Being vegan is not about being healthier than others or eating better than others. It is about rejecting violence, respecting life of every creature, being compassionate, and putting an end to abuse and exploitation of animals and humans in any form. The health obsessed vegan groups need to see that veganism is much more than a diet. Although it is also true that a diet eliminating dairy, meat and other animal products is definitely a better choice and comes with a host of health benefits. Plus, while you are leading a vegan lifestyle you also save the environment by reducing your carbon and water footprint dramatically.
The term ‘vegan’ has become synonymous with healthy, energetic, active, hot, young, strong and environmentalist and many people jump on the vegan bandwagon for these benefits than for their concern for animal welfare. While there is nothing wrong with that, because many of them learn about the animal exploitation in the process resulting in their transformation to a “ethical vegan”.
The problem arises when vegans start “false advertising” to promote a vegan lifestyle to the extent that the main cause of animal welfare is trumped.
Veganism is a moral imperative and the benefits associated with it are just bonus, not the other way round. When we start highlighting the bonuses by exaggerating the claims, distorting the facts using the tactics of false advertising, we are engaging in an ‘immoral conduct’ for a moral cause.
Marketing the right cause through a wrong means often results in failure because we laid a weaker foundation. Convincing a person to go vegan through wildly exaggerated claims, like they will lose weight and get a bikini body or they will get rid of all diseases, is clearly false advertising which should be absolutely refrained from.
Have you ever heard of the famous ex-vegan influencer Tasha of Voracious Vegan who went back to eating meat back in 2010? After 3.5 years as a vegan she wrote a post titled “No More Vegan” in which she described how she had been told, and had unskeptically accepted, that a vegan diet would make her healthier and stronger. In an interview on abandoning her vegan diet she said, “I think the vegan community in general is guilty of ‘airbrushing’ veganism, by making it look like a perfect and easy diet for everyone.” While we absolutely do not approve of Tasha’s switch to non-veganism and her journey thereafter in which her posts read statements like “Bacon, bacon, bacon…how did I ever live without you for so long?” and her blog post that said ‘she is moaning with pleasure and joy’ after eating meat, which clearly indicates she wasn’t vegan for the animals after all. However, we can reckon with her problem – the false advertising associated with veganism with tall claims about how it can miraculously be panacea for health.
Animals have moral values, they feel pain and suffering, they want to live and enjoy life and they also have emotions – just like us humans. Killing or torturing animals or imposing unnecessary suffering on them for food, fashion, entertainment or anything else and commoditizing them is by its very nature inhumane.
We kill 60 billion animals a year worldwide (that doesn’t count fish)
Imagine taking 60 billion lives of those who wanted to live. It is the corporate-controlled media and some biased influencers who make us believe that having animals is detrimental to our good health and reinforce our desire for consuming what we are used to. The truth is we don’t need animal foods to fulfill our daily intake of nutrition – a vegan diet is perfectly adequate for human health and it has been scientifically proven and accepted by many recognized bodies including Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association and the British Dietetic Association.
If you want to change the world for animals, then focus on animals. Period! Saving life of animals, educating people about the torture and abuse they have to put through and bringing out the human emotions in them through animal advocacy is a strong message in itself and also the right pitch for veganism that will also set a strong foundation. Of course highlighting the perks of being vegan will be an added advantage and should definitely be used but not by distorting facts and telling lies.
We often read articles about the misleading claims made by vegans (example “9 Lies Vegans Love Telling”, 6 of the Biggest Lies Most Vegans Believe), some of which is true. This kind of wrong publicity will not help the cause, and may in fact backtrack people like in the case of Tasha.
Let’s look at the most common misleading claims about veganism and try to refrain from it.
False Advertising #1: Turning Vegan Helps You Lose Weight
The key to losing fat and staying fit is a healthy diet and regular workout whether you are a vegan or omnivorous. Just turning vegan will not turn you into a supermodel or hunk. If you were a junk food eater and your meal consisted of fries, coke, crisps, burgers, pizza, donuts, cupcakes and other junk, and you continue eating the veganized version of the same things even after turning vegan don’t expect to lose weight or get a sexy body. Just because something is vegan does not necessarily make it healthy. Even if you make an effort to eat healthy, just being vegan will not result in weight loss overnight.
In fact, body shaming is a common problem in our community, and we don’t even spare our fellow vegans. We’ve heard cases of vegans accusing fat vegans of cheating and consuming animal products (just because they are fat). Not cool. You could be eating crisps and sipping fizz all day and you would still be very much a vegan. What you decide to eat is a choice you make as an individual and it has nothing to do with your ethical choice of being a vegan.
Vegan diet is the current frenzy of the health industry, and it is also a well-known fact that many celebrities swear by it and claim that that their vegan diet is the reason for their sexy bikini bodies (yes we’ve heard JLo and Beyonce endorsing it many times too). But most of us are missing the point here. Even before they turned vegan they had a disciplined healthy diet, and switching that with a “healthy” vegan diet gave them faster results.
Just by cutting meat and dairy from your diet will not help you lose weight. You will need to switch to healthy vegan diet, which consists of fresh fruits, salads, smoothies and other healthy meals and eliminate or reduce intake of sugar, processed foods and trans fats. It also has to be supplemented with a disciplined workout regime.
False Advertising #2: Vegan Diet Makes You Energetic
Just like how a vegan diet will not get you a JLo figure, the same way it will not instantly make you energetic. If you don’t sleep well, don’t wake up early hours, don’t eat a healthy well-balanced diet, if you are stressed and if you don’t workout you are not going to feel energetic just by turning vegan. Being energetic requires a combination of factors – and a ‘healthy’ vegan diet is just one part of the equation.
False Advertising #3: Vegan never get sick
If that were true then just this claim was enough to turn half the world population vegan. Vegans are not superhumans who never get sick. Vegans are very much humans and may fall sick from time to time. If as vegans you are perpetuating the expectation that veganism will make all your diseases disappear, you are absolutely overstating the benefits of veganism. It’s true that many people see a huge improvement in their health after turning vegan and experience greater immunity towards common problems like cold and flu . While a healthy vegan diet certainly reduces your risk, it is not a 100 percent protection against any disease. That’s the truth and we don’t need to conceal it or exaggerate it by claiming – vegans never fall sick; because they do.
False Advertising #4: Vegans do everything morally good
Yes, by standing up for the rights of animals and working towards their welfare and by abstaining from using animal products vegans definitely are doing what is ‘morally’ correct, but this by no means implicate that veganism means ‘doing everything morally correct’. Vegans are no saints, they are humans and have desires, greed, hunger for power, love for luxuries and other positive or negative emotions. In short, vegans just like everyone else have some good qualities and some bad qualities. Stereotyping vegans as people riding on a morally high horse in all areas of their life is asking for too much.
Can a person be driving a Ferrari and be a vegan? Of course. Can a girl want her designer bags and shoes (cruelty-free of course) and be a vegan? Yes! Problem is when we stereotype vegans as people wanting to like a modest life and are in the quest to save the planet so will only buy recycled stuff.
That is not to say that vegans with ‘high morals’ don’t exist. But then there are many non-vegans who will rank higher on a ‘moral’ scale too!
False Advertising #5: You don’t have to worry about your vitamins and minerals when you are on a vegan diet
Do some people require more effort to get adequate nutrition from a vegan diet? Yes. Do all vegans face the problem of nutrition deficiency? Absolutely not. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states “An appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
Vegans, like everyone else, must be knowledgeable and informed about food choices to achieve balanced nutrition and health. If you don’t eat a well-balanced meal you are most likely going to have some deficiencies. There are benefits of a vegan diet, but as vegans we need to be more careful about what we eat, as eliminating dairy and certain animal foods without incorporating substitutes in the diet may land us in trouble. It is a fact that a plant-based diet offers all nutrition a human body needs, but you need to do your research carefully and make sure you are incorporating right foods that cover all your dietary requirements.
Another problem in our vegan community is suddenly everyone thinks they are the expert on the subject of health and nutrition and they don’t think there is a need of consulting an expert on the matter. You need an expert when you face any health issues, and also refrain from advising others when they do.
As humans it is our duty to stop animal cruelty and fulfill this duty we need to make the informed choice about what we eat, wear and do every day. Veganism is not just about what we eat but spans in all areas of our life. More importantly, as vegans it is our moral obligation to send the right message and information about veganism without any false advertising. Read more about this in our article – Are you vegan for the right reasons?
Not all vegans engage in false advertising, but many are misinformed and they spread information which they have not verified themselves. They also reject or ignore any problems that they themselves face or hear from others about vegan diet, and that can have a spiral effect.
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