Why I’ve Stopped Being Vegan After 15 Years

Why I’ve Stopped Being Vegan After 15 Years

When many vegans read this, they may assume I wasn’t a real vegan but, instead, I was “plant-based.” If that’s their opinion, they would be totally wrong. I was as vegan as they come. I was the most passionate type of vegan—an ethical vegan. My motivation stemmed from not wanting to harm animals.

I suspect vegans will read this, thinking they’ll find gaping holes in my argument to stop being vegan. The funny thing is, I think being vegan is great; I did it for 15 years. I strongly encourage it, and I wish more people were vegan.

I am no longer conflicted with the hypocrisy of eating some animal products. But I am a hypocrite; that’s for sure. I’m owning that status right from the start.

A Journey in the Shadows of Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is defined as when your actions contradict what you claim to be your belief.

People seem to think that if they point out your hypocrisy, then they have somehow caught you and have therefore toppled your logic. This is an odd position to take when on the offensive for the simple reason everyone is guilty of hypocrisy, without exception.

Let me give you some examples:

People believe they should eat/drink healthy, and yet people will not only take advantage of opportunities to indulge in being unhealthy but consciously seek out ways to eat and drink in an unhealthy manner. This is a direct contradiction of what they claim to believe.

If asked, should you obey the law, people will generally say yes; however, just watch them drive a vehicle, watch their speed, watch how they navigate around a roundabout, people constantly break the rules of the road and the law.

If asked should we be good for the environment, people generally say yes, but how we live our lives constantly damages the environment, another direct contradiction of our beliefs.

If asked should we be kind to animals, people will generally say yes, but of course forcing death upon a healthy animal is the opposite of being kind to an animal.

People believe you should not judge others and not gossip, yet we live in a perpetual cycle of judging others based on appearance, context, stage of life, and so on.

A parent will be dead against their teenager participating in underage drinking, yet there are very few parents out there who have not done exactly that.

We may believe in treating others as we would like to be treated, but the amount of lying we do in our life. Is that how you wish to be treated; you want people to lie to you?!?

Vegans believe more than anyone in not harming animals, and yet the harvesting of crops harms animals, living in a modern-day society harms animals. Supporting companies that support animal products is contributing to animal cruelty. Using medication contributes to animal cruelty.

If pointing out hypocrisy were an Olympic sport, we’d all be gold medalists by now. Seriously, calling someone out on being a hypocrite is just plucking at the low-hanging fruit that the village dog has already peed on. So, I’m steering clear of the hypocrisy police; after all, we’re all just navigating this wild world of contradictions together.

Prioritizing Integrity: Elevating Values Beyond Hypocrisy

It turns out that telling your teenage child not to participate in underage drinking like you have done is more important than running the risk of being identified as a hypocrite. If your child calls out your hypocrisy have you as a parent lost the argument and therefore your child can now participate in underage drinking? Is that really your logic?!? The child won fair and square so what can you do – nothing?!?

Some things are more important than the danger of being labeled a hypocrite.

Navigating Morality: An Introspective Journey

Am I evil for eating animal products when I know the suffering that exists? I would say if I am to accept that I am evil, well then by this standard everyone on the planet is evil and maybe that’s something we have to embrace before we can truly heal as a global society. Maybe it’s only in our darkness that we can truly accept ourselves.

Certainly, life demonstrates, destruction and death as part of a never-ending cosmic dance. Is that evil, or is it only evil if we have the consciousness to make a choice? Is the lighting bolt that kills a child on the beach evil or does it get a free pass because no human-like decision was ever made? Is there a god-like entity making these decisions? Does this entity have a lot to answer for?

Did Jesus eat fish? Was he evil? Did he just not know any better? Is your beloved mother evil for eating chicken, even though you’ve shown her the footage of what happens to chickens in slaughterhouses?

What should we do with all these evil people, lock them up? It seems we are happy for them to be part of a free society, would we think the same thing of murderers and rapists – a comparison vegans often make to people who process animals.

Does eating animals undo any or all of the good doings of any individual? You’ve saved a child from a burning building, but you ate a steak so you’re going to hell.

Is being evil just a social construct or are there some things that are objectively evil?

If you’re an atheist you probably believe that the concept of good is subjective. If you believe in god then you believe the concept of good is objective. Although many atheists do believe in an objective good, which is something the atheist argument can’t justify. This objective morality has to be rooted in something that goes towards faith and belief in the unknown. So atheists in order to believe in an objective good, they have to believe in something they cannot prove, which means they believe in the very concept that underlines a belief of god.

Now if you are an atheist who only believes in a subjective concept of good, then that is a world that leads to us justifying any atrocity of ill fate. Life has no meaning other than the meaning we give it, it is what it is. I can kill your whole family and explain to you why I think that’s a good thing. Killing entire families is something that happens. While extreme it’s not so far-fetched that it is not part of reality.

Is the concept of God more than just a comforting belief? Indeed, beliefs are tangible aspects of human cognition, and as we all harbor various beliefs, the premise follows that if God is considered a belief and beliefs are genuine, then the reality of God is a valid consideration.

The Moral Weight of Destruction

I know I don’t want to hurt animals, but all of a sudden the moral weight of this seems insignificant. Not entirely; I don’t eat mammals, hence the hypocrisy that I live with. The cow is more valuable than the fish. I don’t know why that works for me; it makes no objective sense, but I find the cow to be more relatable, and the fish to be more distant from my thoughts.

For some, the fish is more important than the insect, the spider, the single-celled organism. There seems to be an invisible line that exists for everyone. For some people, it stops at humans, for others cows, for others chickens, for others fish, others worms. Are the people who don’t harm the worms more righteous than the people who do harm the worms? You eat potatoes, you kill worms, it’s that simple. Can you live with yourself for this act? Most people can.

So the vegan and the meat eater have something in common. The same logic that allows the person to kill the cow is the same logic that allows the vegan to harm the worm. In both cases, we do it as we feel there is a sense of insignificance.

Vegans and meat eaters it would appear are not so different after all.

At what point should we care?

We seem to collectively care at the point of humans. So the truth must be that if we find it relatable, then we care. If we don’t find it relatable, then we don’t care, and it’s ok. Of course, some people don’t care about humans, so just in case, we have laws and regulations in place to protect people regardless of how others think about humans. This logic and format do spread to animals but not to the same degree.

Unfortunately for the fish, we can’t relate to them because we can’t really interact with them in a meaningful way. So their life generally has less meaning to us. And this is what determines their fate. If you’re relatable, you’re safe; if you’re not relatable, you’re going to get eaten. This is at the core of the vegan argument. Cows have feelings, we have feelings, don’t hurt the cow.

Some insects and spiders have been shown to have feelings. How many ants are equal to one cow in terms of their moral value? Collective consciousness seems to be where the answer lies. If enough of us can just agree that a cow’s life is so relatable that we want to legally protect it, then we will. We live in a world where not enough people have decided this, so we still eat them and generally, we’re morally ok with that.

Fish are way, way down the line for consideration. Naturally, if you take it to its logical conclusion, you go from fish to shellfish, to fungi, to plants, to parasites, to single-celled organisms, to bacteria, to viruses. I’m not sure what’s beyond a virus, but there’s going to be something, maybe minerals, then to molecules, then to atoms, then to energy, and then the fabric of space-time. Beyond that lies pure consciousness. Maybe perhaps, I don’t know.

At what point does good stop and evil begin?

Good extends to the protection of animals for vegans, anyway, that’s for sure. They seem certain about that. Honestly, I agree with them; we should not hurt animals. And yet we do.

The ultimate question is to ask if there is an objective cruelty that we can all agree upon. One thing we can all agree upon from a scientific perspective is that animals have a central nervous system, and therefore we know beyond any reasonable doubt that animals do have a pain experience.

Now that we know animals objectively have a pain experience and we are in a position not to cause them direct suffering, the next question is if we are morally obligated to abstain from harming them, as the harm we cause them is seemingly unnecessary. The answer to that seems to lie in how relatable we find their pain experience as an individual.

A Documentary Like No Other

There is a mockumentary by comedic legend Simon Amstell – Carnage (2017). It is a brilliant piece of work; everyone should watch it. In this mockumentary, they have figured out a way to interpret animals through direct speech. This is brilliant because this is ultimately the best way vegans can show that animals are relatable. Could you eat a cow that is looking at you saying, “Please don’t eat me, what about my children”? Please watch it; it’s fantastic.

In the more realistic world of animal suffering, there is a documentary called Earthlings, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. This shows the horrific brutality of what happens to animals. Humans find this brutality relatable and are sensitive to it, which is the power of the documentary. Some people, however, are completely desensitized to animal suffering. A lot of people, in fact.

Another way to get the message to them is to relate to them through their health. This is why the documentary Forks Over Knives has done so well globally. It’s a documentary that shows how a plant-based diet can reverse chronic diseases and make you heart attack-proof. If someone becomes plant-based for health reasons, they are naturally going to be more susceptible to the ethical argument because it backs up their way of thinking.

We can see a similar approach to getting to veganism through an environmental approach as well, with the documentary Cowspiracy.

My Vegan Life

I’ve attended protests and animal rights marches, gone to vegan festivals, been a published vegan author (online articles), been a vegan volunteer for animal sanctuaries, and been involved in the setup and running of two vegan businesses (an online publication and a vegan food tour company). I’ve helped run vegan awareness events and have been featured in newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV, all due to my vegan lifestyle.

Additionally, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the world’s leading medical doctors on plant-based nutrition, including Dr. Neal Bernard in an interview, Dr. Michael Clapper while dining with him and his partner, and I even shook hands with the legend that is Dr. Colin T. Campbell at the Holistic Holiday at Sea – a vegan cruise in the Caribbean that I’ve been on three times. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet some of the most famous and effective vegan and animal rights influencers the world has ever seen, including Omri Paz – founder of Vegan Friendly, and the infamous Gary Yourofsky (We’ll talk more about him later).

Being a passionate vegan food lover, I’ve dined in some of the best vegan restaurants in New York, London, and Tel Aviv. Generally, when I traveled for fun or business, I was on a mission to visit as many vegan restaurants and eateries as I could. For someone to say I wasn’t a real vegan would be way, way off the mark.

I’ve been full of conviction with my vegan values, falling out with friends and family members, refusing to back down from confrontation because I believed the animals needed a voice.

The truth is that animals do need a voice. Their situation around the world is dire, and no matter how I live, I will believe in the vegan philosophy. I thank god we have animal rights activists and vegans alike. For billions of animals, earth is hell, and humans are the devil.

Vegan Frustration

One of the most frustrating aspects of being a vegan was encountering discussions with non-vegans who wouldn’t acknowledge the horrendous treatment of animals. I understand their love for meat or any animal product, but to deny the suffering inflicted upon these creatures was always the most exasperating part for me. It was frustrating because all parties involved knew it to be a falsehood.

Denying that we cause animals to suffer indicates either deception, willful ignorance, or a psychopathic mindset.

More than harboring resentment toward someone for consuming animal products, I found myself disheartened by individuals who could look me straight in the eye and lie – making a concerted effort to convince both me and themselves of the untruth. It’s peculiar for someone with a deep understanding of the plight of animals to be writing an article like this.

Where I Stand Now

Allow me to share where I stand in my lifestyle as a former vegan. I refrain from wearing animal products or using items tested on animals. Chicken, beef, pork, and any mammal are excluded from my diet, but I have reintroduced eggs, fish, and seafood. This shift hasn’t happened without reason.

Welcome to the World Baby x 3

Recently, I became a father of triplets, and this has had a significant impact on me. While my fiancée, Monica, was pregnant and vegan, she developed a strong food aversion. Food aversion during pregnancy is scary because we not only have to consider Monica’s nutritional needs but also those of the three humans growing inside her. It was a challenging time, and the plant-based foods weren’t staying down, exacerbating the food aversion. Desperate to find solutions, we reintroduced other foods, discovering that eggs, cheese, fish, beef, and chicken were better tolerated. Facing the nutritional needs of three growing beings, we were willing to try anything.

If your partner is pregnant with your babies and requires animal protein, you’d do anything to support her—even hunting the animal yourself.

Although Monica felt conflicted about what she was eating, I would take a bite from her plate as an act of moral support, demonstrating my full backing and assuring her there was nothing to feel guilty about; it was for our babies’ lives. Survival instincts sometimes override ethical considerations, leaving a profound impression on me—Monica’s body was rejecting plant-based food and craving animal-based food. I couldn’t explain it, but her body had spoken, and we both knew denial was not an option. My partner transitioned away from veganism, yet I persisted.

This event triggered the part of my brain that always questioned the nutritional aspects of a plant-based diet. Despite a rock-solid ethical argument, I harbored doubts about whether a 100% plant-based diet was optimal for human health throughout a lifetime (80 years+). My skepticism stemmed from a few reasons:

  1. Vegans are consistently encouraged to take supplements by medical professionals and dietary experts.
  2. I questioned the absence of examples of a 100% plant-based diet in nature.

Let me delve into the second point: While herbivorous animals like deer, rabbits, cows, sheep, goats, elephants, giraffes, horses, and pandas primarily eat plants, there’s a distinction between their diets and a human practicing a plant-based diet. An elephant’s diet includes contaminants (by human standards) like dirt, microbes, insects, spiders, grubs, and other tiny creatures, all consumed daily. The vegan, on the other hand, consumes plant-based food that is often cleaned, cooked, and, depending on the type of vegan, processed. A vegan is in no position to compare themselves to herbivorous animals, even if the herbivore’s diet is 99% plant-based, as it allows that 1% of animal products to supplement its dietary needs.

This is not an appeal to nature fallacy; rather, I’m highlighting that a modern-day vegan diet differs significantly from an herbivorous animal’s diet. While some vegans draw parallels with herbivores through memes, such comparisons are fallacious.

There are vegans who argue that the source of nutrients makes no difference to the body. However, humans, unlike herbivorous animals, lack the enzyme that breaks down plant cell walls. Therefore, we must chew our food thoroughly to achieve this breakdown, and our bioavailability of nutrients is affected by the delivery method. Unlike herbivores, humans do not have bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts that can degrade cell walls, necessitating cooking, preparation, and various forms of processing for the majority of our food. Failure to pay attention to bioavailability might result in passing nutrients through our system with minimal benefit.

Vegans and Supplements

Returning to the supplement point I mentioned, it’s crucial to note that while medical experts recommend vegans take supplements, the supplement industry doesn’t thrive solely on vegans. Given that vegans constitute a tiny proportion of the global population, the supplement industry wouldn’t exist if it depended solely on them. The majority of supplement users are regular animal eaters. Vegans, like everyone else on the planet, are advised to take supplements. However, vegans often receive an undue amount of credit for it.

When it comes to the healthiness of a vegan diet, a whole foods plant-based diet is undeniably healthy, potentially preventing many modern-day ailments such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and certain cancers. However, not all vegans adhere to such a healthy diet. Many opt for convenient processed foods like cheese alternatives, bread, mock meats, sweets, high-sugar sauces, and processed cereals. There’s also a tendency among vegans to glorify junk food, as was the case for me. My favorite vegan foods were often in the junk food category – juicy vegan burgers, hotdogs, burritos, donuts – I loved them all. Vegan festivals sometimes seem like a celebration of how much junk food can be made vegan, which is detrimental to the vegan lifestyle.

Certainly, the vegan world doesn’t have a monopoly on junk food. That honor belongs to our animal-eating counterparts, with the vast majority of junk food laden with animal products. Fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Subway, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, among others, are dominantly animal-based.

The point here is that vegans can’t effectively use health or environmental arguments for a vegan lifestyle if they indulge in sub-optimal foods that harm their health and the environment. A negative impact on the environment translates to a negative impact on animals.

Eating vegan junk food is akin to being a fake vegan – intending to do the right thing but executing it poorly. For many vegans, it’s a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” As a vegan, I would eat whatever I liked whenever I liked. As a vegan giving advice, I’d always emphasize a whole foods plant-based diet.

While I couldn’t prescribe your daily meals, I could certainly direct you to where you can get a vegan croissant. Vegan junk food might be appealing to the majority of vegans, but there is a solid movement for whole-food plant-based eaters, although they are a minority within a minority. It’s more like a nice club to be part of than a full-fledged movement. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy treats now and then, but when the treat becomes the new norm, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re masquerading as someone doing the right thing when, in reality, you’re a poser.

Activism or Coping Mechanism?

Your veganism has turned into a coping mechanism for dealing with the guilt associated with the daily suffering of animals. However, there’s a significant amount of cognitive dissonance in terms of the impact your lifestyle still inflicts on animals.

Raising Children Vegan

Another devastating blow to my vegan lifestyle occurred when the question arose, “Would I raise my children vegan?” The answer was an unequivocal “no.” There was no debate in my mind. Despite being vegan for 15 years, the idea of raising my own children as vegans was out of the question. Why? Because collectively, we know that an omnivore diet is effective for human development. I’m not claiming it’s perfect, but it’s the default that has worked for literally billions of people. My child is my responsibility, not my experiment

When entrusted with someone else’s life, I believe decisions should be conservative, especially on matters where you lack expertise. If you’re ignorant about a topic, making conservative decisions is the safest bet, minimizing the risk of irreversible consequences.

In terms of politics, individuals who believe they are more intelligent than they actually are tend to lean towards liberalism. This is why many liberal ideas in the United States are championed by college students. Having spent eight years in college/university, I can attest that upon leaving, you realize how little you know about the workings of the world.

Ah, college, where we all become honorary professors of “I Think I Know Everything.” It’s that magical time when you’re convinced you’ve cracked the code of the universe, but in reality, you’re just juggling existential crises and instant noodles. Now, suggesting that college students should be the architects of public policy is like asking a cat to run NASA—lots of enthusiasm, but the occasional hairball of misinformation. The ones yelling the loudest are usually the ones who misplaced their textbooks. It’s a strange phenomenon: the less people know, the more they want to lead the parade. It’s like our brains have a logic-emotion seesaw, and the emotions are doing all the heavy lifting. Welcome to the carnival of higher education!

Driving Confidently off a Cliff

Emotion can be excellent fuel, but you don’t put the petrol in the driving seat of the car. So now I had two things playing in my mind:

  1. Monica’s body was rejecting plant-based food and craving animal products.
  2. I would never risk my children’s health by making a non-conservative decision regarding their dietary needs.

Back to Survival Mode

As mentioned previously I had baby triplets – two boys and a girl. While this was a wonderful joy, it came with severe sleep deprivation. There is no more “meal time,” there is “eat whenever the hell you can” time. My body went back into a state of survival mode. In this state, I continued to eat plant-based food, but it just was not satisfying me. My body just couldn’t thrive on it any longer.

Eventually, I caved and said to Monica, “This isn’t working for me anymore; I’m really struggling with the vegan food.” Monica made me an omelet, and for the first time in months, I felt satisfied after a meal. I also noticed that the two-egg omelet was enough for me, which was really strange because, with vegan food, I eat so much in quantities. I generally need two to three plates of food before I feel satisfied, and usually, that just makes me very sleepy and lazy.

It really was one of the first things I noticed; I was happy and satisfied with much smaller quantities of food. I finish my plate and I’m good. I’m not sleepy; I feel fine and I can do more things, like help take care of the babies. So this got added to my list, which is now three things, let’s recap:

  1. Monica’s body rejected plant-based food and craved animal-based foods.
  2. I’d never raise my children vegan.
  3. Animal-based foods satisfied me in a way I have not been satisfied in 15 years.

The Little Things in Life

On top of this, there were other smaller things, such as I missed being part of my family. I know my family generally made an effort, but as a vegan, you’re always an outsider when it comes to basic family things like having breakfast together, celebratory dinners, or even something as simple as ordering a takeaway. It’s nice just to be able to order with them and feel like I’m part of the mix again.

I know that’s a pretty selfish benefit, but we are selfish. We have needs inside us that need to be fulfilled in order for us to be happy, and feeling like you’re part of something is one of the things that makes us happy and content with who we are. I always hated it when everyone would be having their beautiful meals, and I’d be eating chips and salad or something equally boring and often bizarre, like a bell pepper sandwich with walnuts (God only knows who comes up with these weird vegan menus) – it’s not vegan’s, that’s for sure. You know if a vegan came up with a vegan menu because it’s full of junk food.

I’d hate it when it was time for dessert at a restaurant, and my only options were the universal fruit salad or sorbet. These options would make me physically angry. I’ve always loved fruit and would have the odd sorbet here and there, but as a vegan, I grew to hate these options and the places that provided them. These little silly things contributed to me feeling bad about myself; it made me not want to spend time with my family. It turns out the little silly things actually matter.

The End of an Era

I’ve been vegan for 15 years (longer than most vegans), and the journey has come to an end for me. It may be a temporary end, but for now, I can no longer refer to myself as vegan. I do believe in the vegan cause, but I also know life and the reality of animal suffering is not as black and white as vegans want to believe.

I’m a landscape contractor, and part of my job is to mercilessly destroy animal habitats as a direct consequence of giving people a beautiful garden. This is my work; this is how I support my family and sustain myself. I’m constantly destroying habitats, depriving animals of their homes, and killing countless creatures in the pursuit of “beauty” and “livable” spaces.

One of Ireland’s most famous garden designers, Mary Reynolds, realized this at some point in her career, and she is now on a mission to get people to rewild their gardens as opposed to landscaping them in the traditional sense – in the sense that people like me landscape the garden. Fair play to Mary, but I’d have to say she’s starting a fight with the effect and not the cause. It’s like the war on terrorism; it’s not really dealing with the issue but instead dealing with the effect of the cause.

We can’t have roads, buildings, or any infrastructure for that matter without doing utter annihilation of ecosystems and animals. With our machines, we destroy established plants and mature trees to get exactly what we want. Every vegan benefits from this way of life; every vegan benefits from the fact that we destroy animals and their homes. If you work in an office, you’re no better off. You may be more detached from the consequences, but the negative environmental impact of your office far exceeds the negative environmental impact of any garden I create. It’s the difference between planting a few marigolds in your garden and the 9/11 terrorist attack.

The Hi-Tech Work From Home Ninja

You might argue that you work from home – obviously, that has its ripple effects as well, but I get your point. The thing is if we take that mentality to its logical conclusion, we end up confining ourselves more and more to the point where we don’t really have an outside life anymore. By that logic, the ultimate goal would be to hook yourself up to a load of machines so you never have to leave your home ever again. Just make a virtual world whereby we don’t impact the physical world at all and we leave it all to nature. Is that the dream, the ultimate vegan goal?

This is not an appeal to futility argument, but it is instead a reminder that vegans should not be so quick to judge others, as they are also in a position to be judged with the label of being a hypocrite. Compared to Jain people, for instance, pretty much all vegans are barbaric. They don’t even eat potatoes for fear of killing, worms, insects and microorganisms. To a Jain, vegans are basically as bad as meat eaters.

If you can be a vegan that kills worms, by the same logic can you be a vegan that eats meat?

When a vegan is enjoying a walk in a beautiful park, it would be well to remind the vegan that the park upon which they walk was once a thriving woodland (an ark for life if you will), home to an abundance of animals and critters big and small, just getting on with their lives. Once you add (p)eople to the (ark), it becomes a park. Every development comes at the price of death and destruction. It’s an unavoidable part of life.

Are Vegans Still Right?

The strength of the vegan argument lies in the fact that vegans contribute considerably less to animal deaths than those who consume animals directly. From my understanding, this is most likely true. Meat-eaters often argue about animals killed in harvesting crops; however, the majority of crops are used to feed livestock. Livestock consume considerably more than humans, and there are significantly more of them on the planet than humans. Even if vegans are responsible for animal deaths in the harvesting process, people who eat meat are accountable for the highest number of animals killed by crop harvesting. So, vegans win the ethical argument hands down, even though they may still contribute to the death of animals, it’s considerably less.

The vegan movement is not about absolution but mitigation. It’s the ethical equivalent of considering which is more ethical: killing 10 people or killing 1,000 people. Naturally, killing 10 people is the lesser of two evils and therefore the more ethical choice.

When acting on a global scale, simplicity becomes virtually impossible. We’re dealing with complex, multi-layered systems that have incredible ripple effects on societies as a whole. Being vegan still results in the death of animals, which is why vegans must be careful when judging others, as they risk falling into the web of hypocrisy.

What Makes for an Effective Vegan?

An effective vegan is a strategic vegan, not an extremist one. Those who will have the greatest influence on society are the innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs, politicians, and business people. They can see the bigger picture, spot trends and cycles, and act accordingly. For instance, the creation of lab-grown meat and meat substitutes will do more for veganism and animal rights than any impassioned vegan throwing “blood” at a butcher shop window.

I believe in plant-based business and invest in Beyond Meat through eToro, a business that has been a fantastic worldwide success, making a massive impact and offering a real option to reduce meat consumption. I invest in businesses where I’m a direct consumer, applying this methodology for insight into where I’m putting my money.

Spreading love like a hippie will only appeal to other hippies and never the masses. Their message is sweet but ineffective at helping animals on a global or even a local scale. You’re just getting a bunch of fellow tie-dye enthusiasts nodding in agreement. Love may make the world go ’round, but sometimes you need a bit more than a flower crown and good vibes to tackle global animal issues. It’s like bringing a ukulele to a heavy metal concert – charming, but not exactly the right tool for the job.

Vegans often spend an incalculable amount of time arguing about trivial matters. The “vegan police” call each other out on technicalities, damaging the cause and creating more barriers of entry for people who would otherwise join the cause.

Banging your feet, even on the scale of Greta Thunberg, is sweet and full of hope, but the engineer who studies in isolation and figures out a way to clean our oceans of plastic will have more of a positive effect on the environment than Greta. If Greta really wanted to help the environment, ironically, she would stay in school.

The animals do need a voice, and at this moment, it’s not me, but I do support anyone who wants to be that voice.

A Pescatarian – Because We Love Labels

As it stands, I’m a pescatarian, a father to triplets, and one soon-to-be step-son, a business owner, and partner to my darling fiancée, Monica. I lasted 15 years as a vegan and convinced many along the way. I’ve met some of the greatest minds in the world on the topic, made great friends, had tons of amazing food, experienced wonderful moments, and stood alone only with the strength of my convictions.

Over the course of 15 years, I’ve heard every argument against veganism, and honestly, they were all stupid, ridiculous, and scraping the bottom of the logic barrel. I always knew nobody on the planet could convince me to not be vegan. It turns out I was right, as they weren’t born yet.

The future is vegan, even if my present is not

I believe technology and enterprise are what will bridge the gaps we see today. It will become commonplace to eat fish, chicken, and eggs that have been grown precisely in a lab to meet our desires and expectations of how this food should be. It will be like any change; first, we will reject it, but it will win us all over in the end because it will just make sense. Once it makes sense financially, the hearts and minds of the masses will follow. It’s always the way. The traditional forms of producing animal products will become obsolete. It will be a slowly dying industry over the next 20-30 years. But it will die. That is for sure.

Government Subsidies and an Unjust Economy

Meat production is so inefficient even by today’s standards that it is only sustainable due to government subsidies. This means it’s a failed business model, and we prop it up with taxpayers’ money. But fundamentally, it doesn’t work as a business. It costs more money to produce meat than what it’s sold for.

In Ireland, you can buy an entire frozen chicken for €4.50 in your local Tesco. Just think about it. That chicken is between 2 to 4 months old before it’s slaughtered (still relatively an infant/baby) – chickens can live between 10-15 years. When you’re eating chicken, you’re eating a baby animal. It had to be laid, nurtured, reared, protected, maintained, transported, slaughtered, cleaned, transported again, packaged, advertised, kept frozen, sold to a wholesaler or private reseller, and then sold to a customer.

If you think, even on a massive scale, that the chicken can be sold for €4.50 and make a profit for farmer Murphy, which would then be taxed, you are bat-shit crazy. Every single chicken sold is sold at a loss, and nobody even questions it. The wholesaler/reseller doesn’t get hit with the loss; no, the loss is at the end of the farmer, which is why they are subsidized. It’s a sector of the animal agricultural industry that cannot survive without direct government handouts. This creates a false economy, propped up for political reasons.

It’s hard to calculate as the subsidies often come in an indirect form, such as marketing campaigns supported by the government, like “Eat Beef” and “Got Milk,” being two of the most famous worldwide. Can you imagine how much taxpayers’ money went into these campaigns just to prop up a broken business model that, for a myriad of reasons, governments are desperate to sustain?

It could be argued that a small loss accrued at the beginning is necessary to support many other more profitable forms of commerce within society, and that therefore justifies the subsidy. But that is incredibly biased logic. Nobody pays the real cost of meat. The common ground beef burger should probably cost about €30 if we were to cover all expenses and make a profit from it. People aren’t buying a pack of 2 burgers in Tesco for €60, that’s for sure.

Vegans cry about the cost of the Beyond Burger, but at least you’re paying for it at a price that works. So you should have a sense of pride when purchasing your plant-based Beyond Burger. You’re supporting a superior market. You’re supporting logic.

We can’t keep making up the deficit indefinitely by propping up the industry with subsidies and expanding farmland into natural land areas to increase the scale to meet demand. Eventually, it all falls to pieces. The output exceeds the input. We will exhaust our resources. We have already. It doesn’t work. You don’t need to be an economist or an environmentalist to figure that out.

A Broken World

We live in a broken world, and vegans are trying to put it back together. Even if they haven’t got all the facts, they are trying, and they should be commended for that because they are not just talking; they are taking action, and that action starts with themselves. That’s honorable in a world where people think complaining passes off as activism, or adding comments like “thoughts and prayers” in their social media, or changing their profile picture to some sort of symbol. It’s all nonsense; at least vegans are putting their money where their mouth is. I think even Piers Morgan (a prominent anti-vegan) would respect them for that.

Being a vegan is a very simple solution to an incredibly complex problem. If you want to make the world a better place, you need to understand the world better. The best way to understand the world better is to understand yourself better. The reason being that making yourself better is complex, and if you can’t even make yourself better, what chance have you got of making the world better?

People would rather focus on world issues and not themselves because making yourself better requires discipline, making the world better just has to make you look self-righteous. Making yourself better would require you to make changes, while making the world better often just results in your complaining and blaming others for not behaving as you behave. People can’t even lead themselves to a better salary, yet they want to lead the world to peace, resolve poverty and world hunger, and cure cancer while they’re at it. For goodness sake, is your bed even made?!?

Be vegan, for crying out loud, but don’t stand on people’s heads as you do it. Yes, animals are dying, and it’s horrific, and change does start with the individual. But if you want change, don’t just come along for the ride; be a beacon of change, make your life incredible, inspire others, don’t just scoff plant-based protein bars, and look down on others for not following suit. Typing #veganlovebaby surprisingly won’t rid the world of animal suffering or encourage others to go vegan. You’re just a mouthpiece, posing as an activist.

The Irony of Hunting

Ironically, and I hate to say this, but possibly the most environmental and ethical way to live would be to hunt animals and only consume what you yourself hunt. This undoubtedly leads to the least harm to nature, requires the least infrastructure, and has the smallest carbon footprint. From an ethical point of view, the animal lived free on its terms and hopefully is killed instantly without any prior knowledge of what was about to happen. This tactic would have the least amount of ripples and therefore the easiest for nature to recover from and compensate for. It would massively reduce our meat consumption globally and leave the majority of land on the planet to wildlife. Yes, an animal does die, but it’s one animal as opposed to the many that are killed in the creation of arable farmland and harvesting of crops.

So, if you compare hunting to veganism, hunting is, in fact, the lesser of two evils. It kind of resembles what we see in native tribes around the world. We refer to them as primitive, but in some ways, they are ethically superior to us Westerners. For such a lifestyle to be valid, however, you would only be allowed to eat the animals you hunt. No purchasing of meat or animal products for you. You wouldn’t even be allowed to share what you hunt. So it’s a very impractical way to live, especially in a modern world. For this reason, bringing practicality back into the equation, veganism still wins the ethical argument and the environmental one.

Of course, collectively we want to live in a world where we don’t cause harm to animals, in much the same way that we want to live in a world that abolishes slavery. But roll on 2023, and slavery is still rampant around the world. It could also be argued that it still very much exists, however, it takes on different forms. We have sweatshop workers with suicide nets outside their buildings to catch them when they jump, workers wearing adult nappies so they don’t stop for a toilet break, workers in prison creating goods for little to no money. A booming sex trade black market and child slavery. Is this what we mean when we say slavery is abolished?!?

A very specific type of slavery was abolished in very specific geographical locations, but to say it doesn’t exist is delusional. Slavery has become commonplace to the point where it’s just a part of life and the world in which we live. We know it’s happening, but it’s in the background, far enough away so that we can comfortably ignore it while we use our iPhones and wear our Nike runners.

Animals will always suffer, and so will humans; the question is how much of it can we reasonably avoid, and are we striving to reduce this suffering, or are we actively contributing to it? If you buy products that are built on the backs of sweatshops, you are actively contributing to a form of slavery. Their minimal payment may be their best option and opportunity to survive in the moment of where they are in their lives. In some way, they may have chosen to be there, but really for them not working there means they will not be able to live and feed themselves. So a choice perhaps, but one made out of complete desperation upon which somebody is significantly profiting from. Technically not slavery I know, but this is what I would refer to as modern-day slavery. Perhaps a weak argument for the existence of slavery. But if the options are life or death, what kind of choice is that?!?

Kudos to you for not eating beef, but you are probably supporting many establishments that do benefit off the backs of animals.

Some People Think Their Poop don’t Stink

I see so many vegans posting sanctimonious memes, indulging in their own self-importance while, in reality, doing absolutely nothing to help the animals. You don’t get to rest on your laurels as a passive vegan and, at the same time, be a hero to the animals. It doesn’t work like that; a hero is never a passive bystander on an issue. They are more than a spectator; they are people of action.

I see so many vegans complaining about the price of vegan products, not taking into consideration that these vegan business people are actually the ones making a difference and giving the people of the world real genuine options.

A Life Path Led by Emotions

When it comes down to it, a cow’s cry or a picture of a suffering animal will override any logical conclusion I type.

We are often governed by our emotions more than our logic, but it doesn’t mean that a thought or decision led by emotion is a better one. It just means that this is the common way – to be led by emotions. This is very prevalent when we make decisions collectively. In that situation, logic falls to the wayside, and the conclusion that drives the most emotion will be the winner in our hearts and minds. It doesn’t make it the right decision; it just makes it the winning decision.

Of course, advertisers and politicians know this all too well and will often run campaigns that engage with us emotionally more than logically. Let’s look at Trump’s famous campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” It’s ridiculous, it means nothing or something different to everyone, which is the same as meaning nothing. It sounds positive and constructive. It sounds like an answer to a question that nobody ever asked. It was effective, powerful, and got a TV reality star/billionaire elected into one of the most powerful positions in the world. It can’t be defined in any meaningful way, but surely making America great again is better than not making America great again?!?

A lot of democratic decisions are emotional ones. The majority rules regardless of whether it is the smart way to go or not. This is why politicians love taking photos with babies and appealing to the needs of the minorities. It makes them look like thoughtful caring people. This is something we can relate to. Through this emotional manipulation, they can make a claim for our votes.

Anybody in combat sports will tell you that if you want to win a fight, you have to remain calm, relaxed, and ready. Once you get emotional, you exert energy in the wrong places, make mistakes, and get knocked out. This is the reason fighters will try to wind each other up. They know making the other fighter emotional will play in their favor. UFC fighter Conor McGregor was obviously one of the best at this game in the world. He based his entire career as a UFC fighter on driving the other fighters crazy.

Effective Vegan Activists

Many vegans, in their roles as activists, resemble emotional fighters. Their passion is often what stands in their way of being effective, and they end up in silly arguments that they can’t win. One of the best vegan activists on the planet is Earthling Ed. This guy is incredible at staying composed, articulate, and on point. I’ve never seen him lose a debate on the topic. Ed is a true warrior for the animals. He is the type of person the animals need.

Another world-famous activist who started out amazingly ultimately ended up a fallen hero – Gary Yourofsky. He let his emotions get the better of him and went on the offensive. His effective message was drowned out by his aggressive and irritable character. He became a clown for the media. He made the movement look bad, like all vegans are crazy extremists. He became an emotional fighter, making comparisons to rape, the Holocaust, and other psychotic behaviors. He just became a public freak that people wanted to watch for entertainment to see what he would say or do next.

The Holocaust From a Vegan Perspective

The issue with comparing the animal industry to the Holocaust is that there is a significant difference insofar as the Holocaust had a goal of eliminating the Jewish community, whereas with animal agriculture, the goal is to constantly reproduce the animals; there is no intention whatsoever to eliminate the species. Ironically, if we stopped animal farming, that would eliminate the species, as these animals are domesticated to the point where they would not survive in the wild, and the market for housing them would be extremely limited. In a very sick twisted way, eating animals is what makes farm animals some of the most thriving species the earth has ever experienced. This is not a reason to sustain it; it’s just a dark, twisted, hellish reality.

There are comparisons within the Holocaust that can be used, however, such as how we abuse animals, gas them, and completely control them to the point where we forcibly take their life from them. So there are some valid comparisons to the Holocaust and Hitler’s Nazi regime. We don’t look upon them as sentient individuals, but instead as commodities that need to be processed. We strip them of their individuality, mark them with stamps, branding irons, and tags for them to enter into a conveyor belt of mass production. In the camps of the Holocaust, people were marked for different reasons prior to the process of their elimination/murder, so with animals, something similar happens, and therefore we draw this conclusion that there is a valid comparison between how we treat animals today and how Jews were treated in the Holocaust.

A very bleak comparison, but there is valid logic there. Perhaps this is part of the reason why Israel has one of the highest percentages of vegans in the world. Perhaps they relate to the plight of farmyard animals more than the rest of the world.

Now back to Gary Yourossky, in his heyday, Gary brought millions of people to veganism and pretty much started a vegan revolution in Israel. So yes, he went a bit crazy, but he had a few good moments beforehand. I remember having a conversation with Gary, one-on-one, and he was so intense, right up in my face. It was so uncomfortable. I was on his side; he didn’t need to convince me of anything. That’s really what I remember of him – an incredibly passionate and frustrated man, ready to snap.

If you want to be a champion for the animals, you can’t be an emotional fighter. This is real life; it’s not an audition for a Rocky movie. You’re not a politician looking for votes. You’ve got a message, and that message must be delivered effectively if you want to have knockout power. Certainly, at one point, Gary had tremendous knockout power. Probably the most influential vegan activist I’ve ever come across. He had this one lecture on YouTube, and people would watch it and go vegan overnight.

Activist or Consumer?

If you think you’re being an activist by being a consumer, remember consumers effectively do what sales and marketing experts tell them to do. They follow trends and keep things flowing; they don’t actually change anything unless they are instructed to by the media and the government. Being a consumer is not a form of activism. It’s just living your life. The entrepreneurs spot the opportunities driven by consumers, and marketers capitalize on the trends driven by consumers. The consumer is always being played based on the illusion of choice. The goal of the consumer is to be comfortable, satisfied, and distracted.

I say the above knowing full well I am a consumer. Do I really believe I need a Starbucks coffee? Do I need another pack of biscuits? Are the cakes I’m buying improving my life in any meaningful way? I, like the rest of us, in certain moments, want to be comfortable, satisfied, and even distracted.

No matter how you spend your money, your money will always end up in the pockets of the people who understand how money works. The world will not go vegan because you happened to buy 10,000 vegan donuts. All that will do will make a company like Krispy Kreme stop for a moment and say, “Hey, I think there may be an opportunity here.” Then they bring out their own vegan donuts, and vegans flock in celebration and give their vegan dollars to Krispy Kreme.

You could take all the money on the planet and divide it up equally; within 6 months, you’d have the super-rich, the rich, the middle class, the poor, and the poverty-stricken. The rich will always get richer because they understand money; it doesn’t matter who you choose to give it to. What matters is how much you are willing to invest in understanding how things work.

If you change from a capitalist society to a socialist society, money may have less power, however, a new power will become the currency, and again, you’ll have your social divides. Money is a globally shared and agreed-upon idea that takes on the form of power; it can potentially be replaced with a different form, but the exact same thing will happen. You’ll have people with a lot of power and people with hardly any power. Maybe one day the currency will be water, or space, or a precious mineral, or political points, or information. Now it’s money.

The Utter Stupidity of Neil Degrasse Tyson

I can tell you after being vegan for 15 years that there are no logical arguments against veganism. The best people can do when arguing against veganism is go into the realm of the absurd and the extreme, painting fantastic hypothetical pictures of potential scenarios, much like Neil Degrasse Tyson did when he was being interviewed by Humane Hancock. In 15 years of being vegan, I’ve never seen someone go for such a Hail Mary of a vegan counterargument as Neil did in this interview. OMG, he must have been on magic mushrooms just before sitting down for this one. He talked about aliens that were based on “plant-based” lifeforms watching us eating “baby” carrots and how barbaric they would find us for doing so.

As a vegan, when you hear an argument so absurd, the best thing you can do is just walk away. You are arguing with someone who has no intention of taking you seriously. He’s an educated TV personality that loves to entertain. He is a scientific populist for which he does deserve credit. Certainly, he has turned people to pay attention to scientific matters, perhaps better than anyone that has attempted such a feat. If he needs to go into the realm of the absolute absurd to make a point, well then he has not got a valid point to make. We can use our imagination to justify anything. Which is exactly why we don’t use our imagination to justify ourselves.

Nobody Ever: “Why did you murder that man?”

ME: “Because I believe in a multi-dimensional reality whereby if I didn’t murder him, billions of lives would be lost. By murdering him, I potentially saved billions of people in other galaxies. In a way, you should be celebrating what I did.”

You see Neil; this is why your argument has no weight.

A lot of people make environmental claims against veganism, but they don’t hold up when compared to the overall mitigative effects of veganism. So usually the counterargument is that a vegan lifestyle causes environmental issues, which is true, but what they fail to do is compare it like-for-like against the animal-based lifestyle. If they did, they would see that from an environmental perspective, an animal-rich lifestyle causes significantly more damage to the environment than a plant-rich lifestyle.

The same goes for animal suffering; vegans do cause animal suffering, but a lot less than our meat-loving friends. The idea that you can find one bad thing about the vegan way of life and then use that as your basis to say vegans are wrong is as absurd as Neil’s plant-based alien lifeforms.

Mixed Messages

This article may carry a lot of mixed messages, but in the end, we are all on our own journey with its many twists and turns. If a vegan reads this, the ideas I would want them to take from it would be to be less judgmental of others that do not adhere to their lifestyle. If you want to make the world vegan, that’s wonderful, but work on a solution that requires you to be the best version of yourself as opposed to being a passive vegan that stuffs your face with vegan junk food.

Generally, there are no strong arguments against veganism. The best people can do is either point out hypocrisy like Piers Morgan does or enter into the world of the absurd like Neil deGrass Tyson does. Both are incredibly weak arguments.

Pointing out hypocrisy is not a valid counterargument because you are arguing against the person and not the point, and entering into the world of the absurd is hypothetical, so it’s arguing against reality by entering into a world that is not based in reality.

The Only Valid Argument Against Veganism

There is, however, one argument against veganism that does work, and vegans must take this argument seriously. which is:

If you can’t be healthy on a vegan (plant-based) diet, then you should not be vegan.

In my personal experience, there are people like this, such as my partner Monica. I can stand back and say honestly, she should not be vegan. I would be against her being vegan. It would be irresponsible of her as a mother to eat only plant-based foods. She was vegan for 2 years; she doesn’t consume junk food, drink alcohol, overeat, or smoke, and veganism went against her health.

This is a valid argument against veganism, which vegans do not openly accept, which reduces their credibility, as it shows they are blocking information from coming to light. This is a mistake and in no way helps the vegan movement.

I do believe vegans are on the right side of history and the cause will march on without me, for now. I have to live for me and my family. When it comes down to it, that’s all that really matters (for now).