The ethical choice is vegan.

Via on Sep 29, 2011

All sentient beings feel pain.

Meat, dairy and eggs come from sentient beings. Meat, dairy and eggs always cause pain. Humans do not have a biological need to eat meat, dairy and eggs. So, if you choose to eat meat, dairy and eggs, you are choosing to cause pain and to participate in exploitation and murder. Participating in pain and murder is always unethical. The ethical choice is vegan.

About Gary Smith

Gary Smith is co-founder of Evolotus, a PR agency working for a better world. Evolotus specializes in nonprofits, documentary films, animal advocacy campaigns, health/wellness, natural foods and socially beneficial companies. Gary blogs at The Thinking Vegan and writes for elephant journal, Jewish Journal, Mother Nature Network and other publications. Gary and his wife are ethical vegans and live in Sherman Oaks, CA with their cat Chloe and two beagles rescued from an animal testing laboratory, Frederick and Douglass.

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211 Responses to “The ethical choice is vegan.”

  1. What if by becoming vegan you are causing harm to yourself? I hold the belief that some people, including myself need animal protein to live. While ethically I would like to be vegan, I know that true harm would also be to myself.

    • elephantjournal says:

      I'd love to hear Gary's response on this…mine is, personally, all I can say is I'm big and active and healthy and vegetarian. Not vegan, yet, but get my protein from beans, nuts, other stuff. I think there's a stat that Americans consume waayyyyy too much protein on average. ~ Waylon

    • Danielle says:

      Hannah, I can't imagine why you feel you need animal protein, protein is protein, why would you need it from an animal? Just curious.

      • My body doesn't digest enough of the vegetable proteins as I have digestive and absorption issues.

        • Me too, after being veggie/vegan for 11 years and suffering from major digestive issues and fatigue. Human life necessarily involves harm to other humans and non-human life. We should strive to reduce that harm as much as we can, and that includes taking into account harm to human beings too.

    • organicgoddess says:

      What people need is amino acids, not protein. Your body puts together the amino acids to make proteins. If you eat animal proteins, your body just has to break them down into amino acids, and then put them together again.
      I've been vegan for 17+ years, feel great, no health issues, and am healthier than the rest of my family.

      • My body can't assimilate all the amino acids together. I have prior digestive issues.

        • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

          Pick up a copy of "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman or "Vegan For Life" by Ginny Messina, RD. If you are getting nutrition information from your doctor, he/she is incorrect. Medical doctors get less than two hours of nutritional study. There is so much misinformation about health. Both books I mentioned are based on the latest nutritional science and studies. Most digestive issues resolve on a vegan diet, especially IBS…

          • Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

            There are 6 billion + unique sets of nutritional needs on the planet. One for each human. It would be lovely to think that we could all fit into a label of Vegan. We can't.
            I used to teach vegetarianism and veganism. Read this article that I wrote here on EJ a couple of years back to see what I thought. It's a good article, and almost accurate still. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/08/the-3-reas
            You cannot say that veganism suits everyone. It doesn't. What about eskimos? What about Hannah, above? Do you think you know her nutritional and digestive needs better than her?
            Veganism is great. But it's not for everyone.
            And her point about causing harm to oneself is very, very pertinent. If you deny yourself something you want and need in order to satisfy a heady ideal, you are harming yourself.

          • Well said. If the big goal here is ahimsa, we need to include ourselves in the non-harming.

          • Really? 3 people thought harming ourselves is a good idea? The whole thumbs downing thing is kind of silly, but if you don't agree…I'd love to hear why…this has been a fun debate which I have spent wayyyyy too much time on today.

          • Agreed Kate! The discourse is most interesting. That being said I"m pretty sure that everyone commenting is only going to go in circles!

          • Jo Tyler says:

            I "want and need" the bucket of gold coins that my neighbor keeps in his house. Should I deny myself the chance to take those coins in order to satisfy some "heady ideal" about not stealing? Some men want to rape women — perhaps they should feel justified in "satisfying" their desires — otherwise, they might be harming themselves! Pretty shaky logic, my friend…

          • yupisaidit says:

            You Jo are a moron.

    • Jo Tyler says:

      Of course people need protein to live — but protein is found in a variety of plant-based foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, grains, peanut butter, tofu, tempeh, etc. etc….

      The American Dietetic Association – which is the official authority on nutrition in our country – confirms that a vegetarian diet (including a complete vegetarian -or vegan- diet) is nutritionally appropriate for humans at all life stages. http://www.eatright.org/about/content.aspx?id=835

      There are multitudes of vegan athletes – such as Brendan Brazier – who demonstrate that healthy, strong bodies do not require foods from animal sources. Here's Brendan's site http://www.brendanbrazier.com/ Google "vegan athletes" and "vegan bodybuilders" for further examples…

      • A large percentage of the human population cannot digest or is allergic to all soy-based foods and legumes.

        • Jo Tyler says:

          Being vegan does not mean you have to eat soy….or beans for that matter. Please educate yourself on vegan nutrition before making false assumptions and excuses.

          • Who is to say we haven't. What other protein options are out there besides soy and legumes? I know you can get protein elsewhere, but it isn't a complete protein or that readily usable by the body.

          • I was v*gan for 11 years, read numerous books, and even co-founded the first v*gan group on my college campus. I am still a v*gan supporter, but now (as I was then even) I am "pro-choice" on both abortion and v*gan diets.

  2. Thoreau says:

    Should polar bears be vegan?

    What about people who live in areas where no vegetation grows? Should they pay to have fruits and vegetables shipped 1000s of miles. All that fossil fuel being expelled into the air in the process.

    • elephantjournal says:

      What if animals tasted bad, would you argue that eating them is cool? Just wondering, honestly. ~ Waylon

    • lassemarius says:

      if people live where there are no vegetation, how would they feed their animals?
      thniking it is ok to kill animals but not humans is specieism and are just as bad as raceism and other types of discrimination.

      • elephantjournal says:

        Not sure I can agree on that…at least in the Buddhist perspective, all animals are not created equal. From a scientific point of view, too, some are more evolved in terms of intelligence, feeling. That's not to say their life isn't of equal value, but saying "everyone's the same, chicken and fish and human and plant and horse and insect and dust mite" doesn't seem accurate.

        If I had to choose between saving the life of a little child or a bed bug, I'd get very un-vegan real fast. ~ W.

      • thoreau says:

        Many animals have evolved to survive without vegetation. For example seals eat fish. Inuits eat seal because seal skin gives them vitamin C. So, if Inuits were vegans they’d suffer from scurvy. Or, they’d have to truck in citrus from thousands of miles away.

        The advocating of veganism is elitist. Many cannot access fresh produce. To be sure, eating less meat would be beneficial to the environment and reduce suffering. But being vegan is a choice, it is not an ethical choice, just a choice.

        If one accepts that a lion is just in hunting its prey then one must accept that humans can hunt prey as well. We are no better than the lion.

        • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

          Eating meat is elitist. The amount of land, food and water used to produce meat, dairy and eggs is wasteful and causes global starvation. The large majority of wheat, soy and corn are grown to feed animals which you eat. That food could be dispersed to the one billion (yes, one billion) humans who are presently classified as starving or food impoverished.

          Vegan food is cheap. Beans, rice, pasta, peas, as an example are the cheapest staples on the market. All cost less than $1.50 per pound. Chicken costs $3.50 per pound, on average. The only reason that meat, dairy and eggs are "affordable" is because the government subsidizes those products to the tune of billions of dollars. That money could go directly into programs serving the impoverished, not elitists who choose to eat animals.

          • elephantjournal says:

            I agree with all that. Gary, is organic a vegan attitude, given that it represents the same caring and love for animals and our environment and health…respect for life, as opposed to using poisons? ~ Waylon

          • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

            Organic would fall under vegan from the point of view of not harming insects for food purposes. You always have to remember that veganism is about doing the best one can. It is impossible to be 100% vegan in a system that is violent. That being said, some insects killed in food production is different than supporting dairy, which contains slavery, rape, theft and murder. Big difference.

          • elephantjournal says:

            Love that. Thank you.

          • thoreau says:

            No. Eating meat can be elitist. It is not necessarily so.

            In the example I used of the Inuits, they use nearly all of the animal they kill. They use the skin, the fur, the bones, and the meat. It is a totally respectful approach to living in the world.

            It seems that you are opposed to the factory farming system and the environmental disaster it has helped to cause. But factory farming isn’t just for meat. There are factory ‘organic’ farms as well owned by polluting companies who use a pretty picture on the label to make you feel good about your ‘conscious’ choice to make the world a better place.

            Being vegan can also be elitist. Just walk around in the closest Whole Foods and you’ll see what I mean.

            Finally, saying another person should live their lives a particular way based on your morality is elitist.

          • Katie says:

            Namaste Gary,

            "The only reason that meat, dairy and eggs are "affordable" is because the government subsidizes those products to the tune of billions of dollars."

            You are 100% correct.

            Let me clarify that the Gov't is subsidizing commodity crops, not animal products directly. Please do not over look the fact that the reasons why YOUR food is so cheap is because of the very same Farm Bill of which you speak. The affordability of your food is made possible by the technologies of conventional agriculture…of which employs the use of Genenetically Modified seed (produced by Monsanto), which sprout plants that are engineered to survives a golden shower of round up (ahem…coincidentally also manufactured by Monsanto). These foods are toxic on the genetic level, not to mention what they have been sprayed with. Whats more, the cross pollination of these freaky ass crops has the potential of devastate our GLOBAL ecosystem. I do believe that includes sentient beings as well. You may ignore this paragraph if you are eating 100% organic (which WITHOUT A DOUBT is exclusive to the elite).

            My intention Gary, is not to judge you as you may potentially judge me for eating meat (humanely raised, free range, pastured, organic meat). Conscious meat eaters and vegans are after many of the same things. Our modern food system has perverted and twisted the natural systems in the chain of life. Animals and their products are food that our species has evolved to depend on for vitality and general good health. There is NOT ONE traditional culture that is vegan. India, a prolific ancient culture and the birth place of Yoga, though generally vegetarian is not vegan.

            I agree that conventional meat and dairy is toxic. But to deny the population of animal products that have been produced without the chemicals, pasteurization and freaky Frankenstein feed, would be a slow death sentence for many. Why do some persecute those who seek to model Nature as close as possible? She has the answers, not you or me.

            I think some may feel that Vegan is elitist because it is assuming that we are "above" or "separate" from nature. We are so removed from the natural world that we have no concept of how we fit within it as a species…in all its beautiful and awesome complexities…peaceful and violent.

            I'd genuinely like to hear your thoughts. If you are willing, lets keep it friendly and without hatred. Maybe we can find a common truth.

            Om Shanti.

          • Louise Brooks says:

            Gary, you are completely ignorant of Inuit life in the high arctic.

      • matt says:

        specieism is thinking we are more than animals. We're not. We EVOLVED to eat meat. Racism not =. How we treat the animals can be terrible and we should live closer to that which we eat… I hunt to eat. Not for trophys. I thank the universe for giving me sustinance.

    • Laura Chase says:

      Thoreau, I totally agree with you. You said everything I wanted to say, but a lot more politely.

  3. George says:

    This post is mean.

    • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

      Eating animals is mean.

      • YOuvelostyourself says:

        aww muffin. did you know the laptop you're typing on killed more animals then me eating this delicious fat red blood dripping steak.
        Did you know how many animals you displaced by having the apartment building you live in built.

        Or how about the roads that you use everyday.

        The power plants to power your awesome 50 inch tv.

        You must like to go on vacation to other countries. So how about all that fuel that goes into those planes.

        Oh but wait never mind. You don't eat meat. Fuckk off with your elitist vegans bullshiit

  4. Karen Kelley says:

    Head over to YouTube and watch "Earthlings." No matter what someone's decision is on this issue, it's important to be informed.

  5. Suri kate says:

    Oh my god the vegan taliban is here….what if the problem is not that humans eat meat ? Maybe the problem is that we are just too many and we are on the way to be even more and thats why this nasty inhumane meat -and agriculture -industry exists in the first place …because thre is no way to feed 7billion people in a sustainable , humane way … so maybe the ethical thing to do is stop having babies …touchy subject ehh? There is a surplus of adoptable babies , specially in 3rd world countries and they are sentient beings too you know..but people are too selfish , they always want their own … By the way have you ever noticed that there are two kinds of vegans ,the first kind live in first world countries and have acces to a wide variety of delicious vegan products ….the other kind live in poberty stricken countries and have to be vegan by neccesity , not by choice,a lot of them eat air and mud on a regular basis hows that for vegan!….so there you go there are more vegans than you think and the majority of them dont brag about it or lecture you.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I’m not sure there’s a way out of behaving unethically, especially if one has an obligate carnivore as a pet, as Gary does (and as I do). Do you a) choose to deprive the cat of what it has evolved to eat and essentially perform a risky experiment on its longterm health — which seems unethical as a responsible cat caretaker, or b) engage in the exploitation of other animals by putting your cat’s health first? Maybe we should just not have cats?

    Sorry, but if I have to be vegan AND cat-less in order to meet Gary’s standards of ethical, I’m not interested. Although I choose not to eat meat, I don’t find blanket statements and black and white scenarios helpful, and making people defensive is seldom a good way to effect change.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Good points, and again I'm not yet vegan, am vegetarian, but I do sympathize with the pov that killing unnecessarily is unethical. A cat has to eat meat, I understand. Dogs don't, apparently (I do feed my dog humanely-sourced meat, I choose not to choose for him). But for myself, I was personally struck a few years back by a quote by Einstein or someone (help?) that said that what made humans special was our ability to choose mercy, and if we don't exercise that choice, we're no more evolved than animals.

      I don't know. I find the whole vitriol in some of these comments tiring. I would love to see a genuine, non-accusatory, non-defensive discussion here. Can we do that? ~ Waylon

  7. Suri kate says:

    I totally agree and you couldnt have said it better:
    " Why not just try to enjoy life in a way that doesn't harm others? That seems to me to be the logic of being vegan…I don't need animals, and they have feelings and are sentient so…why eat meat? "
    This is the kind of argument that works , it is positive , it is constructive and impartial . This is the kind of argument that promotes healthy discussion …theres no need to be confrontational you can promote veganism without sounding like a crazy person and i can assure you people will be more open and receptive to what you have to say. 8)

  8. Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

    All of the responses by non-vegans are just distractions from the real issue, which is the point of the post. Using and eating nonhuman animals is unethical. You do not have a biological need to consume animals. If you choose to consume animals, you are causing pain and participating in exploitation and murder, whether the exploitation is kinder (i.e. happy meat, dairy and eggs) or less kind (factory farmed animal products).

    Rather than twisting yourself into a pretzel trying to justify your participation in the exploitation and murder of nonhuman animals, why not take a few moments and ask yourself if this participation lines up with your values. Unless you value murder and oppression, the answer is vegan.

    • Tatum Bacchi Tatum says:

      Rather than accusing and belittling people, maybe you should consider offering education and resources to those making decisions you feel are unethical. For example, Chip Njaa asked an insightful question which you have not yet responded to.

    • So…did you not want comments from non-vegans? Your article (and many of the comments) were thought provoking, but this response seems a bit harsh and closed-minded to me (maybe due the sometimes impersonal nature of online medium?) I was vegan for awhile, stopped for awhile, and have considered becoming vegan again, but I have to say that even if I do choose that, I don't believe that everyone who mindfully chooses vegetarianism (or ethically raised meat) "values murder and oppression."

      • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

        Kate, not sure why this is confusing. You do not have to eat meat, dairy and eggs. By doing so, you participate in exploitation and murder. Exploitation and murder are unethical. Every great religion and spiritual practice says the same thing. Most people value life, except when it comes to their choices of "food." I am trying to get people to recognize that they are not congruent in their values. I know that you will say I should point this out in a different manner, but the reality is that people don't like to look at their behaviors. Myself included. So, let go of me and listen to my actual argument.

        • I agree that sometimes it is good to be intense when making a point, to get people's attention. Your original argument was quite brief (not a criticism, just an observation) & I have actually found the debate in the comments interesting, thought provoking, funny, and sad. Some people do like to look at their behaviours…I know I am always looking for ways to be more mindful, more kind. Your original argument made me say, "hmmm, tell me more! Convince me of why this is so so that I can learn!" rather than making me feel defensive… I am still not entirely convinced, but lots to think about.

          Yours in the search for compassionate food choices,
          Kate

        • Louise Brooks says:

          NO Gary, every religion does not say that. For example, Christians, Muslims and Jews are not commanded to be vegan by their religious teachings at all. Jesus was a fisherman ya know….

    • Jessica says:

      ATTN: Non-vegans, no reply necessary from you murdering, ignorant fools!! (snark)

    • sarasvati3 says:

      Gary, are you a scientist? Or a doctor? Who has told you that no human needs animal products? A scientist or doctor who is vegan? (who would then have a vegan bias) I was a vegan for about 3 or 4 years and I was not healthy. Period. I don't like eating meat but I need to. Making these generalizations is so hurtful to people. If you can't be compassionate to people as well as animals, your veganism is meaningless. There are a ton of reasons to not be vegan. There are inevitably going to be things missing from one's diet when one is vegan and sure you can get those vitamins, minerals, etc. from supplements but supplements are expensive. If you really want to convince people to try veganism, use compassionate actions, not your self-righteous propaganda, to gain followers.

  9. Jessica says:

    I also agree that humans who live where there is little vegetation need to supplement with some other type of protein. We have to use the resources we are given, and being that we are part of the food chain, sometimes that means eating other animals. Would humanity have evolved without eating animal protein? I'd like to see more research into that question? Seriously, would humans have risen to the top of the food chain by eating just vegetables that offer little protein? Why is the concept of a human animal surviving off the meat of another animal considered mean or unethical, but the concept of a lion surviving off the meat of another animal is not? What about carnivores? The argument then gets reduced to HOW we obtain the meat. THAT is what is unethical, and in factory farms it IS painful and cruel. Eat less meat, and don't get it from a factory farm!

  10. Chip Njaa says:

    I'm not arguing this one point because I feel, in some way, defense… I'm just curious: how does eating an unfertilized chicken egg, that the chicken would have laid anyway, cause pain to a sentient being? Not all chickens are raised and kept on factory farms. I have seen plenty of happy and healthy chickens that lay eggs which eventually would go rotten if not collected. My family raised a few chickens when I was a young one and they seemed quite content. Most chickens are considered domesticated and rely on humans for food and protection. Is Mr. Smith recommending that all chickens should immediately be set free? Just wonder because I've never understood the opposition to eating honey or chicken eggs… I don't see how it hurts anything. And, I'm certainly not against learning something new… so if you have the time respond, I would appreciate it. Thank you : )

    • AhimsaYogi says:

      it's not as much the eggs themselves as it is the industry. Most eggs come from stressed out hens in horrific conditions (research battery cages), male chicks that hatch are killed right away (ground alive) and females are forced to produce eggs in battery cages until they cannot produce any more & then they are sent to slaughter. and chickens are exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act, so it is a horrific death. the majority of eggs do not come from happy healthy hens who get to roam freely and live a full life. I personally will not eat any eggs from any chicken because they aren't mine to take. At Farm Sanctuary, they collect the eggs and feed them back to the hens because the hens lose a lot of nutrients in laying eggs & this helps to replenish what has been depleted. Eggs need not go rotten if they are given back to the source. Farm Sanctuary has tons of info on their website if you;d like to research more:)

    • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

      Chickens have been bred by the industry to produce three to four times the amount of eggs that is natural. Farm sanctuaries feed the eggs back to the chickens to produce the calcium that they lose by producing so many eggs. So, in essence, if you keep backyard chickens, you are steeling. 250 million male chicks are ground up alive in hatcheries every year. Male chicks have no economic value to the industry. You cannot attain an egg laying chicken without participating in this genocide. You can learn more from this short article – http://www.examiner.com/vegan-in-national/back-ya

  11. BrianD82 says:

    The human digestive system and even our teeth are designed to consume both meat and veggies. Why is it unethical to do what evolution or nature or God designed us TO do?

    • Chip Njaa says:

      I think many would argue that our digestive system and teeth aren't designed to consume meat. Look at the instances of prostate cancer when you compare vegan vs. people with meat eating diets. Also, prove to me that you could tear through the skin of a cow with your teeth to get at the meat (I suppose you could do that with a fish or a chicken though O.O).

    • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

      Here's what we know about science: vegans live on average seven years longer than non-vegans, have practically no heart attacks, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, have less incidence of most cancers, particularly breast, kidney and colon, have cholesterol numbers lower than 150 and are generally lower in weight. How exactly does eating animals make sense?

    • elephantjournal says:

      Also, my friend Josh Onysko points out that there's some huge monkey with huge sharp teeth that's…vegan.

  12. matthew says:

    "It strikes me as childish logic. It's like 'I like bees and I like cows….more than the immigrants that pick the vegetables I eat.'" -Chelsea Peretti

  13. Jessica says:

    I can totally see that there aren't many places to get a truly humanely raised and killed portion of meat, but I don't buy that humans are NOT supposed to eat meat. However, I think factory farms are evil. If everyone had to kill the meat they ate, there would a lot more fishing and a lot more vegetarians.

    I also think the dairy industry is evil, and that humans consuming the milk of another animal – not just in infancy but throughout adulthood – makes absolutely no sense.

    But eggs? How does getting an egg from a chicken (that is raised humanely and with kindness) cause pain? I think your statement is a little too broad in that respect.

    • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

      Chickens have been bred by the industry to produce three to four times the amount of eggs that is natural. Farm sanctuaries feed the eggs back to the chickens to produce the calcium that they lose by producing so many eggs. So, in essence, if you keep backyard chickens, you are steeling. 250 million male chicks are ground up alive in hatcheries every year. Male chicks have no economic value to the industry. You cannot attain an egg laying chicken without participating in this genocide. You can learn more from this short article – http://www.examiner.com/vegan-in-national/back-ya

      • Jessica says:

        What if I raise my own chickens?

      • Jessica says:

        Will have to check this link at home, for some reason the examiner is blocked by our IT department. But I appreciate the info.

      • Do you perhaps mean "stealing?" I don't see the need to "steel" myself against chickens. They can be ornery at times, though. I feel like much of your argument about why vegan is the only ethical choice derives from what is true of the factory farm industry, and not simply from the act of consuming dairy/eggs. I think that most people (or most ele readers anyway) would agree that factory farming is not ethical. But the act of consuming dairy? Some of the commenters have made arguments that enlightened me…but not so much the argument you make here.

    • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

      Jessica, here's what we know about science: vegans live on average seven years longer than non-vegans, have practically no heart attacks, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, have less incidence of most cancers, particularly breast, kidney and colon, have cholesterol numbers lower than 150 and are generally lower in weight. How exactly does eating animals make sense?

  14. Val says:

    Love this post. That really is what it all boils down to: Every time you sit down to eat, you have a choice to cause another living being pain or not. Why would you ever choose to make an animal suffer if you don't have to?

  15. sonyaa says:

    Yesterday I read that Dalai Lama is not a vegetarian… it kind of confused me, but I guess it’s a personal decision after all… I don’t want to judge Dalai Lama, so maybe no one should be judged.

    • elephantjournal says:

      He is veggie…unlike how he was raised in Tibet. He grew up not being a veggie. He's asked other Buddhists to go veggie…and this is from a man that doesn't ask others to be Buddhist! That's what I read, anyways. ~ W.

  16. I'm saying that you should show a level of consideration to your audience, especially if you want them to change their lifestyles. Whether I am a murderer or not, being told I am unethical without any logical reasoning is not going to want me to ask you to teach me more. Having said that, I very much appreciate some of the books and data you have since presented. I wish you had opened with that.

    • Sorry…Horrible grammar in that one sentence….Whether I am a murderer or not, being told I am unethical without any logical reasoning is not going to inspire me to want to engage in further discourse or ask you to teach me more, other than to wonder why you would speak to me in such a way.

      • Alice2112 says:

        something to keep in mind, Andrew, is that the vast majority of vegans weren't vegans from the start, so they have tons of experience as omnivores. The Vegan perspective is usually based on much knowledge and understanding about the other side of the argument. Most people arguing against being vegan can't say the same.

        • Andrew Gurvey agurvey says:

          Hi Alice…Apologies for the late response. I respect the vegan arguments that I am hearing in this article, and understand my own hypocrisy in the way I choose to live my life in this moment. However, I think any of the vegans that have changed their lives to become who they are today had to take tremendous steps to do so. Now, after taking those steps, I feel that they are speaking to the people who have not yet done so, like me, in a rather offensive fashion. If they truly understood the effort they had to make to change, then to engender that change in others would seem, to me, to require an element of compassion I have not really seen. Do you know what I mean? I am not calling Mr. Smith, or any of the other folks who stand by him in this article, names or anything offensive. However, I have worked very hard to change as much as I have and know I have a long way to go. Calling me a murderer and someone unethical because I have not yet achieved veganism is tougher to swallow than to simply acknowledge my own shortcomings and better myself with the help of these people who have been on both sides. I hope this makes sense.

  17. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    For a more in-depth article exploring the deeper reasons behind vegetarianism and veganism: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/08/the-3-reas
    I personally feel that the Ethics argument alone is ridiculous. If it were 'wrong' to eat flesh, eskimos and tibetans would be 'bad'. By all means, be a vegan, but don't do it for ethics alone.

    • Jo Tyler says:

      Are you an Eskimo? Do you not have access to fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds…? We should be trying to look for ways to lessen our impact and lessen the suffering we contribute to in the world…as opposed to looking for ways to justify it.

  18. Once upon a time there was a little girl
    (isn’t there always)
    and she loved her dogs, and cats, and bird, and fish.
    and all the animals everywhere.
    And she decided (at the tender age of 12)
    That she didn’t want to eat
    Her furry, feathered, and finned friends.
    So she stopped.

    But the little girl grew older
    And sadder
    And sicker
    And smaller
    (and smaller still)
    and didn’t eat animals.
    Or milk.
    Or eggs.
    Or much of anything at all.

    (Unless she gobbled up lots of
    vegan goodies
    only to puke them up again
    And run
    And run
    And run
    To make the hurt go away)

    And when the little girl
    Was so sick
    And sad
    And small
    That she decided to get better:

    She put it all back on the table.
    She bit by bit put herself back together.
    She still doesn’t eat her (animal) friends.

    My point here isn’t to say vegan = eating disorder (because I’m guessing at least one person will pounce on that.) My point is to say that for my part, vegan did not come from a place of non-harming the way my vegetarianism did. It was another tool to facilitate my eating disorder. I know many many vegans for whom this is not the case. I also know many friends with ED’s who have used food choices as a way to facilitate/hide their disease. May we all keep ahimsa at the heart of our decision making.

    • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

      Eating disorder? People making an ethical choice to abstain from using and eating animals is an eating disorder? If you did any research on the science of a vegan diet, you would find that vegans are much healthier on average. 99.5% of Americans eat animals and their secretions. 67% of Americans are overweight or obese. 50% of American will get heart disease (which is the number one killer in America). Vegans live seven years longer, rarely are overweight, rarely show signs of hypertension, do not contract type 2 diabetes and get cancer at much lower rates than non-vgeans. This is the most unhealthy nation on the planet, and you think that eating a diet that abstains from the foods that cause those diseases is a disorder?

      As to ahimsa. Give me a break. You are paying people to confine, mutilate, torture and murder animals. How exactly does ahimsa fall into your fantasy world? Pointing out these facts is not violence, participating in these industries is violence. Not that complicated.

      • boulderwind says:

        Ahimsa is not ahimsa when one is harming oneself because they are not eating a diet that works best for their own unique body and biochemistry. I have known many very sick vegans who could talk circles around me nutritionwise and were "doing it right" but what it came down to was that they were more healthy, vital, and strong with animal protein in their diet.

        • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

          Eating a vegan diet doesn't always equal healthy. Soda, Oreos and potato chips are vegan. To pretend that eating animals is healthy is not backed up by nutritional science. Again, 99.5% of Americans eat animals and their secretions. 67% of Americans are overweight or obese. 50% of American will get heart disease (which is the number one killer in America). Vegans live seven years longer, rarely are overweight, rarely show signs of hypertension, do not contract type 2 diabetes and get cancer at much lower rates than non-vegans.

          • boulderwind says:

            Actually it is the carbs that are causing Americans to be overweight, have high cholesterol and heart disease, Type 2 diabetic , etc. People may eat meat, but they are also carbing out. The Paleo/Weston Price type diet is what appears to be the healthiest for many people and it contains animal proteins and animal fats and is much lower carb. I actually know quite a few overweight vegans who are overeating the carbs because they are always hungry. Women vegans tend to this overweight, while vegan men tend to be underweight. It is the carbs, the gluten and the soy that are overrepresented in this diet that are the real problem. And for many, the lack of protein. Diabetes and heart disease rates are actually quite high in countries such as India where the majority are vegetarian. That rice will kill you after a while if you base your diet on it.

          • Carol says:

            "Diabetes and heart disease rates are actually quite high in countries such as India were the majority are vegetarian"

            Vegetarian, not vegan. That could be your answer: large amounts of dairy products.

        • I actually wasn't disputing the health benefits of being vegan — just trying to point out that perhaps it is better for us to take the approach of non-harming towards all (the earth, animals, other people, ourselves). I think it is possible to have a very healthy life without animal products, but for me at that point in my life, it wasn't really about anything positive.

    • Lisa Viger says:

      Kate, I'm really sorry you had or have an eating disorder and I hope you've been able to heal it. But eating disorders are quite specific psychological problems that need to be dealt with from that angle. To say veganism contributes to such disorders in any way at all is the same as saying Ex-Lax contributes to eating disorders, just because some anorexics will use it.

      • Kate Bartolotta Kate Bartolotta says:

        Just to clarify, my intention was not to imply that being vegan causes or contrbutes to ED’s. My point was that if we are going to discuss ethics and ahimsa, we need to take a broad view. I do believe that being vegan is a valid & healthy choice. I also believe that we don’t always know the battles others are fighting. To call someone a “murderer” when she is doing what she can where she is on her path, not cool in my book. I am always looking for ways to live a more mIndful life & have learned a lot from this discussion. Despite the way info was delivered…

  19. Suri kate says:

    Mr Gary
    How bout all the health issues that you can get from being vegan like:
    neuropathy , shaking hands , impaired memory , anemia , osteoporosis,feeling tired a lot, not sleeping well, weak hair and nails, sensitive and decaying teeth, inability to maintain a healthy weight, constant hunger, unexplained irritability, or depression… Why wont you talk about the serious vitamin deficiecies that very often come with the vegan diet???
    How bout the fact that as far as recorded history is concerned, there has never been a population of people in our world that has lived on a strict vegan diet for an entire lifespan. Some populations have eaten mostly plant foods, there has not been a single population that has been on a 100 percent plant-based diet. Even hindus eat yoghurt and use copious amonts of buter -ghee- in their food.
    If you are so sure humans are not supposed to eat meat why dont you cite some science based , reliable sources to back up what you are saying …and the china studY does not count since it has been debunked… Why are you so dishonest about the dark side of veganism??

    • Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

      I'd be more than happy to send you a list of books, if you're actually interested. You can also google ADA statement on vegetarian and vegan diets. The ADA is a conservative organization and said that a vegan diet is appropriate for people of all ages.

  20. carolina says:

    instinct btw sorry she too one day won't be around but not because I ate her

  21. Ashley says:

    This is a no brainer for me and I simply cannot imagine why it's not a no brainer for most if not all of Elephant readers. Buddhism teaches us kindness and compassion for all living beings. Why do most follow this except when it comes to food on their plate or products they buy? These are sentient creatures, they feel pain just like we do. How is it our place to steal them from their family? Oh, right….it's not. Please please wake up enlightened ones, choose compassion at all times- choose vegan.

    • Jo Tyler says:

      Absolutely….well said Ashley! It's very discouraging to see so many otherwise caring and compassionate people try so hard to justify their complicity in needless violence simply because they "enjoy" the products of that violence. Very discouraging indeed….

  22. Suri kate says:

    Read the ADA article (pdf) it is clear that a well planed vegetarian diet has indeed many health benefits .an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet is the one that best meets nutritional requirements where as a vegan diet does not meet all the nutritional requirements without supplementation ..calcium , vit D , B12 , iodine ,zinc and n3 fatty acids might need to be supplemented in a vegan diet , specially B12…b12requirement can be met with an ovolacto vagatarian diet but not with a vegan diet as "no unfortified plant Food contains any significant amount of active vitamin b12"….calcium intake in a vegan diet usually must be supplemented as vegans have 30 percent higher risk of bone fracture Due to their lower calcium intakes….

    Vegetarian diets are rich in folacine wich may mask the symptoms of b12 deficiency so that vit b deficiency can go undetected until after neurological signs a d symptoms may be manifest

    risk of bone fracture is similar for meat eaters and ovolactovegetarians …Diets that do not include fish , eggs or generous amounts of microalgae are low in dha and epa , fatty acids essential for cardiovascular health As well as eye and brain development..
    Reduced bone mass has been reported in some vegan and macrobiotic groups who did noT used vit d supplements

  23. Jo Tyler says:

    ‎"As omnivores, we may resent vegans for reminding us of the suffering we cause, for we’d rather be comfortable and keep all the ugliness hidden, but our comfort has nothing to do with justice or with authentic inner peace. It is the comfort of blocking out and disconnecting, and it comes with a terrible price. " – Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet
    http://www.amazon.com/World-Peace-Diet-Spiritual-

  24. Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

    The point of the post was to force people to examine their values. I really do believe that most people want to do the right thing. They are hypnotized by the culture, a culture which is truly violent. A culture that focuses on selfishness, sexism, racism, speciesism. The culture would fall apart if we examined our behaviors and changed them to benefit others. I get why everyone believes they have the right to take the life of an animal for their own pleasure. That does not make it right or ethical.

    When that violence is questioned, people react strongly. I understand that they want to make me the bad guy for pointing out the disconnect in their values and behaviors, but the anger is really pointed at themselves. It's uncomfortable to observe ourselves, that is why we drink, watch TV endlessly and stuff our faces with sugar, salt, fried foods, animal products.

    If you truly examined the point of my post, you would make the choice to go vegan. Not because I said so, but because your heart tells you that it is the right, moral and ethical choice.

  25. Femmefatal says:

    I suffered for seven years if major digestive and ongoing tummy and ulcer problems. Half the time I slept sitting up! I went vegan in may and I’m cured. It’s the creepiest and most freaked out thing I’ve ever witnessed. I have received a gift of a miracle.

  26. Despite the debatable elements of vegetarianism that will inevitably evoke disagreement for all eternity, the simple non-debatable fact is that the cumulative (individual or human) effect of living/eating veg*an is more positive than negative, more light than dark.

  27. Lindsay Jean says:

    I’m so tired of seeing “articles” like this on ele. It’s so narrow and counter to what is good about this site. Many paths, friends.

    • boulder5 says:

      obviously the article should have been written a bit differently, but i think there need to be articles about veganism on elephant journal in general. i dont think that is narrow or counter to anything. if you can have stuff about dresses made out of cow nipples and stuff on sustainability and environmentalism and class warfare and this and that… and that is okay.. and its okay to write articles against monsanto.. then it should be okay to talk about veganism… i always get confused why it seems to be so unaccepted on a site that is supposed to be so conscious about everything. why its okay to write articles judging some things and yet they arent declared narrow or judgmental, but then you mention veganism and its immediately declared judgmental and narrow and wrong. again, any articles about the subject need to be kind, but they should be allowed. animals dont deserve to be forgotten. then again, its hard to want to write articles when the response is so horrible..

  28. Shandy says:

    You know what… I am S0 SICK of Diet D0GMA! Who has the right to say what diet is right or wrong for ANY "B0DY"? What is right for me, could be poison for you. We evolved eating MEAT. The first humans did what they could to survive. They did that by HUNTING AND GATHERING F00D, mostly from animal sources. I am not saying that because we evolved eating animal sources of food that EVERY0NE should ea…t that way. But, I will be DAMMED if I am going to spread diet dogma that eating animal sources of food is N0T ethical and that vegan is somehow more ethical. Get off your high horse! Guess what?: we live in the USA and guess what, we have millions of mouths to feed, and guess what… not all those mouths can survive on a vegan diet for your dogmatic ethical reasons! I have plenty of friends who are vegan, but they don't shove it down my throat that for my body type and NEEDS, I eat MEAT!

  29. Carolyn says:

    Great post! Thanks for stating the obvious, despite it, obviously, being so difficult for many people to hear.

    I'm a little confused as to how a post like this, which is a statement of fact, not the opinion of any individual, can cause so many misguided and nasty comments.

    I have to wonder how people would react if I were to suggest that murdering humans was unethical. Would I be considered to be "shoving my opinions down peoples' throats"?

    • Hi Carolyn. I can't speak others but can assure you that I have not made any nasty comments. Misguided, perhaps, but only in an endeavor to understand the discussion better. I think, to answer your last questions, the murder of humans, at least in Western Society, is considered unethical on a broader scale. In other words, you, me, and our friends (just to keep the example simple), all believe that murdering humans is unethical, and therefore would not advocate it, nor would they stand by or advocate someone who did believe it was okay.

      I see your point regarding animals, and I am not attempting to refute it. I am saying, however, that the murder of animals is not considered by all to be unethical, and ithat sentiment is backed up by administrations in our government who say it is okay to kill animals, eat them and treat them in an inhumane fashion. Please note that I DO believe it's unethical, and have learned quite a bit from the comments on this post.

  30. I think the logical argument that you present would not be seen logically based on the idea that, if we want people to change their habits and their lifestyles, the approach may be to come at it more gently. At least, that kind of attitude resonates with me. If Mr. Smith had opened his article in a more educable fashion, I can assure you, I would not have been frustrated or turned off by his comments. His morally absolutist tone, however, makes it very difficult to feel like there is something to learn from all of this (even though there is). These are just my thoughts, Carolyn. I appreciate your thoughtful post.

  31. boulder5 says:

    gary ~ as a vegan, i think that trying to educate people about veganism on elephant journal seems to be a lost cause and has been for some time. i appreciate you wanting to reach out to people, but things have gotten so hostile over the last number of months. i can tell by the replies that no one is truly interested in this subject. people are ready for an argument, they are not interested in learning, and i doubt you are changing any minds by your posts here… :( there are so many positive vegan outreach opportunities in the community; why not focus on reaching people this way? the comments section of elephant journal seems to be a know-it-all competition and the idea that animals are suffering is getting very lost. there comes a point when we need to spend our valuable time 'walking the talk' somewhere else. sincerely, just another mean horrible militant vegan b*tch ;-)

  32. Jeffrey says:

    A couple of good articles on this subject. "Food" for thought at least. :-) http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/understanhttp://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/like-anim

  33. Jeffrey says:

    A couple of good articles on this subject. "Food" for thought at least. :-) http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/understan

  34. Joyce says:

    Humans are so egotistical to really believe plants are not sentient and don't have feelings.
    It doesn't matter what you eat, what you eat is life, including plants. The trick is to offer the
    Universal oneness thanks and gratitude for everything you eat whether it be plants or
    animals. It also helps the pain of plants and animals and promotes our own health by
    eating organic.

  35. [...] article is in reply to one written by Gary Smith on September 29, called The Ethical Choice is Vegan. Mr. Smith’s post is very short but contains a lot of passion behind it that caused, to say the [...]

  36. [...] core of people. We spend so much time slapping on the existential version of bumper stickers. This guy’s a vegan. That chick is a feminist. This one does yoga. That one’s a teacher. This one is a [...]

  37. [...] slaughter and injustice? Right now, at dinner? On a first date? I can go into all of the moral/ethical implications. I’ll touch on great health benefits and positive environmental impact. I can tell you that [...]

  38. [...] When one takes refuge in the Three Jewels—the Buddha as example, the Dharma as his teachings and meditation practice, and the sangha as the community of our fellow meditators – we also take the vow against killing. [...]

  39. [...] addition to some of the other Lululemon controversies, there was the Great Secession from Anusara, vegans vs. everyone who isn’t vegan, the marriage of John Friend and Manduka and a panoply of other happening events to keep things [...]

  40. JoeC2K says:

    Jesus, the Buddha and the Dalai Lama all ate meat. The logical conclusion to your reasoning is they were also unethical…

  41. tesk nayrb says:

    just some points to consider.
    1) not all people do well being vegan. ( i tried for eight years for ethical reasons and never felt optimal. esp my digestive system and energy level. ) and even after eight years still craved meat.
    2) yes meat 3 meals a day seems overkill yet meat a few meals a week has no negative health benefits to people or this planet. the key is moderation.
    3)does gary drive? where loads of insects are killed. what about live in a house where loads of animals are killed and displaced when clearing land and creating factories for the production of household items. ect……
    4) for ethical reasons the jain yogis where a mask as to not inhale insects and walk with a broom sweeping in front of them as to not kill when stepping. to them if gary is not doing these things he is unethical. although they may not call him unethical because if they are truly yogi's they know judgement is most unethical.
    5) are all indigenous people unethical because most eat meat?
    6) i feel a lot of our farming practices are horrible and unnecessarily harmful. best for all that we make conscious choices about where our for comes from and how it is treated. plants and animals can be raised and slaughtered with gratitude and compassion.
    7) i know a vegan girl who always had stomach issues i tried to convince her to add fish to her diet but her desire to not harm animals was strong. she found no relief from any doctor. finally she consulted a chinese doctor who told her to add animal protein to her diet. she agreed to finally and her condition disappeared.
    8) maybe whats most ethical is to mind your own business, focus on yourself and be the best you can be and if you achieve something amazing others will be inspired by you.
    9) i believe the focus should be on promoting the ideas you love and believe in not in judging others. Vegans make a lot of wonderful points and everyone should consider their perspective, yet preaching their idea's as being " more ethical " will only serve to alienate those they wish to influence ( like born again christians tend to do ).

  42. tsek nayrb says:

    just some points to consider.
    1) not all people do well being vegan. ( i tried for eight years for ethical reasons and never felt optimal. esp my digestive system and energy level. ) and even after eight years still craved meat.
    2) yes meat 3 meals a day seems overkill yet meat a few meals a week has no negative health benefits to people or this planet. the key is moderation.
    3)does gary drive? where loads of insects are killed. what about live in a house where loads of animals are killed and displaced when clearing land and creating factories for the production of household items. ect……
    4) for ethical reasons the jain yogis where a mask as to not inhale insects and walk with a broom sweeping in front of them as to not kill when stepping. to them if gary is not doing these things he is unethical. although they may not call him unethical because if they are truly yogi's they know judgement is most unethical.
    5) are all indigenous people unethical because most eat meat?
    6) i feel a lot of our farming practices are horrible and unnecessarily harmful. best for all that we make conscious choices about where our for comes from and how it is treated. plants and animals can be raised and slaughtered with gratitude and compassion.
    7) i know a vegan girl who always had stomach issues i tried to convince her to add fish to her diet but her desire to not harm animals was strong. she found no relief from any doctor. finally she consulted a chinese doctor who told her to add animal protein to her diet. she agreed to finally and her condition disappeared.
    8) maybe whats most ethical is to mind your own business, focus on yourself and be the best you can be and if you achieve something amazing others will be inspired by you.
    9) i believe the focus should be on promoting the ideas you love and believe in not in judging others. Vegans make a lot of wonderful points and everyone should consider their perspective, yet preaching their idea's as being " more ethical " will only serve to alienate those they wish to influence ( like born again christians tend to do ).

  43. [...] the fact that it makes me feel horrible, so even if I felt there were an ethical way to do it (which is a huge subject for debate) I just won’t do [...]

  44. grass fed says:

    The saddest thing about all this is that these people seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that in organic agriculture large quantities (millons of tons) of animal-based fertilizers are used. For example, feathermeal is the major fertilizer used in the production of organic rice. Bone meal and blood meal also are widely used. All come from abbatoirs, and good thing too, otherwise it is just good carbon going to waste.

    When we farm, we need to restore the soil with animal manure, etc. Because tillage is very damaging to the soil, soy is the least sustainable crop there is. If we want to save the world, we need to end dependency on grain! Eating Grass fed beef and local organic vegetables, especially if you grow them yourself is the best thing you can do for the world. Read Joel Salatan. Widely vilified by the Vegan Right, but just plain old common sense both dietarily and ecologically.

    Vegans are the best friends of Monsanto, Tyson, Cargil, etc.

  45. ilan ben-yehuda says:

    plants also have a kind of sentience.
    their consciousness is equally as mystifying to us as that of animals.
    trees communicate with one another to warn of invading termites. they can sense the invaders, synthesize a response, communicate this to their surrounding colleagues, receive the message, and react to it in a way that protects them from further forest damage.
    fungi have shown some level of awareness of their surroundings in test studies (documented in Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets).
    that trees do not walk around shopping for an answer to 'what does it mean to be a tree?' does not make them suddenly not sentient.

    "i don't eat sentient beings" is not an ethical argument. all beings have sentience of some kind (why on earth do we think that we or animals have the market on awareness?) and to claim that an egg or chicken feels pain, but a plant doesn't is absurd. A tree knows when it has lost a limb, and an apple is an egg of a tree.

    That is, of course, unless you clarify what you mean by sentience. It comes from the word sense – which plants and fungi certainly do – ask anyone who has spent a goodly amount of time with growing plants. Sentience (feeling) was, in the 18th century philosophies, used against the concept of "reason" (thought). Again, that palm tree and mushroom qualify as sentient. From Wikipedia: "For Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care." Again, all things (which includes mountains, clouds, fire, oceans, water, as well as trees, forests, wildabeasts, and popcorn) are sentient.

    The simple, spurious, esoteric, and empirical view of ethics in this blurb of an article is an insult to those who choose to not eat meats, those who choose to eat meats, and to those with no choice whatsoever. By Mr. Smith's logic, we may also assume that cats (as animals they must be sentient) are completely unethical, as they play with their food while eating it while it still hangs on to an inarguably painful existence.

    Also – we are biologically equipped to process meats. all strict herbivores have a much longer GI system so that they can break down plant matter and reap enough nutrients to survive. We on the other hand, have short colons, one stomach, canine and incisor teeth, and the need for certain minerals and protein chains which are difficult (but in recent times not impossible) to come by in plants and fungi alone.

    the real question should be – why aren't we all eating insects? no one really likes them. they're not cute. they have the biggest biomass on the planet, and they are choc a broc full of protein.

  46. [...] did not eat animals, drink their milk, or wear their leather. He eschewed all animal products for any reason. He considered eating honey to be exploitative and avoided [...]

  47. Laura Chase says:

    Sorry if that was mean. I got a little out of control. Still, I regret nothing.

  48. Val says:

    If "sentience is irrelevant" as you say, then you must be okay with eating people too, yes? I mean, if killing plants and bacteria is the same as killing cows and pigs, then certainly killing cows and pigs is the same as killing people. Your logic, not mine.

  49. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    I love your comment Laura. It's passionate and there's a lot of truth in there.

  50. Vonnie says:

    Hi Laura. If all living beings are inherently equal, do you believe then that it's acceptable to consider human flesh food, as we do animal flesh?

  51. Rosie says:

    Well said

  52. Rosie says:

    Rosie here, again…yes, well said except for as*h*oles description…

  53. elephantjournal says:

    Love the passion. We also do a lot of things naturally like sweat, say, and you don't regard showering or using deodorant as wrong. I think we "naturally" have a choice. I thank Gary for raising the question, and you for answering it for yourself, cheers! ~ W.

  54. Lori says:

    You certainly don't need to be vegan to be an asshole. We didn't need proof, but thanks for offering it anyway.

  55. Danielle says:

    I disagree with much of what you said, mainly because you're blasting Mr. Smith for making blanket statements (which are true) following and backing them with your own (which are opinion based, which are not fact) There are amazing books that do an excellent job looking at why people like you feel it's "natural" to eat meat. "Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows" is one. "Eating Animals" is another. Neither "shove" anything down your throat. Both are excellent resources for information, and understanding why you feel the way you do.

  56. nnspbg says:

    Nothing mean about it, Laura! I rarely eat meat, and the less of it I eat, the better I feel. I am also a huge proponant of animal rights. But once a year or so I get a craving for meat. Usually not beef, although once it was. The only thing I do differently now, aside from rarely wanting to do it at all, is make sure (as best I can) the animal was raised and killed humanely. No animal should have to suffer in order for a person to eat whatever he/she wants. But I do believe that most human beings naturally crave meat. I just can't stomach the thought of anything suffering in order for me to enjoy a meal. Vegetarians and omnivores alike will enjoy their food much more if they aren't judging anyone else while eating it.

  57. Suri kate says:

    Forgot to say …..this all or nothing mentality is not helpful when you want to have a balanced , rational debate..you are either a vegan or a murderer….what???? Sounds like something W Bush would say ha ha

  58. elephantjournal says:

    Yes, Gary would agree that my dog's humanely raised meat dog food is not humane, it's still murder…I think that term doesn't mean it's all hunky dorey, just that it's better. Not good enough, from a vegan pov, for sure.

    I would say that, personally, the point isn't to be perfect. It's to make the "mindful" of two choices…obviously even if I turn off my lights, my life still creates demand for coal, natural gas…as you say even my bike is made out of mined metals…it's impossible to be perfect. That's not a worthy goal, anyways. Why not just try to enjoy life in a way that doesn't harm others? That seems to me to be the logic of being vegan…I don't need animals, and they have feelings and are sentient so…why eat meat?

    Your point reminds me of… "There is no such thing as vegan." http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/08/there-is-n

    Bonus from a different pov:

    Self-Righteous Vegans Just Make Me Want To Eat More Meat. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/08/righteous-

  59. Suri kate says:

    (Sorry ment to post it as a reply)
    I totally agree and you couldnt have said it better:
    "Why not just try to enjoy life in a way that doesn't harm others? That seems to me to be the logic of being vegan…I don't need animals, and they have feelings and are sentient so…why eat meat? "
    This is the kind of argument that works , it is positive , it is constructive and impartial . This is the kind of argument that promotes healthy discussion …theres no need to be confrontational you can promote veganism without sounding like a crazy person and i can assure you people will be more open and receptive to what you
    have to say. 8)

  60. elephantjournal says:

    Sorry, was I being an ass***e? I didn't write this…nto sure what I did to inspire you to call people names. Since your account is now blocked (we have a one strike you're out comment policy on name-calling—argue with the argument, don't insult people anonymously) we'll never know, I'm genuinely sorry to say. ~ W.

  61. Laura Chase says:

    You're welcome!

  62. elephantjournal says:

    I agree with that 100%. I've had some really knock-out, mean-spirited, getting-ganged-up-on, depressing arguments with some intelligent, activist vegans on that very point. ~ W.

  63. organicgoddess says:

    I suspect that was aimed at Laura, not at you, Wayne. (I'm not calling Laura an a-hole — just speculating from what was said in each post.)

  64. Tatum Bacchi Tatum says:

    I have so many thoughts on this, that weiging in on this topic and this particular paragraph is making my head spin. However, what I would like to say to Elephant Journal is thank you for keeping this a safe, open forum for everyone by having a one strike policy on name calling. Just one more reason that I love you guys!

  65. Carol says:

    So Laura can say that most vegans are assholes but Lori can't respond in kind? I won't be visiting this site again!

  66. Suri kate says:

    Ok so calling someone an asshole gets you blocked but somehow calling someone a murderer is ok???

  67. AhimsaYogi says:

    What happens to the dairy cows when they are done producing milk for you? Do they get to live out the rest of their lives peacefully? Or are they slaughtered like the others? And what happens to the babies after they are born? are they allowed to nurse? are they put in veal crates? are they forced to produce milk for you until they are shipped off to slaughter? and your money that goes to this dairy supports all aspects correct? so you are supporting veal & the slaughter of the cows. I like that they get to graze freely, but if they meet the same end how is it worth it?

  68. organicgoddess says:

    Kate – how the cows are treated isn't the issue. It's what happens to all the baby boy dairy calves. In order to produce milk, cows have to be kept in a cycle of pregnancy (about once calf a year). On average 1/2 of them are male. NO ONE can keep all those bulls and feed them and let them live out their lives. They have to go (dairy cows are almost all artificially inseminated, and even if naturally mated, you only need one bull in a herd to do that). Most of these babies are turned into veal. And the dairy cows themselves become hamburger far earlier that they would die naturally.
    Same argument goes for eggs, except the baby boys that hatch on egg farms are killed immediately.

  69. organicgoddess says:

    so in short, if you support dairy, you support the veal industry.

  70. I can't speak for all dairies, but I do know the cows at this particular farm live out their lives peacefully (Verrrrry small mom & pop operation) The babies nurse (for a certain length of time?) & are not crated. I know that the male calves are sold to a local butcher & I hadn't thoroughly thought through that part of it ie me buying the milk is contributing to their slaughter. I was a vegan for a few years & found it to be a poor fit due to some health issues at that point. But…I may revisit that in the future. Thanks for your thoughts!

  71. Had not considered that re: "if you support dairy, you support the veal industry." Do you know any info on how this same issue plays out w/ goat's milk? As I mentioned to "Ahimsa Yogi" the farm I buy from is a really small operation. I grew up near by & had the pleasure of playing with and cleaning up after many of the cows as a kiddo. I also get goat's milk (free) from a friend who has goats…they are like her children. None of them ever end up cooked.

    Full disclosure…I also sometimes eat B&J ice cream (but as far as I can remember…they make an effort to use local dairy? Not sure if this is still true….)

    Thanks for the informative feedback!

  72. Further, making accusatory comments ("Unless you value murder and oppression, the answer is vegan") because you don't agree with something, and making an incomplete argument because you are not addressing the way humans are treated on this planet just makes you appear opinionated and shallow. Shame on you, sir. Why not take a few moments and ask YOURSELF if your pontificating is really helping anyone or just wasting space because you are not adding value to your opinion.

  73. Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

    Every religion and spiritual philosophy argues against murder and exploitation. Take it up wit them.

  74. AhimsaYogi says:

    wow…very cool & rare to see a dairy allow the cows to live out their lives & die naturally.

  75. Alice2112 says:

    "the babies nurse for a certain length of time and are not crated" –
    so you are still ok with malnourishing the calves, stealing the breast milk they needed to thrive and then eating their malnourished deprived flesh (veal)? This is SUCH a no-brainer. Dairy needs to go. period. We are not baby cows. We are the only species that does such monstrous atrocities and bizarre behavior. Something to think about, no?

    I weaned from my mother around the age of three.
    We Are Not Baby Cows

  76. AhimsaYogi says:

    from what I can find b&J does use local dairies, but I doubt they let the cows live out natural lives & don't contribute to veal production. I can't say for sure though, but your local farm seems to be a rare exception.

  77. Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

    Kate, mammals cannot produce milk without being pregnant. That means two things: how do the mothers get pregnant and what happens to their babies? The industry uses the term "rape wrack" to describe how mothers are inseminated. The bulls have to be manually ejaculated by a human and then that sperm is forcibly shoved into the cows vagina.I have heard that on some "family" farms, they have the bull rape the female cow forcibly. As to the babies, they are either murdered for veal, if they are boys and if they are girls, they are kept in prison, or stalls, while they get old enough to go through the hell that their mothers go through. All of the babies are stolen within 24 hours. Why? Because humans want to steal their milk. That is how one obtains milk from any individual.

  78. AhimsaYogi says:

    I agree. There is nothing in my life that I have done to get others more fired up at me than becoming vegan. it's such a hot button. worth all the crap I get though to save the animals:)

  79. I agree Carol..I think the vitriolic responses stem from both good (desire to convince others) and bad (insecurity, arrogance) places. I agree that it isn't "necessary" and I have seen a lot of comments that give me food for thought (pun intended) as to discontinuing even my mindful dairy consumption. As I mentioned, I buy from a tiny mom & pop farm (and have seen some calves grow & have babies of their own, know their names, etc…love going there) but am starting to consider that even that may not be the most ethical choice. Thanks for the thoughtful response!

  80. Funny story…when I was a kid (maybe 4?) I was at a nearby farm and saw the bull jumping up on the cow and was told that they were making a baby. For weeks I went around telling people that "the bull jumps on the cow to push the baby out" until my mom took me aside and gently explained the mechanics of what they were actually doing;) Maybe we should only get milk from cows who have been properly wined and dined and had a loving consensual relationship with the bull before becoming impregnated?

    I felt the need to inject a little humor here. Yes, it's serious and is terrible. I don't feel like some of the things that you are saying are "every farm, everywhere, all the time" are necessarily accurate. Surely indicative of the majority though, and definitely cause to reconsider dairy consumption.

    Thanks for the response!

  81. This is significant to me… If the rationale for veganism is ahimsa, what about non-harming of our fellow humans with our words? I am much more responsive to, "hey, can I enlighten you about a better way to do that?" than "you are a horrible murdering a-hole because you are eating cheese." You catch more flies with honey…

  82. elephantjournal says:

    Oh! That makes sense. Well, in any case, no one call anyone names, can we agree on that? ~ W.

  83. elephantjournal says:

    Well, you're right, I hadn't read her comment. Sorry, but looooong comments are usually too much for this busy boy. She didn't call him an "as****e" directly, but I see you point…self-righteous blowhard is a bit mean.

    Let's all play nice—that will help all of us learn, here, otherwise this is just a tempest in a teapot kind of situation, with nothing gained by either "side."

    ~ Waylon

  84. Laura Chase says:

    Also, I think I might quit this site too. Mr. Smith's post is evidence that we omnivores aren't welcome here.

  85. elephantjournal says:

    Always love what you have to say and share, Andrew. I've talked with Gary a lot, and appreciate that from a vegan pov the daily holocaust going on is horrendous. They face the music of our actions, unlike most of us who eat meat they've watched the videos and gone to the factory farms…they know the suffering they've seen, and for vegans who are informed it's akin to slavery or something. Would you expect an abolitionist to be polite back in the day? Being polite, unfortunately, doesn't get attention often.

    That said, the greatest activists of our time—Gandhi, Thoreau, MLK Jr. Aung San Suu Kyi…many others have all practiced ahimsa not just as an end but also as their means. So yes, vegans should practice being kind and compassionate to humans, not just animals. But those of us who aren't vegan should, too, if only for our own sake, practice peace in these dicussions—and keep them from becoming arguments. We're here to talk, not to be "right." at least, that's why I'm here—because I learn something from Gary every time I connect with him. ~ W.

  86. Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

    I agree. Someone's tone is equivalent to shooting a bolt into a cow's skull, cutting his or her throat, while still alive and dangling. and sawing off his or her limbs. Totally the same thing.

  87. Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

    Kate, misread your eating disorder statement. I'm sorry. I stand by the ahimsa point.

  88. thoreau says:

    According to Veena Bhasin (2008), Ethno-Med 77-102, the Brokpa’s eat mutton.

    From the article:

    The traditional Brokpa diet based on locally grown foods such as barley and hardy wheat prepared most often as tsampa/sattu (roasted flour). It takes in different ways. Other important foods include potatoes, radishes, turnips, and Gur-Gur Cha, a brewed tea made of black tea, butter and salt. Dairy and poultry sources are out of menu because of religious taboos. Brok-pa takes three meals a day; Chin-nana (Breakfast); Beh (Lunch) and Ganzang (Dinner). Brokpa vary with respect to the amount of meat (mainly mutton) that they eat.

    Household’s economic position decides
    the consumption of meat. It is only during festivals and rituals all have greater access to mutton.

  89. Louise Brooks says:

    The Dalai Lama eats meat.

  90. Laura Chase says:

    I only said most vegans I've met, and I haven't met that many. I never said all vegans are assholes.

  91. Laura Chase says:

    Excellent point, and yes, it is the same as killing people. However, there's a law against killing people. No law against soap. That's not to say that if killing people were legal, we should all go out and kill people.

  92. Jean LeBlanc says:

    They meant murder and exploitation of humans, and they argue that because every religion and spiritual philosophy believes that the continuation of the human race is a pretty good idea…and by the way, not every. Y'ever heard of the Crusades? 9/11? That guy in Norway?

  93. Andrew Gurvey agurvey says:

    And one more thing regarding religion and spiritual philosophy, Mr. Smith: The fundamentalist arguments for most religions and spiritual philosophies generally end up with murder, exploitation, or at the very least, dogmatism and insult. This stands true for Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and especially yoga.

  94. boulderwind says:

    ADA is always about 10 steps behind current scientific nutritional theory. ADA, afterall, gave us more recently the food pyramid that is loaded with carbs and is a contributor to the type 2 diabetes epidemic we are seeing.

  95. Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

    A lot of people have issues with beans initially. Have you tried to eat them less often and see if you can work up to eating them more frequently? Have you tried fermented soy a la tempeh and miso? They are much easier to digest than tofu, soy beans and especially more processed soy. Peas, lentils, nuts and seeds are higher protein plants. Also, we need so much less protein than what we eat in this country. I would love to try to help you work through some of your digestive issues. Again, a lot of digestive issues are resolved on a vegan diet.

  96. Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

    I don't actually care what you eat. What I care about is the exploitation and murder of animals, the pollution and global climate gasses caused by eating animals, the slaughterhouse and factory farm workers who are being abused, the healthcare system that is unaffordable for most people due to the chronic diseases caused by eating animals. So, while you think I care about what you eat, I care about nonhuman animals being killed in genocidal numbers, the death of the planet and people's health.

  97. Jo Tyler says:

    Why are you shoving your opinions about eating animals down the throats of the innocent animals you are paying to have killed? Why do you believe you are so "Entitled" that your selfish desire for animal products is more important than another being's right to a life free from exploitation and needless violence? I cannot think if anything more elitist or entitled than believing other animals exist solely for your own pleasure.

  98. elephantjournal says:

    Hum…I think you're missing what I'm saying. I'm saying it's wrong to excuse eating meat because animals and plants and everything are the same. I'm saying animals are more evolved than, say, grass.

  99. elephantjournal says:

    Wow. That's sad. This site is about dialogue, not one point of view. That's something we can all agree upon: vegans can't convert anyone if they're talking to themselves, merely. Omnivores are certainly welcome, as they are at my own table. ~ W.

  100. Jo Tyler says:

    *of* anything more elitist…(pardon the typo)

  101. Jo Tyler says:

    The ADA is also heavily influenced by the meat and dairy lobbies. $$$$$
    I think it's telling that even THEY have had to concede – despite intense political pressure – that a vegan diet is healthful and appropriate for humans at all life stages.

  102. jeff says:

    sometimes it doesnt feel like that

  103. Dave says:

    You said, "And why do we revere the choice to live in inhospitable climates anyway?"

    Are you telling me you don't respect an individuals right to chose where they live? What about the right to chose what to do with their bodies?

  104. Jo Tyler says:

    P.S. when I say I'm sorry you suffered from that problem, I mean that sincerely. I know from experience how devastating such a disorder can be. But it has nothing to do with being vegan…

  105. Gary Smith Gary Smith says:

    Hannah, I know a few talented registered dieticians that would be happy to speak with you, when you are ready to move in that direction.

    The point of the post was to force people to examine their values. I really do believe that most people want to do the right thing. They are hypnotized by the culture, a culture which is truly violent. When that violence is questioned, people react strongly. I understand that they want to make me the bad guy for pointing out the disconnect in their values and behaviors, but the anger is really pointed at themselves. It's uncomfortable to observe ourselves, that is why we drink, watch TV endlessly and stuff our faces with sugar, salt, fried foods, animal products.

  106. Thanks for the offer, but I HAVE worked with many dieticians, with various specializations. After working across so many diets and dietary advice I truly know at this point what is the best for my body right now.

  107. funnyguy says:

    Gary why don't you just get a clue. You're not better then a full time meat eater who pushes the meat industry.
    Get a life already.

  108. Lisa Viger says:

    Dave,

    I respect an individual's right to choose where they live. Absolutely. I do NOT respect their "right" to kill others because they say they need to because of where they choose to live. See the difference?

  109. Katie says:

    Forget an individuals RIGHT to choose where they live. Humans have evolved to survive all corners of the earth. One place does not make another more "hospitable" than another if the ecosystem is in balance and the appropriate cultural knowledge is available. One can potentially starve in sunny SoCal if not for proper knowledge of that ecosystem. Saying that the culture of the Inuit, or of any other culture, is not as hospitable as yours is enthocentric. (Ethnocentrism is bad by the way…if you need a reason…look at Imperialist Africa and the constant turmoil since. Or even the discovery of America and history of the United States.)

    Also, the Inuit "don't live like the inuit" because they are being forced out of their territory by encroaching westerners and global ice melt. NOT because they stayed at a Holiday Inn Express and found it quite cozy. They were once a very HAPPY and HEALTHY people…who lived harmoniously with the other forms of life that evolved to survive there as well.

  110. Lindsay Jean says:

    agreed. thanks for being reasonable.

  111. Andrew Gurvey agurvey says:

    I could not agree more, Rick. I was trying to make the same point in earlier posts, but i think you said it more eloquently. I believe Mr. Smith, in his endeavor to show everyone the choices they are choosing to make or not make, is alienating people through moral absolutism and martyrdom ("I understand that they want to make me the bad guy for pointing out the disconnect in their values and behaviors, but the anger is really pointed at themselves").

    Mr. Smith: Those of us who are reasonable discussing this are not calling you bad or saying you are wrong. We are saying that your rigidity in addressing us is causing more consternation than your message. In your bio at the end of the article, it says you are involved in PR for your cause. I'm sorry if I misread that, but it seems that relating to people is a great way to get them to see the violence they…People like me….Cause.

    I stand by Rick on this.

  112. elephantjournal says:

    One note: Buddhists aren't encouraged to eat meat…usually, Buddhists are vegetarian, as was the Buddha himself. That they are considered lesser in evolution isn't a reason to eat them from a Buddhist pov. ~ Waylon

  113. Carol says:

    Sorry, I meant to say he became vegan in the 1940s not 1960s! Must be this semi-vegan diet addling my brain, lol!

  114. ucallmedr_jones says:

    The Secret Life of Plants suggests that plants may very well be sentient beings so where do we draw the line? I whole-heartedly agree with you Laura. Humans evolved as meat eaters… Modern factory farming IS wrong and cruel in many ways but the human body naturally subsists on a diet that includes meat. Our ancestors did not systematically kill animals for food in mass quantities..As hunters, they had more respect for the whole process of acquiring meat.
    Beans and grains are a somewhat modern product of the agricultural revolution and many people's bodies cannot digest these things. I have IBS and am a reformed vegan..I was vegan for about 4 years and my body performs better when I include meat in my diet while reducing my consumption of beans, grains and soy. This is also true for many other people.

  115. Jo Tyler says:

    P.S. you might be interested in reading this brief essay I wrote on fetishizing ancient indigenous rituals: http://www.nonhumanslavery.com/fetishizing-ancien

  116. Suri kate says:

    Amen!

  117. Andrew Gurvey agurvey says:

    Thank you for the insightful and thoughtful reply, Carol.

  118. Not the case for the eggs…I don't get them from a "farm" per se…It's a friend who has 4 chickens & lets me have some… But still…good to know that even many small farms partake in such a barbaric disposal of the male chicks!

  119. boulder5 says:

    I think vegan outreach/activists are hoping for the end result to be veganism. I dont think anyone is saying that you have to go vegan immediately. I went veg first, then vegan. Some people cut out one meat first, then all, then eggs, then milk, etc. Some people go vegan right away. Its a process. But again, we are hoping the end result will be veganism…which is seriously NOT difficult. So many people think of fake stuff at Whole Foods but way more vegan foods exist in the world than meat foods, so it is not hard to find a variety of wonderful natural healthful stuff to eat – and you do not have to live in fancy Boulder to find it. :-)

  120. nuffsaid says:

    You've proven her point about you being an elitist by not reading it all and giving you biased opinion.

  121. Jo Tylers says:

    Jo. I've never read such b/s in my life.

  122. YOuvelostyourself says:

    OMG ITS A MIRACLE youve show us two cases. OMG WOW THIS MUST BE TRUE FOR EVERYONE.

    So in other words. You must also believe in only one religion is the right religion. And that only white people should exist. Come on.. we all know you're a racist elitist f.ck

  123. Louise Brooks says:

    Wow Lisa, I think you need to come up to my country (Canada) and travel up north to the arctic. The Inuit do do those things. No hunting or fishing = death for them. And no, there is no vegetation up there.

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