Things We Wish Vegans Didn’t Do

ep132

We’re vegan. We love vegans. We promote veganism.

So it might seem strange for us to take a few digs at our fellow plant-based animal lovers … but that’s exactly what we’re about to do.

Just because you’re part of a community, doesn’t mean you have to love everything about that community. And in today’s episode, Doug and I decided to put all that out there.

We strap on our boxing gloves and get a little punchy.

I’m sure this isn’t going to please everyone, but that’s not the point. The hope is that our beloved vegan community is open to dialogs like this … even if when we don’t always all agree.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Can vegans compromise?
  • The problem with unscientific claims
  • Fake meats vs. real foods
  • Shaming vegetarians
  • “Vegans don’t get sick.” Or do they?
  • Doug’s chicken coop dilemma

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Comments

  1. Amanda Lucas says:

    Hey! I am so glad you brought up the chicken coop dilemma! I am curious why having a chicken coop that is well taken care of (or even domestic pets for that matter) is such a no-no for vegans? I am new to this so please excuse my ignorance to the subject. My understanding was as a vegan you want to cause as little harm to the animals of our planet as possible. So naturally the horrible conditions of factory farms is something to avoid at all costs. But if I were to raise chickens not to eat, but just as beautiful funny animal friends, how am I doing harm? I mean what if they are chickens rescued from slaughter? Am I missing something?

    • I wouldn’t frown upon somebody raising rescued chickens (great for you for wanting to house and rescue chickens from their terrible current conditions!). The issue at question for vegans is what to do with the eggs of home grown chickens and is it vegan to eat the eggs? Here’s a piece of an article I’ve read on the topic of “Is it Ethical to Eat Eggs from Home Grown Chickens?” posted on “The Vegan Woman” website:

      “In their natural state, hens only lay eggs until they have a full nest. At this point, they would naturally stop laying eggs and start nesting. The egg industry interrupts this natural process by constantly removing the eggs, therefore constantly encouraging the chickens to lay more eggs to fill their nest.
      The laying of every single egg involves great effort on the hen’s part. In intense farming situations, some chickens even die in the process as a result of the pressure on their laying organs.
      Every egg also involves a tremendous loss of calcium from the hen. This goes to producing the shell of the egg, protecting what would be their future babies. In the egg industry, most hens have been genetically nurtured for productivity purposes; the animals are brought to the very edge of their egg production capabilities, and therefore suffer from a tremendous loss in calcium which in many cases leads to disease and painful deaths.
      But what has this got to do with home grown eggs?
      One of the ways hens can restore the terrible calcium loss is by eating their own eggs.
      While many websites teach people how to prevent hens from eating their own eggs, so that they could get to steal them first, we must understand that by not taking their eggs, we are helping the hens in two ways:
      1. We are not encouraging them to lay more eggs.
      2. We are allowing them to restore the nutrients they have lost by allowing them to eat their own eggs.
      To encourage the hens to eat their eggs and restore their nutritional needs, cracking the eggs slightly helps to initiate the consumption process. A cracked egg means an egg that won’t turn into a chick, which in turn allows the hen to eat it. Some even boil the eggs and give them back to the chickens to eat if they do not eat the fresh ones. Needless to say that in the egg and chicken industry, no one does them such favours.
      What if the hen doesn’t eat them? What then?
      One of the common concerns expressed by our community members was the wastage of the eggs, if they were not eaten by the hens, or collected and consumed. Assuming that there is no male around, and the eggs aren’t fertilized, will they not just be wasted?

      For many of us it is very clear that even if they were “wasted”, they are better off wasted than consumed, due to the terrible health damages they cause to your arteries. The question for those of us who are vegan for ethical reasons still remains open though.

      If there are still some eggs left after the hen’s consumption, there are still other ways to use the eggs for a better purpose:

      One of my favourite stories is of a lovely vegan bed and breakfast in Australia that also serves as a farm sanctuary. They sell leftover eggs to people who would otherwise buy eggs from the egg and chicken industry. While selling eggs to people has its problems – as it might seem to normalize the consumption of eggs – they are still achieving three goals with their actions:
      1. The chickens get to enjoy their eggs for their nutritional benefits.
      2. They are helping to minimize the profit of the cruel egg and chicken industry buy having people buying from them rather than the farmers.
      3. All the money they make from the chicken’s eggs goes straight back to the chicken’s benefit in the form of the food they buy them, the shelter they provide and the veterinary care they need.
      And if you are still not convinced, you could always use the leftover eggs for making compost.”

      Hope that helped!

  2. I don’t normally make public comments but as a current ovo-lacto vegetarian who occasionally lapses to pescetarian, I wanted to let Doug know that he showed compassion, not for the chickens, but for the people who raise them. What better way to nudge them into dropping animal protein in the future because a vegan was kind and not condescending or judgmental?
    That attitude goes a long way for people who don’t treat their farm animals like battery operated machines. It’s a plus from people who are OLV yet buy their eggs from big grocery chains!
    Going a bit OT, this brought to mind my grandmother’s story about her pet hen who gave her an egg everyday during the 2-year Japanese Seige during WWII. She was pregnant at the time and that sole egg nourished her and her soon to be born son. She protected that little hen with her life, hiding her in her dress while the Japanese soldiers ransacked their home looking for something to eat!
    I’m also guessing they don’t have a rooster? That means those eggs aren’t fertilized, meaning they will never develop into chickens anyway. It’s a myth that hens need a rooster to lay eggs! I compare it to a woman going through their menstrual cycle (sorry, guys) and not getting pregnant, therefore “wasting” their eggs. Either way, the eggs are produced so the question then becomes what to do with them.
    Loved this episode and have been binge listening to all your old ones. Keep it up!

    • Hey Ramona, Thanks for your comments and sharing the story about your grandmother! I appreciate everything you had to say.

      And no rooster in this bunch, which is good, because they live just down the street ;).

  3. I really enjoyed this episode. The chicken coop story also caught my ear. I eat a vegetarian diet, not vegan yet. I don’t see why anyone should be offended by the idea that you asked to see the chicken coop. To me you are educating yourself. Isn’t that what we all need to do? You were not going to see a chicken get slaughtered! I think when we have our beliefs/ideals that we can educate others about them without being preachy, condescending, etc. Before we make decisions about our diets or our beliefs we educate ourselves first (or we should anyway). Just as your friends with the chicken coup may have asked you questions about why you were vegan.

    I just found your podcast and really have enjoyed them. Thanks!

  4. An opinion on several of the topics mentioned:
    1.As a person who enjoys food and cooking, I understand what you mean about the community’s constant desire to try and “veganize” typical non-vegan meals. I think vegan food is awesome and the uniqueness and diversity of non-vegan meals (that are not copy-cats of their meat-alternatives) should be more than enough for us. BUT… I also think this is a great starting place for people who have no idea what vegans eat. I have to say that as a Texan, it’s easier to show people that there are similar alternatives to meat burgers, hotdogs, queso, tacos and then show them about foods that they’ve never heard of. I wouldn’t shame a veg for eating the veggie burgers or the vegan cheese. But the reason why I agree that we should celebrate unique vegan meals is because I don’t like it when vegan food gets judged based on how close to meat/dairy/eggs/etc. it tastes or looks… I have heard “that doesn’t taste like meat at all”, “that does not look like cheese” way too many times. My response: that’s because IT’S NOT. Quit judging it on a scale on how close it tastes to non-vegan food because it will always fail. You wouldn’t judge an orange on how close it tastes to an apple, right? That doesn’t mean the orange is not good, it’s just not an apple.

    2. The chicken coop topic: I don’t think it’s bad that you wanted to see the chicken coop. I think it’s human to be curious, and it’s also human to be accepting of other human beings, in your case – showing respect about your friends’ choices. The thing we have to remember is that although we are standing up for animals we are also human beings – we should extend our kindness to humans. I think as a vegan, you reach a point where your passion grows and you get so discouraged by people, then you begin questioning: “hell, people are so evil to animals, why should I be nice and keep my mouth shut? they need to hear it!” but it’s good to remember that this movement is a process. Maybe some of us started somewhere close to where they are right now (working for a fast-food restaurant that sells non-vegan food, raising chickens, selling leather fashionwear, etc.). I believe in informing people of the cause and standing up for what we believe, but I also believe in being understanding and accepting of everyone’s journey.

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  7. Laura Ellis says:

    Hi, I have been vegetarian occasionally pescetarian for a few years and am just starting on a path toward veganism (soy-free too) and many of the things you discuss in this podcast is why I’m leaning toward saying “plant-based” instead of vegan. The judgement and implications are pretty drastic (at least in California.)

    Last week I did my first vegan week and it went well, but I did make seitan. It serves the purpose for some of the emotional/comfort part of eating. I grew up in Louisiana on a typical southern diet and still want some of my comforts. Therefore, I have come up with alternatives for the staples. Plus, it allows me to be part of the party at some family gatherings.

    This is the first time I’ve found your podcast and I like it a lot. Thank you!

    • Reading your comment I kept saying “me too!” I’m a baby vegan who was alternating veg/pescetarian for years and just went vegan this year! I’m also in California. (although I’ve stubbornly decided to use the word ‘vegan’ hoping to normalize it for people who know me)

      I have made this gumbo recipe a couple times already and really loved this; I thought it sounded like you might appreciate!
      http://holycowvegan.net/2014/01/fat-free-vegan-gumbo.html

  8. I’d do exactly the same re: the chicken coop. If my friends have animals – whether it’s a pet cat, dog, rabbits or chickens – I’m going to want to see them when I visit, because I like animals; that’s why I went vegan! Plus, especially in the case of animals being kept outdoors, I’d get some peace of mind seeing they’re well cared for and are in suitable housing. If not, maybe there’s a way to (tactfully) suggest ways to improve their living conditions (eg. if rabbits are kept in a hutch without access to a run).

    Chances are that someone who’s already taken the time/money to build an outdoor space to keep chickens isn’t going to stop just because their vegan friend comes over and vocally disapproves, which would probably just result in you not being invited over again. Plus, if my friends are going to eat eggs then (in theory) I’d rather they source them from their own well-cared for chickens than from a supermarket. That wouldn’t make me a bad vegan, it would make me a rational, understanding friend.

  9. I’m actually a vegan, and I wanted to get my own chicken coop! Most of my friends/family think I’m crazy, but I look at it as rescuing chickens from a bad situation, and giving them a happy one. And with any excess eggs, at least the egg-eaters in my life would be getting them from a well cared for chicken. I don’t know, maybe I AM crazy? I just figure it’d be a much better life for them.

  10. I find meat/dairy/etc substitutes to be incredible achievements of human endeavor. I don’t think as someone who is meat or animal product free should have to give up on tastes and textures because of our ethics. The fact that we’re nearing true meat analogs (Beyond Meat and the coming Impossible Foods come to mind), and nut based gourmet cheeses are at every Whole Foods, means that people who grew up on and feel mentally bound to these things, as I was, can make a stand for animals. And as someone who has been meat free for 10 years, and vegan most of that journey, I can say that I proudly eat my meat analogs almost daily. Additionally I find the convenience factor of having these products to make veganism/vegetarianism way more accessible, as they are ‘balanced’ in a way that is comparable to standard western diets (protein and some degree fats and micronutrients). Sure they can be transition foods, but who cares if they’re not? And to the no-veg* folks that are close minded to them, remind them that for most of us this was an ethical decision, so what if it’s subpar? If we can reach a point where 90% of the things about meat are achievable with plants, what a triumph that would be!

    Moreover, as someone who is also involved in strength sports (casually) these products also tend to be some of the most protein dense foods us vegans can buy that are quick and easy to prepare. Sure I regularly have lentils, brown rice, coconut oil, and quinoa or a hearty kale salad – but meat analogs products make strength sports and the increased demand for protein associated with them more doable. And as an aside, I’ve found (I know this is quite anecdotal as are many of my other comments) that the high carb vegetable diet to reek havoc on my blood sugar and body weight. Increasing fat and protein has helped me both mentally and physically, and whether it’s from meat analogs or not.

    Beast Burger for lyfe!

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