“Yeah, but, like what do you eat? Just lettuce?”
“Yes, that is all I eat.”
People eat all kinds of plant based foods throughout the day, then suddenly have no idea what a vegan eats. They see plant based food as an alien idea, harbored by radical vegan people, who, thanks to the media, are all a group of dogmatic, hostile preachers. Unfortunately, due to the human ego, a primitive tribal mindset and human kind’s inexhaustible need to feel superior to others, there is a new division in people’s minds:
Vegans vs. Carnivores!
This needless division needs to end. I believe a way to change this is to remove the notion that one must either be a vegan or carnivore, that you cannot be a part time vegan. It is a silly fallacy rooted in primitive tribal thinking. In ancient times, one belonged to a tribe and wanted all other tribes destroyed, and this outdated way of seeing the earth persists into modern times. iPhone and Android users want each other destroyed, Xbox users want Playstation to fail and visa versa, and carnivores want vegans to be humiliated and eliminated. The silly thing is that there are no real carnivore humans, simply omnivores and herbivores.
There are plenty of examples of omnivores eating vegan foods, and I suppose you could say they are being a part time vegan. Eating sunflower seeds at a ballgame with your kid, a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich that your mother makes and grandma’s amazing fruit salad are all examples of plant based foods that carnivores partake in without much fuss. Yet, the same people dismiss and ridicule plant based diets. Obviously if one could simply dabble in eating vegan foods, much of the resistance would disappear. The fact that some militant vegans may exist, sadly further spreads the imaginary divide.
Why not eat some meals with plant based ingredients? When you eat a PB&J you are doing just that. Why not have some meals that would normally include meat, substituted with plant based versions of said meat? Why not try to be a part time vegan? If you wonder why you should even bother with being a part time vegan, here are a few reasons that may persuade you.
There are over seven billion people on Earth. There is no way that a meat based diet is sustainable for the amount of people on Earth. As populations in the developing world skyrocket, and millions of people move to the city and find a new wealth, the demand for meat has never been higher. Unfortunately, factory farm animals are particularly inefficient ways of turning fresh water and grain into food. It is said it takes ten tons of grains to turn a cow into one ton of beef, of which, most will be wasted and simply thrown away. To keep up with the demand for meat, much of Earth’s topsoil has been massively depleted. The insatiable desire for meat causes some of the worst environmental hazards humankind partakes in. Cattle are responsible for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and they contribute methane which has twenty times the global warming potential than CO2. Much of the rainforest that has been burned down has been for the farming of cattle or for soya beans to feed cattle. The overfishing of the seas has the ocean ecosystem on the brink of collapse, only 10% of big ocean fish are left. The EPA estimates that confined animals create three times the waste than humans do in the U.S. and that waste poisons the surrounding water and air.
Industrial animal agriculture is making us ill and killing us. The World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, medical professionals and nutritional scientists warn against the health dangers of massive animal feeding operations. Experts are in consensus that overpopulated and disgusting livestock environments, overuse of antibiotics and unnatural diets are responsible for many grave global health risks. Avian Flu, Swine Flu and Mad Cow Disease, are just three examples of deadly diseases that originated from factory farms. Zoonotic infectious diseases, those spread from animals to humans, are not a new thing, but they are becoming more prolific through the horrifying conditions factory farm animals face. Many people argue the morality of killing animals, but for these poor creatures death may be the best thing that happens to them. Obviously, being a part time vegan can help to alleviate some of these issues.
I do not necessarily believe that the act of eating meat is itself inherently immoral, moreover, many defense mechanisms are triggered when the idea is suggested. Suddenly a person remembers all the meals their mom made, all the meals that society suggests and it makes them defensive. It gives people anxiety. The human mind does not like anxiety and will do anything to avoid it. A Freudian defense mechanism, the reaction formation, is often at the root of a sensitive meat eater’s behavior when confronting a vegan.
“Oh, I’ll eat all the animals you don’t”
“Mmmm, the taste of suffering is so good.”
“Meat is murder, tasty, tasty murder.”
When an idea gives someone anxiety and they reinforce the opposite tendency, that is the basic definition of a reaction formation. So when people become defensive, so much so that they resort to these reactionary psychological maneuvers, there is no hope for having a rational conversation. To berate normal people for being murderers is a ridiculous way to operate, regardless of truth. The truth being that animal life is begotten by consuming other life, whether you are vegan, a part time vegan, vegetarian or omnivore.
Animal stomachs are crucibles that sacrifice living things so that life may persist. Human beings are an animal and, as far as I know, have a stomach. Killing a living thing and eating it is the way of nature and to believe anything else is divorcing one’s self from reality. Vegans kill living organisms to survive. Claiming that meat is murder is silly and will alienate moral, meat eating people and make them defensive. Once a person is defensive they will cling to team meat, which makes it easy to reject all evidence that eating meat is not necessary and is the one of the worst things that humans are doing to the environment.
Seven billion people cannot eat meat as their primary source of food, it is simply not sustainable. This is a truth. There are numbers and there is irrefutable evidence.
When a discussion becomes about morality, which typically includes abstract ideas with no definite answer or truth, it is easier to reject, renounce, ridicule or become defensive over. It becomes trench warfare, where the two sides battle endlessly, using dogma as fuel and biased, uninformed chatter as ammunition. Using morality as a method to change people’s behavior can meet with disastrous results if it means they must make a sacrifice or curb a desire.
Seeing an animal die is horrifying for me, but that is not proof that it is immoral. Seeing a lion eat a zebra is equally unpleasant. You could argue that the lion is simply acting out of instinct, and man has a choice in the matter, especially in rich, developed nations … yet again, you could argue for the killing of animals, thus reaching a perfect stalemate. Although, you would be hard pressed to find someone who could defend the animal cruelty that exists in factory farms. I think that is why many of the documented cases are suddenly and conveniently considered outliers by those who it benefits to believe so. As we all know, human beings, throughout history, have shown nothing but exemplary behavior when they have an advantage over someone or something, especially our animal brethren.
When a discussion becomes about facts, no matter how old fashioned the opposition, the truth will prevail. Evolution and global warming are two examples of this, although there are massive disinformation campaigns to deceive and misinform the public, the truth is beginning to prevail. Regardless of morality, meat eaters are partaking in a behavior that is no longer sustainable.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
-George Bernard Shaw
There are all sorts of wonky fixes that people propose to solve the damage that factory farming causes. Synthetic meat, changing the diets of cows and even eating bugs has been suggested. Two percent of the people on in the U.S. have already solved this problem in a reasonable way, but it involves making sacrifices and scariest of all, change. Change is always frightening. It can make people insecure. It must be done though, and the quicker the better.
Why not just start with baby steps? Why not occasionally eat some plant based nachos instead of cheese and beef ones? Maybe start off by just replacing one meal a week. If everyone in the western world would attempt this, then the relief of stress bearing down on nature, our topsoil and even on our belt buckles would be enormous. If you are a super crazy, outrageously brave person, maybe you could replace a few meals a week with plant based alternatives. If everyone took small steps, it would be so much better than the all-or-nothing approach that many people take.
Just start out as a part time vegan.
If people adopted a part time vegan mentality then they would be more open to the truths of meat eating and how it affects our planet. If you already are an agent of change for the betterment of the world, your ego will be less likely to be defensive. You will not have a guilty conscience to hide. By eating meat, a person is partaking in the destruction of the planet. Now imagine a vegan, who knows what a clueless carnivore is doing and sees that person’s absolute lack of interest, effort or ability to be truthful about the situation.
If you have a roommate who does not wash the dishes, do you complain about their behavior? Now imagine if not doing the dishes could somehow result in the burning down of your home. Do you speak up? So the next time you come across a feisty vegan, although I personally never have, just think of all the sacrifices they make for the betterment of the planet, that most refuse. Being vegan is not easy. But a part time vegan… that might be a bit easier.
The term vegan, which originated in London, probably needs to be abandoned eventually. It has become too loaded a word. I believe that the ideal terminology, plant based, should eventually be used instead. No one in their right mind could be anti plant based foods, lest they give up eating delicious things like peanuts, hummus, guacamole, strawberries, olives, rice, beans and of course, lettuce.
When the time eventually comes that we all decide to forgo eating meat for the sake of the environment, perhaps due to having no other choice, the transition will be easier if we are part time vegans.
All the bro-science, mom-science, general bias and ignorance surrounding vegan diets diminishes as people start to dabble in being a part time vegan. When people become more educated and less instant experts of Paleolithic man, the benefits of plant based meals become more obvious. It is amazing how much cave dwellers get brought up when defensive meat eaters want to teach a vegan about why meat is necessary for a healthy diet. Most defensive carnivore yammering is just as ridiculous as claiming that meat is murder. By the way, the definition of murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. Meat is not murder. Unless it is human meat.
The true immorality of eating meat is the harm it causes the environment and the nightmarish conditions of factory food farms. These not only poison the earth, but allow borderline psychopathic corporations and people to subject animals to the worst kinds of terror and torture. Again though, animal cruelty is not the most important reason to start replacing some meals, as it can be made into a philosophical argument and less of a “holy guacamole, our planet is dying, we need to start changing the way we see, think and act.”
I imagine that future generations will be more empathetic towards our animal brethren and will see our current actions much like how we view older generation’s heartless transgressions. We can turn a blind eye to it, rationalize and deny it all we want, because we derive pleasure from it. If no one ate meat, we could be more honest about the conditions that animals face. If no one ate meat, obviously we would see how unnecessary it is a modern, developed nation.
“But, what if you were trapped on a desert island, would you eat meat to survive if you had to?”
“Well, of course I would. If you were in a technologically advanced nation and had no reason to eat meat other than the fact that you simply wanted to, would you?”
It is important for a person to have an unbiased view of the world and try to find unbiased sources of information. With everyone so desperate to be right, people should consider that being correct is not the goal one should aspire to be, but rather, unbiased. Once you decide you are correct, no matter how close to the truth you may be, you will find evidence that proves you right and discard all contrary information. This is the beginning of delusion. We have this odd notion that if we simply believe something, it then suddenly becomes true; How wonderfully convenient. If you ask a person a question, you will typically be bombarded with biased, uninformed and uneducated nonsense. Worse is the fact that the nonsense we spew is closely correlated to our desires. If you love eating bacon and do not want to stop, guess what point of view you are going to take on the whole plant based diet movement, regardless of truth. If you are a billionaire, imagine what your view of tax hikes on capital gains would be, regardless of the benefit to millions of others. I think you get the point. If we are a people who simply decide our opinions, which influence the entire world eventually, based on selfish desires versus an insightful, unbiased, educated form of critical thinking, then we are doomed.
Sadly, we might be doomed.
“Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so.”
– Bertrand Russell
This quote sums up the frightening challenge that faces our species. Our almost inevitable extinction, will in part probably be due to our inability to experience any unpleasant thought or make any sacrifices, therefore disallowing us from making planet saving changes. Our inability and unwillingness to face the unpleasant has created an entire civilization built on delusion. It takes us so long to make any progress. Even worse, is the fact that so few people really care about anything other than primitive, self serving interests. There is a quote, “A person who cares the least, controls a relationship.” On a micro, interpersonal level this is true and on a macro, national, global level this is just as accurate. The people who care the least, essentially control the planet. It is said that all one has to do for evil to triumph is nothing at all. Now imagine an army of uneducated, biased, selfish, borderline psychopathic, people controlling the destiny of the human race.
There is really no reason for a technologically advanced people to slaughter sentient beings for food. There must be a change. It must begin with a movement, spurred on by the conscience of highly evolved humans who can handle a tough truth and can adapt accordingly, making sacrifices where need be.
Speaking of movements … Another great reason to start eating plant based meals is that there are some great advantages to eating all the fiber, vitamins and minerals which plants contain. The health benefits of eating less meat and more veggies are known. So this could be another reason to exchange a few meals a week with plant based ingredients.
Plant based meals are nutritious, and can possibly reduce your chance of getting certain cancers, and best of all they let you eat more of the same delicious things.
Regular nachos are literally 109,075 calories per bite. I gain ten pounds by just looking at them. Plant based nachos are still not the least caloric things that you can eat, but you can eat more, anywhere from 20-50 percent, before you reach the same amount of calories.
If one plate of plant based nachos, which if we you let go of all our bias, is super delicious and has less calories, is easier and safer to prepare, then why would we not eat the plant based version? It is sort of like drinking light beer.
Plant based foods do not have all the cholesterol that animal based products do. This is important for many reasons, your heart being the first. Excess cholesterol collects in arteries as plaque and causes all kinds of health issues. There are many people who are taking medicines with nasty side effects, because their cholesterol levels are way too high. Strangely, the same people eat meat regularly. This does not make much sense.
Not only is plant based food easier on your belt, but it is also much easier to prepare. One of the biggest hassles and serious dangers of cooking meat is bacteria like E. Coli and Salmonella. Meat needs to be cooked to a certain temperature or you can die from eating it. That is heavy. The area in which the meat is prepared also needs to be cleaned thoroughly, or again, you can die. With plant based foods, save a freak occurrence, there is just not as much of a risk. Everyone is short of time in this modern age. If preparation of a meal can be cut down by twenty to forty minutes, why not? There are plant based meats that simply need to be heated with no hazmat suit or cold fusion cleaner needed.
There are many reasons to replace meals with plant based ingredients and luckily it has never been easier. There are many plant based restaurants springing up and many meat and dairy replacements that can now be found in most grocery stores. There really is no reason to not replace a few meals a month, week, or even a day, for the sake of the planet.
We are all in this together. All the decisions we make influence all the people on the planet eventually. It is time for all people to see the planet as an extension of ourselves and to take care of it. We need to make sacrifices for our own health and for the health of the ecosystem in which we all live. If we slowly start eating more plant based meals, we can begin to reverse some of the horrible stuff we are doing to our planet. Just remember that YOU are a beautiful, amazing, limitless creature that can do anything you set your mind to. This change will be tricky, it will be a challenge, but you can do it and eat a lot of delicious stuff, which is awesome. It will be so much easier if you begin as a part time vegan.