Is it healthy to be vegan? Is there any scientific proof that meat isn’t healthy? People have been debating these questions for years. While there are valid, scientifically backed arguments for all sides, many of these arguments are based on misunderstandings. By turning the debate into a constructive conversation, these misunderstandings can be reconciled, and a true exchange of information can take place.

Whether you’re a vegan, a vegetarian, or an omnivore, engaging in a healthy conversation, rather than a debate over these lifestyle choices, will make you the voice of reason in a sea of angry dissent. You may even be able to bring people together to agree to disagree – civilly.

So, what’s the issue with veganism? Why all the arguments?

Veganism is a controversial subject because some supporters have a reputation for pushing an agenda that demands others conform to a vegan ideology. This approach isn’t designed to inspire conversation. This makes veganism a touchy subject for everyone, including those who do want to have a civil discussion. People get defensive, or they don’t talk about it at all.

Perhaps that’s what makes blogging a popular outlet for sharing information on reasons to go vegan. Writers can present concepts and facts in their entirety without having to resolve frequent objections that take people off track. It’s the next best thing to an actual conversation.

First, what is a conversation? defines a conversation beautifully. “Conversation is a progression of exchanges among participants. Each participant is a “learning system,” that is, a system that changes internally as a consequence of experience. This highly complex type of interaction is also quite powerful, for conversation is the means by which existing knowledge is conveyed and new knowledge is generated.”

Their article points out that only in conversation can we learn new concepts and evolve knowledge. A conversation also requires participants to willingly pay attention to all messages, something we rarely see today.

A debate, on the other hand, is a structured argument. In a formal setting, each person has a set amount of time to speak to prove their point, and interjections are controlled by a third party. In this setting, facts are generally accepted. In an informal setting, a debate tends to become an unstructured argument where facts are often ignored in favor of emotions.

Switch your mindset from ‘either or’ to ‘this and that’

Turning the debate over veganism into a productive conversation hinges on one basic understanding: facts that support the opposite view don’t necessarily invalidate your view. Both views can be valid for different individuals, as long as you’re not denying facts.

For example, if you understand that being vegan can be healthy, it doesn’t mean people who aren’t vegan are unhealthy. Or, if you understand the body’s need to consume complete proteins in the form of amino acids, and you get your amino acids from meat, that doesn’t mean meat is the only source of protein. Plants provide protein, too, and recognizing that doesn’t invalidate another person’s choice to obtain protein from meat.

However, just because protein is derived from meat doesn’t mean eating meat is the healthiest choice. Factually speaking, scientific evidence has linked the consumption of animal protein, including casein, to certain cancers and other health problems. This is where arguments get the most heated. You can obtain protein from meat, and you can obtain protein from plants. Which source is better is a separate issue.

Allowing for multiple options to be true, or at least partially true, eliminates the need to defend your own personal choices. When you no longer need to defend your personal choices, that’s when a conversation – the exchange of knowledge – can exist.

If you’re vegan, don’t assume people’s moral orientation

Perhaps the one aspect of veganism that many non-vegans can agree on is the importance of using cruelty-free products like faux leather wallets and belts, bags made from vegan leather and makeup that hasn’t been tested on animals. Many non-vegans make it their priority to use cruelty-free products. Not everyone who eats meat thinks animals should be killed for their skin.

Accept facts that are uncomfortable

Some facts are both true and uncomfortable. For example, people often fail to recognize that only plants synthesize proteins. Amino acids are only found in animal meat and by-products because the animals ate the plants. Plants are the original source of protein, and eating them directly will provide your body with the most benefit. Not because that’s a vegan ideology, but because it’s scientifically sound.

If you’ve made it through to the end of this article,
you’ve got the power to bring civility to the next conversation about veganism,
regardless of what side of the argument you’re on.