Frequently asked questions
– Animals eat each other in nature.
That’s true. However, when a wolf hunts a rabbit or a lion hunts a gazelle, they do so out of necessity: they couldn’t survive by eating grass. For us, on the other hand, eating animals is just an option: we can survive perfectly well without these products. If we can avoid killing animals through our diet, why not do it?
– Humans are at the top of the food chain.
It’s true that we’re currently in a position of power above any other animal species, and that we have the means to breed, exploit and kill them however we want. Nonetheless, the fact that we hold this power doesn’t give us the moral justification to exercise it.
– The life of a person is worth more than the life of an animal.
You don’t need to consider an animal’s life and a person’s life to be worth the same to decide not to eat animals. It’s enough to consider that their life or their suffering are worth more than a sandwich or a hamburger.
– We can’t survive without eating meat/eggs/dairy.
All the nutrients that we find in meat, eggs and dairy can also be obtained from other sources. In other words, we can get all the nutrients we need without having to consume animals. The US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the organization with the most professional nutritionists in the world, affirms that 100% plant-based diets are suitable for any stage of life, including infancy and pregnancy1.
– Eating vegan is expensive.
It’s true that plant-based burgers or cheeses are usually more expensive than their animal equivalents. However, the vast majority of plant products are significantly cheaper than meat, eggs, or cheese. Vegetables, legumes, rice, pasta, bread, cereals, fruit, tubers… the cheapest foods are all vegan.
– Plants can feel pain, too.
One of the main functions of consciousness is to enable flexible, context-dependent behavior2. Given plants’ limited motile capacities, it’s hard to think of situations where being endowed with consciousness would give them a competitive advantage. Considering that consciousness is an energetically expensive process, it seems unlikely for natural selection to have favored conscious plants.
Nonetheless, if we assume the possibility that plants can suffer, a vegan diet would spare many plants from suffering in comparison to an omnivorous diet. Animals bred in farms need to eat plants or other animals to grow, and the plant-protein-to-animal-protein conversion process is very inefficient. For example, in order to obtain 1Kg of pork, a pig needs to be fed more than 6Kg of plants3. This means that the consumption of animal products requires cultivating many more plants than the direct consumption of plant-based foods.
– What if I eat organic meat/eggs?
In some areas there may be open farms where animals live outdoors. It’s obvious that, in these particular cases, living conditions are better than in a conventional farm, and that these animals suffer less throughout their lives. Nevertheless, the production of meat, eggs or dairy always requires killing the animals from which we benefit. If you’ve had a dog or a cat who’s lived a good life, would you consider it ethical to slaughter them to eat their meat?
- Melina et al. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets
- Baars, Bernard J. (1988). A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness. Cambridge University Press.
- Alexander et al. (2016). Human appropriation of land for food: the role of diet. Global Environmental Change, 41, 88-98.