While conducting outreach, people will always be curious and engaging, which is a good thing! Here are some basic questions that may pop up during leafleting, seminars and discussions!
1) What is vegan?
A vegan is someone who does not have any meat or dairy products, for ethical, health or environmental reasons.
2) But I love meat/dairy too much.
Typically an approach like ‘I used to eat a lot of meat myself, but when I found out how much suffering animals in factory farms go through, I went vegetarian rather than support industries that make animals suffer‘ makes the other person less defensive and more open to the message.
What is it about meat that you really like? If they say its the taste- say that there are many alternatives available.
3) If everyone went vegetarian we would have too many animals on earth.
Animals are being bred specifically to feed our demand, as the demand decreases fewer animals will be bred and farmers would turn to growing more sustainable food options like grains and vegetables.
4) Don’t we need dairy and meat for protein?
We normally consume more protein than the body requires, meat and dairy create an overdose of it, leading to several health problems. In fact recent studies have shown that dairy products can actually cause osteoporosis and meat is increasingly being linked to various types of cancers.
5) My uncle has a dairy where the cows are very well looked after.
Unfortunately, no matter how well the cows seem to be kept, they have to be made pregnant year after year to produce milk. And the male calves have to either be abandoned or sent to slaughter. The maternal bond is very strong, and cows are known to have escaped from farms and chased vehicles that are taking away their young ones, for kilometers.
6) Eggs, are not fetuses so they should be fine, right?
The egg laying industry is one of the cruelest in terms of confinement and living condition of the egg laying hens. 4-5 birds are cramped into A5 sized cages for over 2.5 years, without any space to even spread their wings the entire time. The birds end up with severe rashes, sores and weak bones. They are then dragged by their weak legs to be sold for slaughter. Male chicks are often ground alive or dumped in garbage bags left to suffocate to death.
7) It’s a matter of our choice.
That’s right. And we can choose kindness over cruelty. All murders, rape and child abuse could be thought of as personal choices. But most of us choose not to commit such crimes. In our society today, many practices that were acceptable earlier like slavery and sati have been acknowledged as uncivilized and barbaric today.
8) We are on top of the food chain, killing animals is our right.
The concept that the food chain has a top and bottom is a wrong-headed notion. Ecology is an integrated system which requires sub-cellular, multi-cellular beings; requires plant life, animal life, ocean life. One cannot exist without the others. Brahmins used to believe that they are on top of the caste system and could abuse ‘untouchables’ as a matter of right. It wasn’t a matter of right to abuse another then, and it shouldn’t be now.
9) If you were on an island with no vegetables wouldn’t you eat meat?
No, I wouldn’t. (end it right there.) However,we are also not on an island without vegetables; the chances of that happening are rare. Furthermore, we are in a world where there is an abundance of vegetables, so why make that choice now?
10) Aren’t you hurting plants?
You could try this response: “You’re right–We may be hurting certain plants or trees if we destroy them. I am on a path of trying to eliminate acts of cruelty in my life, and I have not always been vegan. I still am learning how to be better. Some people only eat fruits and nuts which fall naturally from the living tree! Maybe they are the most ethical of all.”
Instead of trying to counter the idea that plants suffer, we should just accept this premise that plants may feel pain. Reducing consumption—especially wasteful unnecessary consumption—is also part of vegan living.
And the meat industry accounts for the consumption of more than 60% of all crops grown on the planet.
A person consuming animal products consumes twice the misery, the plants are fed to animals and then those are consumed by humans. A plant based person though, consumes the plants directly, thus halving the misery right away.
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