Considering the, um, lively comments posted to BugGirl’s recent article on potentially insecty Frappucinnos, I thought you all might enjoy hearing from a skeptical vegan. I’m lucky enough to know several, and so I first turned to Skepchick’s beloved former web host, Stephen Rider. He was kind enough to write up a few points on why he and his partner, both long-time die-hard skeptics, are vegan. Obviously Stephen doesn’t speak for every vegan, but I find his views to be fairly representative of the skeptical vegans I know. Enjoy!
I live in a vegan household. DH and I choose to avoid, whenever feasible, using products made from animal sources or eating animal derived foods. Like many other life decisions we have multiple varied reasons, some purely personal and arbitrary, and some based on an informed decision to minimize our impact on our favorite planet.
While it is clear that the human digestive system is very well adapted to an omnivorous diet, and eating meat is entirely natural and normal for instances of homo sapiens, it is also true that humans can and do thrive on a strictly vegan diet. So the decision to be carnivorous or vegan can be made on an arbitrary basis, as neither position is necessary for survival.
There is information that suggests a vegan diet has health benefits and there are also some concerns that are often expressed – in particular worries about getting sufficient protein while on a vegan diet. Because it is virtually unheard of for a person in Western society who is getting as much to eat as they wish to show any sign of a protein deficiency, these concerns seem to be without merit.
I choose to be vegan largely because a vegan diet requires far fewer resources and thus reduces my impact on this planet. I also prefer not to harm other creatures when I have another option. I do not kill animals to eat them, and I choose not to have anyone else act as my proxy and kill animals so that I can eat them. My preferences may be different than those of some others but I make no pretense of moral superiority. I see no reason why other people should be expected to adopt my views, nor why I should adopt theirs.
Powerful arguments can be raised to suggest that a vegan diet is good for the planet. In particular, it is argued that food for the vegan diet requires less land and water while doing less harm to the environment (link).
Of course it is one thing to choose not to eat anything that ever had a face, and it is yet another to join PETA. I’m comfortable with the idea of applying my moral and ethical standards to my own behavior while other people hopefully follow their own conscience. No deity put me here to tell other people how to live. I do make some effort to live in harmony with the force of life that I revere so deeply.
Coincidentally I happen to have celiac disease which means I must avoid the tiniest trace of wheat, rye, or barley for the rest of my life. Therefore, I am painted into the corner of a gluten-free vegan diet. Most meat analog products like veggie burgers contain wheat gluten, a form of purified poison to my immune system. This makes being vegan much less convenient. So it goes.
As stated part of our intention in choosing a vegan lifestyle (I admit, it’s a choice) is wanting to do less harm to our planet. For that reason we expect installation may begin next week on our 18KwDC photovoltaic power system, displacing the need for burning coal, gas, or oil to power Geek Hill. It is indeed very likely that Geek Hill will still be producing power once I have left the planet, and that would be sort of cool.
I commit to love and respect the planet that gives me life.
Stephen Rider is a retired data communications whiz who just can’t quit. He is a cofounder of the atheist discussion forum Ain’t No God, the sole proprietor of Skeptic Hosting, and currently the chief cook, bottle washer, photographer and network administrator at Geek Hill where he resides with his legally homo husband. Steve prefers to describe himself as a militant atheist fag.
Featured image of a calf at a bike rack via CuteOverload.