Written by Catia Faria
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Last month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, one of the world’s most influential organizations in its field, published an updated version of a paper concluding that animal-free diets are absolutely healthy (Cullum-Dugan & Pawlak 2015). The article presents the official position of the Academy on this topic, according to which, when well designed, vegetarian and vegan diets provide adequate nutrition for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.
It would be reasonable to expect that such conclusion had a significant impact on people’s dietary choices. If adopting a vegan diet imposed great costs on the health of human beings, then doing it might not be what we are required to do. Yet the health argument has been, again, debunked. So, why aren’t people going massively vegan?
The first answer to this question might be that people just don’t know. Or, at least, people ignore to a large extent the relevant facts of animal exploitation. It is estimated that over sixty billion land animals and one to three trillion marine animals are bred, or captured, and killed every year so that they can be processed into food (FAO 2015; Mood & Brooke 2010). Going vegan implies abstaining from participating in this scenario by ceasing to consume all animal-derived products. Of course, veganism is not all about diet. It’s about rejecting any practice that involves the infliction of unjustified harms to nonhuman animals, and these practices extend well beyond the food industry. Similarly large numbers of animals are fished and hunted for sport.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.