I’ll be the first to admit that vegans get more flak than they deserve. Yes, there are some vegans who mistake having a dietary preference for having a personality; but what I’ve found even more annoying than them are the kinds of people who never shut up about how annoying vegans are. Maybe it’s just me, but if I hear one more person say “salad isn’t food, it’s what food eats,” I’ll have no choice but to write an even longer and more meandering intro to an opinion article.
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think veganism is bad. In fact, I think it’s a lifestyle that could potentially have many significant benefits, both for one’s health and for the environment. However, I do take issue with the ideas that veganism is entirely without problems of its own.
Let’s get the most obvious point out of the way first: a truly vegan lifestyle simply isn’t a realistic option for some. Dietary restrictions, economic means and geographic location are all factors that go into the feasibility of adopting a vegan lifestyle. Unless you are an able-bodied urbanite with time to devote to this lifestyle, foregoing all animal products is likely to cause some serious problems.
My little brother is an example of such a person — he doesn’t live in a city, and thus there are few options around him that cater to the vegan niche. Even if there were, due to a particularly rebellious colon affliction, there are a great many types of plants that he simply cannot digest. Were he to adopt a vegan diet and abandon animal products altogether, his meals would consist of lentils, rice and handfuls of supplemental pills. Would it be possible? Yes, but certainly not practical, economical or fulfilling.
Even vegans without these limitations often encounter unique health problems, such as deficiencies of vitamin B12 and certain amino acids. While these problems can usually be fixed by either importation of particular foods or by the use of supplementations, they are more easily solved by a reasonable inclusion of meat.
I tend to agree with vegans and vegetarians that, as a society, we eat much more meat each day than we need to; but that being said, I think it is unnecessary to abandon meat altogether. The meat industry as it operates today is both an ethical and environmental nightmare, but there does exist more ethically sound ways of getting meat.
Hunting for meat, while seemingly less and less popular, is a method of acquiring meat that is both incredibly efficient and one that avoids the moral pitfalls of slaughterhouses and kill cages. A single deer can last a family of four for months at a time, and I would wager that food acquired in this manner is much more carbon-neutral than relying on imports or supplements to fill the nutritional gaps left by a pure vegan diet. If you choose not to hunt yourself, then purchasing meat from local sources has many of the same benefits. While this seems expensive, keep in mind that it is not necessary to consume a great deal of meat in order to receive the benefits of animal protein. A few portions a week in conjunction with a well-balanced diet will more than satisfy the body’s need for nutrients.
Eating locally, sustainably and according to your own body’s needs is the best way to eat both ethically and healthily, and in my opinion takes precedence over any other dietary trend or doctrine.
If you can keep these tenets in mind and keep to a vegan diet, more power to you. But I wouldn’t say it’s the only way.
Besides, how are you supposed to absorb a creature’s strength and courage without eating a raw bleeding heart every once and awhile?
Nick Smetzer is an undeclared first year. He’s also an intern for the Trinitonian’s copy editors.