As a vegan, you get asked many repetitive questions, like where do vegans get their protein and why don’t you eat eggs. But one of the most annoying ones has to be why do vegans eat meat substitutes? It seems pretty logical to me, but let’s break it down.

Why don’t you just eat the real thing?

I’d be willing to wager that 99% of vegans are not vegan because they hate the taste of meat or dairy. They made a choice to make a stand against the suffering of animals, the planet and health. Vegans don’t abstain from eating meat because the taste is unpleasant. They do so because there is no moral way to justify killing another being when there is so much choice.

There are many other positive reasons to stop eating meat and dairy too. These include:

  • The environment
  • Health
  • Conserve natural resources
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve your mental health

Humans are meant to eat meat our ancestors did

caveman chasing burger

This is a defunct argument. Our ancestors did many things out of necessity that we would not do today. There were no supermarkets; our ancestors had no choice but to kill their food to survive.

This is not the case today. All those people arguing that veganism is a privileged diet are missing the point. In the developed, Western world, the majority of us are enjoying a privileged diet. When was the last time you had to go and hunt and forage for your dinner?

Humans are NOT carnivores; we are omnivores. The human digestive system is that of a herbivore, not a carnivore. Humans have a longer digestive tract than carnivores. This is because carnivores digestive tracts are designed for meat to pass through quickly. Whereas the digestive tract of a herbivore is longer, allowing time for the breakdown of fibre and the absorption of nutrients from plants.

Historically speaking, diets primarily consisted of plant-based foods such as yams. The ability to eat meat came with the discovery of fire which allowed humans to cook meat. This made it easier to eat and reduced the risk of getting sick and dying from bacteria or parasites in the meat.

Humans didn’t become carnivores; they became omnivores, capable of eating meat to survive in the colder periods where plants were not readily available. Today global trade and transport mean we always have a readily available supply of plant-based foods.

In the developed world, we have a range of options for our food. There are vegan ready meals that can be bought from supermarkets, and there is even an increasing number of high street restaurants that serve plant-based dishes as well as traditional ones.

With so many easily sourced alternatives to meat and dairy, what is the need to continue eating animal by-products? We would argue that eating meat reared and killed for you, packaged and delivered to the store or home is equally, if not more, privileged.

What about protein?

Proteins actually come from plants. If you eat a variety of grains, vegetables and legumes, then the body will get all that it needs to function. You can even take supplements if needed, but why would you need to? There are so many sources available for free!

Many people in the Western world are actually eating too much protein. This increases the risk of heart disease and can also decrease kidney function. Our bodies were not designed to break down so animal proteins, let alone in the quantities consumed today.

Due to the health risks associated with animal proteins, The Harvard school of public health actually suggest that we get our protein from plants when possible.

“Eating legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, whole grains, and other plant-based sources of protein is a win for your health and the health of the planet. If most of your protein comes from plants, make sure that you mix up your sources, so no “essential” components of protein are missing. The good news is that the plant kingdom offers plenty of options to mix and match.”

So, Why Do Vegans Eat Meat Substitutes?

Veganism is NOT a diet. It is a lifestyle and one of the most effective choices you could make for your personal health, animals and the environment on an individual level. We still like to enjoy a varied diet of different tastes, textures and nutrients just like everyone else.

As food science has evolved, there are more vegan options making it easy to enjoy dinner with friends without only getting a plate of salad. We can now enjoy a trip to KFC and grab a vegan burger should we wish to.

Yes, steak is delicious, as are bacon sandwiches and burgers. They just aren’t worth the sacrifice of the animal’s lives or the plant that we call home. We never said burgers taste bad, so it’s somewhat confuses me every time someone asks the question, why do vegans eat meat substitutes if they hate meat?

Vegans sacrifice their own few minutes of pleasure eating that cheeseburger because it doesn’t justify the death of the numerous cows involved in the production of the burger and the cheese. It doesn’t justify their living conditions, the forests that are lost or their lives.

When a plant-based burger is an option instead, where is the need to choose the flesh of another living creature?