Veganism, What's in It for Me? · 8 January 2013

Like any argument to try and get people to change, we need to focus on what is in it for them. So if I was really going to try to convert people to veganism, I would concentrate on something other than animal rights. Benefits to individual health and positive contributions to the environment to name two.

I am not really trying to convert people to veganism. The only reason I thought of these arguments was because we watched a vegan documentary the other day. The filmmaker followed the lives of three people for six weeks of being vegan. Like all of the films we have watched and books we have read about being vegan, the film had too much about animal rights and what they like to call compassion. Not that I am opposed to treating any of God’s creatures with compassion. I just do not think it is the approach to take to get a carnivore or omnivore to give up meat. After all, he does not care how the meat gets to him. Just that it does.

Even though I am mostly staying away from meat, dairy, and eggs, I freely admit that I am not living a vegan lifestyle. I have no problems wearing leather and I will probably always make cookies with butter and eggs. I am not going all the way vegan.

But if I was going to go all the way and if I was trying take all my friends, I would certainly use a different approach to convert them than most vegans use. Personally, I would stick to the health benefits.

At first, I thought the numbers in The China Study were the answer. But numbers never convince anybody and I have seen enough other interpretations of the data that I would not use the book as my sole reason for eating green. I still believe that nearly eliminating meat, dairy, and other animal products is the way to go nutritionally. I would just encourage people to look further than one book for validation of eating vegan or of anything they choose to do.

I would also tell people to investigate factory farms and what they do to the environment.

If somebody was going to build a farm nearby, nobody would think twice about it. But if somebody was going to build a factory in your back yard, all kinds of red flags would be waving. Protests would ensue and progress would grind to a halt. Or at least be delayed. The problem with many farms these days is that they really are factories.

There are many environmental concerns when it comes to factory farms just as with any other factory. Pollutants get into the air and water just as they used to do freely in early industrial manufacturing plants. Not only that, forests are being cleared to make way for feed lots, which is a double whammy. More carbon dioxide is created and the ability to use the gas to create oxygen is lessened. While people may not care too much about the way animals are treated to make food, they might think twice if they realized the farm going in down the road was really a big smelly polluting factory. But they might care if they realized factory farms are no good for the environment.

There are many reasons to eat less animal products. Compassion and animal rights are what most vegans like to talk about, but they are the least effective arguments toward carnivores and omnivores. To me, the most compelling reasons to eat almost vegan have to do with health benefits. So if I was going to try and convert people to veganism, I would certainly concentrate on those, namely, individual and environmental health. I would certainly tell people what was in it for them.

© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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