The argument for Veganism from a scientific and moral perspective rather than from beliefs

Jan 25, 2013


Discussion by: cybervegan
I’m trying to clarify my thoughts and reasons for being vegan, from a scientific and moral perspective, rather from the standpoint of “beliefs”.

I’m a committed vegan, and have been for over 20 years now. I’m also an atheist, and have been for even longer. Over the years, I’ve often had to defend my position on veganism, so I’ve got quite good at arguing my case. However, I have previously often used “belief” as an argument. I’ve often been told that veganism is akin to a religion, which I generally haven’t tried to refute, mainly due to the advantage of the “false reverence” that religions get favoured with. However, I’m re-thinking this position, after recently reading TGD. I want to discard the belief argument and replace it with some better, more scientific reasoning.

I’m specifically NOT looking for arguments against veganism – so please don’t clog up the discussion with arguments in that direction.

My reasoning so far:

1. The human body is not well equipped to deal with eating or digesting meat – our teeth are the wrong type, our gut is too long and our metabolism is too alkaline. I’m not denying that we have survived the ice-ages, and at least to an extent been shaped by our habit of eating meat, and that in particular, it is possible that our brains might not have developed to their current size and capacity without a meat-based diet, but I also hold the view that this has been relatively speaking so recent in our line of descent that in evolutionary terms, we have not yet made most of the required adaptations to be considered proper omnivores, let alone carnivores. Furthermore, we lack the natural tools for killing and eating prey – we lack the requisite speed, agility, claws and teeth for taking down any prey of sufficient size to be useful – Ozzy Osbourne’s famous Hamster eating habit doesn’t really qualify.

2. Even disregarding all the physiological evidence, we evidently DO NOT NEED meat or animal products in our diets to be healthy. Although I’m only one example (there are many more however) I’m still here today after 20+ years of veganism, and I am healthy, apart from some excess fat! (I’m working on that). I’ve recently had my “health test for old geezers”, and my blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure all came out fine. I’m sure there are many counter-points where vegans who have not paid the right amount of attention to their diets have suffered as a result, but that’s different from a vegan diet per se being deficient. In fact there is mounting empirical medical evidence that a plant-based diet is far more healthy than anything containing animal products.

3. Even disregarding the first two points, a vegan diet is more sustainable and less demanding on the environment than a meat-and/or-dairy based diet, with a vegan diet taking about a 10th of the resources – land, water, fuel etc. – to maintain. So from an ecological stand-point, veganism is the best option for the future – our world resources can  sustain a much larger population as vegans than omnivores. People often point out that this or that “essential vegan foodstuff” is environmentally unfriendly – for example deforestation of the rainforests to grow soya beans – but they ignore the fact that the majority of soya produced is used for animal feed.

4. Capacity for suffering – any creature with a nervous system is capable of perceiving pain, and thus suffering; it is also evident (and science is now proving) that many animals also share the capacity for conciousness and sentience, even if they don’t share the SAME levels as humans do, so where should you draw the line? If animals are not biological automata; if they feel complex emotions such as pleasure, anger, fear, sadness, anxiety; if they show complex social behaviours such as altruism, co-operation, self-sacrifice, leadership and following, friendship, pairing, loyalty and even “morals”, as we do; if they exhibit responses to pleasure and pain – aren’t they entitled to respect on that basis?

5. Because of our huge and capricious brains, and our “refined sense of morality”, we can CHOOSE not to knowlingly and intentionally exploit other species, just because their flesh tastes good or they produce secretions that we like.

So with that, over to you… would you add anything? Do any of my points not hold water (and why) ? I undoubtedly need to think most of these through more – can you suggest how?

[Edited to bring it more “on topic” for this forum -cybervegan].

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