Frequently ask questions
The things people ask or you may be wondering!
Health & family
A vegan diet can offer complete nutrition for anyone at any age and can be easy to follow. As a growing teen it is safe to switch from a vegetarian to a vegan diet. To stay healthy, it is important that your child eats a variety of foods daily and focuses on specific nutrients that help teens grow. Two major minerals that teens should concentrate on taking in daily are calcium, to help grow strong bones, and iron, to provide energy.
Studies have shown that a veggie diet can promote weight loss. A diet high in plant foods is also usually linked to a lower body mass index. Being a vegan does not necessarily mean you will eat less calories though, it simply means that your calories come from different sources. Usually however, these sources (beans, tofu, nuts, whole grains, vegetables etc.) are lower in calories plus they also keep you fuller longer.
Protein needs are easily met on a veggie diet. Most plant foods contain protein – in fact, it would be very difficult to design a vegetarian or vegan diet that is lacking in protein. It is now thought that one of the benefits of a vegetarian diet is that it contains adequate but not excessive protein as too much protein, especially animal protein, can lead to serious health problems. Whole grains, nuts, beans, tofu and even vegetables all contain protein. For more info see our protein leaflet.
Anyone can experience anaemia whether veggie or not. It’s a common misconception though that vegans and vegetarians will have more problems with iron deficiency and anaemia. There is no evidence that vegans and vegetarians are any more likely to be iron deficient than non-vegetarians.
There are plenty of sources of iron in a vegetarian or vegan diet. The iron is non-heme which is differently absorbed from heme iron, but can be enhanced by consuming vitamin C (fruit) with the meal. Eat whole grains, beans, nuts, and lentils. For more info see our iron leaflet.
Yes you can, but everyone, whether veggie or not, is better off for eating vegetables. All vegetables provide fiber and phytonutrients (simply put, nutrients that are important and that come from plants). That’s not to say that you can’t get many of these vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from other places if you don’t eat vegetables. You can get some from fruits, some from whole grains, and, if necessary take vitamin supplements. But vegetables provide these benefits most easily. Some vegetables avoiders have found when they went vegan or vegetarian that their taste buds changed and they started enjoying vegetable eating.
Palm oil itself, is a vegetable product which does not need to involve the use or abuse of animals so is therefore is suitable for vegans. HOWEVER, the palm oil and palm timber industries are rife with very bad and unethical practices that is destroying large forested areas, and endangering or ending the lives of many animals, particularly the Orangutan. In the EU, palm oil used in food must be labelled, but ingredients derived from palm oil still do not have to be labelled making it near impossible for consumers to boycott palm products. We recommend avoiding palm products where at all possible if assurances can not be made it has been manufactured sustainably and ethically.
Animal agriculture is one of the most detrimental industries to the environment. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day. Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame. Animal production is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today and did you know it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef?
And it doesn’t stop there! Animal agriculture is also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. In New Zealand many farmers have converted to dairy farming lured by the bigger profits, however a farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. So if anyone is concerned about the environment should seriously consider veganism.
Absolutely! The choices you make how you live, shop and eat always impact on others. And everything you purchase does signal back to businesses how they should invest in the future. So essentially every dollar you spend is a vote for or against cruelty or unfair treatment. The more people who no longer support cruel or exploitative industries, the less likely these businesses will continue to invest in cruelly-produced products. For instance, every time someone buys a carton of plant-based milk (soy, oat, almond etc) that is indirectly signalling to the dairy industry that milking a cow is no longer needed. The same is true for any animal-derived product so put your compassionate vote forward – shop vegan!
There are many ethical reasons to be vegan, and ending world hunger is a big one. Going vegan benefits human animals and non-human animals alike and in reducing the suffering of one group, we reduce the suffering of the other group. According to the World Food Progamme, some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth. Now consider the facts that 82% of those starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and those animals are eaten by western countries. Also worldwide, at least 50% of all grain that is grown and produced is fed to livestock. The planet can produce enough plant-food to feed the entire population easily however until countries stop continuing to fed grain to animals, it will always remain unfair, cruel and unsustainable.
Quite the opposite, actually: eating meat is completely unsustainable. The United Nations has been urging for years that people move to a plant-based diet because “lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change”. This is because animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions, about 18%, than all the transport systems combined in the world, around 13%. It is also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones and several other environmental degradation indicators. You can find more on this here.
In fact, we could feed more people with less land, water and resource usage if everyone was vegan than if people ate meat. A Cornell University article states that the US alone could feed about 800 million more people “if all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people”.
Ethics & compassion
Just as you don’t need to be a human rights activist to avoid contributing to human rights violations, you don’t need to be an animal activist to be a vegan. Being vegan is simply a matter of changing your habits to conform to values of justice and compassion that are not limited to human animals but include, as true justice should, all animals. While becoming vegan may take some additional time in the learning phase, it is no more time consuming than having a good habit replace a bad habit. You can still focus your time on other important issues while simply leaving animals alone.
Every animal, both human and non-human, has the inherent right to freedom from unnecessary harm. Veganism is not the end of all harm. It is the beginning. Right this moment you may not have the power to stop a woman from being stoned to death or children from being forced into slavery, but you are empowered to stop your own participation in the harm that is caused by the production of all things non-vegan.
There’s no doubt that if the entire world switched overnight to a vegan diet, there would be hundreds of millions of farmed animals needing life-long housing and care. But in reality this scenario will never occur as there’s simply no possibility that the entire human population would become vegan in an instant. But as we have seen already, as the consumption or demand of animals steadily declines, there are fewer farmed animals being bred. In New Zealand, sheep are a good example of this.
Plants may respond to stimuli but they do not have a central nervous system or brain to enable them to experience pain. However, if plants did experience pain we could reduce the amount of plants we kill by not harvesting crops destined to create feed for farmed animals.
Just because something is consider ‘normal’ in our society doesn’t mean it is right. Many cultures have different thoughts on what is normal, and normality is constantly evolving. There was previously a time when slavery was a social norm, and even today there are many communities with highly unethical ‘normal’ practices. If the behaviour of eating meat and dairy is justified by being normal, then this also means that the act of breeding and killing dogs, or hunting lions also becomes acceptable.
In addition, times have evolved vastly since the days of our ancestors and in this modern age of advanced technology, we have become very far removed from that way of life. We now live in a time where food is widely accessible and we have an abundance of alternative options. We simply do not need to kill animals to survive anymore.
Using free range, cage-free, organic, grass-fed, local or “humanely raised” animal products may seem like a better option. But these terms have been developed by marketing professionals to put a positive spin on an industry whose primary purpose is unethical, regardless of the scale or specific practices of “production.”
Not only are the terms themselves highly misleading, they are irrelevant to the fundamental issue of the right of sentient beings not to be exploited. No matter the relative ‘quality of life’ an animal is given while in captivity, they are still unnecessarily imprisoned, terrified, harmed and ultimately killed.