Got a question?
Here's our frequently asked questions.
Vegan Issues - where do we stand?
As well as the questions below which you might be asked, there are many issues and opinions around veganism, from the stance on abolition or laboratory meat to vaccinations and organic farming. We have outlined many of these issues in our Vegan Issues section.
Where do you get your protein?
Vegans can get plenty of protein!
Plant-based protein can be found mainly in legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soy products like tofu, soy milk, edamame, tempeh), but it is also “hiding” in many other foods we eat, like nuts and seeds, grains, even a few grams in some vegetables like broccoli and mushroom.
To meet your protein needs, aim to include legumes daily and to have a protein source in each meal for a balanced diet, as it is important for growth, repairing body tissue, making enzymes, hormones, and antibodies.
Athletes require higher amounts of protein, but with proper planning, it’s easy to consume a sufficient amount.
What about complete protein? The idea of a complete protein is that it contains all the essential amino acids (the ones humans can’t make). Animal proteins tend to have enough of all the essential amino acids to be called complete, but only a few plant proteins (soy, quinoa) do. However, if we eat a variety of protein sources, we still get enough of each essential amino acid!
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics determined in a position paper on vegetarian and vegan diets that the term “complete protein” is misleading, stating that “Protein from a variety of plant foods, eaten during the course of a day, supplies enough of all indispensable (essential) amino acids when caloric requirements are met.”
But you need cows milk to make your bones strong
But you need cows milk to make your bones strong
The myth that cow’s milk is pretty much liquid calcium for thirsty bones was a marketing strategy created to promote milk around the time of World War II.
It’s true that you need calcium to make your bones and teeth strong and it’s also true that you can get all the calcium you need from a vegan diet! Plant sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables like kale, beans like baked beans and black beans, chickpeas, almonds, brazil nuts, unhulled/whole tahini, and many plant milks are fortified with calcium (look for 100mg+ per 100mL on the label) and readily available at supermarkets.
But plants have feelings too!
This may seem absurd, but it’s a popular comment!
Plants react to environmental conditions in various ways but that shouldn’t be confused with having sense perception, which implies consciousness.
The evolutionary function of pain is its potential to get one out of harms way. While immobile beings (e.g. plants) would indeed need to sense their environment and react to it, there is no reason to believe pain would serve any function in a stationery being.
It therefore makes no evolutionary sense for plants to experience pain and there is absolutely no evidence that they do.
In contrast, it makes evolutionary sense for mobile beings to experience pain in order to motivate immediate retreat from harm’s way and there is a wealth of evidence showing animals have the anatomy and function of pain.
Regardless, it takes more plants to feed animals to feed humans than it does to use plants to feed humans directly.
But the New Zealand economy depends on dairy
Tourism has overtaken dairy as the largest export in NZ, as this article shows. The dairy industry destroys the environment and the “clean green” image that New Zealand likes to portray, which is key to the tourism industry.
Also a recent study shows that the cost of cleaning up the dairy industries environmental damage is close to 15 billion, which is similar to the export value, leaving a close to nil balance.
That said, the thousands of New Zealand farmers that have invested in dairy and animal farming would benefit from public and governmental support if they wish to escape the animal agriculture treadmill and make a transition to sustainable farming.
You can help by signing our petition!
Where do you get B12?
B12 is the only vitamin that needs to be supplemented on a vegan diet.
The reason for this is not that a vegan diet is naturally inadequate – it occurs in soil and we’d get it through growing and eating our own vegetables, or through animals eating plants and passing it on. Now that NZ soil is more nutrient poor it doesn’t occur so readily, so even animals get it supplemented in their feed.
Non animal-eaters need to supplement directly and this is done easily by consuming fortified foods (such as soy milk, soy yogurt, marmite, nutritional yeast), by taking supplements, or by a regular 3 month injection (visit your doctor for information). Recommended dose 50mcg a day or 2000 a week.
But what if you were stranded on a deserted island, would you eat the animals or starve to death?
Hmm. If you instead found yourself on a planet where you had access to unlimited fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and other healthy foods, and knew animals suffer and die horrible deaths just so you could eat them when you don’t need to eat them to survive or be healthy, would you continue to eat them?
The difference between the questions is that your scenario will never happen and mine is the choice you are facing right now. Which do you believe is worth answering?
It’s a personal choice though?
If a personal choice directly affects the lives of others human or animal, then is it really a personal choice?
If you saw someone kicking a dog, or beating a child – in front of you, would you try to stop them or would you consider it that person’s personal choice?
The reason we ‘interfere’ with what others eat isn’t because we care what they eat so much as that they are hurting others in the process.
But soy bean production is destroying the rainforests?
The majority of the worlds soy beans are used in farm animal feed (about 70%), so the logical way to stop soy related deforestation is actually to stop consuming meat. This is very well explained by onegreenplanet.org.
Vegans think they're superior
This is a defensive argument that some people like to use. Veganism is a moral position that opposes exploiting and otherwise harming nonhuman animals.
It would be hard to disagree with this position and yet people continue to eat and abuse animals. There is therefore a disconnect and a psychological reflex to undermine the person who has acted for the good of others, when the person commenting finds themselves unwilling to do so. Don’t let it get to you!
But we would be overrun with cows and sheep if we didn’t eat them!
We have destroyed 40% of the world’s wildlife since the 70s to grow and feed over 80 billion animals every year, for human consumption!
What will happen when we stop eating them? As demand subsides, so will the numbers of animals produced for slaughter over time and we’ll eventually end up with a more balanced domestic/wildlife scenario.
But God told us to eat animals
The bible says,
GEN 1:29 “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.'”
GEN 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Some have used the idea of human dominion to justify the eating of non-human animals.
There is one simple point which counts decisively against any such interpretation of ‘dominion’. Humans are given dominion over other animals immediately prior to and as part of the very same narrative in which God gives humans a plant-based diet. Whatever ‘having dominion over’ means, then, if God’s subsequent institution of a plant-based diet is to make any sense, it cannot involve the permission to kill and eat animals: dominion simply does not mean complete and utter domination.
And finally Ex 20:13 “thou shall not kill” this is very specific and doesn’t say “don’t kill humans”. It says don’t kill, not to interpret this to mean any living thing is disrespectful to God!
What about all those animals killed in the combine harvester? Vegans cause more deaths than meat eaters…
Again this is a very defensive argument and one that is swiftly ‘put to rest.’
Most grain in this world is fed to animals raised for food.
The US alone could feed 800 million people with the grain that livestock eat, a Cornell Ecologist advises animal scientists.
Also the Amazon rainforest is being cut down at a horrendous rate to provide soy for beef cattle, not soy for vegans.
I could never be vegan, I like cheese too much
I am not surprised you mention cheese, as cheese and dairy is by far the thing mentioned as most tricky to give up (more than meat!)
Did you know that dairy/cheese contains an opioid called casomorphine – it behaves in the same way that other opioids do and would work well to keep baby calves addicted to their mother’s milk so they can grow into giant animals!
So cheese really is addictive!
Here is a short talk on cheese. Luckily there are alternatives that are getting better all the time!
Well the animals are dead already so I may as well eat them!
This is another defensive arguement.
Animals are bred purely for you to eat them, so when you stop eating them and they will stop being bred for slaughter. If the dead animals in the supermarket (no you can’t save those ones) don’t get purchased, the supermarket will reduce it’s subsequent orders and so on.
Last year 400 million less animals were bred to be killed due to people decreasing their meat intake.
Another version of this is regarding leather – when people say it’s a bi-product of the meat industry so would have been wasted otherwise. Leather is a valuable trade and the meat/animal industry is entangled and codependent. It is essential to therefore reduce demand for ANY animal product. If you can’t save the skin of the animal in that handbag, you can reduce future demand by not buying it.
Isn't soy unhealthy?
Tofu, soymilk, miso, tempeh, edamame—these and other soy products, including the soybeans themselves, are high in nutrients including fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein, and zinc.
Soybeans naturally contain a class of phytoestrogens called isoflavones. People hear the word ‘estrogen’ in the word ‘phytoestrogens’ and assume that means soy has estrogen-like effects.
Estrogen has positive effects in some tissues and potentially negative effects in others. For example, high levels of estrogen can be good for the bones but can increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Ideally, you’d like what’s called a “selective estrogen receptor modulator” in your body that would have proestrogenic effects in some tissues and antiestrogenic effects in others. Well, that’s what soy phytoestrogens appear to be. Soy seems to lower breast cancer risk, an antiestrogenic effect, but can also help reduce menopausal hot-flash symptoms, a proestrogenic effect. Read more here …
Phytoestrogens are found in many other foods as well, such as apples, oats, sesame seeds, flaxseed, lentils, rice, carrots, mint, ginseng, beer, and pomegranates. Even if you completely avoid eating soy, you’re very likely still consuming phytoestrogens – but that’s not a problem.
Wasn't Hitler a vegetarian?
In 1938 Hitler’s doctors put him on a meat-free diet and his public image as a vegetarian was fostered. It is speculated that his reasons were for health rather than animal welfare.
Who are some of the purported vegetarians and vegans in history?
Einstein, Gandhi, Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci (who is said to have read about the life of Pythogoras, concluding that he did not want his body to “be a tomb for other creatures.”), Pythagoras, Buddha, St Francis of Assisi, Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin (he called eating animals ‘unprovoked murder’).