My New Year Resolution is to become Vegan. Here’s Why.

by Michael Nugent on December 31, 2014

From tomorrow I will be transitioning from a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet, once I have finished the Quorn supply in my freezer, rather than waste it – surprisingly, most Quorn products include egg among their ingredients.

I would be happy to hear any ethical or practical advice from people who have already made this transition. In particular, I would be grateful to hear any advice on where to buy vegan foods and other vegan products in Ireland.

I’ve discussed before how my vegetarianism is related to my atheism. I believe that religion corrupts our sense of reality and our sense of morality, and this corruption effects how we see other animals. I’m not saying religion is the only factor that corrupts our sense of reality and morality, but it is a signifiant factor.

With regard to reality, we see ourselves as humans, and cats and dogs and sheep and cows as ‘animals’. Actually, we are all animals, and I think we should use the phrase ‘other animals’ or ‘non-human animals’. With regard to morality, we should be as empathetic, compassionate and fair with other animals as we are with ourselves. For me, this includes being vegetarian, and now vegan.

How my atheism has influenced my veganism

Before the theory of evolution, it was understandable that people might believe that humans and other animals were designed by a god who created other animals to serve us. Since the theory of evolution, there is no need for such an assumption. We now know that all species evolved over billions of years from common ancestors.

We also now know that we humans are animals, and that we are just one of the millions of species that has evolved over the millennia, on one tiny planet that is revolving around one of a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, which is in turn one of a hundred billion galaxies in the known universe, which may be one of many universes.

We atheists are sometimes called arrogant, but surely the ultimate arrogance is to believe that all of this, including other animals, was created for our benefit?

Similarly, many religions teach that we as humans have been given dominion over other animals. Many people seem to agree with this, whether they believe it literally or metaphorically.

Morality is about what we see as being good or bad, and right or wrong. So what criteria should we use? Most religious people believe that their god tells them what is right and wrong. Most atheists believe that we have to work it out ourselves.

In natural terms, morality is a property of our brains. It has evolved over generations, based on the survival advantages of values such as empathy and compassion, and cooperation and reciprocity, and fairness and justice.

In philosophical terms, morality is one way to measure the effect of our actions on other conscious sentient beings. Are we causing other conscious sentient beings to needlessly suffer, or are we helping other sentient beings to flourish?

Religion tells us that, in some circumstances, even though an action is not compassionate, and will cause needless suffering, you should or can do it anyway because somebody believes that the creator of the universe has conveyed that judgment.

How did we evolve our sense of morality?

We are social animals and, like other social animals, we have evolved a sense of morality that helps us to live together. We feel empathy and compassion for each other, we cooperate on common goals, and we want to be treated fairly.

In their book ‘Wild Justice: the moral lives of animals’, Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce give many examples of other animals showing these attributes.

  • Rats in cages have refused to push a lever that will give them food if they know that it will cause another rat to get an electric shock.
  • A monkey who had learned to get food by putting a token in a slot, helped another monkey who couldn’t do it by putting the other monkey’s token in the slot and letting the other monkey eat the food.
  • Dogs and wolves show signs that they are playing with each other, and stronger ones will restrain themselves from biting strongly when playing with weaker ones.
  • In South Africa, a group of elephants helped a group of antelopes escape from an enclosure, by undoing the latches on the gates with their trunks.
  • In Holland, chimpanzees in a zoo, who don’t get fed until they are all present, punish chimpanzees who are late and who cause them to have their meal delayed.

Bekoff and Pierce argue that these behaviours are not merely ‘building blocks for human morality’ but that they are displays of actual morality in other animals. They argue that social complexity leads to moral complexity.

They suggest that, if we define morality by human morality, then obviously non-humans do not have that, but that human morality is just one example of the moralities that have evolved among animals.

I agree, and I believe that the differences in morality between humans and other animals are differences in degree, not differences in kind.

How we relate ethically to other animals

But there is one area in which we are considerably more advanced than many other animals. We are intelligent social animals, able to reason effectively, and we increasingly attribute our fundamental rights to individual beings.

We used to attribute fundamental rights mainly to groups and to adult males, and even then only to adult males who were of the same race as us and who were not slaves. We are now increasingly seeing rights as being related to individual persons, regardless of their race or gender or ethnicity or age or sexuality.

I believe that it is a natural extension of this pattern for us to extend our morality to our interaction with other animals. We should be as empathetic, compassionate, cooperative and fair with other animals as we are with ourselves. We should want to minimise suffering, and maximise wellbeing, among all conscious sentient beings.

A natural (rather than religious) morality will not guarantee that we treat other animals fairly, but it will remove one obstacle to us doing so. It will help us to realise that we are sharing this tiny planet will many other animals, and that our shared future can be more empathetic, more compassionate, more cooperative and more just than it currently is. We can live happily and healthily without killing other animals, and I hope that more of us will choose to do this.

I would be happy to hear any ethical or practical advice from people who have made the transition to veganism. In particular, I would be grateful to hear any advice on where to buy vegan foods and other vegan products in Ireland.

Also, one particular dilemma that I have not yet resolved – although most of my cats’ diet is Royal Canin dried food, I occasionally feed them meat. I’m not sure how I feel about imposing my dietary ethics on them, and I also wonder if they are less likely to kill birds or mice if they are being fed meat at home.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tigzy December 31, 2014 at 6:53 pm

‘Also, one particular dilemma that I have not yet resolved – although most of my cats’ diet is Royal Canin dried food, I occasionally feed them meat. I’m not sure how I feel about imposing my dietary ethics on them, and I also wonder if they are less likely to kill birds or mice if they are being fed meat at home.’

Yes, it’s imposing your ethics on them. However, imposing human-reasoned ethics on your cat is not always a bad thing – spaying and neutering, for example, bring clear health benefits to your cat, and there is no evidence at all that the cat is aware it has been ‘altered’. So in that respect, it is indeed no bad thing. Sometimes, however, it’s not always a good thing, either.

IMO, it’s definitely not a good thing to impose human-reasoned dietary ethics on a cat. Cats are obligate carnivores, completely unable to draw any nutrition from vegetable sources (though they can and do eat vegetable matter, but only for fibre), and though there are apparently some supplements available for those who wish to impose a vegatarian diet on their cats, the jury’s still out on how well they supply the required nutrition – if indeed they do supply it at all. So you could effectively be playing Russian roulette with your cat’s health by attempting to impose such a diet on it. It should be noted that the UK cat welfare charity, Cats Protection, advise strongly against feeding a cat a vegetarian diet.

The other thing to consider is the psychological health of your cat. Quite simply, cats like eating meat. Ever noticed how much your cat purrs if you feed it a bit of bloody rare steak as a treat? Okay, maybe not if you’re a vegetarian/vegan. In any case, even if it was established that vegetarian cat food supplements did indeed supply the necessary nutrition, I’d hate to deny it the food it actually enjoys eating.

In any case, your cat will not be less likely to kill and eat birds & mice even if it is being fed meat at home. It’s just one of those things that cats love to do. In my view, if you want a cat which doesn’t eat meat nor hunt other animals, then a cat probably isn’t the best pet for you.

Also, unless you keep your cat indoors all the time, it *will* be out hunting, killing and consuming rodents and birds, so an attempt at putting it on a vegatarian diet would be utterly pointless anyway.

2 JetLagg December 31, 2014 at 7:06 pm

I feed my two cats a diet of chicken thighs and salmon. The little one is diabetic, and the zero-carb diet helps keep her blood sugar from spiking at meal times. Don’t know if it keeps them from hunting birds or rodents, as they’re indoor cats, and our building is thankfully rodent free.

Recently I learned chickens are exempt from animal husbandry laws in the states, which absolutely horrifies me. I really love my cats though, and they need the meat (you’re probably aware of this already, but just in case, don’t feed your cats vegan or they *will* die).

3 Alan Pater December 31, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Regarding where to buy vegan foods, any local grocer will do. Apart from a B12 supplement, everyday foods suffice.

Start with the Healthy Eating Plate, remove the meats and dairy, and you are left with a healthy vegan diet.

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/

No meat or dairy analogs needed.

4 Savannah Costen December 31, 2014 at 7:43 pm

As I Canadian I have no advice on where to buy vegan food in Ireland-sorry. But in regards to feeding your cat… there is a great vegan pet food company online that will ship anywhere. Cats are naturally omnivorous and therefore, yes, will do their own hunting. Considering this is the case you won’t be depriving them of anything by feeding them vegetarian food. Pet food is most often to most disgusting and toxic meat leftovers that come from factory farms. Sometimes the head, legs, or tails, and even often other cats or dogs depending on the country the food is imported from. Buying a pet non-vegetarian food takes away from the effectiveness of your own veganism as by buying yourself vegan food you put your vote towards ethical nutrients. If your money goes towards conventional pet food you are supporting the cruel factory farms veganism opposes. On top of this, there are many cats and dogs that and living proof that they can survive and THRIVE on a vegan diet also.

5 Tigzy December 31, 2014 at 8:10 pm

@Savannah

‘Cats are naturally omnivorous.’

No. No they are not. Cats are obligate carnivores. They get *no* nutrition whasoever from vegetable based sources.

These two articles here demonstrate why it’s probably not a good idea to feed your cat a supplement-enhanced vegetarian diet – there still remains a great deal of uncertainty as to whether or not synthetic supplements adequately meet your cat’s needs:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/veggie-cat-food/
http://www.littlebigcat.com/nutrition/vegetarian-cats/

As you can also see, supplents are only part of the question. Vegetable based diets are naturally rich in carbohydrates, and excess of which will put your cat at risk of feline diabetes.

As for the question of ethics – well, aside from playing Russian roulette with your cat’s health, a supplemented vegetarian diet is not necessarily ethical in itself, either. Cats need taurine, and as you can see from the littlebigcat article: ‘Taurine can be chemically synthesized (although the process is so environmentally harsh that all synthetic taurine used in the U.S. is imported from China).’

So both the nutritional value and (wider) ethics of feeding your cat a vegetarian diet remains highly questionable. Personally speaking, my conscience is better served by feeding my moggy meat. And plenty of it.

6 Ben December 31, 2014 at 9:08 pm

I just want to say congrats on making the connection. Complete reason, I believe, will lead us to avoid religious teachings (as you’ve obviously done) and also to act as fairly to all earthlings. It doesn’t reason to cause unnecessary suffering, which in turn results in a vegan/cruelty-free lifestyle.

7 Joe Mitchell December 31, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Vegan cat food uses the same synthetic nutrients non vegan commercial cat food uses and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence online to suggest cats can live long and healthy on vegan cat food. I think it’s a birth right for cats to eat what they hunt and to deny their predation is more of a moral issue than having them eat vegan cat food. Where do you draw a line in the sand of an appeal to nature? By domesticating cats you have already crossed one line, by imprisoning cats and/or using them for some form of entertainment you have crossed another. So I guess it depends on how the individual feels what they can live with. I have friends that allow cats to use their garage in the winter and will put food and water out for them but they are feral nonetheless. I think animals want what we want, to be free, to be fed and be safe. If they like your company, I’m sure you’ll know it.

8 JetLagg December 31, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Google “vegan cat” and one of the first things that pops up is a story about a kitten that almost dies because it’s owners put it on a vegan diet.

That said, it appears I was wrong. There are successful vegan cat foods on the market that, as Joe said, add the supplements the cat would normally get from meat.

9 Barn Owl December 31, 2014 at 10:34 pm

As a USAian I can’t offer any advice regarding buying vegan food in Ireland, but I can recommend an excellent vegan cookbook: “one-dish vegan” by Robin Robertson (The Harvard Common Press). I’ve tried a couple dozen different recipes so far, and all were tasty and easily prepared with readily available ingredients. I’ve made the Cincinnati Chili multiple times over the last year or so, because it’s so delicious.

I’m not a dedicated vegetarian or vegan myself, but I try to make at least half of my meals in any given week vegan (breakfast almost always is). I guess I’m more focused on eating locally sourced foods in season, and on growing more of my own food in my backyard (and figuring out how to preserve the abundance of veggies, herbs, and fruits). Not willing to impose a vegetarian diet on my dogs either.

10 Tony Parsehole January 1, 2015 at 10:12 am

Hi Michael, well done for ascending to a vegan way of life.
Contrary to popular belief finding vegan sustenance is a simple affair.
Grass and dandelions can be found growing in most motorway verges and railway embankments and will form a solid staple to any vegan diet.
For a bit of protein try standing with your mouth open underneath a hazelnut tree. If there are no hazelnut trees in the area or you find that woodland creatures have stolen them you could try some Bacon Frazzles.
Treats are easy and cheap and usually come in the form of a handful of damp soil, mashed up into a treat-shaped lump and seasoned with the first rays of the morning Sun. MMMMmmm…Delicious.

And last but not least, for a refreshing vegan drink simply turn on the tap in your kitchen and sip the clear “vegan beer” that flows forth. If you don’t have “taps” or a “kitchen” then local ponds and streams are full of the stuff and it’s usually free to drink but please ask your local authority to be on the safe side.

Hope this helps.

11 Phil Giordana FCD January 1, 2015 at 11:19 am

I could never be a vegan, or vegetarian. Meat is just too damn tasty.

Anyway, a happy new year Michael, good luck with your vegan quest, and that’s a lovely kitty!

12 Rachel January 1, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Great news. Going vegan was one of the best decisions I made. Today is my two year anniversary. :)

13 Bemused observer January 1, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Good luck with it Michael. I might join you if only we could get Pigs reclassified as a vegetable.
I have considered going veggie again myself, not for ethical reasons but more due to dwindling trust in the supply chain, but I remember how horrid and grumpy I was last time and don’t want to go there again.
Best of luck with it and I hope you have a great 2015.

14 Gurdur January 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Michael,
as far as I know – which, let’s face it, isn’t much, since I am no professional in this field – the two main issues you are going to face as a vegan are Vitamin B12 and calcium.
Vitamin B12 is vital for proper neurological development in children and teenagers. Adults can get along on very low levels of it, however, the more you age, the more Vitamin B12 becomes important to you – it’s important for the brain, and there’s some evidence that high doses may alleviate some of the symptoms or progression of Alzheimer’s. It won’t stop Alzheimer’s, but may help alleviate or stave it off. Depression can be a symptom of Vitamin B12 deficiency.

You can get Vitamin B12 to self-inject; I would strongly advise you do so if you go vegan. As far as I know, all such vitamins are now synthesized, so there would be nothing unethical for a vegan in self-injecting Vit B12 (something, by the way, which sufferers of malabsorption owing to chronic illness have to do too). You might also look at taking extra folic acid daily.

As for the other Vitamin B types, your morning cornflakes should give you enough (given that they routinely dose up cornflakes with niacin and thiamine). By the way, Bertrand Russell used to have regular Vit B complex injections in order to supplement his vegetarian diet.

I am unsure of how calcium intake would be affected by vegan diet in the aging. I would suspect badly, but then I am on ths suspicious side. Make sure to take calcium supplements, and protect your bones by regular exercise and walking.

All the best. I would disagree with much here, but not in a big way.I respect the ethics here even if in some disagreement.

15 Tom January 1, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Good luck Michael. I agree that we ought be kind to animals, and intensive farming causes a great deal of suffering so there is a strong case for veganism if you are able to make that commitment. Keep up the good work in 2015.

16 Michael Nugent January 1, 2015 at 11:51 pm

Thanks for all of the information and advice. As with most ethical decisions, there is a lot to consider.

I will be taking care of the cats based on their needs. They are as independent as they choose, as the house has a cat flap.

I’ll be studying more about all of this as I make the transition.

17 Scott Trimble January 2, 2015 at 1:59 am

Here is a link that will provide some info about shops near you that can provide vegan foods, condiments, vitamin supplements, etc.
http://www.happycow.net/gmaps/searchmap.php

As noted above Vitamin B12 is the big one, as no plant-based foods contain it; however, omnivores are almost as likely to develop deficiencies as vegans, so really you should take a supplement even if you were not going vegan.

Calcium is not so much an issue as long as you like your leafy green veggies, which have a lot of calcium (and don’t have the proteins that leech calcium from your system as do dairy products, which most people think is the best source of calcium (even though countries with the highest dairy intakes also have the highest levels of osteoporosis).
However, Vitamin D is an issue, and it helps your body absorb and utilize calcium properly.

The other thing you may want to supplement is Omega-3 fatty acids. You can get one type (ALA) from some plant-based foods – most notably flax (meal or whole seeds, don’t use the oil as it goes rancid too easily, has to be kept refrigerated, and can’t be cooked), but also hemp seeds, canola oil, and walnuts. However, the two other types of Omega-3s (EPA & DHA) cannot be acquired from plant foods. The latest research I read is that your body can convert some ALA to EPA and DHA, but they’re not sure if it can convert enough in a quick enough fashion to keep up with your nutritional needs. However, your body can definitely make EPA from DHA (if I remember that correctly), and you can buy vegan DHA supplements, though they are not cheap (or so I’ve been told).

I’ve also read on Facebook posts from at least one of the vegan dietitians to whom I am subscribed that iodine is another nutrient vegans should supplement. You get some from iodized salt, but the amount of salt you’d need to supply an adequate amount of iodine would be too much salt.

18 JFC January 2, 2015 at 2:27 am

I’ve been vegan for 26 years and consider it one of the best decisions of my life (my doctor agrees). I lost 25 lbs within the first few months. Today my blood work and test results are of a man half my age!

Here’s a short video to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice and why the number of vegans has doubled in the US in less than 3 years.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE

Also, here’s a link for everyone who wants to join the revolution: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/step-by-step-guide-how-to-transition-to-vegan-diet/

19 TheOwlAtMidnight January 2, 2015 at 3:00 am

Michael, I completely sympathize with your reasons for wanting to become vegan. For exactly the same reasons you state, I was vegan myself for a year and a half and lacto-ovo vegetarian for another 10 years.

This diet ruined my health. It made me obese (110 lbs overweight by the end, but ultimately corrected with a complete dietary overhaul), gave me metabolic syndrome (a precursor to diabetes), and accelerated or outright caused the appearance of the Celiac disease I was diagnosed with a few years ago.

I have since networked with many other former vegetarians who have had similar or even identical health issues. Your adoption of a vegan diet does not, of course, mean that the same things would happen to you with time as they did to us, but there is mounting evidence that it would certainly put you at risk for these health conditions and many kinds of cancers. Please take the time to carefully research the latest nutrition research over the past fifteen years or so before you make your decision.

As a cat-lover myself, as far as your cat goes, I beg you to consider that cats are by nature obligate carnivores who naturally consume NO plant material except perhaps the partially digested contents of the stomachs of their prey, and who chew on grass when they need to make themselves vomit up hairballs. I urge you to be open to the idea that instead of being humane, it would actually be quite cruel to force your beloved pet to subsist on a diet that it never evolved to eat and is known to give cats serious health problems and drastically shorten their lives.

There are still ways to safeguard your own health and that of your pets via dietary choices that also leave the smallest eco-footprint and cause the least suffering to the animals. I get virtually 100% of the meat my family eats from two local farmers who are committed to humane animal husbandry, allowing their animals maximum freedom outdoors and to consume their natural diets (grazing cattle on grass instead of feeding them corn, etc.), and supplementing the diets of foraging animals like pigs and chickens when necessary with only all-organic, non-GMO feed. We also get our eggs and raw milk from these two farmers, as well as probably 60% of our fruits and vegetables from them, all organic and in season. [The reason the percentage is not higher is that sometimes one wants things that don’t grow in the area, like lemons or avocados, etc.] No doubt with a little research you could find some farmers like this in your area.

There are many arguments and some research indicating that this is the healthiest way to eat (short of outright hunting and gathering)–eating local, organic, humanely raised, in-season foods–both for one’s own health and for that of the planet. See the damage that farming the monocultures required to grow enough grain to feed vegetarians and feedlot animals does to the planet, depleting the soil and causing horrid environmental issues with waste runoff and ecosystem/habitat destruction.

This is a very complex issue, and I completely applaud your desire to act in the most ethical way possible. I just would strongly encourage you to continue to do a little more research before committing to veganism, which has high costs for your health (and certainly for that of your cat) as well as to the planet. You may ultimately choose a path that is different than the one I have taken, which is of course fine, especially after having researched all the alternatives thoroughly and understood the many complicated issues involved.

I have come to believe that we cannot escape being the natural animals we evolved to be, and that twisting our diets to be something our ancestors actually would have avoided at all costs is not the answer. I nearly ruined my own health in trying to make it the answer. Perhaps the Native Americans had it right, acknowledging that the natural order of things is that humans must kill to live–but revering the spirits of the animals they killed for food, thanking them for their sacrifice, and gratefully using every part of the animal so as not to waste its death.

Do keep us posted on your research and how your thinking develops on this issue. I wish you the best of luck and the best of health!

20 Matt Cavanaugh January 2, 2015 at 3:19 am

I fail to see the logical connection between atheism and veganism. Just because religions give bad reasons for doing something, it doesn’t follow that no good reasons exist.

21 GenerallyFading January 2, 2015 at 9:19 am

I am unable to follow a vegan diet due to my type 2 diabetes, which is spiked by eating carbs. My diet consists of large quantities of saturated fat and protein with a few vegetables thrown in to make sure I do not miss out on any minerals/vitamins. I believe carbs to be the cause of many health issues within society today, such as obesity, cancer, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

I do not see us as ‘owning’ animals due to religious means, I see humans as a top predator (yes, I am aware that this is due to human invention rather than having superior teeth/claws/strength) and I would hunt my food if it weren’t slaughtered for me. Don’t get me wrong : the killing of animals should be done as humanely as possible. This is why I agree with slaughter houses but only if they are routinely checked for best practice. If I tried to slaughter a cow, I would have no guarantee that I would do it without botching the job, and causing it more pain than is necessary. I don’t see our morality as ‘not killing to live’ but rather as finding a way to do it without causing suffering to an animal. I try to buy free range, British food when possible. I would love to see the animals that I eat living as much of good life beforehand as possible. I won’t eat veal, I won’t eat foie gras and I believe that ethically driven farms should be encouraged by the government (so lower prices on corn fed chickens rather than higher ones). I won’t eat carnivores, since I believe that we have evolved to eat herbivores. So I won’t chow down on your cat, Michael, nor on anyone’s dog, but I would eat horse. The only herbivore safe from me is a rabbit, which I hate the taste of and which does not apparently supply enough vitamins, since you die if you live on a diet of only rabbits.

TheOwlatMidnight seems to have discovered the same problems I feel are at the base of a vegan diet. The cost may well be your own health (but if you are willing to make that sacrifice, no one can gainsay you) and I can’t see it as being a healthy diet for the rest of the world. I know two full vegetarians : one is gaining weight and the other has had three cancers, one stroke and a heart attack.

I would suggest that giving a cat a vegan diet is imposing your lifestyle upon the cat. If your cat were given the choice, I suspect it would go for the meat, not the veggies.

22 Shermertron January 3, 2015 at 11:34 pm

A very interesting and compelling essay. I honestly don’t know how I feel. It seems to me as though humans (and other animals) are omnivores and have been for hundreds of thousands of years. Humans can live on a vegan diet, but it’s fairly complicated to satisfy our nutritional needs without meat and is certainly far more expensive.

I also understand the ethical objections to using animals as much as we do; cats and dogs are (usually) so loving and amusing, but they would be considered food in a significant portion of the world. Have you ever walked through the woods and come face-to-face with a deer? It’s a beautiful experience. (Unless you pick up a tick from the deer and contract Lyme disease.) I can understand not wanting to eat meat on those grounds.

Still, we are all animals and many animals kill each other for food, using whatever advantage they can to ensure their survival. Do I begrudge a jaguar taking out a zebra? No…it’s a jaguar. They eat zebras. I guess it’s about finding some middle ground in which humans are considered above predation while maintaining status as just another animal.

23 Mel Jackson January 4, 2015 at 1:07 am

hi from dublin. buy soyatoo cream and cheatin’ rashers and fry’s schnitzel here http://www.plantgoodness24.ie buy faux egg yolk ‘the vegg’ (you can fry tofu slices ’til crispy and pour over the made up egg mixture to make a faux egg) and marshmallows her after a while get blood tests from your dr.e http://www.veganstore.co.uk the best faux meats – gardein (best fish), beyond meat, match meat, sophie’s kitchen – and vegusto piquant cheese here http://www.veganessentials.com buy vegan black pudding called vpub here http://www.naturalgrocery.co.uk boots now sell amy’s canned ready meals online or in store. when mioko schinner sells in europe you will be in cheese heaven. ask for the gluten free shelves in supermarkets. there’s a health food shop in wicklow street, dublin that sells fry’s schnitzel. i only know of spirits and paulaner beer as vegan. find some here http://www.barnivore.com some like tofurky for christmas roast but then a lot say gardein is bettr. get a starter kit from vegan ireland. don’t forget to take supplements: b12 calcium, vit d and taking aminos is great for mature folk. best of luck.

24 Anneke Vrieling January 4, 2015 at 11:50 am

Nice article. Would definitely not give the cat a vegan diet, they may just about survive but won’t thrive without meat and will feel uncomfortable as they are forced to digest stuff they haven’t evolved to digest. Consider organic cat food if you can afford it – at least the animals in it have lived a worthy life. http://www.yarrah.com/cat/cat-food. Plus, if everyone neuters their cats it will save a lot of meat having to be fed..

As for religions, buddhists try to end suffering and therefore usually choose a vegetarian diet. It’s not forced onto them, in fact nothing is – ‘be a lamp upon yourself’ were Buddha’s last words. Well then again, all buddhists can be regarded as atheists..

25 dave kiernan January 5, 2015 at 12:40 am

Michael, great article by you. I am a meat eater and eggs, try to eat as little meat as possible and has to be `Organic’, so at least animals concerned had a bit of a decent life.

Unfortunately, with a vastly over-populated Planet, 7.3 billion humans and counting quickly, mass produced and factory farmed meat is the norm and will be the norm. Most of the population on our Planet now want the Western diet and that is cheap and plentiful meat and animal and poultry products. Most fish species have almost been fished to extinction. I dare anyone to pay a visit to any Abattoir in this country, I mean the big ones, as I do regularly and you will see and hear first hand the extermination camp efficiency of our food system. Just think what the scale of Abattoirs in USA, CHINA, ARGENTINA for example work on.

As with everything you do Michael, you are a brave man. Humanity is too stupid.

26 Phil Giordana FCD January 5, 2015 at 11:27 am

Mel: I switched to soja cream because my GF is lacto-intolerant.

I have to admit that when she’s not around I use regular cream. There’s just that bit of bitterness that I can’t quite achieve with soja. Any tip?

27 Lothar Luken January 5, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Reading the first posts I was shocked at so many being concerned about Your cat’s well-being and so few about your’s…. I’ve read stuff that made good points re the health risks from Veganism. But I don’t know. Some can take it others can’t. I don’t understand, tho, why a beekeeper supplying hives and care and sustenance for his/her bees would be wrong in taking their surplus honey. Or why I shouldn’t have skinned two road kill badgers and using their pelts for seat covers. Or eating a road kill deer. Or using the leather of a cow that died anyway. But that’s for the theologians. My first reaction and real problem with your announcement was this: oh, no, this supremely reasonable man and sharpest tool of Irish atheism will now be so easily dismissed as a crank, a weirdo. Because that’s how most people see even Vegetarianism – not so much in intellectual middle class circles, but ‘on the ground’, in the estates, on the farms. And socially: one can take omnivores to Veggie restaurants – but where to take a Vegan… Well, see how it goes.

28 Jerry Bruton January 6, 2015 at 3:36 am

This verbose article is an attempt to expand the mortality in human relationships to animals raised for consumption. That is nonsense.

29 dave kiernan January 6, 2015 at 10:00 am

Very good response to Article, Lothar. Once last year I passed a `roadkill’ deer, a fine big animal, outside Kilcullen in Co.Kildare. I was going southbound at some speed and I was debating to myself `should I go back or not and collect this beautiful and recently deceased animal in my van. After couple of miles I did a u turn and drove back to spot where `deer’ should have been. It had already been taken by someone else, I was too slow to react, was that you Lothar !! You owe me half a `deer carcase’.

30 Bill Wood January 6, 2015 at 4:12 pm

the only nonsensical reply I can see is from Jerry (get your head out of your ass) Bruton.

Great to see moral/ethical reasoning interspersed with personal life experience, I enjoyed your article.
Great choice, enjoy the spiritual enlightenment you have shown.

Regards Bill

31 Looper January 11, 2015 at 4:33 pm

I’ll stick with being an omnivore as evolution dictates.

32 Don Qui January 14, 2015 at 3:53 am

#22

I’d begrudge a jaguar eating a zebra because a feline that crosses the Atlantic just to eat that particular African equine is capable of anything.

33 Citizen Wolf January 26, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Michael Nager
**I do not – and neither does any other human being – have enough enamel on my teeth to be a natural herbivore from the evolutionary history of homo sapiens sapiens.**

Really? People don’t have enough enamel on their teeth to subsist on a plant only diet?

There is a whole lot wrong with that reasoning:
Evolution is concerned with the change in the frequency distribution of genes within a population. Organisms only have to pass on their genes to make an impact on that gene pool. It doesn’t matter at what age they do it. We certainly do have enough enamel on our teeth to subsist on a wide variety (not all) of plant types and live well beyond the age needed to successfully reproduce.

Whether or not omniverous and meat-eating human populations of pre-history humans would have had a selective advantage over plant-only-eating populations is another matter. My opinion is that including meat in the diet of our pre-history ancestors would indeed give a nutritional and calorific advantage over those that just ate plants. However that’s different what what you claimed above.

And aside from the issue of what our pre-history ancestors did, we make decisions now for us. The reason most people choose to become vegetarians or vegans is for ethical reasons, not because we can and did eat meat in the past.

BTW, I’m neither a vegan nor a vegetarian, but I do have ethical issues with meat consumption in our modern world. If you want to make the naturalistic fallacy of ‘we evolved to eat meat’ as a justification for your meat eating in the here and now, then why not go the whole hog (pardon the pun) and give up your cars and i-phones and internet and antibiotics and hospitals and etc etc etc etc. None of that was around in our pre-history, or even until our very recent history.

I’d wager that the reason you eat meat isn’t because you’ve reasoned that it’s the ‘natural’ thing to do, but rather because you simply like eating meat. Admit that to yourself first before you wade into such a discussion because otherwise you sound very ill-informed and lacking in introspection.

34 Michael Nager January 26, 2015 at 7:36 pm

@Citizen Wolf #52

Really? People don’t have enough enamel on their teeth to subsist on a plant only diet?

Of course not you moron, look at herbivores and their teeth.

Do we have herbivore teeth? Of course not.

Today those of us who have the wherewithal to choose a lifestyle can do so, but there is nothing “natural” about it.

If you want to be a vegan or vegetarian then go ahead, but it is nothing better or worse than eating meat because at the end of the day we eat to survive and we would not be picky if we did not have a choice and that is why we survived to be here today.

35 Citizen Wolf January 26, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Michael Nager
**Of course not you moron, look at herbivores and their teeth.
Do we have herbivore teeth? Of course not.**

It’s almost as if you didn’t read my post.

**If you want to be a vegan or vegetarian then go ahead**

I didn’t say I did. As I say, it’s almost as if you didn’t read my post.

36 Torin April 5, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Kudos to you Michael Nugent.

Quorn seem to be moving more to vegan versions.

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