• Fallacy
    Animals are not as intellectually or emotionally sophisticated as humans and/or they do not feel pain the way we do, so it is acceptable to kill and eat them.
    Response
    All animals are intellectually and emotionally sophisticated relative to their own species, and many have thoughts and emotions more complex than those of young human children or the mentally disabled. Even so, it is not logical or equitable to withhold ethical considerations from individuals whom we imagine think or feel differently than we do.
    We uphold the basic rights of humans who do not reach certain intellectual and emotional benchmarks, so it is only logical that we should uphold these rights for all sentient beings. Denying them to non-human animals is base speciesism and, therefore, ethically indefensible. Further, it is problematic to assert that intelligence and emotional capacity exist on a linear scale where insects occupy one end and humans occupy the other. For example, bees are experts in the language of dance and communicate all sorts of things with it. Should humans who cannot communicate through interpretive dance be considered less intelligent than bees? Finally, even if an intellectual or emotional benchmark were justification for killing a sentient being, there is no scientific support for the claim that a capacity for intelligence or emotion equals a capacity for suffering. In fact, there is a great deal of scientific support for just the opposite; that because non-human animals do not possess the ability to contextualize their suffering as humans do, that suffering is much greater.
  • Fallacy
    Because wolves and other predators eat animals, and because humans are also animals, it's okay for humans to eat animals.
    Response
    Non-human animals do many things we find unethical; they steal, rape, eat their children and engage in other activities that do not and should not provide a logical foundation for our behavior. This means it is illogical to claim that we should eat the same diet certain non-human animals do. So it is probably not useful to consider the behavior of stoats, alligators and other predators when making decisions about our own behavior.
    The argument for modeling human behavior on non-human behavior is unclear to begin with, but if we're going to make it, why shouldn't we choose to follow the example of the hippopotamus, ox or giraffe rather than the shark, cheetah or bear? Why not compare ourselves to crows and eat raw carrion by the side of the road? Why not compare ourselves to dung beetles and eat little balls of dried feces? Because it turns out humans really are a special case in the animal kingdom, that's why. So are vultures, goats, elephants and crickets. Each is an individual species with individual needs and capacities for choice. Of course, humans are capable of higher reasoning, but this should only make us more sensitive to the morality of our behavior toward non-human animals. And while we are capable of killing and eating them, it isn't necessary for our survival. We aren't lions, and we know that we cannot justify taking the life of a sentient being for no better reason than our personal dietary preferences.
  • Fallacy
    Veganism does not make a big impact on the Earth, so it is reasonable to be an environmentalist without also being vegan.
    Response
    Between 18% and 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions are directly attributable to livestock respiration, methane, production of animal products and other relatable sources, this compared to 13% from every form of transportation on the planet combined. Animal agribusiness also both uses and pollutes almost half of the Earth's available land and is responsible for over 90% of Amazon rainforest losses. Further, it is the greatest contributor to wildlife habitat destruction, and it is easily the leading cause of species extinction and ocean dead zones. Finally, while fracking consumes as much as 140 billion gallons of fresh water annually in the United States, the farming of animals uses at least 34 trillion gallons of fresh water annually.
    The majority of the environmental problems we face today are being directly caused by animal agribusiness, and the most effective solution to these problems is the adoption of a vegan lifestyle and a plant-based diet. One year of veganism saves around 725,000 gallons of fresh water, which would take you 66 years to use in the shower. By choosing a vegan lifestyle and a plant-based diet, you automatically reduce your carbon dioxide output by 50% and use 91% less oil, 92% less water, and 89% less land. Each day, an individual vegan saves over a 1000 gallons of fresh water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forests, 20 pounds of CO2, and the life of at least one animal. So if you want to do your part for the Earth, or if you self-identify as an environmentalist, the only reasonable and responsible course of action is to adopt a vegan lifestyle and a plant-based diet.
  • Fallacy
    Humans evolved canine teeth to tear flesh, and this means it is natural and normal for us to eat meat.
    Response
    When humans eat flesh, we don't actually tear it with our cuspids. Instead, we soften meat with cooking and then pre-tear it with utensils before grinding it down with our flattened molars, which are particularly well-suited for chewing vegetation.
    Using dentition as an indicator of diet is a hard case to make. Domestic cats and dogs have similar dental structures, but cats are obligate carnivores and dogs can be vegan. Gorillas are herbivores with long canines. Our own teeth are closer to those of herbivores than carnivores, but we are capable of digesting the flesh and secretions of other species, which means that we can choose to eat plants, animals or both. So it's clear that a species' teeth are not a reliable determinant of its dietary requirements.
  • Fallacy
    The raising and eating of animals does not cause or promote human disease.
    Response
    Many human diseases come directly from animals. For instance, pigs and birds carry influenza, pigs and dogs carry whooping cough, and cows carry tuberculosis, smallpox, and cowpox. So when we raise and eat animals, we increase our risk of exposure to these and other diseases. Further, plants contaminated by animal agribusiness runoff can be vectors of salmonella, which is the primary way spinach, peanut butter, and other plant-based foods come into contact with the bacteria.
    Worse, people who do not eat animals are placed at grave risk by people who do. In many developed countries, factory-farmed animals are fed antibiotics in sub-therapeutic doses to counteract suboptimal growth caused by unsanitary conditions. In this way, factory farms are exposing zoonotic diseases to non-toxic levels of these drugs, and this is driving the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Many of our “last-resort” antibiotics are being used this way in animal agriculture, and a substantial percentage of all antibiotics are given to food animals. As a result, we are near the dawn of a post-antibiotic era; a terrifying consequence of animal agriculture we might very well see in our own lifetimes.
  • Fallacy
    Making milk is a normal and natural activity that cows do not suffer or die from, so eating dairy is not an ethical issue.
    Response
    Suffering and death are required components of contemporary milk production. Cows are force-bred annually to produce milk, which translates to well over 200,000,000 calves per year worldwide. Female calves are raised to be milk cows, while male calves are chained in tiny pens where they cannot turn around until they are slaughtered for veal at just a few months of age.
    Regardless of gender, cows are not permitted to raise their calves, who are removed from their mothers by force on the day of their birth, causing tremendous emotional distress to both parent and child. Worse, a cow's natural lifespan is about twenty years, and she can easily produce milk for eight of those years, but the constant breeding, disease and stress of dairy farm life wears her out by the time she is five years old, when she is slaughtered just like every other cow. All of this takes place on large factory farms and on small, bucolic family farms. Dairy cows and their calves suffer no matter where they are born and raised.
  • Fallacy
    Eating meat is a personal choice just like being vegan is a personal choice, so everyone should just live and let live.
    Response
    From an ethical perspective, it is generally agreed that one individual's right to choice ends at the point where exercising that right does harm to another individual. Therefore, while it might be legal and customary to needlessly kill and eat animals, it is not ethical.
    Simply because a thing is condoned by law or society does not make it ethical or moral. Looked at differently, it is logically inconsistent to claim that it is wrong to hurt animals like cats and dogs and also to claim that eating animals like pigs and chickens is a matter of choice, since we do not need to eat them in order to survive. So it is clear then, that eating meat is only a matter of choice in the most superficial sense because it is both ethically and morally wrong to do so.
  • Fallacy
    Humans evolved as an omnivore species, so eating meat is natural for us.
    Response
    The claim that humans are natural meat-eaters is generally made on the belief that we have evolved the ability to digest meat, eggs and milk. This is true as far as it goes; as omnivores, we're physiologically capable of thriving with or without animal flesh and secretions. However, this also means that we can thrive on a whole food plant-based diet, which is what humans have also been doing throughout our history and prehistory.
    Even if we accept at face value the premise that man is a natural meat-eater, this reasoning depends on the claim that if a thing is natural then it is automatically valid, justified, inevitable, good, or ideal. Eating animals is none of these things. Further, it should be noted that many humans are lactose intolerant, and many doctors recommend a plant-based diet for optimal health. When you add to this that taking a sentient life is by definition an ethical issue - especially when there is no actual reason to do so - then the argument that eating meat is natural falls apart on both physiological and ethical grounds.
  • Fallacy
    Laying eggs is normal and natural for chickens, and they don't suffer or die from giving us eggs, so eating eggs is not an ethical issue.
    Response
    Eating eggs supports cruelty to chickens. Rooster chicks are killed at birth in a variety of terrible ways because they cannot lay eggs and do not fatten up as Broiler chickens do. Laying hens suffer their entire lives; they are debeaked without anesthetic, they live in cramped, filthy, stressful conditions and they are slaughtered when they cease to produce at an acceptable level.
    These problems are present even on the most bucolic family farm. For example, laying hens are often killed and eaten when their production drops off, and even those farms that keep laying hens into their dotage purchase hen chicks from the same hatcheries that kill rooster chicks. Further, such idyllic family farms are an extreme edge case in the industry; essentially all of the eggs on the market come from factory farms. In part, this is because there's no way to produce the number of eggs that the market demands without using such methods, and in part it's because the egg production industry is driven by profit margins, not compassion, and it's much more lucrative to use factory farming methodologies.
  • Fallacy
    Going vegan is too difficult and complicated for the average person, so it is not reasonable to expect that people can or will go vegan.
    Response
    Because veganism is the philosophical position that harming animals is wrong, going vegan means changing your life in ways that minimize this harm. The most important way you can do that is to remove animal products from your diet. Another important way is to stop wearing animal products such as leather and wool. Another is to avoid entertainments that involve animals, such as circuses and zoos. But while these might seem daunting tasks when viewed together, they do not have to be undertaken all at once. Most vegans transition to veganism slowly, bringing incremental changes to their lives over time that are easily integrated. You can do this, too.
    Where it concerns food, you might begin by replacing your milk and butter with plant-based alternatives while you decrease your cheese and meat consumption. Then you might replace your dairy cheese with non-dairy cheese or perhaps give it up altogether. Finally, you might replace your meat with beans, lentils and tofu. Yes, you will begin to cook differently, but this will happen over a period of time in small steps. Where it concerns clothing, transition is often easier. Some new vegans remove all animal products from their closets, but others replace leather shoes and wool sweaters with vegan alternatives as they wear out. You can do this too, which lowers the cost in money and time of making your wardrobe vegan-friendly. Finally, it is easy to avoid circuses, zoos and other forms of animal entertainment. Simply choose to spend your entertainment budget elsewhere. Yes, it is easy to continue exploiting animals, since there are so many opportunities to do so in our culture. But there are opportunities to express your compassionate values as well, and every step you take along that path is a step toward veganism.
  • Fallacy
    Going vegan makes little or no impact on the world, so why should anyone bother?
    Response
    It is true that large-scale societal changes rarely happen as a result of one person’s efforts. Rather, these changes happen when a number of people begin to live in alignment with their shared values. In the case of vegans, more people are beginning to live compassionate lives, and each of them is contributing to a more compassionate world. In this way, the animal rights movement is no different from those of women’s suffrage and racial equality, which were both comprised of many individuals who held in common values of compassion, peace and social justice.
    On a smaller scale, however, it is important to keep in mind that no matter what another person does, you are accountable to yourself. This means that even though one person alone cannot create the world veganism envisions, you need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror every morning. To that end, it might be helpful to note that each vegan saves roughly 400 animals per year, reduces more greenhouse emissions than non-vegans and uses a fraction of the fresh water resources. Moreover, each vegan chooses not to participate in the market for animal suffering, which makes that market just a little bit smaller and the lives of animals just a little bit better. So while each vegan cannot save the whole world alone, individual vegans are saving a small piece of it, and together those small pieces add up to something great.
  • Fallacy
    Making honey is a normal and natural activity for bees that does not cause them to suffer or die, so eating honey is not an ethical issue.
    Response
    Bees possess extraordinary intelligence, decision-making ability and even specialized language. They also experience pain. This means that bees are thinking individuals whose needs and wishes are usurped for our benefit when we consume honey. This also means that bees suffer when their honey is taken from them.
    In commercial honey operations, queens are purchased after having been artificially inseminated with crushed males. The wings of these queens are ripped off to prevent them from flying away, and while they would normally live to four years old, they are killed at age two to make room for younger queens. Further, commercial hives are often left to die by starvation and exposure or killed as a means of controlling stock. Even in smaller honey operations where bees are treated gently, some are crushed to death when their hives are disturbed. Beekeepers in these environments often replace honey with sugar or corn syrup to maximize profits, but these are not a bee’s natural food, and they are not sufficient to sustain an entire hive through the winter. Ultimately, wild hives create living conditions and food stores ideally suited to sustain themselves, but human intervention results in starvation, suffering and death for bees. So since humans do not need honey to survive, eating it is indeed unethical.
  • Fallacy
    If we stopped killing animals for meat, humans would starve because there would not be enough food to go around.
    Response
    Food scarcity is an argument for veganism, not against it. As the world’s population grows and more people are able to afford meat, less food is available overall. This is because we filter protein and energy-rich crops like soy and grain through animals at a substantial loss before eating them. Depending on the numbers you want to trust and the type of animal it comes from, each pound of meat requires four to thirteen pounds of feed to produce. By switching to a plant-based diet, the farms that presently grow that feed are able to grow food for people instead.
    In all, roughly 40% of the world's arable land is used for food production, while only a quarter of that food is for human consumption. The rest, a staggering 30% of the world's arable land, is used to produce animal feed and commands a third of the world's fresh water. Worse, the meat resulting from this industrialized animal agriculture is not divided evenly. For instance, Americans eat 270 lbs. of meat a year on average, while Bangladeshis eat 4 lbs. Meanwhile, much of the world gets no food at all or raises livestock feed for export to countries with a high demand for meat, creating an unequal burden of production versus consumption between the poorest and richest people on the planet. This is why even conservative researchers are calling for a global decrease in the consumption of meat, while most are calling for the widespread adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet in order to create and sustain food security for the world's growing population. Widespread adoption of a plant-based diet would leave the Earth's arable land and fresh water for use in the production of food crops for people and not feed crops for livestock.
  • Fallacy
    I love animals enough to meet their needs while they are alive, but I also understand they sometimes must be killed in order to meet my needs. So there is no conflict between loving animals and killing them.
    Response
    In order to eat meat, an animal lover must be comfortable with the sexual violation of cows, pigs, sheep, goats and other beings via artificial insemination. In order to drink milk, an animal lover must be comfortable with the separation of a mother cow from her calf and with the raising of that calf in a veal crate for the few months it is permitted to live. In order to eat eggs, an animal lover must be comfortable with the crushing and suffocation of billions of male chicks per year, since males are not useful to the egg industry. None of these things are acts of love.
    Just as it is not possible to oppress people and still claim to be humanists, we cannot harm animals and still claim to be animal lovers. Love is not expressed for animals by violating and killing them, nor is it expressed by paying someone else to do so on our behalf. At worst, such behavior is an act of hate and at best an act of apathy for the plight of the victims. Love requires that we support and protect those we love, and in the case of animals, it requires that we do not commodify their lives. Rather, we must treat them with dignity in ways that align with their needs and wishes rather than our own selfish desires. Therefore, if we do love animals, then going and staying vegan does a great deal to express that love.
  • Fallacy
    I honor the animals I eat with my hunting practices, or my farming practices, or by simply understanding that I am eating sentient beings who sacrificed their lives so that I may continue to live.
    Response
    The practice of animal sacrifice has roots in ancient history, where it existed as a means of interacting with the spirit world for the benefit of a person or community. The act of slaughtering these animals had spiritual connotations, and the sacrificial animals themselves were viewed as beings who gave their lives on behalf of humanity. This same psychology applies today among meat eaters who view the acts of hunting and farming animals as spiritual contracts, who view the slaughter of these animals as a sacrifice, and who view the products derived from that slaughter as gifts from the dead animal.
    The problem with this psychology is that there can be no contract when all of the parties are not in agreement, and the animal both cannot and does not agree to die. Specifically, hunted animals do not agree to be maimed and chased through the woods until they are finally killed, nor do fished animals agree to be lured, stabbed through the mouth, and brought up out of the water to suffocate. Farmed animals do not agree to be genetically manipulated, forcibly bred, robbed of their offspring, mutilated, confined in small, filthy spaces, transported across long distances without food or water, and slaughtered in factories that process them for meat often while they are still conscious. Even in the most perfect of conditions, where a hunter kills an animal with a single shot or a farmer treats his animals well before shipping them off for slaughter, these animals are not entering into any sort of spiritual contract, they are not sacrificing their lives, and they are not giving humanity anything. Therefore, there is no honor and no respect involved in the slaughter of animals for food. The language itself is disingenuous, self-exonerating rhetoric designed to displace personal guilt. The truth is far simpler, and it is this: that hunted and farmed animals are not honored or respected when they are slaughtered. They are merely killed in spite of their desire to live because humans like the taste of their flesh and secretions.
  • Fallacy
    It matters that animals are treated well, so I only eat animals who are raised in suffering-free conditions and given a quick, humane death.
    Response
    It is normal and healthy for people to empathize with the animals they eat, to be concerned about whether or not they are living happy lives and to hope they are slaughtered humanely. However, if it is unethical to harm these animals, then it is more unethical to kill them.
    Killing animals for food is far worse than making them suffer. Of course, it is admirable that people care so deeply about these animals that they take deliberate steps to reduce their suffering (e.g. by purchasing "free-range" eggs or "suffering free" meat). However, because they choose not to acknowledge the right of those same animals to live out their natural lives, and because slaughtering them is a much greater violation than mistreatment, people who eat 'humane' meat are laboring under an irreconcilable contradiction.
  • Fallacy
    Humans are the apex predator at the top of the food chain, and just like any other being in the circle of life, we kill and eat lesser animals.
    Response
    The terms 'food chain' and 'food web' refer to a natural ecological system whereby producers in a specific habitat are eaten by consumers in that same habitat. The term 'circle of life' has no scientific meaning at all. In neither case do the terms refer to the human consumption of animals, since humans do not exist as consumers in a natural ecological system where cows, pigs, cats, dogs, fish and other food animals are producers.
    The only use of the terms 'food chain' or 'circle of life' in the context of human food choices is to legitimize the slaughter of sentient individuals by calling that slaughter a necessary and natural part of human life, which means the apex predator justification for eating animals is a failure on two fronts. First, the terms themselves either do not apply to the ecological relationship we have with animals or they have no meaning at all. Second, we do not need to eat animals in order to survive, so the underlying moral imperative of 'might makes right' is not ethically defensible. By analogy, a bank robber might claim to be at the top of the corporate ladder since he had the ability to take what belonged to others and chose to do so.
  • Fallacy
    My religion is my moral guide, and it grants me the right to eat meat.
    Response
    There are many religions with many diverse teachings on the topic of eating meat. In some, there are prohibitions against eating certain animals. In others, it is permissible to both sacrifice animals and eat them. However, it is important to remember that religious permission is not the same as religious imperative. In other words, simply because your religion permits you to eat meat, that does not mean it requires you to do so.
    Most religions advocate free will and compassion. You can exercise compassion by choosing not to eat animals and instead choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle. This choice is better for your health, the animals, the billions of people who do not have enough to eat and the Earth itself. In making it, you exercise compassion for those more vulnerable than you are, both human and non-human. This means that veganism can help you live in alignment with your religious beliefs. Further, it is morally right to mitigate the suffering of others when you can, and being vegan helps you do this, while eating animals causes and perpetuates suffering. Therefore, while your religion might not prohibit eating meat, it likely prohibits hurting others, which makes eating meat morally wrong.
  • Fallacy
    Humans have been eating meat for as long as there have been humans, so it is all right to continue eating meat.
    Response
    There are many hypotheses about the food our early ancestors ate, what effect it had on their overall health and the evolutionary impacts of their diets. However, while it is certainly true that they ate other animals, it is also true that they did not always do so, just as it is true that individuals, groups and societies have been thriving on plant-based diets throughout history.
    Even if we knew what all of our early ancestors were eating across the Earth during the entirety of our evolutionary history, it would still be illogical to conclude that because some of them ate meat some of the time, we should continue doing so. In fact, a robust body of medical research has concluded that consumption of animal flesh and secretions is harmful to us, and we already know factory farming of animals is destructive to the Earth. Further, this reason for eating meat ignores an important ethical point; namely, that history does not equal justification. Our ancestors did many things we find problematic now. They kept slaves, for instance. So it is both illogical and unethical to conclude that simply because some of our early ancestors ate meat, we should continue to do so now.
  • Fallacy
    Since my culture or family traditions specifically allows or demands that I eat meat, I am morally free or required to do so.
    Response
    It is easy to confuse culture and tradition with ethics, but these are all separate things, and it is important to understand them as such. There was a time when the keeping of slaves was culturally acceptable, but even so, it was not ethical. In some parts of the world, female genital mutilation is a traditional non-medical procedure, but it is not an ethical one. These are only two of many reasons why it is problematic to equate cultural and traditional practices with ethical behaviors.
    Keep in mind that the purpose of cultures and traditions is not to eat specific foods or engage in specific activities. Rather, it is to strengthen family and community ties. This means that it is possible to participate in these things without compromising an ethic of compassion for all beings. Alternate foods might be prepared, and alternate activities might be engaged that permit you to stand your ground ethically, which might even help to encourage more compassionate cultural practices and traditions among your family and community. If you no longer want to participate in the slaughter of sentient beings, you have the power to make that change. You are your own person, and you are not required to follow cultural practices and traditions that contradict your ethics.
  • Fallacy
    A (potentially) thinking or feeling plant has to be killed in order to eat it just like an animal has to be killed, and there's no difference between the two.
    Response
    Vegans draw the line at hurting sentient individuals. Plants lack nerves, let alone a central nervous system, and cannot feel pain or respond to circumstances in any deliberate way (not to be confused with the non-conscious reactions they do have). Unlike animals, plants lack the ability or potential to experience pain or have sentient thoughts, so there isn't an ethical issue with eating them.
    The words 'live', 'living' and 'alive' have completely different meanings when used to describe plants and animals. A live plant is not conscious and cannot feel pain. A live animal is conscious and can feel pain. Therefore, it's problematic to assert that plants have evolved an as-yet undetectable ability to think and feel but not the ability to do anything with that evolutionary strategy (e.g. running away, etc.). Regardless, each pound of animal flesh requires between four and thirteen pounds of plant matter to produce, depending upon species and conditions. Given that amount of plant death, a belief in the sentience of plants makes a strong pro-vegan argument.
  • Fallacy
    Making wool is a normal and natural activity for sheep that they don't suffer or die from, so using wool isn't an ethical issue.
    Response
    Essentially all wool comes from sheep sheared on industrial farms, which often involves very rough handing of the sheep and is a process which inflicts painful nicks and cuts on the sheep's skin. These injuries attract flies and promote "flystrike", especially around their tail where the skin bunches up. To combat this, so two strips of wool-bearing skin from around either side of the sheep's buttocks are removed, without using anesthetics, in order to create a scarred area of flesh that's less susceptible to infestations. This process is call "mulesing". It is also important to remember that there are no "old-animals" homes for animals that are no longer profitable to industry, and sheep are no exception. When they age and no longer produce as much wool they are shipped to the slaughter house, and this happens long before their natural lifespan. It's clear that sheep are very much hurt by all of this.
    Like any animal used by agribusiness, the abuses of sheep has many different facets. Sheep in the wool industry are selectively bred specifically to have more wrinkled skin so that they produce more wool, and this makes them more vulnerable to injuries during sheering and consequently causing more incidents of "flystrike". This creates greater profits for the industry while imposing negative consequences on the sheep themselves, which makes wool production a very typical example of how animal exploitation industries take advantage of the vulnerabilities of others in ethically indefensible ways. Put differently, in order to use wool for ourselves, we must decide that the satisfaction of our own desires is somehow more important than the rights and needs of others. By contrast, the philosophy of veganism denies the validity of any line of thinking which seeks to justify abusing others for our own gain.
  • Fallacy
    People will not become vegan because plant-based diets are boring, bland and unappetizing.
    Response
    Many common foods are already vegan; bread, pasta, rice, fruit, vegetables and so on. All of these foods can be prepared in several ways, and other foods can be made vegan with simple ingredient substitutions. Beyond that, many cultures have long traditions of flavourful plant-based cooking, and these offer the opportunity for vegans to expand their culinary palates. So switching to a plant-based diet is not about losing good food experiences, it is only about learning new habits and finding new favourites.
    Some people fear that transitioning to a plant-based diet means they will be forced to eat nothing but tofu and lettuce, which also means they will never be able to eat ‘real food’ again. But vegans eat a variety of foods, both unhealthy and healthy. You can go vegan in a way that greatly improves your health, but you can also go vegan on a diet of convenience and snack foods. The simple truth is that plant-based diets are so diverse that vegans never need to eat foods they dislike. However, even if it were true that vegan food was boring, bland and unappetizing, this would still not stand as an ethically defensible reason for needlessly killing sentient individuals in order to eat their flesh and secretions.
  • Fallacy
    Raising vegan children is a form of brainwashing because children are too young to make a meaningful choice in the matter. Children have a right to eat meat, so forcing a vegan lifestyle on them is unethical.
    Response
    Parents are responsible for the physical well-being of their children, and they are also responsible for providing ethical guidance. Evidence shows that a plant-based diet is healthy for people of all life stages, including children, so vegan parents are following appropriate nutritional guidelines. Veganism is the philosophical position that using animals for human benefit is unethical, so vegan parents are simply teaching their children compassion through veganism, much as any parent might teach a child to be kind.
    Vegan parents are no different from other parents in that they do their best to raise compassionate children with strong moral and ethical values. In fact, parents who teach children to be compassionate and respectful to all animals instead of a select few could be said to impart more consistent values. For example, vegan children are not expected to develop the cognitive dissonance required to care for cats and dogs while supporting the slaughter of chickens and cows. Moreover, parents are expected to make ethically appropriate decisions for children until they are able to digest age-appropriate information and come to their own conclusions about controversial topics. Vegan parents and children are no different where it concerns the treatment of animals, so providing age-appropriate information about veganism to children while ensuring that they are healthy and happy is not brainwashing.
  • Fallacy
    The vegan diet is a new fad that will come and go like all the rest.
    Response
    Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude - as far as is possible and practicable - all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty for any reason, including medicine, food, clothing, entertainment or for any other purpose. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals. In short, veganism is a philosophical position and not a diet.
    The philosophy of veganism has a long and varied lineage. Donald Watson defined the term 'vegan' as paraphrased above nearly a hundred years ago in conjunction with The Vegan Society. Before that, many notable thinkers and writers such as Dr. William Lambe and Percy Bysshe Shelley objected to eggs and dairy on moral grounds. Buddhism has a great history of compassion for non-human beings that includes many teachings in opposition to the consumption of meat. Pythagoras also objected to the slaughter of animals for his table, giving rise to the term 'Pythagorean diet', which was used by many ethical vegetarians until the 1800s, when the term 'vegetarian' itself was coined. So it is clear that a plant-based diet is merely one manifestation of an ancient and compassionate philosophy that values the lives of non-human beings and seeks to do them no harm.
  • Fallacy
    Vegans cannot get enough vitamin B12 from a plant-based diet to maintain proper health.
    Response
    While it is true that B12 is not produced by plants, it is also not produced by animals. Rather, B12 is the byproduct of a specific bacterial fermentation that thrives in soil, some fermented plant matter, dead flesh and the guts of animals. Fortunately, this bacteria is easily mass-produced for human consumption now, and many foods are fortified with it, so there is no need to eat animals in order to receive sufficient B12.
    It is a common misconception that B12 comes from the flesh of animals. However, the truth is far more complex. For instance, ruminant mammals like cows and sheep have stomachs with multiple chambers, and these are excellent growing environments for the bacteria that make B12. Equally important are the grasses these animals eat straight from the soil, which is another primary source of this nutrient. Taken together, the stomachs of ruminant mammals and the soil in the vegetation they eat provide them with the B12 their bodies need. In humans, however, B12 grows in the large intestine, which is located beneath the ileum where it is absorbed. Further, most of us are unwilling to eat unwashed produce, so we do not receive sufficient B12 from the soil. This leaves us with a choice. We can either consume the flesh of dead animals, which contains the B12 the animal has absorbed and is itself another medium for the growth of this bacteria, or we can supplement with B12. Interestingly, factory-farmed animals are regularly fed B12 supplements for various reasons, so it is logical to conclude that we could simply take a B12 supplement as well rather than passing it through the body of a non-human animal first.
  • Fallacy
    Vegans cannot get enough iron from a plant-based diet to maintain proper health.
    Response
    Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, a protein that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. There are two kinds of iron absorbed by the body; heme and nonheme. Heme iron is not regulated by the body, which means it is always absorbed, while nonheme iron is regulated by the body and absorbed when it is needed. Both are present in meat, but only nonheme iron is present in plants and fortified foods. This is important because a surplus of this nutrient can be as damaging as a deficiency, and only those people who eat meat or take iron supplements are in danger of a surplus. Conversely, a whole-foods, plant-based diet can safely meet the body's iron needs.
    Some prominent health organizations list vegetarians and vegans among other at-risk groups for iron deficiency, which can foster the mistaken belief that plant-based diets do not provide sufficient iron. This is because historically, iron deficiency was a widespread public health concern, and the body's ready absorption of heme iron helped to address it. However, this conservative position does not address the negative consequences of iron surplus, an escalating problem especially in older men as a result of increased meat consumption. These negative consequences can include diabetes, heart disease and liver damage, since iron is a pro-oxidant the body cannot eliminate. Conversely, human bodies have evolved to regulate the absorption of nonheme iron so they receive only what they can use, and there are many safe sources of iron in a plant-based diet. For instance, 3oz. of dark chocolate contains more iron than an equal serving of beef liver, and 3oz. of lentils contains more iron than 3oz. of beef, duck or lamb. So it is easy to see that plants can and do provide equally plentiful and safer sources of iron than animals do.
  • Fallacy
    Vegans cannot get enough protein from a plant-based diet to maintain proper health.
    Response
    Humans need for about 6% of their diet to be comprised of protein, though most doctors recommend 9% just to be sure. Many nuts and vegetables contain enough protein to meet this nutritional requirement, so plant-based diets provide adequate protein for human health.
    There is no credible science that equates a plant-based diet with protein deficiency. Moreover, we are not facing a kwashiorkor epidemic among vegans or anyone else in developed and developing nations, but we are facing both diseases and chronic health problems associated with the consumption of excess protein. It is also noteworthy that people have been thriving on a plant-based diet throughout history, and more people are choosing to do so every year without suffering from a protein deficiency. Other factors being equal, vegans have been and continue to be at least as healthy as their peers in this regard.
  • Fallacy
    Habitats are disrupted by planting food, and animals are killed during harvest, so vegans kill animals too.
    Response
    Crop fields do indeed disrupt the habitats of wild animals, and wild animals are also killed when harvesting plants. However, this point makes the case for a plant-based diet and not against it, since many more plants are required to produce a measure of animal flesh for food (often as high as 12:1) than are required to produce an equal measure of plants for food (which is obviously 1:1). Because of this, a plant-based diet causes less suffering and death than one that includes animals.
    It is pertinent to note that the idea of perfect veganism is a non-vegan one. Such demands for perfection are imposed by critics of veganism, often as a precursor to lambasting vegans for not measuring up to an externally-imposed standard. That said, the actual and applied ethics of veganism are focused on causing the least possible harm to the fewest number of others. It is also noteworthy that the accidental deaths caused by growing and harvesting plants for food are ethically distinct from the intentional deaths caused by breeding and slaughtering animals for food. This is not to say that vegans are not responsible for the deaths they cause, but rather to point out that these deaths do not violate the vegan ethics stated above.
  • Fallacy
    There are situations in which vegans would eat meat if they had no other choice.
    Response
    This argument proposes a hypothetical edge-case scenario (i.e. eating animals on a desert island) as a means of justifying a real-life behaviour (i.e. eating animals on a daily basis). However, this exercise in imagination does not represent a plausible situation people might find themselves in and does not tell us anything about the morality of the vegan addressing the topic. For these reasons, it tends not to be a productive conversation point.
    It can be insightful and informative to contrast this hypothetical edge-case scenario with reality in order to understand where they do and do not overlap. For example, we might ask, “If you lived in a civilization where there was an abundance of plant-based food, would you choose to kill animals and eat them for no reason other than your dietary preference?” We might even address the very real disaster scenarios presently threatening the world with questions like these: "What if you could make a simple and compassionate change in your life that would increase available farmland, increase available clean water, reduce rainforest destruction, reduce greenhouse gas production, reduce the threat from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, decrease land and waterway pollution, prevent creation of ocean dead zones, end your participation in the deaths of sentient individuals and increase overall human health by switching to a plant-based diet? Would you do it?” This is the reality we actually live in, and this is the choice each one of us faces.
  • Fallacy
    We need to test cosmetics, medicines, and other products on animals in order to make certain they are safe for humans.
    Response
    The primary ethical considerations we must address when examining the necessity of vivisection are the right of animals to be free of experimentation for human purposes and the value of tests performed upon them. In the case of cosmetics testing, it is both selfish and cruel to insist that animals suffer and die for the sake of vanity. A similar argument can be made for household products, which are not necessary for human life. Moreover, there are many effective alternatives to animal testing for both cosmetics and household products, which can and should be used instead.
    There are also many effective alternatives to animal testing in the case of vivisection for medical and pharmaceutical purposes. This is good news, since animals have been proven time and again to be poor models for the study of human injury and disease. But if this is the case, you might ask, why are animals still used in medical and pharmaceutical research at all? One reason is momentum. The tradition of vivisection is deeply ingrained in this research such that status quo bias is a powerful factor in perpetuating it. Another reason is money. Researchers receive grant money based on the number of papers they publish in scientific literature, and it is both easier and faster to use animals as test subjects than it is to undertake human-based research. Finally, while the FDA has often failed to show that the results of animal tests can be extrapolated to humans, companies still use animals in testing in order to protect themselves in the case of a lawsuit. This means that unreliable animal tests are giving rise to unreliable medical and pharmaceutical results, which result in unreliable treatments and medications that are themselves excused by the legal system because of the unreliable animal tests underpinning them. It is altogether a vicious circle that could be eliminated with a more sensible approach to medical and pharmaceutical research that does not involve animals at all.
  • Fallacy
    The philosophy of veganism is flawed because there is no way to be perfectly vegan.
    Response
    Veganism is the philosophical position that exploitation of and cruelty to sentient beings is ethically indefensible and should be avoided whenever it is possible and practicable to do so. Vegans themselves do not claim this position is absolute nor do they strive for perfection. Rather, the accusation that vegans fail to be vegan because they cannot be perfect is an external one imposed by people who do not understand veganism.
    The term 'vegan' is defined as "a philosophy and 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; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals." The meaning of the word 'vegan' excludes the possibility of perfection, and vegans themselves understand they cannot hold their philosophical position absolutely. However, this understanding in no way prevents them from making significant, positive changes in the world by choosing not to harm other sentient beings when and where they can. Clearly, anyone who makes this same decision is 100% perfect in their veganism.