My Thoughts on Veganism… and Why I’m Not Vegan

Namaste, This content has been collected from Robs blog, with his permission. You could read more about him at https://www.robgreenfield.org/ Rob Greenfield is an activist and humanitarian dedicated to leading the way to a more sustainable, just and equal world.

Are you vegan?”

That is a very common question that I receive, and I believe that it deserves a very thorough response. It’s a simple question, but typically there is a whole lot behind that three-word question.

The simple answer is no, I’m not vegan. Throughout my life, my diet has changed quite a bit, as it does for most people. In 2011, I started to wake up to the problems with our globalized industrialized food system and started to change what I was eating. Documentaries like Food Inc. and Earthlings taught me the truth about where the meat I was eating was coming from and the harm it was doing to the world, humanity, other species, and my own body. I was appalled by factory farming and resolved to remove it from my life. I didn’t do it over night, but over the next few years I transitioned to a more plant-based diet.

Along with those changes, I was making many other changes and I found myself becoming healthier and happier. I was in my mid-twenties and finding myself to be the healthiest I’d ever felt in my life. I attributed much of this to eating a more plant-based diet, but also eating a more unprocessed, unpackaged based diet, giving up alcohol, being more physically active in my daily life rather than just through “exercise”, and living a life in alignment with my passions and purpose. It was a beautiful transition in life to living for a better earth, community, and self.

Over a period of a few years I ate less and less factory farmed meat and animal products and shifted more into a fully plant-based diet. Eventually in about 2014 I transitioned to a nearly 100% plant- based diet. I considered myself to be vegan at that time, but it wasn’t 100%. It was more like 99%.

My health was at top levels in my beginning stages of being vegan, but after about a year, my health started to decline. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in hindsight I can look back and see it more clearly. After perhaps a year of being vegan I started to have less energy. I was constantly tired, never feeling like I could get well rested. I was much more agitated and easily annoyed. I had lost my sex drive. My body was often achy. I had lost a lot of my strength. I felt that I was constantly just under a healthy weight for my body. I remember thinking that I felt like an old man. This was at the age of 30. During that time, I never thought it could be because my body was deficient from being vegan. I was pretty set that veganism was the healthiest diet for me and that I didn’t need to eat animals or animal products.

In fall of 2016 I was embarking on a new project, Trash Me, where for a month I’d live like the average American and wear every piece of trash that I created. The purpose was to create a visual of how much garbage the average American creates and inspire change. That meant that I had to eat like the average American, which meant eating meat for the month.

Before the project began, I got a blood test so that I could compare my health before the month and after the month. We were creating a documentary, very much like Supersize Me. That’s when I learned that I had a B-12 deficiency. I was very deficient, and this explained why I’d been feeling the way I did.

It was a total coincidence that I discovered this just days before I was about to immerse in this project where I’d be eating meat. I was not excited to eat meat and was only planning to do it for the month while I was immersed in this project, and then go back to veganism. I was doing it because I felt the impact I could have through this project was worth the harm I’d do by eating this way for a month.

Now, one might expect me to feel horrible diving into eating like the average American, after years of eating a plant-based, whole foods, organic diet. I certainly expected to feel horrible and, in some ways, I did feel horrible. But the surprising thing was that my body started to feel better also. Even though it was factory farmed, low-quality meat, I quickly started to feel more energy. I gained about four pounds (2 kg) during the month, and it felt to me like half of that was muscle.

After Trash Me I did not go back to being vegan, even though that had been the original plan.
I started this writing by sharing that brief history on my diet to give a bit of personal perspective, but for a deeper look you can read: From Clueless Consumer to Real Food Dude and The Planet Friendly Diet.
It is now fall of 2018, two years later. I still eat a primarily plant-based diet, but not vegan. I typically eat about a 90% to 95% plant-based diet. Over the last two years it was not uncommon for me to go a couple months without eating any meat or animal products. I’ve avoided factory farmed meat and animal products almost completely, but I would eat some that would otherwise go to waste. Overall, I almost never purchased anything that wasn’t completely plant-based, whether at a grocery store or restaurant. I ate some local meat, eggs and dairy, whether it be from a small farm or friend I was visiting, or fish that I caught myself.

On November 11th, 2018 I started a project where for one year I will grow and forage 100% of my food. I will still be eating a primarily plant-based diet, but I will be eating much more fish and possibly other meat such as wild boar, deer, and small wild animals.

I’m not eating more meat just because of this project though. I’m eating it because I feel it is what’s right for my body and for the Earth. I think it’s a truly healthy, earth beneficial way to eat, more so than an industrialized and globalized vegan diet (and I don’t see many vegan diets that are not tied into the industrialized and globalized food system). I am eating fish for the sustenance that it provides. I also have had major issues with squirrels eating my garden (ironically my sunflowers, which are a plant-based form of protein), so I am eating the squirrels to serve the purpose of controlling the population and sustain myself.

Unlike what some vegans would say I’m not doing this for the taste, nor the pleasure. My favorite foods and the foods I typically crave are all plants. I love the idea of being 100% plant-based, but I don’t think it holds the pure ethical and environmental superiority that is often argued (nor as I said do I think it’s the best diet for my body). This I will lay out in the words ahead.

I’ve been wanting to write about this topic in depth for quite some time. I’m so glad to finally be expressing my thoughts and sharing my perspective. I think it is a perspective worth sharing.

I’m sharing this because I think I have a well-balanced viewpoint on a topic that is often made to be very black and white. I don’t believe it to be black and white subject at all, rather many shades of grey. There are seven billion humans living in an incredibly diverse number of biomes and habitats and an equally diverse range of cultures. We interact with millions of different species on this Earth, with likely an infinite number of relationships being carried out at every second of existence. This is an incredibly complex interwoven thing we call life.

Veganism is one of the most heated points of conversations that I have come across. It is often very two-sided, with both sides being extremely set on their viewpoint being the correct viewpoint and the other being wrong. My intention is to be a balance to that.

I want to be clear with my agenda in writing this piece. I am not trying to turn anyone vegan or turn any vegans into omnivores.

My agenda is to:
contribute to a more sustainable and just world.
provide a non-polarized viewpoint on this issue.
educate on this issue.
share my perspective and answer the question of why I personally am not vegan.

Through this writing I also am providing a rebuttal to the argument that veganism is the most ethical and environmentally superior diet in all cases. I am not refuting that veganism can be the most ethical and environmentally superior diet in many cases. I am not refuting the many benefits of a vegan diet for many people and many animals. I stand against the same things that many vegans stand against. I stand against factory farming, torturing of animals, animal slavery, speciesism, mass extinction of species, the pollution and destruction of our earth and so on.

But I also am standing up to the black and white viewpoint that some vegans take on in a world that is not black and white. I want to acknowledge that the following black and white viewpoints don’t represent all vegans, and if I had to guess it is the vast minority of vegans that feel this way. I think they may be some of the most vocal vegans, resulting in their perspective becoming the stereotype that the general population has. I think that their strong perspective is more likely to make headlines and go viral, possibly creating a disproportionate representation of vegans.

I also think that the demographics of vegans in the USA and Western countries countries has changed a lot over the last few decades, and many more people are vegan for environmental reasons than in the past. I think that there is a whole spectrum of beliefs that vegans have and that people who eat a vegan diet are a very diverse set of people and so are their beliefs. I want to be very clear that in no way am I against veganism in itself. This should be very clear. It is only some of the extreme beliefs by some of the vegans that have become central to much of the vegan conversations and mindsets of our society.

The extreme black and white viewpoints that I stand against are:
that veganism is the only ethical or sustainable way for humans to eat.
that veganism is the only healthy way or most superior way for humans to eat.
that veganism is right for every human on earth.
that all meat and animal products at any level are unhealthy for the human body.
that all meat and animal products at any level are environmentally destructive.
that meat is murder.
that a person can’t eat meat and be an environmentalist.
that veganism and vegetarianism vs. a diet including meat or animal products is as clear cut as made out to be.

I do understand these viewpoints, and I do see where they are coming from. But I do stand against these viewpoints. I stand against the idea that any of this is black and white and I will go further into that in this writing.

For the many people who have asked me why I’m not vegan, and how I can possibly not be vegan as an environmental activist and someone who respects all species, I simply want to summarize why I’m not vegan.

I believe:
that meat and animal products can be eaten in an environmentally sustainable way.
that meat and animal products can be healthy for a human body when eaten in balance.
that a food system with animals in it can be better for the ecosystem and therefore animals and humans.
that an industrialized and globalized vegan diet is far more destructive than is portrayed in vegan narration.
that killing an animal by nature is not morally wrong.
that personally my body is healthiest with some meat/animal products in my diet.
that personally the most ethical and sustainable diet for me is one that includes some meat/animal products.

Through years of being vegan and primarily plant-based I have been quite immersed in this topic and lifestyle. I am no longer vegan, not due to a lack of education, but due to having taken my education much deeper, opening my mind more, and taking a much broader perspective and a more global look at the issue. When we learn how awful something is, we tend to go in the polar opposite. I see this trend everywhere in the consciousness movement. I would say I did this when I went vegan to an extent. But the polar opposite is typically not the truth either. It’s usually far more complex than that.

Much of the most popular vegan content out there today is based on a narrow perspective, and that perspective is factory farming. Factory farming is inhumane, torturous, soulless, a highly misguided human act, and in my perspective in a deeply moral society would be criminal. The disturbing visuals of factory farmed meat are enough to make millions of people sick to the stomach. It’s enough to turn a lot of people vegan overnight. I’ve met a large number of people who went vegan after watching documentaries like Cowspiracy or Earthlings.

I understand why the focus is so deeply on factory farming. Most meat consumed today, both in the USA and globally, is factory farmed. However, this is a narrow perspective on human’s relationship with animals for the seven billion people alive or for the billions of humans who’ve lived in the history of the human race. It doesn’t make sense to paint broad strokes of the entire omnivorous human relationship to meat, based on this small part of human’s relationship to meat. Factory farmed meat and animal products do not represent all meat and animal products. It is of course not that black and white. That’s common sense, no matter what topic we are focusing on.

These documentaries would not be even remotely as successful at converting people to veganism if they were showing people living with the land, connected to the animals they depend on. The more direct correlation is to end factory farming, not that veganism is the only ethical and sustainable way for humans to live.

Another big focus of the popular vegan content is the effects meat and animal products have on human health. One of the main focuses is how unhealthy of a society that we currently are. The extreme levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer in our culture is largely in part due to our diets. And the popular vegan content puts the bulk of that disease and sickness on eating meat and animal products. I don’t disagree. But the focus is on people who eat factory farmed meat and who eat too much of it. The call for being vegan is more directly related to combating illness that is induced by people who are over-consuming factory-farmed meat and animal products.

The focus of these documentaries isn’t people who are really healthy and eat a balanced amount of meat that they either hunt or raise. The focus is not on healthy people, it’s on a sick society that is totally out of balance and out of connection with our earth. Those are two very different things.

The more direct correlation is that people who are eating too much factory farmed meat need to change if they want to become healthy, not that veganism is needed if someone is already healthy and doesn’t eat any factory farmed animals.

This is what I mean when I talk about veganism being turned into a black or white issue, and it often being a short-sighted way of thinking. Again, I’m not saying that being vegan is short sighted in itself. I support being vegan. I’m stating that the extreme black and white viewpoints that I listed above are short sight-sighted.

To continue with that along the lines of health, I’d like to point out a few things.

Studies are used time and time again to “prove” that veganism is the healthiest diet. But when I really look at the studies, the most common theme is one showing that eating a diet with drastically less meat and animal products than is customary in Western diets is typically the healthiest. It doesn’t prove 100% veganism. It proves a predominantly whole-food, plant-based diet. That is two different things. The studies show balance, not 100% anything.

Blue zones, which are regions of the world people live much longer than average, are often referred to by vegans. They are considered some of the healthiest cultures on Earth. However, the majority of their food is derived from plants, not 100%. Again, this points to a balanced diet, not 100% veganism.

Absolutism is a central theme to this extreme vegan viewpoint that has taken over so much of the conversation today. But when we really look at what we know, there is no absolutism. It always points to balance. A common narrative that I’ve heard from extreme vegans is something like this, “Meat is making people unhealthy. Studies show less meat makes a person healthier. Therefore, NO meat will make the healthiest people” But I hope anyone that reads that logic can see where it falls short. Here’s some examples that would not be true using the same logic.

Laying in the sun non-stop day after day could burn someone so bad that they could die. But small quantities of sun provide vitamin D, an important vitamin.

Too much alcohol makes people unhealthy. But small quantities of quality alcohol can be extremely beneficial for health.

Exposure to a powerful bacterium in large quantities can kill someone. But a small amount of that bacterium exposed to a healthy immune system can improve the immune system’s defense to later exposure.

Quantity is key. None of this is black and white. I hope anyone reading this can see that.

As I’ve said, I’ve had years of experience in the vegan circle. And as I said, on a personal note, veganism did not turn out to be the healthiest diet for me. Rather it’s been a primarily plant-based diet with some meat/ animal products. I bring this point back up to lead into my next point. Since I started talking about this publicly I have been amazed by the number of people who have shared similar stories with me.

I’ve seen a scenario play out quite a few times… someone says they tried veganism for a while, but they started to become less healthy. Vegans on the internet jump on them and say that veganism is right for everybody and that they were just doing it wrong.

This is that black and white thinking that I disagree with. After years of talking to people who are vegan or who have tried veganism, it seems quite obvious to me that veganism works well for some bodies and not for others.

If our bodies are designed to be vegan, then logic would tell me it shouldn’t be so complicated and difficult for intelligent and dedicated people to pull it off for a long period of time. But it is.

Lately when I discuss veganism with my vegan or formerly vegan friends, more often than not I hear a story of how they found themselves feeling depleted, tired, and feeling very unhealthy and sometimes even worse. And then once they introduced some meat or animal products back into their diet they started to feel healthier.

When I was a vegan, I never would have wanted to admit that about myself or hear or believe it from others. I don’t have any desire for that to be the reality. It’s just my observation and one that I think is worth sharing.

When we zoom way out to look at the 21st century human’s relationship to food, whether vegan or not, we see that we are part of an extremely globalized and industrialized agricultural system. This very system encompasses factory farming, of both animals and plants, and is the source of an incredible amount of destruction to our Earth and the species we share the earth with.

That is a perspective that many vegans have. But the perspective that many of them may not have is that veganism is a product of this very industrialized and globalized food system. I have searched for examples of vegans who are largely independent of this system and I have come up with just a very few isolated examples. On the other hand, there are countless examples of people and societies that use and eat animals that are completely or largely independent of this destructive system.

I believe that by living a life that involves the direct death of some animals, a person can actually result in less indirect and total deaths of animals. A person, community, or larger society living largely connected to their land, hunting and/or raising animals can live in a manner that kills less animals than a vegan or vegan community or society that live in a city that is entrenched in the globalized industrialized society and food system. Sure, that vegan or vegan community does not see any blood on their hands and they don’t have a death tally directly associated with their food. But when we go deeper, we all have death on our hands, and far more than most of us would like to believe. The more entrenched we are in this system, the more death that is happening in our name, out of sight, out of mind.

Let’s ask a few questions.
Are oil spills really vegan?
Is plastic really vegan?
Are pesticides (organic or not) really vegan?
Is farming vegetables and fruit, that clear animal habitat, really vegan?
Is building a house on a formerly animal’s territory really vegan?

From a deeper perspective, the answer to these questions is an undoubtedly no. But sure, from this definition of vegan, “a strict vegetarian who consumes no food (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products) that comes from animals also one who abstains from using animal products (such as leather)” those scenarios are all vegan. From the The Vegan Society definition, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” they still sort of pass, but that’s more grey, than black and white.

The idea of veganism is to not kill animals and to not make animals suffer or be cruel to them. But our globalized industrialized lives kill animals and inflicts immense cruelty onto them in hundreds of ways that are much more complex and easier to ignore, than to just whether we eat them, eat from them, own them, or wear them.

To dive into those questions a bit…
Routinely there are 10,000 oil spills that happen per year. We all know what oil spills do. They kill millions of animals. Oil spills happen to fuel our cars (even most electric cars because most of our electricity is made from fossil fuels), to build our homes and cities, to provide our entertainment, to give us internet and the list goes on and on. The second definition says “to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable”, and certainly flying is 100% possible and practicable for any vegan. I would say a single flight in an airplane causes harm or death to far more animals than eating a hamburger.

We’ve all learned about how our oceans are filling up with plastic to the point where in our lifetime there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish. We’ve all seen how plastic kills fish, seals, turtles, birds, and countless other creatures. Most of our plastic does not indeed make it to the ocean, but it all comes from fossil fuels, which kills animals. It all is a part of the factories, the shipping, and the retail that kills animals.

Most of us would be surprised about how destructive our fruit, vegetable, nut, and grain farming are and how many animals have died for this food to get to us. Most, if not all, vegan foods have a footprint for how many lives they have taken. Organic food in our grocery stores isn’t nearly as pure as one might imagine. First off, all farm land was once animal land. All of those animals were exterminated or displaced (which results in a lot of death) to give us that land for vegan food. Then that farmer has to keep animals and insects from eating the crop that ends up at our grocery stores. Farmers do the killing for the vegans and for any of us living this modern life. If it’s organic and vegan, animals are still dying or were killed to grow that food. That’s all on the farms, not to mention everything it takes to get the vegan food to the distributors, then the retailers, then to the person who’s going to eat it. For vegans that shop for vegan food at the grocery store, that think they do no harm, I would say take a visit to all those farms, sit in those semi-trucks, and don’t forget to check for rat traps and poison at the grocery store. Then maybe think twice before looking down at a gardener for killing a squirrel and eating a squirrel that was eating from their garden.

Let’s talk about building a house. Is wood vegan? Yes. Building a house out of wood is considered vegan. But killing a squirrel is not vegan. So, when someone cuts down trees, squirrels (and of course other animals) are killed or displaced resulting in some deaths. That land where the house was built was formerly the land of animals. No more.

A vegan might go into an uproar for seeing a photo of someone with a fish they caught for dinner. But seeing a photo of someone standing in front of a skyscraper would be far more “murderous” of animal lives than that fisherman. The skyscraper took more lives than a house, but each of our houses, even a tiny house, has taken some life too.

Now, I’m not saying that we need to give all of these things up. What I’m saying is that for most vegans, death is on their hands, just not as directly. Our world, our relationships, our ecosystems are far more complex than simply veganism. Let’s bring it back to my statement that I believe that by living a life that involves the direct death of some animals, a person can actually result in less indirect and total deaths of animals. Just one example of that would be a person who has drastically reduced their involvement with the hundreds of ways that our modern lives kill animals, yet uses animals for food, work, and clothing in order to be able to live in a less indirectly harmful manner. This not absolutism either. There are grey areas here too. A person would not have to live completely independent of the destructive system, but kill some animals directly, to quite possibly be responsible for a lot less death than an urban vegan. B-12 supplements are a part of this industrialized and globalized food system, but catching a fish is not.

This brings me to another common theme that I’ve seen over the last five years of immersing in the movement of people trying to live more harmoniously with the earth and animals, whether through veganism or otherwise. When people move closer to the land to try to live a more environmentally friendly life that causes less harm, the majority of them find themselves working with animals. Permaculture and regenerative farming both use animals in their systems and typically involve eating animals or animal products. I’ve met countless vegans who left the cities to live on a little farm, off the land, and realized that it made sense to eat animals or animal products. Not because they were craving the meat, but because it was the way to produce food in the most environmentally sensitive manner, that utilized resources to the fullest extent, and therefore caused less animal suffering in the bigger picture. Permaculture and regenerative farming typically do not go hand and hand with veganism. They often clash.

That is based on 21st century human beings, but when we zoom back out over the known history of humans, that brings me to a similar and even more important point. I have yet to find a currently existing, or in history, reproducing society on earth that is strictly vegan and lives in an environmentally sound manner. I have tried hard and I have done shout-outs to vegans to send me examples. I received a lot of examples, but with just a slight bit of research I always found that these “vegan” examples eat some meat or animal products. There are plenty of societies that eat minimal, a balanced amount, but I have yet to find any strict vegan long-term societies. I’m not talking about a bunch of individual vegans living in the city of course. I’m talking about any society that was reproducing, as in lived for multiple generations, and lived a 100% vegan life for the course of the life. To me this is a pretty solid sign that veganism is not the one and only superior form of eating, given that it doesn’t seem to exist in the bigger picture. And even if we do find just a few examples within the seven billion, that still doesn’t say a whole lot for veganism.

What we do see however, is that because veganism is largely a product of our globalized, industrialized systems, it is also a majority very privileged group of people that are vegan. It is mostly the top percentage of the wealthiest people in the world that are vegan. It might have to be noted here that someone who is a broke college student in the USA, or even someone living on $15,000 USD/ year, is still in the top wealthiest people in the world.

So, when the saying “meat is murder” is used by vegans, that’s where I see a massive flaw. Ultimately what I see is a very privileged person telling all the underprivileged people that they are murderers, as well as just about every culture that lived before them.

Veganism is not very accessible for people living with low income in an area without access to healthy vegan options. I once tried to live off $4/ day in a food desert, which is the average amount of money someone gets from SNAP, known to many as food stamps. It was when I was vegan, and I did manage to do it 100% vegan for a month. But, I had the time on my hands to dedicate to it, and in hindsight I don’t know if that diet could have been kept up year after year without any animal products. I really don’t believe all the people living in food deserts are murderers.

Even bigger though is that if “meat is murder”, then all people who lived on the land that is currently named the USA, before it was settled by white people, were a bunch of murderers. The past Native American generations were all murderers and all Native Americans today that live in their connected manner are murderers. The people living in the High Andes, who subsist almost completely from llama, and do not destroy any one else’s land, are murderers. But the wealthy Western vegans buying quinoa, who have resulted in the locals of the Andes no longer being able to afford their staple crop quinoa and being forced to convert to an industrialized unhealthy diet, are not murderers. This is very short-sighted thinking.

If “meat is murder” when did it become murder? I don’t think most people would be willing to look back and call all people living in harmony with their land murderers. If so, then humans simply are murderers. (Note: when I’m using the term harmonious, I am not speaking of some utopian place where nothing ever died or suffered. I believe that suffering is as much a part of life as is the state of non-suffering.)
If someone does something that indirectly results in death is that murder? We are talking about ethics of killing animals here, so this matters. If someone takes an action that results in the death of an animal, whether realized or not, is that murder? By definition no, but in the same vein of “meat is murder, this would be involuntary manslaughter. So, flying in a plane, building a house, or buying just about anything from a store could easily be labeled “involuntary animal slaughter.” Most actions in a 21st century Western society could be called “involuntary animal slaughter” when you zoom out.

It’s been a little while since I said it, so I want to say it again in case someone may have forgotten. I support veganism. I don’t support the black and white thinking that veganism is the only ethically or environmentally superior way of eating or life. I have to go to these depths to explain the short-sightedness of this thinking, because the short-sighted thinkers have gone so far as to say they are right and everyone else is wrong. The environmental movement has in a way been hi-jacked by this way of thinking. And I know a lot of people who are probably only vegan because they feel like they have to be from the pressure of this form of thinking.

I’d like to continue with a few more of these viewpoints that are used to argue that veganism is the only way you can be an environmentalist or compassionate human being. I’m again using these viewpoints to demonstrate how this issue is not as black and white as the documentaries, videos, and articles may make it appear. The purpose of laying these out is not to argue each of these individual bullet points. This is about the bigger picture and demonstrating that our diets and life on Earth is far more complex and interwoven than simply a diet without animals vs. a diet with animals.

“Going vegan saves 100 lives per year.”

I’ve seen statistics like this floating around on the internet. I get the sentiment, but consider this:
An average deer yields around forty pounds of meat. That is over 200 three-ounce servings of meat. One hunter could get all of their meat needs off of one or two deer per year. That’s one or two lives, not 100.
An average wild boar yields 180 pounds of meat. That’s enough for a family of three to have a serving of meat six days per week the whole year. That’s 1/3rd of a life per person per year.

One cow could feed a medium sized family for an entire year. That is a fraction of one life per person.
In any of these circumstances, if these people chose to go vegan, they would not be saving enough lives to make a statistic about.

In Cowspiracy they cover how “roughly 75% of all of our fisheries are either fully exploited or over-exploited.”

This means that the oceans, lakes, and river are being pillaged for fish, and humans are taking far more than the ecosystem can regenerate. This is true. But Kip Anderson than says that since the global stock of fish is so depleted, that there is no such thing as sustainable fishing on Earth anymore. The logic is that any fishing contributes to our depleting of the oceans and is therefore wrong.

Of course, I get the sentiment. But we live in a diverse world where there can be abundance in one place while there is a complete shortage in another. In one part of the world we can have desertification, and, in another part, we can have flooding. The same goes for fish. Stocks can be depleted or pushed to extinction in one area, while other areas can have an extreme abundance. Then there’s also invasive populations. Fishing for invasive fish, and eating them, can actually restore habitat for native fish and then increase their population.

Simply put, global statistics can’t be used as a blanket statement for every community across the world.

In What the Health they claim that “one egg is the equivalent of 5 cigarettes per day.”
There is a scenario where I can see this being accurate, and that is if someone is eating an extremely unhealthy diet with far too much factory farmed animals in it already. This of course is a scenario that fits with millions and millions of people. When someone is already obese and has diabetes, their body is in a very different situation from someone who is at a healthy weight and does not have any health issues. If a person is eating a diet far too high in cholesterol and saturated fats then more and more can be toxic to the body. But if a person eats a diet that is very low in cholesterol and saturated fats then some can actually be beneficial to a person’s body, not detrimental. Simply put, if someone is eating an egg per week, or 52 per year, that will interact much differently with a body than someone eating 2 eggs per day or over 700 per year. And of course, most people eating two factory farmed eggs per day are also eating a lot of other animal products that are detrimental to them at that level of consumption.

A pound of meat uses ___x    gallons of water to produce.
For example, it takes 2,400 gallons to produce one pound of beef. Chicken and pig also have huge water footprints.  This is astounding and is a statistic that should be known. However, this is based on industrial factory farming. In a permaculture designed system it’s possible to use water in a manner that utilizes local water to feed animals, that is then used to grow crops, and then re-enters the water supply. This could use up little to no water and not pollute a water supply when done correctly.

It’s also commonly stated that it takes up to 10 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat. Also, a good reason to eat far less meat. But an example where this doesn’t apply at all, would be hunting a wild boar. No grain was grown, and no crop was grown whatsoever, nor was any water used. These statistics don’t apply at all here.

I know this was very much a long form writing and not what most people are accustomed to reading online today. But this topic is so deep and so hard for me to sum up in a short article. I did intend to spend just a few hours writing this, but I spent over ten hours writing today and countless hours thinking about this over the last years. I know a lot of people have been following me for quite a few years and assumed I was vegan. Or that they didn’t know that I stopped being vegan two years ago. I know some strict vegans will no longer respect me and will write me off completely after learning that I’m not vegan. I hope they will have at least read the whole article and thought it through first though.

I honestly don’t mind at all if that happens with some people. I expect it. And in the challenging and often cruel world we live in today, I completely understand how things can become so polarized, as to write someone off entirely for not being vegan. Polarization is a coping mechanism, and I don’t fall into that coping mechanism. I truly believe that more people, vegans and non-vegan, will read this viewpoint and benefit from it, then will write my opinion off as an uneducated, misguided animal murderer.

I have dedicated my life to being of service to humanity, other species and the Earth. And I know that I will cause harm in my existence, whether directly or indirectly. My goal will always be to aim to benefit the lives of as many as I can and harm the lives of as few as I can. I can be counted on to live an examined life and to look much deeper than any one narrative or way of thinking. I won’t please everyone doing this. I won’t fall into easy categories. But I will be truthful, and I will be transparent. I will share my true feelings and my struggles. You can count on me for that.

I’ve said it multiple times, but I want to say it again. I do support veganism. If you are reading this and you want to be vegan, I support you.

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