Here is the original video:
I saw this video trending on YouTube yesterday and was amazed at the amount of misinformation in it, so I felt the need to do a rebuttal. As usual, I have nothing personal against the people who made the video, just the claims they are making in it. Let’s begin.
- “Everyone’s met a vegan who has been rude to them or who has been outrageous or angry or yelling at them. So it’s not surprising that somebody like Anthony Bourdain (a Top Chef) called vegans “Hezbollah.”
They then show a clip of Anthony mispronouncing the word “vegans” and saying they are like the Hezbollah (militant Islamic Sharia fundamentalist group) in that they share a lot of the same behaviors as “dangerous fundamentalist groups.”
Assuming that all vegans, or even most vegans, are hateful and militant fundamentalists with an agenda would be falling for a guilty-by-association fallacy.
That being said, those in Islamic extremist groups, such as the Hezbollah, who advocate for Sharia law, literally believe it’s okay to kill/torture/rape human beings if they do something deemed as sinful.
Vegans, on the other hand, believe killing innocent beings of any kind, humans or animals, is wrong. What they’re advocating for is the exact opposite of Sharia Law, so it is nonsensical to compare the two movements.
- “No one eats meat because they want animals to suffer. No one goes to the grocery store and says, ‘Yeah, I love what Tyson does to this chicken. That’s what I’m gonna support.’ People eat meat because everyone around them eats meat. It’s what they’re used to. It’s what’s familiar. It’s what’s easy and cheap.”
Sure, something that is considered “the norm” in society might be hard to give up because we’re afraid of standing out from the crowd and/or breaking old habits. But just because something is the norm doesn’t mean it is right or okay to keep doing. People in China celebrate the Yulin dog and cat meat festival every year where they kill countless dogs and cats to use as meat. They have no need to do so because it’s a celebration, not coping with any sort of famine, and yet they do it anyway. For those who grew up with the tradition, it may be hard for them to give up because their family and friends participated in it. Does that mean they should just choose to give up and kill dogs/cats anyway? Nope. So does that mean it’s okay to keep supporting the animal agriculture industry when we know it’s destroying our health, the planet, and the animals’ wellbeing? Nope again. People have to make a choice and stand up for what they believe in. Otherwise, this world could never change for the better. It’s time to take responsibility for our own actions.
And no, a diet that includes meat, dairy, and egg products is definitely more expensive than a diet of rice, beans, pasta, fruit, vegetables, etc.
- “What some friends and I decided is that we should take a different approach. Rather than just pushing veganism, we should take the opportunity that people have to take one step that will have a profound impact on the number of animals suffering. And that is to have them not eat chickens anymore. No matter what they eat instead, if they cut out eating chickens, they will remove the vast majority of their support for factory farms.”
As far as helping the planet goes, only giving up chickens and not other animal products would do little to actually help anything change (as we will discuss in later points). Not to mention, if people have such a “hard time” giving up meat, what makes the creators of this video believe that the majority of people would give up chicken, the most popular meat in the entire world? They also fail to mention that in order to effectively stop the production of chicken, we would have to stop eating eggs too.
To be honest, patting yourself on the back for saying, “Okay, so instead of not eating any animals, let’s just not eat chickens anymore. That is progress,” sounds like this:
- “The average American diet causes about 25 land animals to be factory farmed and slaughtered every year. If people just stopped eating chickens, they will spare 23 of those animals. This is because it takes over 200 chickens to provide the same number of meals as one steer, or over 40 chickens to provide the same number of meals as one pig.”
Yes, chickens are the most frequently slaughtered animal, which is unfortunate. But can we really choose to just turn a blind eye to the enormous amount of other animals that are killed every single second?
Also, chickens are lowest on the list when it comes to the amount of water wasted on livestock. If the majority of the population went vegan, the problem of wasting water could easily be solved. As we see here, cattle require the most amount of water:
It’s for these reasons that vegans have the lowest carbon footprint of around 6.5, while those who are “low-meat eaters” are still up around 10.3.
- “There have been a number of studies, the most recent by Faunalytics, that shows over 80% of people who go vegetarian go back to eating animals. Almost half of the people surveyed on this say that they go back because they can’t stand the pressure to maintain a pure diet. So when we’re pushing people to eat the way we eat, we are driving people away. We are driving people back to eating meat.”
Actually, people are capable of making their own decisions. Not everyone is turned off by vegans simply presenting information in a friendly way. Yes, there are a few extremist vegans out there who tend to push people away more than inform them, but that doesn’t mean that there is any less truth to the movement. It took a long time for people to conclude that smoking is bad for our health. There were even scientists and doctors who swore up and down that smoking was good for people. When the information first came out from the World Health Organization that smoking causes lung cancer, most people accepted it, but most did not quit smoking because they had formed a habit. Since then, though, the amount of smokers has greatly decreased, just as the amount of vegans and vegetarians has increased. Even if a change is slow, it is still completely significant to a more positive change in our future.
The World Health Organization has more recently concluded that the consumption of red and processed meats are harmful to our health and can significantly raise our risk of cancer. Other studies, such as the well-known China study, concluded that consumption of animal products worldwide is directly connected to diabetes, heart disease, and most cancers. Simply giving up chicken will not solve this problem.
- "Around 2% of people (US population) are true vegetarians. Around 0.5% of people (US population) are vegan. Now this is after decades of advocacy. Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation came out in the 1970s (1975). PETA came around in 1980. So groups and advocates have been at this for decades. And yet the percentage of people in the United States who are vegetarian has basically not changed at all. So it really is time for us to reconsider our message, reconsider our advocacy, and do something that has a chance of being different, that has a chance of breaking through to the general public. Because we know, just by looking at the graphs, just by looking at the numbers, that we have been failures at this so far.”
Here is the graph they provided:
Part of the reason meat consumption has increased is because our population over time has greatly increased as well.
But aside from that, veganism and vegetarianism have undoubtedly surged in popularity since the 1970s. Worldwide, vegetarians now make up 5% of the population. That is approximately 350 million people! It used to be that you’d have to go to a specialty health food store to find vegan or vegetarian alternative foods like soy meat or almond milk, but now they are in almost every grocery store. As a kid who was lactose intolerant, I remember there being exactly one lactose-free cheese in any of our local grocery stores, and it still contained casein (milk protein). Now, as an adult, those same grocery stores carry at least 3 different brands of vegan cheese. Change is happening right before our eyes and new vegans are coming out of the woodwork every day.
We can see this rise in vegan interest just by doing a simple search in Google Trends:
Overall, this video not only tries to cast vegans in a negative light, but also fails to solve any major problems facing the world today, such as saving the environment, ending world hunger, decreasing cruelty to animals as much as possible, and preventing/reversing the most common diseases in the Western world (heart disease, diabetes, cancer). All things that veganism is capable of accomplishing. Therefore, it’s safe to say, the video is not worth our time.
I did like the quick response of dislikes, though. Clearly, a lot of people saw right through this one. ;)