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A thread in which we discuss ethics relating to a vegan lifestyle

I will warn you before this thread even starts, it's in food fight for a reason, as there will be PROS and CONS discussed about following any and all parts of a vegan lifestyle.

By the way, hi, vegweb! if you feel like banning me after I start this thread it's been a good time, thanks!

Basically, I would like to discuss how veganism came about in your life due to ethics, if you think it is all you can do, if you think it is truly the best thing ethically, etc.

I will start with my story and current feelings. I first went vegan for sustainability reasons. It hit me in a biology class that if I want to be sustainable (always one of my biggest passions), I will eat lowest in the trophic levels, this led to me being vegetarian and pretty much immediately going vegan. Vegan also came with a bit of an AR reason, since ultimately it was some PETA propaganda I picked up when looking for vegan recipes (I ate all vegan at home when I was LO veg, but would sometimes eat a brownie or something prepared by others). I also wanted to be vegan to be healthier, since I knew that it would cut a lot of shit out of my diet. In the years that followed, my reasons and diet have changed immensely (but always vegan--duh).

I still find sustainability to be a HUGE reason, though I am an ardent supporter of permaculture, and in a permacultural system, the sustainability argument holds little weight (in fact, some could say it would be less sustainable to not eat animals, though I do not know where I stand on that issue). I have a hard time getting produce from a permacultural system, which is unfortunate, since I would ideally only like to support agriculture that is that sustainable. I am currently working on growing pretty much all my own food,, but it will be a couple of years.

In terms of AR, obviously I believe that factory farming is wrong. I personally have just believe that we need to end our exploitation of animals and reliance on them for ANYTHING. I was just musing the other day how I think it funny that vegans will not eat some animal product that doesn't kill the animal but supports the killing of it systematically (like milk supporting the veal industry) but they all adopt their PETS ("companion animals") from shelters which euthanize the animals if no one gets them. Sure, you saved your animals life, but by keeping the pet system going you have killed countless others. I'm not trying to indict anyone here, but just showing how fine these ethical lines can be. I certainly think that it is wrong to kill an animal for nothing but our own pleasure, though I do not think that it would be wrong to kill an animal if we had to for something like self defense or if it is needed for human health (yes, I do think that our health is more important than an animals life, sorry, in order for any species to be successful they must eat what they are designed to with no regard for another species welfare).

Which I suppose brings me to my last point, health. Health has been the biggest thing keeping me vegan for the last 7 years. Why? Because, ethically, I do not think that there would be a problem eating foods that are going into the trash that are of animal origin. I am sure most people would agree with that statement. As I have worked in numerous food service establishments in the last 7 years I have had AMPLE opportunities to eat meat, diary, and eggs that was just thrown away (what a sad sad shame for those animals lives that had to give them up just to sit in a landfill, makes me want to cry just thinking about it). I have, especially in the last few years, preached veganism for health like there is no tomorrow. As many of you know, I took on a quite serious vegan diet, eating simply, low fat, low protein, high carb, no grains, tons of veggies and fruit, etc. I basically went on and off between that diet (basically all raw) and a more conventional McDougal type approach (Essylstein, Campbell... What they all teach)... The holy grail of health, right? Well, I did feel marginally better on the raw version (I think grains are the devil, for multiple reasons and I will get into that below), but have increasingly began to feel worse and worse. I can't really explain that much other than much more limited thinking ability and incredibly strong lethargy. I also thought back to when I first stopped regularly (daily) working out and it was, lo and behold, probably about 5 months after I first went vegan.
Well, I have a pretty strong opinion that supplements are bullshit, and since I was feeling not-so-super neurologically, I decided to get my b12 checked. LOW. You know what else was low? D... What the hell? I live in sunny San Diego and get TONS of sun. This was also at the end of the summer that I got tested, when one would probably have the highest levels of D from sunlight. So starts my distrust of veganism as the ultimate health plan. Sure, people see results reversing disease, or get healthier due to eliminating lots of other bad things from the diet, but how about long term? I started reading, and trying my best to not let my bias towards veganism sway what I was reading and I found.. A lot. So many people have health problems on vegan diets. And I found this gem http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/09/22/forks-over-knives-is-the-science-legit-a-review-and-critique/ (<--- Do not read this unless you want to forever not trust Dr. Campbell again) and read that and her critique of the chine study. Well! Looks like the basis of why veganism is healthier is a little sham-y.

Then, I found this interview, which led me to posting this thread. http://letthemeatmeat.com/post/863965328/interview-with-an-ex-vegan-tovar-cerulli I agree with what much of this guy says. I have long avoided grains because I do not thing, as a vegan, they are ethical both because of stolen habitat from animals, and then because the machines used in harvesting kill many many animals. All of my reasons for eschewing grains came flooding back to me when I was reading that guys interview, even thought here I am trying to to eat grains so that I can feel better (not working). I do believe that people (even vegans) do not think enough about where their food is coming from and how ethical it is. I am striving to grow all of my own food (lots of fruit trees :)), but until then, I am stuck eating things that I do not know everything about. It does seem like the simple thing to do is say "I'm vegan and that's what I do for the animals"... but is it really enough? Is it good for you? Is every single death and useful one? How can we make it so in our own lives?

Just FYI, I am still "vegan", I do not know where my diet is going at the moment as I still have a very strong ethical pull towards veganism, though if it was merely an intellectual thing I think that my veganism would be shot out the window. I'm just emotionally attached.

Hate me yet?

I forgot to mention, I am taking a b12 supp (not helping) and also that I get all of my food from the farmer's markets or neighbors trees/gardens, so I do know a lot about most of my food.

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I think a lot of this comes down to an individual's reasons for choosing to be vegan. I personally find it ghastly to compare the dairy/veal industries and say..The Humane Society. As someone who is vegan primarily for animal welfare, I obviously don't advocate the exploitation of animals, and I will try to save and protect as many as I can. If I can save one animal and be sure to give it the best possible home and overwhelming love, then I will do so. If I can save more, I will do so. If I can donate time, money, care, thought to the care of other animals, I will do so.
Do you also find it "wrong" for a place such as Farm Sanctuary to save/prolong the life of other domesticated animals (cows, pigs, turkeys, etc.)? I most certainly wish we could stop the breeding and human intervention in domesticated animals lives, but what is to be done with the animals that we already have in the world? Not care for them? Shun them? Albeit not perfect by any means, shelters such as humane societies at least provide care for animals and spay/neuter them. It's very sad that the human race has dominated other animals in so many ways, but we can still all do our own parts to help the animals who "we" have hurt over time. Domesticated animals can't all just fend for themselves in this world that we've taken over. What we do is never enough.

In terms of health, I do believe a varied and balanced vegan diet to be the healthiest, but I don't have any personal numbers or levels or whatnot to share (as some others do). I'm sorry you have been having health related trouble lately!

I don't understand what you mean about the exercise/vegan? You mean, you must have not had enough energy to exercise right after you went vegan?

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I stopped exercising regularly shortly after I became vegan, I do not remember why, anymore, that was quite a while ago!

While I can understand your arguments about "saving the animals" I honestly don't know of any way that we can truly STOP our use of animals (as companions/pets, or anything else) without stopping the demand. There will always be a demand for pets as long as we allow people to have them. I don't really know how "domesticated" animals get, as the only animals I have even had are cats and chickens, both of which were perfectly able to find food themselves if we didn't do anything with them (which of course we DID, but that's not the point). I know most people's dogs also chase down small animals. Of COURSE more would die than if we have them in our protected environment, but we are also choosing to end other animals lives to feed them or take out land that other animals would live in... Do you see what I am getting at? I think the more and more we make our lives unsustainable, the worse off we are to the earth (housing all animals, including ourselves), other animals, humans, etc. If we truly want to live a life of compassion we must live a life of little and realize what impact all of our actions make on other entities.

I believed a vegan diet to be healthiest (of course, a healthy one, we all know there can be total junk eating vegans), but I don't think I do anymore.

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I do get what you are saying, but that's not really a plausible scenario (letting all the animals out into the world to live/die). ..or one that I would want! I think intervening in a positive way is better than letting an animal die (If I saw an animal hurt/dying somewhere, I would do what I could to help it). If millions of animals were just let out to fend for themselves, many would most certainly suffer/die.
I don't agree with the way the world has become (using animals, breeding animals, overpopulating animals, etc.), but it is now that way...so I can only do what I think is right in our society (helping animals!). ...which does not mean hoarding/mistreating 987 animals trying to "save" them all..as some people do.
In a perfect world, all species and beings would be living their own lives (truly), but humans have ruined that by working hard to dominate all beings. I choose to care for the animals I can, not ignore them. 

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I think we are on the same page, but just have different solutions. For one thing, I think mine is not a short term happy scenario, but long term it would hopefully work for the better, yours works better in the short term, for sure, but in the long term we are still in the same situation. I also wish we had never gotten ourselves into this mess. And thank goodness you aren't trying to "save" 987 of them ;)

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I think we are on the same page, but just have different solutions. For one thing, I think mine is not a short term happy scenario, but long term it would hopefully work for the better, yours works better in the short term, for sure, but in the long term we are still in the same situation. I also wish we had never gotten ourselves into this mess. And thank goodness you aren't trying to "save" 987 of them ;)

:) Yes.

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I can't believe no one wants to talk about this! I was all afraid to post it because I figured everyone will hate me, but wanted to hear what people think about things like this... Is everyone just afraid?

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not afraid hespy.....I have comments to make, but want to spend the time thinking about a relpy first, and am super busy with work currently.

I'll come back to this though.

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yay!

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Thought-provoking stuff... no hate!  :)

A year or so ago, I saw that PCRM was trying to recruit people for a study exploring the question of whether it's possible that some-but-not-other humans may be obligate carnivores... I haven't seen any follow-up (haven't gone looking, don't know if they got the study together or not), but I think it's a reasonable question to explore. Humans are so diverse, and evolved under such different conditions... I wonder if the problem is expecting one diet to be healthy for all people? Certainly it seems like some thrive better than others on all-plants...

I eat like I do because it's working; if it weren't, I would tweak it... but with the goal of still doing the least harm (as far as my brain could assess it) while still meeting my health needs/ staying as low-impact environmentally as possible. I will never eat factory-farmed crap; but if it were a matter of need, vs whim or convenience, well, eggs can be very sustainable and creature-friendly and provide B12/ omega3's/ etc... Even absent specific need for animal foods nutritionally, I do occasionally eat pet-hen eggs or backyard honey, when they're available to me, b/c they seem less-harm than highly shipped/ packaged/ transported tofu or agave. If it were a matter of *need*, I could see eating mussels/ clams/ oysters-- as low on the food chain as possible, in other words-- but leaving the other critters off the list... BUT: at least for me, at least for now, it does not seem to be a NEED-- and that's where my line is. So I don't.

Are there problems with some plant foods, in terms of ethics? absolutely... Monocropping, GMO shit, wildlife impact, habitat destruction, pesticides, nitrogen run-off... but I see it a lot like blackjack strategy. Hit 16 to dealer's 10, every time (unless you're counting cards, in which case you get a different set of rules! haha)... sometimes you'll bust; but statistically you can expect a positive outcome more often than if you stand, on that particular hand. Some plant foods are a bad outcome, environmentally; but I think if you gamble 'plants only' or 'plants mostly'-- especially if you make every effort to buy organic/ buy local as much as you can-- I think you'll be doing the least-harm thing more often than you won't.

I can't walk (or, more often, drive) past suffering of a certain magnitude, if I have the ability to help. All we can do is the best we can do; whether or not I 'approve' of domestication is neither here nor there. To some degree I think we have to live in the now; and if 'right now' there is a starved dog with a broken hip panting in the median, then the right thing for me to do is to try to help it-- I don't know what 'the right thing' for anyone else to do might be, but for me I don't give a flip about the broader intellectual arguments involving ideal solutions, at such a time-- I gotta be able to sleep, yo. Theoretical ideal solutions are less important to me than day to day real life 'how-things-are-in-the-world-for-living-things'-ness... even if the number of living things this applies to is very low (i.e. 1).

Kill shelters suck; but (based on living in rural areas with NO shelters, and seeing the suffering there) even these are better than NO shelters, imo. The main problem I have with ethics and companion animals is the feeding thereof... I have many, all of rescue origin... can't afford to feed 'em without buying food using by-products from factory farming... and cats are obligate carnies, of course, so there's that... I don't like supporting that industry at all, but there's no chance I'm gonna kick my friends to the curb to suffer, in homage to my abstract philosophical angst...

Bleh, when I win the lotto maybe I can do better with sustainable/ ethical companion-animal-food sourcing! It does bother me.

I want more time to look over the science links, before commenting specifically there...

Good thread.  :)

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i also have a response, but have dance in 4 minutes. but if you were low on vitamin D, just eat more leafy greens? i don't think it entails a whole revamp of your diet. but i'll be back later!

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I can't walk (or, more often, drive) past suffering of a certain magnitude, if I have the ability to help. All we can do is the best we can do; whether or not I 'approve' of domestication is neither here nor there. To some degree I think we have to live in the now; and if 'right now' there is a starved dog with a broken hip panting in the median, then the right thing for me to do is to try to help it-- I don't know what 'the right thing' for anyone else to do might be, but for me I don't give a flip about the broader intellectual arguments involving ideal solutions, at such a time-- I gotta be able to sleep, yo. Theoretical ideal solutions are less important to me than day to day real life 'how-things-are-in-the-world-for living-things'-ness... even if the number of living things this applies to is very low (i.e. 1).

Kill shelters suck; but (based on living in rural areas with NO shelters, and seeing the suffering there) even these are better than NO shelters, imo.

Totally agree. This is what I was trying to say, if that wasn't obvious. Why delve into the hypothetical whatifthiscouldbe stuff when we have a current situation to work with?

In terms of the health based stuff, it's hard for me to imagine that you would (seemingly) throw out so many fact-based scientific studies over a couple of blog posts. Maybe it just means it's time to re-evaluate your vegan diet to fill in some holes? I don't think a couple deficiencies mean it's time to steer away from a plant based diet, or that one is not valid/healthy. Instead of moving more toward extremes, maybe more toward variety? (Not even saying that you need to eat grains/whatever else, but just that it doesn't mean your body needs animals!)

And again, this all ties into a person's reasons for being vegan. Honestly, if I did find out that for some reason I needed a (vegan) D supplement because I could not (for some reason) get it in my plant based diet, I would take one! I can't imagine thinking that I need a cow's milk or chicken bodies to be a healthy human.

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I forgot to mention, I am taking a b12 supp (not helping)

What do you mean by "not helping"?  Are your levels low even though you're taking a supplement?

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I still find sustainability to be a HUGE reason, though I am an ardent supporter of permaculture, and in a permacultural system, the sustainability argument holds little weight (in fact, some could say it would be less sustainable to not eat animals, though I do not know where I stand on that issue).

Further thoughts... I am so with you on sustainability concerns; but -- hypothesize -- if eating other people (after all, there are so many!) or eating stray dogs and cats (sigh-- same criteria) was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt the most sustainable way to get food, I would blithely disregard the demonstrable data, and continue right on with not eating them. Sustainability is important; very important!... but I can't eat something I see as a 'who', even if it made the most sense intellectually, without being in more dire straights hunger-wise than I've ever yet been... At a certain level of neural complexity, I don't care how sustainable it is: in the absence of profound need, I will not eat it/ that is all/ thankyouverymuch.

Also... let's talk more please about supplement aversion. I understand wanting a natural paradigm; but if maybe the only way I can thrive as a full-time planteater until I die of old age is to pop a bit of b12 and maybe some DHA-- Ginny Messina (veganrd.com) plus the vegan.com guy have brought forth some convincing arguments, on this issue-- I say, 'Pass the vegan b12 supplements, please and thank you!' Why avoid that, if it is the best way to get everything you need without relying on animal junk?

Also, second Tweety's clarification question-- are the supplements not raising your b12 levels, or are they raising your b12 but you still feel blah?

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I can't walk (or, more often, drive) past suffering of a certain magnitude, if I have the ability to help. All we can do is the best we can do; whether or not I 'approve' of domestication is neither here nor there. To some degree I think we have to live in the now; and if 'right now' there is a starved dog with a broken hip panting in the median, then the right thing for me to do is to try to help it-- I don't know what 'the right thing' for anyone else to do might be, but for me I don't give a flip about the broader intellectual arguments involving ideal solutions, at such a time-- I gotta be able to sleep, yo. Theoretical ideal solutions are less important to me than day to day real life 'how-things-are-in-the-world-for living-things'-ness... even if the number of living things this applies to is very low (i.e. 1).

Kill shelters suck; but (based on living in rural areas with NO shelters, and seeing the suffering there) even these are better than NO shelters, imo.

Totally agree. This is what I was trying to say, if that wasn't obvious. Why delve into the hypothetical whatifthiscouldbe stuff when we have a current situation to work with?

In terms of the health based stuff, it's hard for me to imagine that you would (seemingly) throw out so many fact-based scientific studies over a couple of blog posts. Maybe it just means it's time to re-evaluate your vegan diet to fill in some holes? I don't think a couple deficiencies mean it's time to steer away from a plant based diet, or that one is not valid/healthy. Instead of moving more toward extremes, maybe more toward variety? (Not even saying that you need to eat grains/whatever else, but just that it doesn't mean your body needs animals!)

And again, this all ties into a person's reasons for being vegan. Honestly, if I did find out that for some reason I needed a (vegan) D supplement because I could not (for some reason) get it in my plant based diet, I would take one! I can't imagine thinking that I need a cow's milk or chicken bodies to be a healthy human.

this is pretty much exactly what i wanted to say

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I was just musing the other day how I think it funny that vegans will not eat some animal product that doesn't kill the animal but supports the killing of it systematically (like milk supporting the veal industry) but they all adopt their PETS ("companion animals") from shelters which euthanize the animals if no one gets them. Sure, you saved your animals life, but by keeping the pet system going you have killed countless others.

I really don't understand this...

I went vegan for AR reasons. Though enviornmental and health reasons are making much more sense now too. I feel better than I did when I wasn't vegan... I did have the brain fog (I believe I think you are talking about) and B12 made it go away. How long have you been taking B12?

Do you think maybe your strive for the "perfect" vegan diet might have been a little much? Maybe very low fat, low protein, and very high raw isn't working for you? I know you know a crap ton about health but idk, i don't see many other vegans jumping on that bandwagon and they all seem to feel fine... i am in no way trying to be a witch, just maybe try a different approach... shit i could never eat like 100 bananas and 2 gallons of OJ a day or whatever, that is just torture :/

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I forgot to mention, I am taking a b12 supp (not helping)

What do you mean by "not helping"?  Are your levels low even though you're taking a supplement?

I don't know numerically because I haven't tested since I started supplementing, I mean the way I feel. I honestly don't care about the numbers at the end of the day. I originally got tested because I wasn't feeling tip-top and b12 did in fact come back low, so I got a supp.

yay.. I like where this thread is going.

Regarding people's thoughts about supplementing and eating more variety: that is my current MO.. Which so far seems to suck. As I said in my OP I am against supplementation, but I figured, whatever if b12 is going to keep me vegan I will take it. I found the highest quality shit I could and it ain't making me feel better. In terms of diet, like I said, I feel BETTER when I am doing the raw thing, but since I just overall feel so crappy lately I decided to put more variety back in my diet by means of cooking. Still feel like shit :(.

In terms of why I do not believe in supplementation: nutrition is a very very very shaky science. Very influenced by bias (as we all know) and what is one thing that we can know? People somehow got by without supplements until not too long ago. Whole foods are where it's at, sorry. And like I said, I abandoned this belief to try to stay vegan. We can not know the numerous way nutrients interact, nor even what every essential nutrient is, so our best bet is to eat whole foods.

AML, what I am saying with the shelters is that we are keeping them running so long as we have a market for pets, which will cause unnatural death of animals (at a humans hand). I have always been one to look at the long term and big picture (hello being in love with sustainability), so that is where my views stem from. Many vegans have health problems, they just don't attribute them to diet, as do very few normal people.

AC, one of the blog posts brought about arguments against the only "fact based" pro-vegan stuff I know of/have heard much about. She examined the actual china study data (you know, the data from the actual china study, not the book) and showed that many of the correlations were absolutely NOT what campbell said they were proving. I think that people's views probably change quickly if they are struggling with health :/ nutrition is unfortunately lots of guesses.

HCM, I think we agree on a lot.

BTW, guys, there is no D in plant foods, but we get it from the sun.

I want to write more but I am tired (as always, ha)

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hesp you are awesome... and you know it! i admire how much you know about health! i have always looked up to you <3

i am really sorry you are feeling shitty... is dustin feeling the same?

how long has this been going on? maybe you can figure out something from that as far as what isn't working for you...

supplmenting isn't something i am into either, but i would rather pop a few vitamins and eat some fortified vegan stuff than eat animal crap i know isn't good for my body or mind and i am no healthy vegan... i just follow what seasoned LT vegans advise and it works thankfully for me...

i am glad you are incorporating some new vegan stuffs into your diet... maybe just give it some time?

Good luck love and lemme know if you ever want me to venture an hour south to check out one of your fave vegan restaurants MY TREAT <3

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I have a lot to say about the points You've raised... been thinking about all of that stuff m'self, actually, and James and I have had some good discussions.
I will come back to this when I'm not running on 4 a.m. fumes and desperately needing sleep before going to work tomorrow (today) later. :)

and I still think You rock, hansom hespy.

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i get everything you're saying for sure. i've gone through periods when i've been in a fog, too. but eventually it just went away. i really don't think eating animal products is gonna clear up your fog. if anything i feel like it would make it worse. maybe it doesn't have to do with what you're eating, but how much. and at what times. if you're one of those people that grazes all day, maybe you need to just eat 3 meals a day, or vice versa. or maybe it's not related to food at all. have you been under more stress than usual?

i'm not expert but i don't see how adding animal products would ever help. especially since it's factory farm BS, it's filled with diseases anyway so it'll probably make you feel worse.

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