Yeah but

Lies, myths and tiresome bullshit about veggieness and veganism

Having been thoroughly convinced by this whole veggie thing you have, I assume, begun your journey as a lifelong vegan. Partly that’s because I regaled you with tales of animal cruelty and warnings of climate crisis, and partly it’s because I’ve been putting subtle subliminal messages throughout these artGOVEGANicles. But as persuasive as these were, there is no shortage of arguments against your extreme lifestyle choice. Let’s do battle with them head on. God knows you’ll be hearing them often enough from friends, co-workers and red-pilled edgelords.

Yeah but meat is tasty
The thing about meat is, it’s tasty. It’s the main reason to keep eating it. Beef: Tasty. Pork: Tasty. Lamb: Tasty. And that’s just the top tier headliner meats. Look at the sub-meats. Steak: Tasty. Sausages: Tasty. Ribs: Tasty. Even the bottom rung stuff – yer doner kebabs, yer meats on sticks – are tasty. It’s all tasty. It’s all rich and juicy and tasty and amazing. There’s no argument there. Point one to the meat eaters.

Yeah but fish is tasty
Fish is also tasty. I feel like this is essentially the same point but, yes. Fish: Tasty.

Yeah but are we counting poultry separately? Because poultry is tasty
I don’t think meat eaters need to stoop this low. They’ve got across-the-board tastiness. They don’t need to compartmentalise for points. What are we bringing to this knife fight? Mung Beans? They’ve got this, meat eaters. They win. Animals are tasty.

Yeah but it’s natural
This, though. This is balls. This says we’re at the top of the food chain and should lay into everything below us. You wouldn’t ask sharks to eat seaweed. You wouldn’t ask lions to soak lentils. We’re carnivores. We’re at the top. We should eat everything we can. Including sharks and lions, just to make a point.

The problem here is we’re not carnivores, we’re omnivores. We can eat basically anything, which means we can choose to eat basically anything, in any combination and with any exclusions we fancy as long as we’re covering the basics. The other problem is it ignores the whole civilisation thing, the whole morality thing, the whole advancement of the species beyond its animalistic origins thing. It’s natural to eat animals. It is. But it’s also natural to tear dead animals apart with our teeth, and shit in a hole in the ground, and hump anyone passing, and die of old age at 32. But we’ve moved beyond most of that stuff, enjoying civilising influences and advances. We mostly use cutlery now. We mostly set aside private rooms for shitting so we can do it with a bit of dignity. We mostly welcome healthcare that’s doubled our lifespans in the most unnatural of ways. Basing your life on What Would Fred Flintstone Do isn’t going to get you very far.

Yeah but it’s a pain in the arse
Safer ground here. Veggieness is, indeed, a pain in the arse. At least at first. It can be hard finding out which foods have stealth meat and secret dairy (damn you, whey powder!) and hard cooking a bunch of new things with a bunch of new ingredients. Eating out means digging through a menu and asking questions of under-informed staff. And eating abroad, where veggieness may be less popular and language barriers make discussions about gelatine more challenging, is the sorest and arsiest of all pains in the arse. But it gets easier the more the habit kicks in. Apps abound to help determine what’s veggie and vegan, find veggie and vegan restaurants, and translate our needs when abroad. What we’re really talking about here isn’t difficulty but laziness, and if that’s what’s stopping you from putting an end to animal cruelty and climate breakdown, I’m amazed you’ve made it this far.

Yeah but it’s not nutritionally sound
Veggies get this a lot, people telling them they can’t be getting the nutrition they need. Like we’re forever on the cusp of rickets. What we’re dealing with here is knowledgeable ignorance, the phenomenon by which people with a couple of facts mistake themselves for experts. All the times I’ve been told I’m not getting enough protein, no one’s ever been able to tell me how much I – or they – should be getting. All the times I’ve asked them about B12 they’ve had no idea what I’m talking about. And, honestly, most of the time people tell me to watch what I eat they’re wider than a bus, cramming Nandos into their McFaceholes and cholesterol into their arteries.

Of course veggies and vegans can eat a nutritionally balanced diet. It takes some effort to break the habits we’ve been brought up with, and it takes a while to learn new habits that’ll make life as easy as it was, but if it wasn’t doable hundreds of millions of people wouldn’t have managed it already. And we’re not just talking yer Regular Joes and Ordinary Joannes, or the millions of Hindus and Buddhists who were veggie long before Instagram slapped a hashtag on it; we’re talking superhuman Olympian types who make Battle Cat look like Cringer.

Celebrity car driver Lewis Hamilton is vegan. Famous tennis ball hitters Venus and Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic are planty types. Carl Lewis runs fast while vegan. Legendary human/ball kicker Colin Kaepernick is vegan. Champion footballer Alex Morgan is vegan. Head over to Great Vegan Athletes, you’ll be instantly intimidated by vegan bodybuilders, powerlifters, boxers, wrestlers, arm wrestlers, martial artists, marathon runners, ultramarathon runners, sprinters, triathletes, endurance athletes, rowers, cyclists, baseballists, basketballers, wheelchair basketballers, footballers, surfers, skiers, snowboarders and rock climbers. And you’ll be slightly less intimidated by vegan figure skaters, snooker players and record-holding plankers. All of them fighting fit, all of them champions, all of them buff and lean and massive and strong, all of them at the top of their games, and none of them doing harm to animals to get there.

Yeah but one person won’t make a difference
Oi! Have you not heard of the whole Butterflies thing?

Given there are about seven billion humans knocking about the planet, one person giving up meat might seem fairly futile. But the Vegan Society’s Veganalyser reckons people in the west get through about 3,500 animals in their lifetime. And we don’t really need statistics to see through this one. Every animal bred, reared and killed for food is bred, reared and killed to meet the demands of the people who want to eat them. If fewer people eat animals, fewer will be bred to meet the decreased demand. We’ve seen this in industry after industry and with fad after fad: There are fewer penny farthings made now than in the 1800s, fewer space hoppers than in the 1970s, fewer iPods than in the early 2000s. When demand falls, supply drops. Of course one person will make a difference. And we’re aiming for more than one person.

Yeah but what would we do with all the cows?
This is some weak shit right here. People who think it’s okay to kill and eat animals get suddenly concerned with animal welfare, fretting we’d have to rid the world of most of its cows, chickens, sheep and such and such if we stopped killing and eating them. For them, killing and eating animals is the pro-life position. Killing and eating them celebrates every cow’s right to life, right ahead of being killed and eaten. It imagines the world was always covered with giant factory farms and ten trillion cows aggressively bred for no particular reason, and it was only later it occurred to people to kill them and eat them as a way of managing the problem.

Go vegan: A herd of cows stare into the camera

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

This, as I said, is some weak shit. You know what would happen if loads of us went veggie? We’d let the currently-alive animals stay alive, we’d quit force-breeding animals on a massive industrial scale, we’d produce fewer animals and within a generation or two we’d have some numbers equal to every other species on the planet that we don’t breed just to kill and eat. You know why there are more cows than stoats? Because no bugger wants to eat a stoat.

Yeah but what if animals are well cared for before we kill and eat them?
This is one of the big hypotheticals that non-veggers think will derail the whole veggie project: What if animals are well cared for and humanely killed? What if an animal lived a long and happy life, had a fulfilling career and enjoyable hobbies, and died of natural causes with its family around it, and left in its will the request that someone, somewhere, eat its body to save on waste? What then?

It barely happens of course, as hard as some cling to the idea of high welfare farms, where animals are pampered and killed with all the gentleness you can muster with a bolt gun. The reality is the vast majority of animals are industrially bred, inhumanely kept, and cruelly killed. We should at least be honest about that, whether we care about it or not.

Even free-range stuff blows. For free-range eggs, you can cram up to nine hens in a square metre with only 10cms of feeder per hen, and only one drinker per ten hens. For free-range corpses, you can cram up to 13 chickens per square metre, give them access to outdoor space for only half of their lives, and kill them when they’ve reached the ripe old age of 56 days. And even if they enjoyed 56 consecutive days of joy and merriment, they’re still being killed so you can eat their decaying corpses. This is the absolute lowest of moral high grounds. You’re standing on a piece of paper looking down on people on the floor.

Gp vegan: Protesters against factory farms

Photo by Jorge Maya on Unsplash

Yeah but what if you were on a desert island?
This is one of the most tedious conversations you’ll get drawn into: What if you were on a desert island and there was nothing to eat except animals?

I’ve never understood the point of it. Why is that the hypothetical question that’ll bring down the whole of vegetarianism? What if a one-armed cow killed my wife and I was framed for her murder? Would I go on the run and bring him to justice? What if a duck was on trial for regicide and the evidence was convincing but it was a death penalty case and I was on the jury? What if a sheep was a baby Hitler and I had a time machine?

Honestly, it seems unlikely these scenarios are going to come up. I’ve never been on a ship that’s wrecked. I’ve never been on a plane that’s crashed. And when ships sink and planes crash, they tend to kill everyone rather than washing them up on island paradises. And if animals are knocking about on desert islands where there’s nothing else to eat, what are the animals eating? Have pigs turned on rats? Are rabbits diving for clams? Or have they found some fruit and veg that I could eat until I’m rescued?

Even if it happened, even if I found myself washed up with Brooke Shields and a chatty volleyball and there was nothing to eat except animals – who are starving to death in the absence of food – would I kill them and eat them? Honestly, under those very specific, almost entirely impossible circumstances, I’d maybe give it a go. But what does that have to do with our mega-industrialised, uber-convenient lives where every supermarket going has tofu and knock-off chicken nuggets? Should I keep eating veal in case one day, should I be washed up on a desert island, I’ll be less vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy when I go after a cuttlefish? Nah.

In summary, then: You can shove the desert island thing up your arse.

So then…
The Yeah Buts don’t count for much. If the arguments that veggieness isn’t natural, that it’s not nutritionally sound, that we’ll be overrun by hordes of rebel cows and be hypocrites if we’re shipwrecked don’t stand up to the tiniest shred of scrutiny, what genuine reasons are there for not going veggie? Only taste and convenience. That’s it. And if we’re putting taste and convenience above the wilful torture of animals and the fate of the planet, what does that say about us? People, it says we’re dicks.

Go veggie.

Photo credit: Christian Erfurt on Unsplash (header image)



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