The moral reasoning behind veganism?

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Mousickle
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#1
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#1
I would really love to hear from anyone who is/has been/ has thought about being a vegan, specifically as to WHY it is you are that way?

I suppose the most common explanation I have heard is that it’s all for the animals, and its morally unsound to go around killing animals. I understand this, making anything suffer is obviously bad. But then what’s really to say that the life of an animal is worth more than that of a plant? People might say well plants don’t feel pain, or they are not life in the same way, but really all that is based on is our narrow view of the world as humans, and the assumption that our understanding of the world at this point in time is completely correct.

I think it’s hard to say if it’s really right or wrong, I mean where as some other animals clearly evolved to have big teeth and claws for eating animals, we have evolved to have free will and a conscience, so we have a choice.

I don’t think it can ever really be right or wrong, but then I know there are a lot of people that would disagree with me.

I am sure I have missed a lot and this is all a bit simplistic, but I would just like to know what everyone else thinks.
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LukeatForest
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#2
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#2
By the same logic as 'what's really to say that the life of an animal is worth more than that of a plant?' you can very easily argue that human life, being essentially an extension of an animal's, is no more valuable and is just a fleeting glimpse of nothingness against a backdrop of vastness. As vegans go, they're all about eating foods that are not brought about by pain. Plants do not have pain receptors, they are not capable of screaming and they do not yell when they die. A plant is naturally confined too. Some vegans are against the murder and confinement of animals and do not want to consume any product that is brought about from what is perceived as torture.

Ultimately, the things we eat are no different to us however many years ago. There is a malice and cruelty involved in bringing meats and animal products to our table and it is a strong moral choice to opt out of buying and consuming these products. Animals are no more comparable to plants than we are to plants. If you've ever had a dog I think you can very quickly understand that animals are capable of more than just scrabbling about in the dust like robots wondering where to pee and where the next meal is coming from. That's not to say that that is not essentially what they do, but try comparing a dog to plant (if you own both) and it becomes quite clear that they are in no way comparable. Rip a leaf off a plant and it will continue to grow. Tear a limb off a dog and you'll be lucky if it survives.

Life is complex and made up of many different aspects. Yours is a very simplistic argument because you can only see it from one point of view and that point of view has narrowed your argument to 'what if' proportions. Asking you seriously here, do you honestly believe that animals are in any way similar or nearly the same as a plant? By the way, some Vegans seem to have 'turned' because of the health benefits too. That would be a reasonable consideration when deciding to change. I personally have never contemplated becoming a Vegan or a Vegetarian so my argument is from the same side of the fence as you, but I think your reasoning creates some very unstable ground where all things are perceived as inanimate and you can simply wander out on to the street, kill a human and eat it and then ask 'was (s)he really any different to a plant?'

Because that really is the logical extension of your argument about animals. It wasn't so long ago that we were the same and some individuals do not quite seem to have evolved past that stage whatsoever.
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boxface
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#3
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#3
(Original post by LukeatForest)
By the same logic as 'what's really to say that the life of an animal is worth more than that of a plant?' you can very easily argue that human life, being essentially an extension of an animal's, is no more valuable and is just a fleeting glimpse of nothingness against a backdrop of vastness. As vegans go, they're all about eating foods that are not brought about by pain. Plants do not have pain receptors, they are not capable of screaming and they do not yell when they die. A plant is naturally confined too. Some vegans are against the murder and confinement of animals and do not want to consume any product that is brought about from what is perceived as torture.

Ultimately, the things we eat are no different to us however many years ago. There is a malice and cruelty involved in bringing meats and animal products to our table and it is a strong moral choice to opt out of buying and consuming these products. Animals are no more comparable to plants than we are to plants. If you've ever had a dog I think you can very quickly understand that animals are capable of more than just scrabbling about in the dust like robots wondering where to pee and where the next meal is coming from. That's not to say that that is not essentially what they do, but try comparing a dog to plant (if you own both) and it becomes quite clear that they are in no way comparable. Rip a leaf off a plant and it will continue to grow. Tear a limb off a dog and you'll be lucky if it survives.

Life is complex and made up of many different aspects. Yours is a very simplistic argument because you can only see it from one point of view and that point of view has narrowed your argument to 'what if' proportions. Asking you seriously here, do you honestly believe that animals are in any way similar or nearly the same as a plant? By the way, some Vegans seem to have 'turned' because of the health benefits too. That would be a reasonable consideration when deciding to change. I personally have never contemplated becoming a Vegan or a Vegetarian so my argument is from the same side of the fence as you, but I think your reasoning creates some very unstable ground where all things are perceived as inanimate and you can simply wander out on to the street, kill a human and eat it and then ask 'was (s)he really any different to a plant?'

Because that really is the logical extension of your argument about animals. It wasn't so long ago that we were the same and some individuals do not quite seem to have evolved past that stage whatsoever.
This must be one of the most unstructured tangential rants I've ever seen; it's difficult to know how to even begin to reply. You pulled off one sentence from her post and wrote a load of waffle, 90% of which falls foul of her "really all that is based on is our narrow view of the world as humans, and the assumption that our understanding of the world at this point in time is completely correct" suggestion - ironically you even went as far as to accuse her of having a "simplistic argument" from "one point of view", which is exactly what she was arguing against!

Who are you to say plants can't feel pain? Who are you to decide that the word "murder" (look it up) can be applied to animals, or that there is a "malice and cruelty" involved in animal products? Perhaps plants can feel pain? Perhaps eating, sorry, "murdering" an onion is a malicious, cruel undertaking - it's a living thing, you kill it, you eat it. Fundamentally, how is that really any different to killing any other living thing?

It's all about where you draw the line. In modern society, virtually everyone (thankfully), would draw the line somewhere under humans (although in extreme circumstances it is not unheard of for it to move beyond this). Those who eat meat are effectively regarding most animals and plants as a lower form of life, which are therefore "fair game". Those who are pescetarian, vegetarian or vegan all draw the line as to what living thing's it's ok to eat somewhere lower. Ultimately, however, this is a completely arbitrary choice.
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iamhamza
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#4
Report 13 years ago
#4
Veganism is a healthy choice of diet, and all animal products involve some level of suffering intrinisic to their production; there's therefore no excuse for me to indulge in those products when I can and do enjoy good food and health without them. That's the simple reason behind my veganism.
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Saul
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#5
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#5
I could never be a vegan, everytime i see a cow in a field I literally lick my lips.
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SoundDevastation
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#6
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#6
veganism is healthy, it involves no use or abuse of animals in any way and the carbon footprint of a vegan diet is significantly lower than that of even a localised omnivorous diet. I just think its unnecessary to eat meat. In the west we can live a vegan diet healthily and easily, so what reasons do we have to eat meat/dairy? does 'taste' justify the impact it has on the planet and on the animals lives? I dont think so..

And on a totally selfish level its just enjoyable. I get overly excited about vegan chocolate cake, going out for a good meal at a restaurant is a really really special occasion.. cooking is cheap and allows you to experiment without having to worry about food poisoning, and I have genuinely enjoyed my food more, and eat a wider variety of food since being vegan. Vegan fast food is a rarity so im forced to cut down on high cholesterol fried crap, thats got to be a good thing!



Mousickle you live in Norwich right? go up to the Greenhouse Trust cafe or Pulse restaurant.. have one of their vegan meals followed up with their vegan chocolate cake and ice cream (the salad bowl and choco beetroot cake at GH is AMAZING).
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Liquidus Zeromus
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#7
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#7
(Original post by boxface)
This must be one of the most unstructured tangential rants I've ever seen; it's difficult to know how to even begin to reply. You pulled off one sentence from her post and wrote a load of waffle, 90% of which falls foul of her "really all that is based on is our narrow view of the world as humans, and the assumption that our understanding of the world at this point in time is completely correct" suggestion - ironically you even went as far as to accuse her of having a "simplistic argument" from "one point of view", which is exactly what she was arguing against!

Who are you to say plants can't feel pain? Who are you to decide that the word "murder" (look it up) can be applied to animals, or that there is a "malice and cruelty" involved in animal products? Perhaps plants can feel pain? Perhaps eating, sorry, "murdering" an onion is a malicious, cruel undertaking - it's a living thing, you kill it, you eat it. Fundamentally, how is that really any different to killing any other living thing?

It's all about where you draw the line. In modern society, virtually everyone (thankfully), would draw the line somewhere under humans (although in extreme circumstances it is not unheard of for it to move beyond this). Those who eat meat are effectively regarding most animals and plants as a lower form of life, which are therefore "fair game". Those who are pescetarian, vegetarian or vegan all draw the line as to what living thing's it's ok to eat somewhere lower. Ultimately, however, this is a completely arbitrary choice.
Agreed. +1.


Why should a human not eat a tasty, nutritious animal? What is the point of the existence of most wild animals, but to eat, sleep, mate, pop out offspring, and play a part in the ecosystem and tourism economy? That is where the only rational value of wild animals comes from, in relation to humans. If they die, they die, some people might get upset, and the only adverse effects the death of one wild animal might be is to cause an imbalance in the ecosystem. They're food anyway, predator or prey, something's going to eat them eventually. It's a law of nature.
However, we're talking about the food economy here. Farm animals are far gone from the wild, and would not survive there. If we let cows, pigs, and so on free, they'd just be eaten anyway. They are farm animals which are part of the human economy, not the natural ecoystem. Any loss is purely sentimental, and the gains are economic, as they provide a living for the farmer.
They won't appreciate or thank you for saving them from the meat grinder.
So, what does it matter?
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FluxD
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#8
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#8
(Original post by SoundDevastation)
veganism is healthy, it involves no use or abuse of animals in any way and the carbon footprint of a vegan diet is significantly lower than that of even a localised omnivorous diet. I just think its unnecessary to eat meat. In the west we can live a vegan diet healthily and easily, so what reasons do we have to eat meat/dairy? does 'taste' justify the impact it has on the planet and on the animals lives? I dont think so..
What if you are a hard labourer or an athlete, not a vegan who sits on their arse all day? Meat is an amazing source of protein, with complete profile of amino acids, minerals for repairing tissue and the most easily absorbed source of protein in existence.

Some people do things in their day to day lives that living on tofu and rice cakes wouldn't sustain.

You talk as if eating meat has no benefits except for taste and to satisfy evil selfish murdering carnivores greed.
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melquíades el gitano
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#9
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#9
I don't generall get involved in veganism/omnivorism discussions as people have their reasons whether valid or not and are unlikely to change them :P

but...
and eat a wider variety of food since being vegan.
How do you remove several food groups and have more variety? :confused:

FTR, I'm an omnivore - I like the variety, and given the amount of sport I do, my skin and nails would have been falling off about 6 months ago with the lack of protein that diet provides :P
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LukeatForest
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#10
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#10
(Original post by boxface)
This must be one of the most unstructured tangential rants I've ever seen; it's difficult to know how to even begin to reply. You pulled off one sentence from her post and wrote a load of waffle, 90% of which falls foul of her "really all that is based on is our narrow view of the world as humans, and the assumption that our understanding of the world at this point in time is completely correct" suggestion - ironically you even went as far as to accuse her of having a "simplistic argument" from "one point of view", which is exactly what she was arguing against!
The one sentence was for me the gist of the topic - by all means disagree but there's no need to go overboard. I don't claim to be right and I also made the point that vegans do exist for choices of health. Ultimately, there aren't a million arguments for or against vegan-ism and it's very difficult to think of many reasons beyond not inflicting pain and/or choosing to live a more healthy lifestyle. So, I felt that asking for other reasons beyond that did create something of a closed debate from the word go and, in my opinion, made the whole topic one-dimensional (as proven by the answers so far which vary between health reasons and no reasons). I was trying to make a civil point though, nothing more. It certainly was not a rant, it was an answer, one that claimed neither to be right nor omniscient, portraying only my view that I admit may be blinkered by misconceptions (though it may not, depending on your interpretation).

Who are you to say plants can't feel pain? Who are you to decide that the word "murder" (look it up) can be applied to animals, or that there is a "malice and cruelty" involved in animal products? Perhaps plants can feel pain? Perhaps eating, sorry, "murdering" an onion is a malicious, cruel undertaking - it's a living thing, you kill it, you eat it. Fundamentally, how is that really any different to killing any other living thing?
And the counter-argument would be who are you to say the word murder cannot be applied to animals? It's a life choice and if a vegan chooses to decide it's murder then that is up to them. I personally am not a vegan and was trying to write from another point of view. No more am I a vegetarian. I admit I do not know whether plants do or do not feel pain, but I think there's an obvious difference between an animal and a plant, and I think my point that we evolved from similar beings (if not the same) as certain animals is a pertinent one. Ultimately, murder is a human construction. When something dies, nothing happens. No serenade of lament is heard above the silence, the blood doesn't morph into knives to take revenge. If it comes down to pedantry then you can argue that everything is a law of man and the rest is anarchy. You've misconstrued my point entirely though and made out that I said that everything is murder and that that somehow belittles the word, when in fact the adverse is true. I exaggerated murder and asked how killing a human is any different. I personally feel that killing an animal, whilst unfortunate, is a natural undertaking, so too is killing anything else.

Some people feel guilt when they kill an animal though. That for me implies that they feel it is murder.

It's all about where you draw the line. In modern society, virtually everyone (thankfully), would draw the line somewhere under humans (although in extreme circumstances it is not unheard of for it to move beyond this). Those who eat meat are effectively regarding most animals and plants as a lower form of life, which are therefore "fair game". Those who are pescetarian, vegetarian or vegan all draw the line as to what living thing's it's ok to eat somewhere lower. Ultimately, however, this is a completely arbitrary choice.
The last sentence is where we agree. I don't dispute your points and in many respects I agree that my post was incoherent, but at the same time I stand by my thoughts on the original post (one-dimensional). I don't claim to be right and I take exception to anyone saying I 'ranted'. I merely tried to construct a counter-argument, however successfully or unsuccessfully people view that. Gross exaggerations were made and I took them further - if plants are nothing, why not animals? Furthermore, why not humans? All living things are edible and something somewhere will try and eat them. Pain and consciousness does not come into it, nor does intelligence. I don't think that makes vegetarians or vegans strange - they're making a moral choice based on their intelligence. They've evolved above animals and now have free-will.

Eating meat for me is just nature, but that doesn't make it:

a) Something to be proud of
b) Something that you cannot opt out of

Humans have a life choice and many things that were once natural (killing people, racism, et cetera) are now defunct. In this people are no different and perhaps one day there will come a time where it is viewed as wrong to harm another living thing as well. I personally tire of these threads that seem to bash vegetarians and vegans and question their rationale (much like the questioning of atheists and believers in the various religious sections).
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SoundDevastation
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#11
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#11
(Original post by FluxD)
What if you are a hard labourer or an athlete, not a vegan who sits on their arse all day? Meat is an amazing source of protein, with complete profile of amino acids, minerals for repairing tissue and the most easily absorbed source of protein in existence.

Some people do things in their day to day lives that living on tofu and rice cakes wouldn't sustain.

You talk as if eating meat has no benefits except for taste and to satisfy evil selfish murdering carnivores greed.
I dont sit on my arse all day thank you. Im toned and pretty fit and I work hard. Meat is a source of protein, so are pulses, grains and nuts. Thats exactly how i talk yes, because it has no real benefits.

you think you need meat to build muscle? look at vegan body builder Robert Cheeke

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im so academic
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#12
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#12
my friend said she's a vegan because:

a) she wants to
b) she's lactose-intolerent
c) she doesn't eat meat
d) killing animals is cruel
e) it's her life and she eats what she wants.

sometimes it's all to do with free choice and not not for a specific reasons, but for other things.
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SoundDevastation
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#13
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#13
(Original post by melquíades el gitano)
I don't generall get involved in veganism/omnivorism discussions as people have their reasons whether valid or not and are unlikely to change them :P

but...


How do you remove several food groups and have more variety? :confused:

FTR, I'm an omnivore - I like the variety, and given the amount of sport I do, my skin and nails would have been falling off about 6 months ago with the lack of protein that diet provides :P
look at my post above, veganism =/= lack of protein :p:

How do I get more variety? because instead of meat being the main ingredient of most meals I try out different things. Tofu, Seitan, TVP, pine nuts, butter beans, aduki beans, artichoke, aubergine, courgette, quinoa, miso, beetroot stalks, hemp seed... these are things I never included in meat dishes because the meat just takes over, but things i use in everyday cooking now.

obviously im not saying that it would be the same for everyone, but alot of regular meat dishes are pretty simple and people forget the huge array of ingredients available to us.
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FluxD
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#14
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#14
(Original post by SoundDevastation)
I dont sit on my arse all day thank you. Im toned and pretty fit and I work hard. Meat is a source of protein, so are pulses, grains and nuts. Thats exactly how i talk yes, because it has no real benefits.

you think you need meat to build muscle? look at vegan body builder Robert Cheeke

Image
Small as hell for a 26 year old bodybuilder. His lifts on his site are also weak for his weight and age.

He could make better progress eating steak and milk, especially widening those lats.

He is also hardly representative of the average vegan.
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Mr Smith
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#15
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#15
(Original post by Mousickle)
I suppose the most common explanation I have heard is that it’s all for the animals, and its morally unsound to go around killing animals. I understand this, making anything suffer is obviously bad. But then what’s really to say that the life of an animal is worth more than that of a plant? People might say well plants don’t feel pain, or they are not life in the same way, but really all that is based on is our narrow view of the world as humans, and the assumption that our understanding of the world at this point in time is completely correct.
You're right that the common explanation, which happens to be my belief, is that it's wrong to kill sentient beings that can show intelligence and feel pain. Of course our assumptions and understanding may be wrong but we have little else to base our decisions on than our understanding of the world at this point in time. Humans will always lack complete information about any subject but that isn't a reason to suspend moral judgements.

(Original post by boxface)
Who are you to say plants can't feel pain?
There is no evidence to suggest that plants can feel pain. There is evidence to suggest that animals can.

(Original post by liquidus zeromus)
What is the point of the existence of most wild animals, but to eat, sleep, mate, pop out offspring, and play a part in the ecosystem and tourism economy?
Who said there was a point to the existence of animals?

(Original post by liquidus zeromus)
That is where the only rational value of wild animals comes from, in relation to humans.
That is the point, vegetarianism/veganism is about not seeing animals as subordinate to humans or having "rational value".

(Original post by liquidus zeromus)
They are farm animals which are part of the human economy, not the natural ecoystem. Any loss is purely sentimental, and the gains are economic, as they provide a living for the farmer.
On a practical level a switch to veganism would mean more people eating crops so farmers generally would not neccessarily be out of pocket. But the important thing is that the whole point of veganism/vegetarianism is that you are saying that something sentimental is more important than something economic.

(Original post by liquidus zeromus)
They won't appreciate or thank you for saving them from the meat grinder. So, what does it matter?
Neither would a 2-year old, but you would still save it.

(Original post by liquidus zeromus)
They're food anyway, predator or prey, something's going to eat them eventually. It's a law of nature. However, we're talking about the food economy here. Farm animals are far gone from the wild, and would not survive there. If we let cows, pigs, and so on free, they'd just be eaten anyway.
(Original post by rinsed)
Their lives are a lot harder, more brutal, more stressful and often shorter than their farmed cousins. Hence, I cannot agree that eating meat causes any particular suffering to an animals life, at least not when looked at against their 'natural' life.
These arguments are incorrect (putting aside the issue of what, in rural Britain, is going to eat a cow). They assume that the number of animals is fixed and the choice is simply between each animal living either a "natural" life or a farmed life. In reality it's better to think of the 2 as totally separate spheres.

The number of animals bred for human consumption has now reached 50 billion per year. Many of these live miserable lives in terrible conditions. If fewer people ate meat the number would reduce as would the amount of suffering. The number, living and suffering in the "natural sphere" would remain the same.

Also, no-one is talking about farmed animals being dumped into the natural ecosystem as if an entire nation is going to go vegetarian overnight. What's more likely to happen (assuming the number of vegetarians continues to grow) is a gradual reduction in the amount of animals eaten matched by a reduction in the amount bred for consumtion.

(Original post by rinsed)
Animals in farms are well looked after these days
Or so they would have you believe.
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melquíades el gitano
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#16
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#16
(Original post by SoundDevastation)
look at my post above, veganism =/= lack of protein :p:

How do I get more variety? because instead of meat being the main ingredient of most meals I try out different things. Tofu, Seitan, TVP, pine nuts, butter beans, aduki beans, artichoke, aubergine, courgette, quinoa, miso, beetroot stalks, hemp seed... these are things I never included in meat dishes because the meat just takes over, but things i use in everyday cooking now.

obviously im not saying that it would be the same for everyone, but alot of regular meat dishes are pretty simple and people forget the huge array of ingredients available to us.
It DOES, however == a lack of several important muscle proteins, which if you don't get through diet, your body cannot synthesize in sufficient quantity to maintain an athletic lifestyle. This one is easily demonstrable, provided you can find an athlete willing to suffer reduced performance for a while (I've done it and it wasn't pretty )
So it's more a case of it's made you try stuff you didnt know about rather than an inherent variety advantage...I eat most of that stuff and more, in addition to meat - that's why the variety thing did not compute, as there's nothing you can eat that I can't whereas I can eat stuff you can't.

Originally Posted by SoundDevastation
Firstly, the guy you posted is not big...not by a long, long way, and especially not for a bodybuilder - hell I'm still heavier than he is, and im 15kg under my weight when I'm fit.
Secondly, bodbuilding is vastly different from athletic sport such as rugby, basketball, and sprinting - We have far more muscle degradation from use than bodybuilders do, as well as a significantly higher energy use per unit of mass.

Find me a top level athlete that is a vegan. None of the guys I know (personally or from reputation) are, so I'd be interested to see if you could find one.
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Caron
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#17
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#17
I was vegan for about two years. Recently I've become much more interested in freeganism, but still avoid animal products the majority of the time.

Originally I became vegan for moral reasons. I felt that it was morally wrong to financially support an industry which is inherently cruel. The idea of deliberately, unnecessarily inflicting suffering upon a being capable of feeling pain seems a bit mad to me. The "omg what about the plants?!?!" argument is a fallacy as plants do not have a nervous system and therefore cannot feel pain as animals (human and non-human) do. The other common argument is that it's 'natural' and 'normal' as some other animals are carnivorous. But as the OP mentioned, we've evolved to the point where we have a choice and are capable of making moral decisions. You can choose to pop down the supermarket and buy a veggie burger, a lion can't.

I agree with SoundDevastation regarding the wider variety of foods eaten. For me personally, once I became vegan and stopped relying on fake meats, all these doors seemed to suddenly open and I began trying foods I'd never even heard of before. My diet now is much more healthy than when I ate meat and as a result I'm no longer overweight (I'm no stick insect either!) and feel a lot healthier generally.
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Caron
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#18
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#18
There are a few vegan athletes of various types here. I don't really know owt about sports though so whether they're "top level" or not is up to you. Since vegans comprise <1% of the population, the number of vegan athletes are bound to be eclipsed by non-vegan ones.
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melquíades el gitano
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#19
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#19
(Original post by Caron)
There are a few vegan athletes of various types here. I don't really know owt about sports though so whether they're "top level" or not is up to you. Since vegans comprise <1% of the population, the number of vegan athletes are bound to be eclipsed by non-vegan ones.
You've got me looking for a recipe for humble pie:p:
There are problems with them (mostly to do with none being vegan through teenage and early adulthood) but they are able to compete now even with the vegan diet. I can't say whether the best will be vegan. I doubt it, as these guys are not doing the type of activity I was referring to - essentially sustained high power output - but as you say, <1% are vegan, so to demand that a vegan reaches the top before I concede would be unreasonable.

The pie's not going down well:p:
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Puma
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#20
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#20
STFU and have a bacon butty:
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How did your AQA A-level Psychology Paper 1 go?

Loved the paper - Feeling positive (152)
41.08%
The paper was reasonable (166)
44.86%
Not feeling great about that exam... (35)
9.46%
It was TERRIBLE (17)
4.59%

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