December 13, 2010

Veganism and Virtue

I posted a link to this article a while ago on my Facebook profile, and it sparked an interesting discussion. Let's see whether that happens again here.

Many of you know that I have recently been struggling for the first time in my life with health problems. When I discovered that my problems were a direct result of my vegan diet I was devastated. 2 months ago, after learning the hard way that not everyone is capable of maintaining their health as a vegan, I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life and gave up veganism and returned to eating an omnivorous diet. My health immediately returned. This experience has been humbling, eye-opening, and profoundly transformative. To hear the whole story just keep reading…

I've been known to get into arguments with proselytizing vegans online for reasons that are made all too clear in this post. The typical scenario is that a vegan diet is sold as a great moral good because it contains no animals (read "no death") that is healthful because it is good. It isn't hard to find the absurdity in this position. After all, the diet that causes the least death in the world is a starvation diet, containing no food at all. However, despite the existence of those who claim to live on breath alone, we can all generally understand that, well, that diet would kill us.

Yet somewhere in between, proselytizing vegans don't recognize that morally good does not equal healthful. A vegan diet works for some people but not all. It's a less efficient diet, and not all of us absorb nutrients equally well, for a number of reasons.

The problem is that because veganism is viewed as a moral good, the inability to absorb all necessary nutrients from the diet, even with supplementation, is viewed as a moral failing. Read the post to see what the writer was subjected to when she discovered she couldn't live as a vegan.

Then keep reading to see her deconstruct the idea of the vegan diet as a moral good.


Anonymous said...

I can't read the link; seems the site is down for holiday maintenance.
This is a topic that really interests me though, I was a vegetarian(ovo-lacto) for over a year; a close friend is a vegan who has had some health issues in the last year that her doctor insists are a direct result of her diet yet she still persists.
Is the article available elsewhere?

Stephanie Zvan said...

Well, bugger. Lousy timing. Unfortunately, this is a really long post that doesn't seem to be syndicated anywhere. Sorry about that.