Thursday, 20 March 2008

About bloody time someone said it

The Green Party has acknowledged that producing animal products is harmful to the environment, with this article in the latest issue of its online magazine. I just love the way they describe the fact that no major charities are prepared to mention to their supporters that animal products are bad for the environment, probably because they don't want to risk alienating (i.e. losing money from) their supporters: "The battle to save the global environment is beginning to feel a bit like the old TV comedy Fawlty Towers - an episode called Don’t Mention the Meat."

And why is it that "reduce your animal product consumption" never makes it into the Government/media 'top 10 ways to save the planet' articles that spring up everywhere these days, now that carbon footprints and whatever are in fashion? Presumably telling people to cut down on meat/dairy is not a popular newspaper-selling/vote-winning message. I also imagine that most of the people who write such articles eat meat themselves and are reluctant to acknowledge the facts in their own minds, never mind promoting them in a published article. And there's also the question of how much pressure the meat and dairy industries are putting on the Government not to say anything. I only suspect such pressure exists in a big way and I've not yet been able to find any information about how much influence these industries have over the UK Government (call yourself an information professional? Bah!) but I'd be very interested to know...

I just wish that "cut down on animal products" would make it into the list of 'green' stuff we can all recite off the top of our heads thanks to popular media articles and Government education, you know, use low-energy lightbulbs, use the car less often, buy locally-produced food, cut down on plane journeys, insulate your loft, and so on. Not everyone can insulate their loft, not everyone has time or money to donate to environmental charities, not everyone can afford a brand-new low-emission car, but pretty much everyone can cut down on animal products. It's just such an easy thing to do in your everyday life, it will probably save you money rather than costing you money, and it's even good for your health! Plus you get to eat all sorts of delicious food, it's not exactly a sacrifice! Ok, maybe non-vegans who've never considered the idea think they 'couldn't give up meat/cheese/whatever', but seriously, it's not hard once you get your head round the concept and discover lots of alternative foods to enjoy. Trust me, I enjoy food, I have a whole website about food, vegan food is not inferior! I don't feel like I'm sacrificing anything, if anything how I eat is better for my health than it would be if I was still an omnivore. OK, so before I went vegan I had some thoughts along the lines of "but if I go vegan it means I won't be able to eat stuffed pasta any more, and I really really like stuffed pasta", but then I thought, the positive reasons for becoming vegan far outweigh the negative ones against. And later I discovered that you can buy vegan stuffed pasta after all :-).

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

A positive vegan news story (almost)

Switching to a vegan diet can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes for arthritis sufferers:

But I see they still have to put a token anti-vegan comment in at the end (although not from the people who carried out the research). In what way is it "difficult to get enough of some important nutrients on a vegan diet"? What nutrients can you not get from plants, exactly? Do they mean that it's a good idea to think about what you eat and maybe even incorporate some foods into your diet because they are rich in certain nutrients, rather than just because they taste nice? Because everyone who doesn't actively avoid any foods (except the ones they don't like the taste of) is automatically consuming enough of all the right nutrients...

We're allowed to be told that we should eat more fruit and vegetables, less saturated fat, less cholesterol, more fibre, less salt and sugar, more 'good fats'... yet we must discourage people from being vegan. Perhaps they think that some people might not pay enough attention to their nutrition if they tried being vegan, like just leaving the meat out of their meat and two veg meal, but the thing is, if you make changes like that to your diet you have to think of alternative things to eat (else you wouldn't have anything to eat!), which does lead you to learn a bit about nutrients and what foods they're found in, so it's hardly going to be dangerous for most people. But then again, most of the world probably thinks that being vegan is just too 'extreme' simply because it's unfamiliar and so far from what most people in this country eat by default because that's what they were brought up with. Although if you'd asked me what I thought of veganism when I was a meat eater, I may well have said the same thing.

Well, I shall be something of a living experiment. You can get away with a fair amount of unhealthiness when you're younger, but when you're older it catches up with you - the more unhealthy your lifestyle is, the younger it gets you. That's my theory, anyway. So when I'm 60 and everyone else my age is suffering from various health problems, I'm hoping that I'll be doing better than most!