Tuesday, April 16, 2024

FAQ: General

Q:  Humans have always eaten meat. Isn’t this natural?

During most of our evolutionary history, humans were largely vegetarian, with plant foods like potatoes making up the bulk of our ancestors’ diet.  Archaeologist Dr. Richard Leakey says our prehistoric ancestors started off on a plant based diet: “You can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand, and we wouldn’t have been able to deal with the food sources that required those large canines”.

The more frequent addition of modest amounts of meat to the early human diet came with the discovery of fire, which lowered the risk of being sickened or killed by parasites in meat. This practice did not turn our ancestors into carnivores but rather allowed early humans to survive in periods when plant foods were unavailable.  

Meat and dairy may not be the most appropriate types of food for humans, because there is now evidence that a meat and dairy-based diet is directly related to the leading causes of death (ie. cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity).

Q: What would happen to all the farm animals if everyone went vegan?

The world will not convert to veganism overnight. It will happen gradually over many years. As the demand for meat, dairy, eggs and fish declines farmers will breed fewer and fewer animals.

Animals such as chickens, pigs, sheep and cows were domesticated by humans using selective breeding techniques over many generations.  So these animals bear very little resemblance to their original wild ancestors. Compared to wild animals, farmed animals have only existed for a short period in human history.

Q: What about the parts of the world where people cannot grow crops, such as parts of the developing world and polar regions?

Modern technology now allows food to be grown anywhere, regardless of the soil quality. The fact that some parts of the world have hostile climatic and soil conditions should not be used as a justification for those of us who do have a wide choice regarding the types of food that we eat.

Q:  What alternatives are available to farmers who want to switch from animal farming?

List of farming alternatives from Nature Rising.

Q: Isn’t it more important to help people than to waste time helping animals?

The original founders of the vegan movement were keen to emphasise the benefits of this way of living to humans and not just to animals.  They had just been through World War 2 which had a horrific and profound effect on them.  They wanted to bring about an end to the violent tendencies of man, so that nothing like this could ever happen again.  They believed that the first and most basic step towards this goal was veganism.

Q: Animals in the wild kill other animals so why shouldn’t we?

See previous answer.

Q: What about small animals in the fields who die when grains are harvested?

It is true that small wild animals are killed by pesticides and inadvertently by machines during harvesting.  It should be noted that the majority of the grain grown worldwide is used to feed animals – not humans.  So going vegan would help to reduce the number of small field animals killed in this way.  If we want to completely eliminate pesticides and large monocrops which use harvesting machines then vegan organic farming is the solution.  For an example see: Tolhurst Organic.

Q: Why do vegans avoid honey?

Vegans avoid honey for the same reasons they avoid meat, dairy, eggs and fish. Another good reason to avoid honey is biodiversity. Farmed honey bees outcompete wild bees when it comes to food sources such as flowering plants. So, while farmed honey bees are thriving, wild bees are dying out.

Q:  How many vegans are there in the Republic of Ireland?

A Bord Bia report from 2021 gives a figure of 2% of the population.

Q:  How can I tell if a product is vegan?

Q: Do vegans keep pets/companion animals?

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