A Lotus Grows in Brooklyn


Vegan = Green. That’s why.
July 1, 2009, 9:20 am
Filed under: Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , ,

Don’t you love when celebrities tell you how to live your life? PETA does. They have loads of veg testimonials on their site. Snarkiness, aside, though, I like this one because it’s short and sweet and corresponds with why I went vegan. Enjoy!

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25 Comments so far
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“There’s no such thing as a meat-eating environmentalist.”

The environmental argument is, to my mind, the only reasonable justification for vegetarianism, but I have to say, this kind of finger-wagging is exactly what turns me off to vegetarianism in general and veganism in particular. Telling people they can’t be good without following an unnatural diet is offensive. Maybe PETA finds it useful to preach to the choir in this way, but I can’t imagine they’re winning anyone over.

Comment by Matt

Matt, your use of “unnatural” is going to come across as offensive, if not plain wrong (and certainly a bit ironic) to a lot of people.

Comment by fictionadvocate

I don’t see how vegetarianism is by any stretch natural. That may or may not be an argument against it, but clearly it isn’t.

Comment by Matt

Matt, I am taking deep breaths and using this as an opportunity to educate you (and any other of my omnivorous blog readers with similar misconceptions). I’m going to start with this. I will add more later tonight when I can get home to my copy of “The Face on Your Plate,” which I know details AT LENGTH how actually humans are not designed to be meat eaters.

Mythbusters from PETA:

“Aren’t humans natural carnivores?”

Actually, a vegetarian diet suits the human body better than a diet that includes meat. Carnivorous animals have claws, short digestive tracts, and long, curved fangs. Humans have flat, flexible nails, and our so-called “canine” teeth are minuscule compared to those of carnivores and even compared to vegetarian primates like gorillas and orangutans. Our tiny canine teeth are better suited to biting into fruits than tearing through tough hides. We have flat molars and long digestive tracts that are suited to diets of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Eating meat is hazardous to our health and contributes to heart disease, cancer, and many other health problems.

“Don’t dairy cows need to be milked?”

In order for a cow to produce milk, she must have a calf. Each “dairy cow” is impregnated every year so that she continues to produce a steady supply of milk. In nature, the mother’s calf would drink her milk, eliminating the need for her to be milked by humans, but on factory farms, calves are taken away from their mothers when they are just a day or two old so that humans can have the milk that nature intended for the calves. Female calves are slaughtered immediately or raised to be dairy cows. Male calves are confined for 16 weeks to tiny veal crates that are so small that they cannot even turn around.

Because of the high demand for dairy products, cows are genetically engineered and fed growth hormones to force them to produce quantities of milk that are well beyond their natural limits. Even the few farmers who choose not to raise animals intensively must get rid of the calves, who would otherwise drink the milk, and send the mothers off to slaughter when their milk production wanes.

“Don’t vegetarians have difficulty getting enough protein?”

In Western countries, our problem is that we get too much protein, not too little. Most Americans get at least twice as much protein as they need, and too much protein, especially animal protein, can increase your risk of osteoporosis and kidney disease

You can get enough protein from whole wheat bread, oatmeal, beans, corn, peas, mushrooms, or broccoli—almost every food contains protein. Unless you eat a great deal of junk food, it’s almost impossible to eat as many calories as you need for good health without getting enough protein.

Comment by Carrie M

I’m surprised by how insistent you are, Matt. I would have credited you with a more open mind about something as complex and variable as the human diet.

Diets change over time and across the globe. Not everyone has a fully stocked American supermarket down the street like you and I do. If someone doesn’t have access to meat, is their diet unnatural? If an entire culture gets by for many generations on little or no meat, is their diet unnatural?

If eating vegetarian is unnatural, then how do you describe all the foods a meat eater eats, besides the meat? Are you saying a meat eater’s diet is a combination of an unnatural diet plus meat?

We’re living at a time when food can be grown, harvested, substituted, and modified in ways we never could have done before. Things that seemed inevitable in our diet before are not necessarily inevitable anymore. Food is no longer a matter of what’s natural and what’s unnatural. It’s a choice we can make.

As you know, I eat meat. But I don’t believe people who choose differently are being “unnatural.”

Comment by fictionadvocate

I’m sorry. I just find that silly. Everything from our teeth to our appetites indicates that it’s natural to eat meat. Again, you may or may not find that to be an argument against vegetarianism.

Comment by Matt

And to be clear, I don’t think it’s an argument against vegetarianism in general, though I personally think veganism is extreme. Just the same, I don’t think it’s fair to say someone isn’t a good environmentalist b/c they haven’t changed their eating habits in a way that involves reorganizing one’s entire lifestyle.

Comment by Matt

1) I don’t see how anything about a diet that revolves around simple, freshly prepared fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and grains can be called “unnatural.”

2) If you’re picking on veganism, consider this: Humans are the only species that drinks milk past infancy. Humans are also the only species that drink the milk of another species. This is only possible due to the lactose tolerance that evolved in Northern Europeans over centuries through the *unnatural* practice of drinking the milk of cows and goats after domestication.

3) How can someone who eats at White Castle, not even questioning the chemicals and fillers included in their food, possibly be calling my diet unnatural?

Comment by Carrie M

Brian, I think I was making a pretty basic point when I said that veganism is unnatural, and I think it’s hard to argue against without getting overly academic about it. Sure, due to the way food is produced, the modern diet is totally unnatural, but that goes for both meat and vegetables, and that’s a tangential argument.

Moreover, I wasn’t using “unnatural” to imply anything pejorative but rather to emphasize that it’s unfair to expect others to cease eating meat to conform to a very narrow definitions of environmentalism and social responsibility.

Comment by Matt

I’m prefacing this by saying 1) my computer at work doesn’t have speakers so I didn’t watch the PETA video and have no idea what she said, and 2)I think people should be able to choose to have whatever diet they want.

But that being said, and to defend Matt (although not the White Castle part) I’m a Type 1 diabetic (not the fat-people kind–that’s Type 2), so the stability of my blood sugar levels are affected noticeably due to whether or not I eat protein (I have to at every meal, otherwise severe problems ensue), and from what source it’s from. I’ve noticed that if I eat cheese with a meal, for example, which is an animal source, my blood sugar remains stable, but if I choose a plant source, such as tofu or beans, it spikes and then drops rapidly, sometimes dangerously low to 40 to 60 mg/dl. So, when this happens, I start shaking, sweating, and could potentially pass out. Normal blood sugar ranges from 80-130 or so. I guess my point is, that plant-based protein doesn’t slow down and moderate the carbohydrates that were consumed at the same time as well as animal sources. Of course, my body doesn’t work right, so this is basically a much more dramatic illustration of what happens in regular people.

I’m basically a big proponent of eating natural and unrefined food, whether it’s vegetable or animal.
Speaking of which, it’s lunchtime!

Comment by Laura

I don’t think it’s a narrow definition. I think many, many studies have shown how incredibly detrimental the meat industry is to the environment and to world health.

And I’m not expecting others to do anything. I would be thrilled if people would open their eyes and minds and realize that giving up meat (and dairy products and eggs) is better for their own health and the world at large. But I’m not going to tell you that’s what you have to do. Posting this video was more to share some of my reasons and thinking. Eating a burger is your prerogative. Yay America.

Comment by Carrie M

Uh, hello, “giving up meat (and dairy products and eggs) is better for their own health”? Moderation is the ideal. I know you guys don’t give a shit about me or my opinions, but damn, someone nearly dying and you don’t acknowledge that I don’t have a point? Your brother is a doctor for chrisesakes.
I don’t understand why you became so extreme all of a sudden. You used to sound so reasonable and smart and fun about everything, and now you’re almost like Steven (aka Passing Perception) but at the opposite end of the spectrum and with different issues. Seriously, what happened?

Comment by Laura

I’m sorry for your health issues, Laura, but here’s a fact:

“The American Dietetic Association states that vegetarians have ‘lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer’ and that vegetarians are less likely than meat-eaters to be obese.”

Studies show that for most people eating less meat and dairy, or none at all, is much healthier. I think you’d find doctors would agree.

Please look at this for more great info: http://www.goveg.com/healthconcerns.asp

Comment by Carrie M

Yes, vegetarians. They still get a wide variety of stuff in their diet. But being extreme in any way can be unhealthy. Eating too much meat or dairy will make you fat and give you a heart attack (duh), but severely limiting what you eat can lead to deficiencies and malnutrition. Having a wide variety of everything in moderate amounts seems totally reasonable, and totally healthy.

Here’s a weird story: my co-worker is vegetarian, but his cholesterol is astronomical. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s genetics. Maybe, although he’s vegetarian, his diet is very poor, i.e. it’s possible to be vegetarian and still eat a bunch of junk food and crap.

So let’s just say we can agree that there are more factors in being healthy than _just_ cutting out certain food groups. It’s pretty complicated. Fair enough?

Comment by Laura

Yikes. We’ve gotten too far afield on a semantic argument. I admit I am guilty of choosing my words poorly–a high crime to be sure–but I do stand by my main point, which is that PETA isn’t doing themselves any favors having Emily Deschanel tell every who eats meat that they’re bad environmentalists.

Comment by Matt

::sets fire to a vegan bakery::

Comment by Internet Rioter.

Could an argument be made that the reason humans are the only animal to drink milk past infancy is because we are the only animals that have evolved the capacity to domesticate other animals for that purpose? That our big brains are the evolutionary adaptation we use to control our diet, instead of claws or sharp teeth?

Comment by Danielle

Are you going to marry a carrot, Carolyn?

Comment by Arthur Borko

Danielle, you are absolutely right. My big brain also gives me the choice to not drink milk, too, so yay for that!

Arthur, the day a carrot can support and love me in the way I’d like, yes I will.

Comment by Carrie M

Vegan or not vegan. Who really cares? As long as we minimize violence towards one another and animals, we can live together happily.

Comment by Dhaval Mehta

Absolutely right, Dhaval. And for the record, I didn’t post this video to proselytize or shake my finger at anyone. I see it more as a sharing of my own beliefs. As Matt knows well, I’m not the kind of vegan who will glare at you as you eat a burger next to me.

Comment by Carrie M

some sects in india (sanatanists/jains/hindus) have been vegetarians for millennia – so unnatural is just bs.

Comment by Sri

WTF did I miss?

Comment by Klaus

You missed a comments bonanza! I love it!

Comment by Carrie M

Can I just say, with all this debate, I wonder why no one has pointed out the obvious?

That is…Zooey Deschanel is a way better actor than her sister.

Seriously.

Comment by Klaus




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