size, duration), details about the diets (calories, dietary fiber, dietary cholesterol, processed vs unprocessed carbs, quantities and types of fat, adherence/monitoring, quality of the control), details about the subjects (human vs non-human, wealth, age/gender/race/height/weight, genetics, smoking, exercise, stress, medical conditions, medications, prior dietary habits, inter-group differences), details about the environment (serum cholesterol can be affected by parasites, altitude, season), quality of the interpretation (bad assumptions, confounding factors, reverse causality, regression dilution, inter-/intra-individual variability, improper generalizations, clarity of language); sometimes it can be useful to look at the historical context or other works by the authors to fill some blanks (about the study or the authors' biases), and unfortunately the relevant information is not always publicly available. This is difficult.

Psychologist Melanie Joy wrote Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism. According to her, carnism is an ideology (shared set of beliefs and practices), and "Carnists eat meat not because they need to, but because they choose to, and choices always stem from beliefs." (to me this looks like a complement to Ozymandias Ramses II's "beliefs are operative") It is however a violent and yet hidden ideology, nameless until now. I believe this helps explain why, despite decades of scientific studies, mainstream scientists still have trouble acknowledging vegetarianism and veganism: if you "know" that humans cannot live without consuming animal products, it would not occur to you that a vegan diet could be healthy, let alone cure anything. In addition to human psychology, the author also examines how carnism relates to morality and ideational disgust, rationality and rationalization, free will and hidden biases ...

Details regarding cruelty to animals are easy to find, especially in documentaries like Earthlings. I'd rather not insist too much on that; whenever I think I have seen it all, another atrocity comes to light so now I assume that reality is worse than I imagine, and prefer to focus instead on solutions.

4. What to discuss in this thread

You should probably take a look at http://yourveganfallacyis.com before going for a PRATT.

You are welcome to comment on what I have posted, or raise your own concerns (or praise!) regarding veganism. Please try to avoid confusing want, ability, and necessity, including biological, moral, and technological.

For the sake of readability, it might be preferable to focus on only a few points at a time, rather than make long posts like this one.

5. How to help save the world

Please, go vegan.
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Sun Apr 01, 2018 11:03 pm
australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4346Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Why Vegan?

5. How to help save the world

Please, go vegan.


Nah, I'm good.
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Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:44 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: Why Vegan?

australopithecus wrote:
5. How to help save the world

Please, go vegan.


Nah, I'm good.

Being "good", for yourself and the world, is what carnism would have you believe. So much for free will, compassion, and reason ...
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:58 pm
australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4346Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Why Vegan?

Nah, you’re alright. You do you, though.
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Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:36 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: Why Vegan?

australopithecus wrote:Nah, you’re alright. You do you, though.

"You do you" doesn't work when there are victims ("Eating Meat Is My Personal Choice" fallacy). Financing animal exploitation results in avoidable harm to the animals, the environment, and human health. In addition, veganism will fail if we just do our thing in secret, or pretend that carnism isn't an issue: we need both the exposure and the conversations.
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:49 pm
australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4346Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Why Vegan?

Nah, I’ll give it a miss.
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Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:29 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: Why Vegan?

australopithecus wrote:Nah, I’ll give it a miss.

Why?
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:33 pm
Master_Ghost_KnightContributorUser avatarPosts: 2740Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:57 pmLocation: Netherlands Gender: Male

Post Re: Why Vegan?

Changing ones diet is a very hard sell. As the choice of what you eat is less rational and more emotional.
Even I agree with you a certain extent, and I'm not vegan.
"I have an irrefutable argument for the existence of...." NO, STOP! You are already wrong!
Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:58 pm
*SD*User avatarPosts: 328Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: Why Vegan?

Vego wrote:Why?


Because all vegans are smelly SJW tree hugging bastards that never wash their genitalia and spend all day panicking about cheese.

^ That is a joke

I'll debate you if you want, but I'm already sort of in one with another vegan right here on the boards. I'd be happy to do a hangout/live stream/skype whatever with you though? Sorry - "tho"
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Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:51 pm
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VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: Why Vegan?

Master_Ghost_Knight wrote:Changing ones diet is a very hard sell.

Yes.

Going full vegan requires forethought and a self-education, which isn't too surprising because making informed decisions requires getting informed first, and there is misinformation going around regarding human nutrition. And then it can take weeks or months until you settle into a new routine (where to buy what, how much and how often, how to cook new things). But then it becomes normal.

However, doing it all at once is not required. For example, if you have access to plant "milks" (soy milk, almond milk, and so on) then replacing cow milk could be very simple. Other options like Meatless Monday or 22-Days Vegan Challenge could also be a way to slowly get into things ("challenge" is probably the wrong mindset though: veganism is not a punishment game).

Master_Ghost_Knight wrote:As the choice of what you eat is less rational and more emotional.

Caring about sentient beings, human or not, is inherently emotional, and there is no shame in it. Being emotional does not mean giving up on rationality.

When it comes to making a choice, I think it is more helpful to think in terms of "motivation" rather than "emotion". This is in part why I described various categories of veganism in my opening post. For example, if you care about personal health, it is quite easy to find good reasons (backed by peer-reviewed mainstream science) to reduce your consumption of animal products and focus more on fruits and vegetables.

Master_Ghost_Knight wrote:Even I agree with you a certain extent, and I'm not vegan.

Sometimes there are similar comments on vegan videos (YouTube). Maybe it means that vegans are correct ...

Thanks to Matt Dillahunty and Ozymandias Ramses II, I used to think that "knowledge is a subset of belief" and "beliefs are operative". However, if knowledge isn't enough to change one's behavior, then it seems to me that at least one of these two principles doesn't work as I expect. Maybe knowledge can conflict with a co-existing belief. I am currently more inclined to think that knowledge isn't necessarily a subset of belief after all, although as a vegan I am trying to make it so for myself.
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:31 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: Why Vegan?

*SD* wrote:I'll debate you if you want, but I'm already sort of in one with another vegan right here on the boards. I'd be happy to do a hangout/live stream/skype whatever with you though?

Thanks for the offer, but I am not sure what the point of a debate would be. The provocative questions (Is veganism "the best" moral position? Can vegan diets be optimal for human health? Can veganism solve world hunger?) tend to deflect from an important aspect of ethical veganism, that is attempting to offer a practical solution to a real problem.

I avoided some of these questions in another discussion, although I guess it is only fair that I address them here if someone thinks it is important.
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:34 pm
*SD*User avatarPosts: 328Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: Why Vegan?

Thanks for the offer, but I am not sure what the point of a debate would be


Me neither, but you're the one shouting from the rooftops

Can vegan diets be optimal for human health? Can veganism solve world hunger?)


Did someone argue that? I read the thread you were most active on. I'm not sure anyone argued that.

that is attempting to offer a practical solution to a real problem.


Wouldn't want that now would we!

I used to think that "knowledge is a subset of belief"


It is. If you do it the other way around it doesn't make sense. If knowledge is a subset of belief you can say "here are the things I believe, some of them I know"
If you go with the other version then you're saying "here are all the things I know, but I only believe some of them" - seems odd? Knowledge is a stronger position than belief, even if you're mistaken (ultimately)
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Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:44 pm
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VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: Why Vegan?

*SD* wrote:you're the one shouting from the rooftops

Why do you think so? What do you think my goal is?

*SD* wrote:
Can vegan diets be optimal for human health? Can veganism solve world hunger?)


Did someone argue that?

Did I say that someone did?


*SD* wrote:
I used to think that "knowledge is a subset of belief"


It is. If you do it the other way around it doesn't make sense.

False dichotomy. Did I claim that belief is a subset of knowledge?

I don't know what knowledge is. But if knowing that something should/shouldn't be done is isn't enough to do/stop doing it, then at least this knowledge is not an operative belief.
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:05 pm
*SD*User avatarPosts: 328Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:00 amLocation: Wales, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: Why Vegan?

Why do you think so? What do you think my goal is?


Well, you did start this thread, did you not? And you are arguing for veganism, are you not? With vigor? I wasn't saying that you aren't allowed to shout it from the rooftops, but you're the one bringing the subject up, yes?

Did I say that someone did?


Yes, sort of, when you said this...

Can veganism solve world hunger?)


False dichotomy. Did I claim that belief is a subset of knowledge?


Yes, when you said this....

I used to think that "knowledge is a subset of belief"


Surely this implies that you no longer accept this position? Otherwise why include "used to" ?

I don't know what knowledge is


Knowledge is just a very firm belief. Absolute certainly beyond any doubt is largely useless. I'm sure you'd be willing to say you "know" what your name is.

But if knowing that something should/shouldn't be done is isn't enough to do/stop doing it, then at least this knowledge is not an operative belief.


So you don't operate on what you would consider to be knowledge? Cool. I know it's fine to kill and eat animals for my taste pleasure alone.
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Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:23 pm
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australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4346Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Why Vegan?

Vego wrote:
australopithecus wrote:Nah, I’ll give it a miss.

Why?


Because I like eating meat.
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Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:17 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: Why Vegan?

*SD* wrote:Well, you did start this thread, did you not? And you are arguing for veganism, are you not? With vigor? I wasn't saying that you aren't allowed to shout it from the rooftops, but you're the one bringing the subject up, yes?

I wasn't aware that posting on an Internet forum was shouting from the rooftops. If so, then that should apply to all the discussions. What is your point for saying that here?

*SD* wrote:
Did I say that someone did?


Yes, sort of, when you said this...

Can veganism solve world hunger?)

Sort of ... There was a discussion about health in which I explicitly said that I wasn't arguing for the health benefits, and someone at the end raised the point of cultivating on grassland, which I also dismissed (in both cases I gave my reasons).

*SD* wrote:
False dichotomy. Did I claim that belief is a subset of knowledge?


Yes

No.

*SD* wrote:
I used to think that "knowledge is a subset of belief"


Surely this implies that you no longer accept this position? Otherwise why include "used to" ?

Yes, but it doesn't mean that the only alternative is what you suggested.

*SD* wrote:Knowledge is just a very firm belief.

"Just" that ... Does it matter whether such "knowledge" is accurate?

*SD* wrote:So you don't operate on what you would consider to be knowledge? Cool.

Not cool, but I didn't when I was an omnivore. Even though I "knew" about artificial insemination and the relationship between mammals and milk, I didn't get it, I don't know why. It is possible that there are things that I "know" right now, and it will take time until I realize how I should act.

*SD* wrote:I know it's fine to kill and eat animals for my taste pleasure alone.

How did you come to this belief? Could you be mistaken?
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:46 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: Why Vegan?

australopithecus wrote:Because I like eating meat.

Do you think this is a good reason? Why?
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:51 pm
australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4346Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Why Vegan?

I place no value on it as a reason. It's neither good or bad, it's just a fact. It is what it is.
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Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:58 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 93Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: Why Vegan?

australopithecus wrote:I place no value on it as a reason. It's neither good or bad, it's just a fact. It is what it is.

As modern humans, we are expected to take responsibility for our behavior, at least when it has consequences for others. If someone were to say "the way I act is just a fact", they would be denying their responsibility.

As I understand, you are telling me that you like meat as a matter of fact, which I don't dispute right now (taste is contextual). However, assuming that you accept responsibility for your decisions, and that you actually have the choice (wealth, access), is this fact a good reason to keep financing the meat industry? Why?
"Violent ideologies have a special set of defenses that enable humane people to support inhumane practices and to not even realize what they're doing." (Melanie Joy)
Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:02 pm
australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4346Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Why Vegan?

Because the meat industry provides meat, and as stated previously, I like eating meat. I certainly have the choice not to, but I’m going to anyway.
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Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:02 am
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