LET'S TALK: VEGANISM
If you're new here, welcome! If you're not, welcome back. Today I'd like to talk to you guys about something very important to me - veganism. This past Saturday I attended an event hosted by Fry's Family Foods, a meat-alternative food company. The event was called the Fry's Annual Green Meeting, and featured a bunch of healthy and animal-friendly food stalls, as well as some talks by industry experts, and a couple of local bands.
I'm not normally a fan of hanging out with loads of other vegans, and whether you're vegan or not, I don't think you'd find that altogether too surprising. I guess we've bought into the false idea that vegans are all sad sobs, which isn't great. That said, there are always a few voices that have misplaced passions, if I can call it that. But certainly, they don't speak for all of us, and Saturday's event proved that missing out on vegan meet-and-greets just meant missing out on a good time. Thanks, Fry's. You guys rock.
I was hoping to use a recap of the AGM as a chance to give my thoughts on veganism, and why it's so dear to me and my vision for Toofufu. Since my journey has been long, and I have varied and many reasons for being vegan, I've decided to give you guys a very compact version of this story, including a rather simple argument for veganism. If you have more questions, please feel free to write them in the comments, or mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll get back to you real quick.
The position I'll propose here comes from an ethical stand point, but the majority of people who turn vegan apparently do it for health reasons, as I learnt on Saturday. So, if you want to know more about how meat-free meals can help your body, take a looksy here.
Ethics put aside, I think that it's very possible for someone to dislike animals or feel apathetic towards them, and still follow a vegan diet because of the argument I'll give here today. That's because to be a vegan on this assertion requires you only to be reasonable. Nothing else. I used to be able to watch all kinds of horrible factory farm footage and still shrug my shoulders, like, 'It's a bummer, but also a necessary evil.' Nothing PETA or anyone else did could shock me into veganism. It was only after I was taught animal ethics at university that I realised what I was doing was wrong. It took reason, not emotion to make me change.
So, that's all I ask of you. Reason. However, once you've joined the dark side you'll have to surrender all your normal clothes in exchange for XXXL yellow-white t-shirts with prints of drawn horses on them - sorry, it's just how it is. We also have mandatory drum-making sessions on the beach three times a week. Not my rules.
THE STRONGEST CASE FOR VEGANISM
The argument was explained well on Saturday, by a speaker Kaspar Paur, and it's called the 'Strongest Argument for Veganism'. I can't find the original author to clarify, but personally I don't think anyone should label things like that, because if someone reasons badly and in isolation, they might think they have disproved the best there is to say about veganism, and never give the lifestyle another thought. That aside, the argument is pretty convincing, if only enough to get people questioning what they used to take as given. Give it a look-over and let me know what you think.
1. We shouldn't harm animals unnecessarily
Not many would object here. Animals have pain receptors, so they shouldn't be treated as objects that don't. In other words, while you might kick a stone down the street, you're unlikely to do that to a dog, or a pig, or a chicken. It's unnecessarily causing harm. That doesn't mean (yet) that eating meat is unnecessary. This premise only asks us to factor animals into our decisions around what could affect them, so we're not yet deciding what is or isn't a necessity.
2. Eating meat and using animal products harms animal
I anticipate few objections here, too. You don't have a good grip on reality if you think that the meat industry doesn't produce harm for animals. Even if you don't consider death as a harm, animals often go through a lot before they are eaten or their inside and outside bits are used. South Africa is no exception to the brutal living conditions faced by billions of animals each year.
Once more, don't think this sentence expects too much. It doesn't say that this harm is unnecessary. Like me a few years ago, you can still reach this point by thinking we shouldn't harm animals without good cause, and that as gross as it is sometimes, eating meat is still necessary. So, you might still think one and two hold, but that there is no harm being caused by the meat and leather industries that is not necessary. For this section of the argument, all you need to believe is that eating meat and using animal products does cause harm to the animals that make up those things.
3. Eating animals and using animal products are not necessary
Here we land after jumping out of the planes that were premises one and two. After acknowledging that harm shouldn't be caused without necessity, and agreeing that animal consumption is harmful towards animals, we now will see that eating animals is not necessary. If consuming animals isn't necessary - if we can easily find alternatives to animal products - then using these products is not only causing harm to animals like we saw in two, but also causing harm unnecessarily.
And indeed, we don't have to eat animals or use them in the many ways we do. Plant-based dishes offer enough protein, iron, and everything else we need. Sure, they don't taste like meat, but if taste is what you're after with meat, you have to live with the knowledge that a feeling, thinking being was strained and killed for your taste buds. Not exactly a fair trade.
You might think that being human puts your needs above animals, and sometimes this is true. If given the chance to save your life or an animal's from a burning building, I will always pick yours, on the proviso of course, that you're not a tyrannical despot. I would choose to save you because humans live longer, form stronger bonds with family, and can have hopes and dreams for the future. But notice that in that scenario, it was either yours or an animal's life at stake. When you decide whether or not to eat an animal based on a matter of taste, you don't make the same kind of moral decision. You're weighing up an animal (not much different to you in matters of pain and pleasure)'s life and well-being against the temporary and small pleasure of taste. Haibo, wena.
If you're still struggling with letting go of meat, don't fret. Fry's have a wide range of meat-alternatives that taste so much like the real thing that they've got a number of stories about people who could never tell the difference. They even have pops like those from KFC, which is the best greendamn thing on the menu. Amen!
Okay, so, there are a number of rebuttals I can think of to this case that I've made for veganism, but I'd like to ask you to think of your own and put them in the comments section. I think this argument can work against many refutations, but let's hash them out and learn from one another.
Doing what is right is important to me, and it's why we always strive for transparency, and the promotion of good products and brands on Toofufu. We always want to do what's best for the earth, for animals, and for our readers. Veganism is one, super important aspect of this attempt. Give the argument a go-go, and write down what you think.
While you toss ideas around your head, scroll down for some more on the AGM.
The fabulous team from GreenPop were there in grey tee's, giving people a chance to test their eco-knowledge and win. Although win what, I don't know. I just walked past someone getting the first answer wrong and I moved next to him, smugly circling option 'D' with a flourish. I didn't know any of the three other answers though, so that's what you get.
I wrote about GreenPop briefly in my travel essentials post but if you want to know more about them, give them some love on their social media channels here and here. I'm so happy about the work they do for our country, and they've set up cool and inexpensive ways to contribute.
Blendavenda put the smoothie power in your hands, asking those who were keen on a sweet fix to first peddle for long enough to blend their own smoothie. If only we could have peddled to make our own brownies. It would have gone a long way to appease the guilt of eating three of them. Four, okay, OKAY?!
And that's that. Let me know what you guys thought of the strongest case for veganism. Are you convinced? If not, why? Hit me up, I want to chat. Thanks again to Fry's for hosting me and G on Saturday - we had a great time. Hope to see you all at the next one. Catch ya'll later.