argument top image

Should we stop eating meat for the environment?
Back to question

Meat-free diets require supplements

Vegetarians often have to rely on supplements to stay healthy because it is harder to get all of the required vitamins and nutrients from a meat free diet.

The Argument

Vegetarian diets come with a higher risk for nutrient deficiencies such as B12, iron, and protein. As a result, vegetarians often opt to take nutritional supplements to meet their dietary needs. Reliance on supplements for nutritional health is far from natural. In fact, taking supplements can have negative health effects. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2015) found that irresponsible supplements use can cause significant negative health effects which require medical attention.[1] This is especially the case when a person self medicates with supplements rather than talking to their doctor who can advise on the correct dosage. Not all supplements have been properly tested on children, pregnant women, nor nursing mothers, leaving them particularly susceptible to adverse effects.[2] Safe and healthy supplements also can only do so much. Nutrients are more potent when naturally occurring in food, says Dr. Lo. "They are accompanied by many nonessential but beneficial nutrients, such as hundreds of carotenoids, flavonoids, minerals, and antioxidants that aren't in most supplements."[3] Many people on meat-free diets struggle to get their necessary nutrients and take potentially harmful supplements instead. To rely on supplements rather than whole foods around us is unnatural and potentially harmful.

Counter arguments

A vegetarian diet cuts out meat but all other nutrient-rich animal products are still eaten. Yoghurt, milk, and eggs are nutrient-rich alternatives to meat and easily accessible and are natural replacements to meat. Meat-free diets do require some adjustment from conventional diets, but it is relatively easy to get all the necessary vitamins, proteins, and nutrients from meatless foods. Even vegan diets offer many nutritional alternatives for supplement free balanced diets, such as legumes, beans, fruit, and leafy greens to meet their protein and vitamin needs naturally. Swapping out meat for other vegetables and fruits can provide a balanced diet without the need for supplements if only people do the research and planning. Getting enough nutrients from a meat-free diet requires a reevaluation of diets in general, as humans have developed an over-reliance on meat. Meat may be a convenient 'all in one' option, the environmental and health costs associated are not worth the convenience.[4]



[P1] It is hard to get all the necessary vitamins from meatless diets. [P2] Vegetarians often develop vitamin deficiencies. [P3] You have to take supplements to counteract vitamin deficiencies. [P4] Diets dependant on supplements are not natural.

Rejecting the premises

[ Rejecting P3] Supplements offer one way of counteracting vitamin deficiencies, but there are plenty of natural ways to do so too.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 12 Aug 2020 at 23:03 UTC

Explore related arguments