Vegan and Vegetarian FAQ
Q. Aren’t humans natural carnivores?
A. Actually, a vegetarian diet suits the human body better than a diet that includes meat. Carnivorous animals have claws, short digestive tracts, and long, curved fangs. Humans have flat, flexible nails, and our so-called “canine” teeth are minuscule compared to those of carnivores and even compared to vegetarian primates like gorillas and orangutans. Our tiny canine teeth are better suited to biting into fruits than tearing through tough hides. We have flat molars and long digestive tracts that are suited to diets of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Eating meat is hazardous to our health and contributes to heart disease, cancer, and many other health problems.
Q. Where do vegans get iron?
A. Many people, especially women, are concerned about iron deficiency and anemia.
The iron in vegetables is best absorbed with the help of a little vitamin C but fortunately, if you are eating a balanced
diet, you are getting plenty of both. Whole grains, tofu, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, lentils, sea vegetables, Quinoa, Molasses, Swiss Chard, Spinach, chick peas, beans, apricots, figs and many, many other foods are packed with iron.
Q. Don’t vegetarians have difficulty getting enough protein?
A. Protein is found in abundance in plant foods, and scientific studies consistently show that vegetarians get plenty of protein.
Great vegetarian sources of protein include legumes and foods made from them (e.g., beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, peanut butter, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy-based mock meats), nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, and whole grains. It was once thought that various plant foods had to be eaten together in order to get their full protein value, but research has shown that this is not the case; a varied diet of nutritious plant foods provides all the protein that you need, plus lots of health-boosting vitamins and minerals.
Unlike animal protein, plant-based protein sources usually also contain healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates. Animal products are often high in artery-clogging cholesterol and saturated fat, and consumption of animal protein has been linked to some types of cancer.
According to the American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer. Plus, it’s suspected that the high sulfur content of animal protein weakens people’s bones. For example, a study by researchers at the University of California found significantly less bone formation in meat-eating women than in vegan women.
For more vegan protein suggestions read: Vegan Protien
Q. Do vegans need supplements like calcium and vitamin B12 for complete nutrition?
A.Vegans do not need additional calcium if they follow a varied plant-based diet packed with calcium-rich foods, including sea vegetables, leafy greens, beans, nuts and seeds. By eating these foods, you will get more than enough calcium.
Vegans only need to supplement with B12. All plant foods are grown in the soil, which is full of B12 rich bacteria. Before the mass commercialization of agriculture, when we were all pulling vegetables from our gardens and the water wasn’t purified with chemicals, the bacteria that synthesized B12 was available to us through the soil and water.
Dr. Neal Barnard recommends taking B12 once or twice a week.
Q. Animals kill other animals for food, so why shouldn’t we?
A. Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory is certainly an accurate description of “nature’s law.” But the animals who kill other animals for food do so because they have no choice in the matter.
They would starve to death otherwise. However, we hold ourselves to a higher standard in our interactions with each other and with the animals we love and protect—animals like dogs and cats. Animal rights advocates believe that we should show this compassion to all animals.
Please examine the sad lives and gruesome deaths of animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses—there is no way to argue that what happens to these animals is morally right.
Q. What’s wrong with drinking milk? Don’t ‘dairy cows’ need to be milked?
A. Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do—to feed their babies. “Dairy cows” are impregnated every year in order to keep up a steady supply of milk, and their babies are taken away from them within a day of birth. The cows and their calves are treated horribly, with male calves crammed into the notoriously cruel veal crate. If you’re consuming dairy products, you’re supporting the veal industry. Read more about milk production and “dairy cows.”
Furthermore, milk is not a “health food.” While dairy products are implicated in the development of heart disease and cancer, researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that they are also linked to osteoporosis, the very disease that the dairy products industry claims it can help prevent. Read more about the scientific research on the link between dairy products and osteoporosis.
Q. Chickens lay eggs naturally, so what’s wrong with eating eggs?
A. The real cruelty of egg production lies in the treatment of the “laying” hens, who are perhaps the most abused of all factory-farmed animals. Each egg from a factory farm represents about 34 hours of misery and came from a hen who was packed into a cage the size of a filing-cabinet drawer with as many as five other chickens. At factory farms, cages are stacked many tiers high, and feces from the top rows fall onto the chickens below. Hens become lame and develop osteoporosis because they are forced to remain immobile and because they lose a great deal of calcium when they repeatedly produce egg shells. Some birds’ feet grow around the wire cage floors, and they starve to death because they are unable to reach the food trough. At just 2 years of age, most hens are “spent” and are sent to the slaughterhouse. Egg hatcheries don’t have any use for male chicks, so they are suffocated, decapitated, crushed, or ground up alive.
Q. What’s wrong with eating ‘free range’ eggs and ‘organic’ meat? Aren’t the animals who are used for these treated better than the animals who are used for ‘regular’ eggs and ‘regular’ meat?
A.Whether you’re talking about “free range” or “conventional” meat, dairy products, and eggs, the health and environmental consequences of using animals for food are the same. Also, animals on “free range” and “organic” farms still suffer the same abuse and neglect that all animals used for food must endure. Labels like “free range” and “free roaming” are not regulated by the government, so any product can wear these labels no matter how badly the animals have been treated. Animals on these farms still suffer mutilations shortly after birth—their sensitive beaks and tails are cut off, their horns are ripped from their heads, and they are castrated—all without painkillers.
Since the “free range” label is unregulated, many animals on these farms are crammed by the thousands into sheds and never set foot outside. Even if they were given access to the outdoors, farmed animals are still bred to grow so large that many of them can no longer walk. Like all animals used for food, animals on “free range” and “organic” farms are killed when they’re only a few months old, and their deaths are just as gruesome as those of animals on conventional farms. Their throats are cut, often while they are still completely conscious and struggling to escape, and many of them are still alive when their bodies are hacked apart. In short, there are no “free range” slaughterhouses.