I have a neighbor, I'll call him David. He's in his mid-sixties, educated, interesting, a middle school science teacher and animal expert. He's studied animals in the wild in Africa and South America and advocates for wild animal rights. He's also had a heart attack and has a stent in one of his main arteries. He knows I'm a vegan and on a bike ride with my husband (I wasn't present) he began on a diatribe about why he's against veganism or vegetarianism. Here was his primary arguement:
"Most people I know," he said, "who are vegetarian or vegan have to be on some sort of supplement in order to get their daily requirements met."
That was it. So, my husband came home and shared what David had said, in all his wisdom. I chewed on it a bit. Sure, I do take supplements, but I don't have to take major prescription meds to address serious health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or any of the other major medical issues facing most people over the age of 50 in our country, including my neighbor.
So what if I take B-12 once a week, and an iron supplement that was recommended by my doctor for low iron (blood test taken when I was still a meat and dairy eater, btw). Most people aren't able to absorb the vitamins and minerals consumed through diet alone anyway. I'm not a big user of supplements, but from what I've read, dairy is one of the biggest blocks to iron uptake, not to mention calcium absorption.
What really bugs me about this man's ragged arguement is that he really is a smart, compassionate person, but he is so very attached to eating meat even as he's had to undergo serious heart surgery.
His second argument, when my husnand brought up animal rights, was that he and his wife choose local meat, farmed with compassion and killed humanely. My husband asked him if he'd seen the actual facilities where the animals were raised and slaughtered. He had not, as have not most people I know who claim to purchase only "humane" meat and cheeses.
But David is just one of a zillion people who will stand by their meat and dairy, defending it to the last bone. Recently, the founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary released her book on her life and her mission. She was on the Diane Ream and Leonard Lopate shows. Both of these raidio shows are aired on various NPR stations throughout the country. The listeners are usually open-minded, literate and "informed." I was astonished at the number of negative comments that were posted on the websites of these shows against Jenny Brown, the author and founder. People were actually taking offense to a woman who founded a farm animal sanctuary.
Talking to people about animal rights is akin, in the US, to talking to them about the right to bear arms. They will defend their right to abuse and consume animals in the most surprising ways.
But, I stick to my guns, or rather my animals in my solo mission to eat what is right for me, the animals and the planet.
Further, I've found a great site that discusses the myth behind "humanely" labeled meat and dairy. www.humanemyth.org It's worth checking out, and the next time someone tells you that they only eat humane meat or dairy, you can direct them there.