I’ve eaten meat heartily for most of my life. In the past I have trialled a month eating a vegetarian diet and another month following a vegan one. Each time I returned back to my meat~eating ways.
Over the past few years I’ve been thinking differently, not enough to change my eating habits entirely. I tend to eat a few vegan / vegetarian meals each week but still delve into the meat, dairy and eggs.
I have three daughters, one was vegetarian from a young age and then progressed, almost naturally it seemed, to a vegan diet and lifestyle. My second daughter became vegan literally overnight, after some soul~searching about the ethics of eating meat. She now is fully converted and it isn’t something she thinks about anymore, just her lifestyle. My third daughter has struggled with her weight all her life, she was labelled “failure to thrive” for her entire childhood. She became vegan but she lost even more weight so now eats a fish, egg but no dairy diet which has resulted in her feeling healthier and stronger ~ plus she is, ever so slowly, gaining a little weight on this diet.
So as I approach my Veganuary challenge ~ I wrote a previous blog about that here, my thoughts are turning towards the reasons why I eat animal products. My answer at the moment is that it’s habit, it’s how I have always eaten. Meat and vegetables were the diet of the day in my youth and continued to be so as I grew up and became an adult. It’s not something I have ever deeply analysed but perhaps, with global warming and a growing population, it’s something I should consider.
Restaurants and supermarkets are now responding to the growing trend of vegetarian and veganism within our society. More restaurants are providing a vegan menu and the range of vegan alternatives available now is quite staggering. I remember struggling a few years back to cook vegan meals as I didn’t have the wealth of ingredients now available. Now there are great meat and dairy substitutes and even the fish lover is catered for with fishless fingers, vegan scampi and fishcakes available. All of which made me ask myself, why am I still eating meat?
In this blog I am verbally brain farting the arguments I have come across regarding carnivore versus vegan diets. Then weighing up differing view points on veganism and meat consumption to see where my heart truly lies. Will Veganuary change my life habits and will I then maintain the diet once January is over?
This blog is not one where I am saying “this is right and this is wrong” but a mind map of differing view points from both sides to see which way I am swayed. Life is about choices and our freedom to make our own decisions ~ so please don’t think this is about me saying “do this” or “do that” because it’s not.
So, what is being a vegan all about? The Vegan Society have a website with a wealth of information regarding the vegan lifestyle. They also have recipes which is a bonus for the newly vegan.. Below is what the website The Vegan Society say being vegan is..
“What is veganism?
A lifestyle that avoids all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey; animal derived products like leather; and, as far as possible, products tested on animals.
The Vegan Society’s formal definition is: “veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
Veganism is a protected belief
Veganism is protected as a human right under Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.
A vegan diet is recognised as a valid diet
Veganism is widely recognised as a valid, healthy diet that everyone can thrive on. The British Dietetic Association recently stated that, ‘…well-planned plant-based, vegan-friendly diets can be devised to support healthy living at every age and life-stage.’ (Memorandum of Understanding between The Vegan Society and the British Dietetic Association, The British Dietetic Association, 12th March 2014).
How many vegans are there in Great Britain?
In 2018 The Vegan Society surveyed 2,000 people aged 15 or over across England, Scotland and Wales. We found the number of vegans in Britain has doubled twice in the past four years: from 0.25% (150,000) in 2014 to 0.46% (276,000) in 2016 to 1.16% in 2018 (600,000).
Sale figures for vegan food products
The Mintel Meat-Free Foods UK Report for 2012 shows that meat-free and free-from sales are expected to reach a total of £949m in 2012 with meat-free sales set to reach £607m and free-from market sales expected to reach £342m.
Almost four in 10 (38%) Britons have bought vegetarian or meat-free food, while one in five (20%) has bought free-from food. The growth of the soya, rice and other alternatives to dairy milks as well as the dairy-free margarine market show the potential for this segment of the market.
So, now you know what veganism is all about lets explore meat~eating versus plant~based diet.
Now obviously the meat and poultry industry are not going to advocate for a vegan diet as it would put them out of a job. So what reasons do they give for promoting their wares, tempting our carnivorous nature? A website promoting meat and poultry nutrition cite 12 reasons which are..
1. Protein ~ animal proteins are “complete” proteins which occur naturally. As opposed to protein powders to supplement the diet.
2. Iron Rich ~ Meat, fish and poultry contains heme iron, the body absorbs this iron better than non-heme iron found in plant foods such as vegetables. Therefore this protects more effectively against anaemia..
3. Bioavailable Nutrition ~ nutrients found in animal protein are typically more easily absorbed and used by the body.
4. Muscle Strength And Maintenance ~ the protein found in meat prevents muscle loss as we age more effectively than other protein sources.
5. Bone Strength ~ carnivorous diets are richer in calcium, vitamin D, Vitamins B~12, protein and omega~3 fatty acids which are essential towards maintaining our bone health.
6. Brain Function ~ Vitamin B12 is essential in brain development in children and function of our nervous system. The only natural sources of B12 is animal products, namely meat.
7. Heart Health ~ Allegedly recent studies show animal protein is helpful in maintaining our hearts health.
8. Blood Sugar Control ~ It is said that using lean meat and poultry as part of a high protein and low carbohydrate diet helps better regulate our blood sugars.
9. Zinc Immunity ~ Our bodies use zinc to help with wound healing and support our immune systems. Beef is the optimal source of zinc in our diet.
10. Selenium Rich ~ Selenium is an antioxidant which helps ward against cell damage, and also helps to promote proper thyroid function. It also, allegedly, may be a contributing factor to prevent against cancer. Half of our daily amount of selenium can be found in a single serving of beef or lamb.
11. Weight Management ~ lean meat and poultry high protein diets are said to be helpful in long~term weight loss compared to other diets.
12. It Tastes Good ~ Simply put our taste buds are used to animal products and we enjoy how they taste, why would we stop eating foods that taste so good and we enjoy?
I found an online article which explains a study called “Impact of meat and Lower Palaeolithic food processing techniques on chewing in humans.” What it proposes is that had we not started processing and eating meat in our diet ~ which is considered part of our natural evolution. That without the intake of a high animal protein consumption we may not have evolved into the humans we are today ~ not the sophisticated and intelligent humans of today at least. I find this thought very surprising but “according to Harvard University evolutionary biologists Katherine Zink and Daniel Lieberman, the authors of the Nature paper, proto-humans eating enough root food to stay alive would have had to go through up to 15 million “chewing cycles” a year.” This is allegedly why we started to eat meat as part of our daily diet.
The article continues on to say “A brain is a very nutritionally demanding organ, and if you want to grow a big one, eating at least some meat will provide you far more calories with far less effort than a meatless menu will. What’s more, while animal muscle eaten straight from the carcass requires a lot of ripping and tearing—which demands big, sharp teeth and a powerful bite—once we learned to process our meat, we could do away with some of that, developing smaller teeth and a less pronounced and muscular jaw. This, in turn, may have led to other changes in the skull and neck, favoring a larger brain, better thermoregulation and more advanced speech organs.”
However, the article concludes that although the study states we may not have evolved into the humans we are today had we not consumed meat as a regular supplement to our diet. The modern human of today can quite happily survive on a meatless diet, without any detriment to our health providing we ensure a well rounded menu. However, our genetic core may clamour for it all the same.
An article in the Sustainable Food Trust looks at how “claims against meat fail to see the bigger picture.” It uses data from a comprehensive research study by Poore and Nemecek from Oxford University and Agroscope, which is a large research company in Switzerland. “The study claims that livestock production accounts for 83% of global farmland and produces 56-58% of the greenhouse gas emissions from food, but only contributes 37% of our protein intake and 18% of calories.”
The article talks about other types of farming that are also detrimental to our planet. How about farming of palm oil, soya bean oil, rape oil and even sunflower oil production? That these crops also have a negative impact on the planet. The use of fertilisers and pesticides, along with a decline of pollinating insects all have an impact. We are seeing a problem which is escalating of soil degradation, large parts of our arable land is approximately 30 to 40 years away from running out of soil fertility according to Michael Gove.
Continuous crop production is not seen to be sustainable long~term. The truth is that we need to give our farmlands time to “rest” and as well as crop rotation we need to intermittently leave our fields to be grazed upon by animals.
The figures in UK have dropped in demand for red meat ~ I was surprised to find that beef consumption is down by 4% and lamb by more than 30% since the year 2000.
However, because of rising soil fertility fears our arable farmers are having to re~introduce grass and livestock grazing into their fields, to allow them to “rest”. This is also because weeds like blackgrass, sterile brome and couch have become resistant to the herbicides which are frequently used on the crops during the crop rotation schedules.
There is no argument that we are destroying our planet by our behaviour, it is not only meat consumption that is blame for it. The numbers of local wildlife we kill annually to protect our food crops has also seen a decline in our small mammals such as hedgehogs. It is also thought making fields larger by removing hedgerows has also played its part.
Palm oil has played a huge part in causing damage to our planet. By clearing fields to grow these crops many orangutans, pigmy elephants and Sumatran elephants, rhinos and tigers are the innocent victims who are losing their homes and natural environments causing their decline in numbers.
Closer to home the RSPB state that livestock farming is essential in the preservation of wildlife. There is a fine line between the harmony of our wildlife and livestock, something we need to take into consideration.
The article concludes that grass-fed beef has slightly higher direct emissions than grain-fed beef. It would be beneficial to our environment if we reduced production of meat ~ be it beef, pork or chicken reared on grain food. Instead to produce our meat reared on grass which is less detrimental to our environment and can be used within crop rotation to allow our fields to rest from arable farming and help soil fertility.
So what is our natural diet? Are we meant to eat meat or are we primarily designed to eat plants?
This is an interesting debate ~ are we meat eaters or wheat eaters? Many meat eaters say we are designed to eat meat, it is what our ancestors thrived on and is what we should continue to do. However, the other side of the argument states we are part of the primate family and our closest living relatives are the chimpanzees and gorillas. What do they eat ~ a plant~based diet!
The same article goes on to say that our anatomical make~up shows that our bodies are designed to be herbivores more than carnivores. Us humans have small mouths (and I have a very small mouth!), carnivores usually have large mouths with big, sharp canine teeth best suited for biting and tearing off chunks of meat. Carnivorous animals usually bite, tear and swallow chunks of meat with minimal chewing if chewed at all. Humans can’t do that, our canine teeth are rather small and delicate ~ not suited to ripping chunks of meat. We also couldn’t swallow almost immediately either because we would choke. Us human folk need to bite, chew and then swallow once our food has been mixed in with our saliva and chewed enough to allow swallowing without choking.
The article further explains that our teeth are much better suited towards a plant~based diet, chewing and swallowing fruits and vegetables and not tearing, and swallowing hunks of meat. It also explains how we move our jaws, we can open and close our mouths plus move our jaw forwards and backwards and side to side. Ideally suited for chewing and grinding using our molar teeth Carnivores on the other hand open their mouths but don’t move their jaws forwards and backwards or side to side ~ this is because they need to have a stable jaw to give it extra strength to bite and tear.
Looking in more detail at our digestive systems provides more clues to steer the argument more towards us being geared up physically towards following a plant~based more than meat based diet.
When we eat our saliva starts to break down our food, it is the enzyme in our saliva that breaks down the complex carbohydrates from plant food into simple sugars. Meat contains no carbohydrates and so why do we produce this enzyme if we were designed to eat meat?
Interestingly you need more stomach acid to digest meat but far less to digest starches, veggies and fruit. This is why vegetarians and vegans have fewer peptic ulcers than meat eaters ~ it’s because their plant~based diet is easier to digest and their stomachs need to produce far less acid than meat eaters.
We have very long and winding intestines, as do apes, cows and horses. This is to allow for slow digestion ~ giving our bodies time to break down and absorb the nutrients from our food. True carnivores, for example cats, have short, straight and tubular intestines ~ they are designed specifically to rapidly digest and excrete their meat based diet so that it doesn’t rot in their gut.
The biggest anatomical difference between carnivores and those who eat a plant~based diet is that humans, even those folk eating a high fibre diet, have an average transit time of food from eating to excretion of 41 hours. Compare that to a true carnivore, again such as a cat, and it’s remarkably shorter ~ a speedy 2 to 4 hours.
SO, imagine what happens to the meat we consume in our guts ~ it has time to putrefy in our intestines which can cause cancer causing agents to be produced. For me, the thought of putrefying meat in my gut makes me feel a little queasy ~ I hadn’t really considered this when tucking into a steak.
I found this part of the article particularly interesting and so have copied it.
“Sixty million years ago the lower primates first developed – the mammals from which we all sprang. So much of what makes us skilled as mammals was developed at this time. They were all plant-eating species.
Twenty million years after the lemurs came the anthropoids, the higher primates that include monkeys, apes and humans – another group of vegetarians. Around 18 million years ago came the hominoids, apes which lack tails and have larger brains and bodies than the monkeys. They evolved in Africa and included one called Proconsul, sometimes referred to as the ‘Daddy of us all’. It is thought that we share this ancestor with the gorilla and it is another famous vegetarian. DNA studies show that we have a close relationship with the gorilla and the chimpanzee and that we split from one common ancestor around five to six million years ago.
Because we have the fossilised jaws to study, we know that these primates were herbivores and ate fruits, nuts, berries and the cambium which grows in the spring beneath the bark as the tree begins to swell. Some of us still eat it today and we call it slippery elm, a popular health food supplement for digestive disorders.
Meat-eating began in the last one-and-a-half million years with the advent of Homo erectus, who lived until 300,000 years ago. However, this species was still largely a plant-eating animal. Contrasted with the life of an 80-year-old human being it means that only in the last 15 years would meat have been eaten. For 65 years we were vegetarian.
Of course no-one can deny that human beings became omnivorous. But very little meat was eaten compared to today’s consumption. Hunting was given a great boost when climactic changes destroyed the food sources in the northern climes in the great Ice Ages. However in evolutionary terms this is a very short period.
Humans are naturally vegan and we ignore, at our peril, our primate ancestry. The sooner we ditch the ‘meat maketh man’ myth the better for our health. We were never meant to eat meat or dairy (which humans only began consuming 6,000 years ago), our bodies are not designed to eat flesh and our health is suffering because of it. Once we exclude animal products from our diets our own health, our planet’s health and the lives of billions of animals will be better for it. Only then can we really claim to be a truly great ape.”
This table is a great visual aid ..
This article pretty much agrees that we were designed to eat plant~based diets but at some point in our history climate changed and made the previously readily available fruits and vegetables more sparse and so as a species we started taking left over remains from the wild carnivorous animals before starting to hunt for meat to supplement our diets.
Another article, more tongue in cheek in its approach looks at meat~eater vs vegan debate. It looks at the following points and argues against the vegan viewpoint, so here we go ..
Meat is murder! ~ If that’s the case then vegan are murderers too, plants are living things and so therefore they are plant murderers. Meat eaters can bite into a burger and say looking into the eyes of the vegan opposite who may be eating a salad that in the scale of murdering food they are both equal.
Veganism is good for the planet! ~ A meat~eater comeback could be ~ if we just ate plants and didn’t eat meat the world would become overrun by chickens, pigs, sheep and cows ~ sort of a animal version of Day of the Triffids ~a pretty terrifying thought!
Bacon! ~ nothing more needs to be said, just mmmmm bacon…
Meat makes you more smarterer! ~ There is no proof to support this argument and therefore it can’t be discounted.
Plants are gross! ~ Every child knows that this is true and that’s why they have to be cajoled into eating their vegetables. Ask the vegan to offer a child a chicken nugget and a head of broccoli and watch which they eat and which they throw at a sibling ~ point made!
Plant eating makes you smug!~ Seems to be a general meat~eater mindset and therefore must be true.
We have Canines! ~ If we were meant to eat plants we wouldn’t have teeth! Just mush up the fruits against our gums and swallow rice. We have teeth, specifically canines, to eat meat.
We need protein!~ Just turn to the vegan and with sympathy say we need protein to survive, we get it from meat and you don’t, so you must be tired ~ go lie down!
So where are we up to now?
Arguments for eating meat..
1. Predators such as wolves are no longer around and so meat eaters need to cull animals such as deer through hunting and then obviously eat them afterwards.
2. Animals and plants naturally work together, we use animal manure to fertilise our crops. Bees pollinate, earthworms maintain the soil and so on ~ so really nothing is 100% vegan.
3. We rely on animal products for our clothing, such as leather. There aren’t any real substitutes for animal based clothes.
Arguments for being vegan..
1. It’s ethically wrong to keep and kill animals purely for our table.
2. We health would benefit from eating a plant~based diet, no rotting meat left hanging about in our intestines.
3. It would benefit our environment and the planet.
I came across a blog written by Rob Greenfield which I found very interesting. He touched upon some points I have yet to come to, so let’s dive on in.
Factory farming ~ something I deplore and which many meat eaters try not to think about. This type of farming doesn’t care about the life and welfare of the livestock but more about cost~effective, high profit farming. It is cruel and inhumane, no animal should be subjected to a factory farming life, no matter how short it may be. Animals should be outside, on the grass, in the mud, in the fresh air. Pigs, cows and chickens should categorically not be subjected to such a cruel, short and inhumane life.
He moves on to say that for the Americans, switching to a plant~based diet would make a huge impact on helping the environment. Farming meat is the largest contributor to our resource depletion, he says “a hamburger takes over 600 gallons of water to produce.” That’s one hell of a lot of water!
Moving on there is also the deforestation to create areas to grow soy and grains in order to feed the livestock that we eat.
Eating meat can also increase the possibility of poor health as a result of consuming meat which has been pumped full of growth hormones, antibiotics and has been genetically tweaked. How is that impacting on our overall health ~ it can’t be good.
However, after slating the practices of farming and eating meat what about the other side of the argument, one I hadn’t considered, but which Rob tells us ~ “there are cultures of people who eat meat and animal products in a manner that causes less harm to the earth and animals than some plant~based diets do.” Now that’s food for thought!
Plant based diets and vary depending on location, if you are in the countryside close to farm shops then most of your vegetables and fruit are sourced locally and no doubt picked from the shop and put into paper bags or boxes then there is little harm done to the environment.
However, many of us are city based and often include food from all over the world that has been imported for our consumption, whichever way it is transported it is not going to be environmentally friendly plus it needs to be packaged and secured for transport, and no doubt supplied in packaging not necessarily environmentally friendly either.
Palm oil ~ a filthy word, one that creates a picture in my mind of animals being pushed out of their natural environments and living in smaller, ever decreasing land which creates devastating loss of species and making many endangered. Palm oil is in so many foods and you have to be a label savvy shopper to ensure you avoid foods containing this product.
If you are a meat~eater and hunt and farm responsibly so as not to deplete stocks then a harmony can be reached. It is a fair argument that plant~based diets can also be detrimental to the planet if land is densely farmed. I personally feel that it is our duty to ensure the future of our planet and work on both sides ~ meat eater and plant based, to ensure practices are used with the long~term benefit of the plant in mind.
My biggest bug bear is food packaging, whether it’s meat or plant~based. Why is so much plastic used ~ why can’t we go back to the days of grease proof paper, brown bags, bottles and boxes? Plastics are suffocating our oceans and polluting our land, we have so many alternatives so why do we insist on using them?
Rob tells us “the Inuit people live primarily on animals that they hunt and trap locally. Imagine if they instead had all their food shipped in from warmer lands where it could be grown. That would be so much more detrimental than living off their land.”
To be fair, as a planet we aren’t all going to eat a purely plant~based diet. However, we could work towards finding a harmony between meat vs plant based diets and the farming, transporting and packaging of them.
Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
In this day and age how can we condone cruelty towards animals in any form. How we care for and farm our animals, plus slaughter them should be through a clear and enforced protocol where animals are given a good quality of life and treated humanely. All factory farming should be banned.
We need to realise that as humans we are no better or worse than other species on this planet. Our actions can destroy our environment which is what puts us apart from other species and that is nothing to be proud of.
From what I have read regarding our environment and the impact of farming on it has me leaning more towards the plant~based diet or at least reducing the number of days a week that I eat meat.
Rob states in his blog that “a diet high in plants and low in animals is the most beneficial to human health.” He also asks for compassion and understanding to those who follow different diets. How you choose to eat is ultimately a personal decision and not one you can enforce on others. If you are vegan please don’t be militant about it or try shaming meat eaters to stop “murdering” animals. Life is about compromise, compassion, understanding and working together to try to find the right balance to suit everyone and to reduce the harm on our environment by looking hard at what can be done to change current practices regarding farming, packaging, transport and the environment.
There is a practice call Meatless Monday where us meat eaters are encouraged to try going at least one day a week without meat. Perhaps if you can’t think of a diet without animal products you could at least have at least one or two days a week when you go without them. Everything in moderation, no shame, no guilt, just trying to eat as ethically as possible. Knowing how your food is farmed, ensuring you buy from local sources to ensure you aren’t consuming factory farmed produce is a good compromise.
Veganism can be said to be detrimental too. The Independent published an article about how veganism isn’t as environmentally friendly as you think. It was a thought~provoking read, especially when you consider how far and wide our ingredients come from and do we ever sit back and think about how it is affecting the country supplying our food? I would suggest if you have a few minutes to click on the link and have a read. In essence it says to try to eat only locally sourced foods and reduce the amount we import.
Okay, so we’ve discussed meat ~ what about dairy? The Conversation looks at whether we need to consume dairy or not.
The science of this is interesting, milk contains a sugar called lactose which requires an enzyme called lactase to allow it to pass across the walls of the gut into the blood stream. When we breastfeed as babies we naturally produce lactase allowing us to absorb our mother’s milk.
If you look at Japan and China where they don’t tend to consume much milk most of the children will have stopped producing lactase soon after weaning from their mother’s breast and therefore producing a populations who possibly are unable to absorb the lactose in milk – resulting in “lactose intolerance”.
The findings are very different in Europe where not just children but adults are found to still be producing lactase and can happily absorb lactose in the milk. It is thought that only 5% of the European population are lactose intolerant.
Interestingly the article states that “Continuing to produce lactase into adulthood is actually an inherited genetic variation which has become so common because being able to tolerate milk has a selective advantage. Milk is a useful source of protein, energy, calcium, phosphate, B vitamins and iodine, meaning that those with the mutation were generally healthier and produced more children than those who couldn’t tolerate milk, and so the presence of the mutation increased.”
It is thought that in Northern Europe as far back as 8,000 years ago milk consumption was part of their diet. However, it is thought they couldn’t tolerate the milk and found that when fermented to make yoghurt or cheese it could be absorbed more easily. When fermenting milk the bacteria uses up most of the lactose which means folk not producing lactase could tolerate it, thus benefiting from the nutritional elements of drinking milk.
The article then continues to talk about how the benefits of drinking milk as children ~ if we drink it as children it ensures we have good strong bones and less risk of fracture. However, children who couldn’t tolerate milk and had to have other substitutes, such as soy milk, have been shown in studies to have less bone density and therefore a higher risk of fracture.
As I said above, China and Japan drink very little milk and it has been shown that the incidence of hip fracture – a common outcome of poor bone mineral density – is 150% higher than that of white American or European populations.
Another article in Medical News Today says;
“Daily dairy recommendations depend on your age. Children 2-3 years old require two cups of dairy per day, 4-8 year-olds need 2.5 cups per day, and three cups per day are recommended for age 9 and upward.
For people who do not consume dairy products, the USDA mention the following foods to contribute toward calcium intake: kale leaves, calcium-fortified juices, breads, cereals, rice or almond milk, canned fish, soybeans, other soy foods, such as tofu, soy yogurt, and tempeh, and some leafy greens including collard and turnip greens, kale, and bok choy.
They point out that the amount of calcium that is absorbed from these foods varies.”
“Government guidelines say that milk is rich in nutrients. Calcium-rich low-fat or fat-free dairy products are essential for bone health, heart health, and type 2 diabetes, but full-fat dairy increases the risk for coronary heart disease.”
I have mentioned earlier about lactose intolerance, but not about the ethics of drinking cows, goats or sheep milk.
We are the only species that drinks milk as adults from another species. How can that be natural or right?
Reading a past article in The Guardian discussing Dairy farming they talk about disturbing practices. I hasten to add that my father~in~law was a dairy farmer and one of the good ones. He loved his cows and took great care of them, they lived a fabulous life in fields surrounding the farmhouse. Each cow had its own name, along with its number and their health was paramount.
However, not all farms are run the same way..
“In reality, the daily practices of most dairy farms are more distressing than those of meat production. A mother cow only produces milk when she gets pregnant. So, starting from the age of 15 months, she will usually be artificially inseminated. Farmers mechanically draw semen from a bull, and then force the female cow into a narrow trap, known as a “cattle crush”, where they will brutally impregnate her.”
“When she gives birth, her calf will typically be removed within 36 hours, so the farmers can steal and sell you the milk that is meant for her baby. Wildlife experts say that a strong bond between cow and calf is formed quickly after birth. Following that callous separation, the mother will bellow and scream for days, wondering where her baby is. The answer depends on the gender of the calf. If male, he will probably either be shot and tossed into a bin, or sold to be raised for veal, which delays his death by just a matter of months. But if the calf is female, she will usually be prepared for her own entry into dairy production, where she will face the same cycle of hell that her mother is trapped in: forced impregnation, the theft of her baby, and a return to the cattle crush two or three months later.”
The above reading is hard to take and too many dairy farms are making the livestock live a horrendous life just to provide us with milk. How can that be right? As a result people are turning to the many and varied dairy free alternatives, ranges of which are always expanding. I’ve been very impressed with Sainsburys Vegan and Dairy free ranges, they have been easily substituted into my diet without any great hardship ~ currently I dabble with them but still consume dairy. However, after reading so many articles about the awful practices that go on in the dairy~farming world, I don’t think in good conscience I can continue along this path.
Finally ~ eggs!
Why do we eat eggs and when did it all begin?
I found a very interesting timeline of eggs for human consumption online which I’ll share with you..
“When? Since the beginning of human time.
Where? Wherever eggs could be obtained, different kinds of eggs were/still are eaten in different parts of the world. Ostrich and chicken are the most common.
Why? Because eggs are relatively easy to obtain, excellent protein sources, adaptable to many different types of recipes (from simply boiled, fried, or stuffed to complicated quiche, custards or meringue), and fit the bill for meatless fasting days required by some religions. In this last role? Eggs have been the object of much socio-religious symbolism and tradition”
Another post, this one on a website called live science says eggs are perfectly fine for us to consume, it says..
“Most of the studies I’ve seen conclude that eggs are fine — and may even improve your health, as they contain nutrients difficult to find in other foods. More importantly, a report by Ying Rong of Huazhong University of Science and Technology and her colleagues published in the British Journal of Medicine in January, reviewed 17 different egg studies.
The study concluded, “Higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. The increased risk of coronary heart disease among diabetic patients and reduced risk of hemorrhagic stroke associated with higher egg consumption in subgroup analyses warrant further studies.”
The bottom line: Your nutritional needs and food choices should be personalised. You should enjoy food and eating, as it is one of the basic pleasures in life!”
So in my eyes eggs are good so long as they are organic and are free from antibiotics, vaccines and hormones. Our local farm, where my husband’s business unit is, has chickens which have freedom of the paddocks around them during the day, often coming into the unit to have a little look round. Knowing the chickens and seeing that they have a very free range life makes me perfectly happy to consume them. I am however exceptionally passionate about petitioning for the end of battery farming. No animal should be living a desperately inhumane life just to provide us with food
If you want to read more about the vegan lifestyle and diet choice then take a peek at Vegan Speak ~ it describes itself as “The online resource for science-based vegan advocacy.” Searching why vegans don’t eat eggs Vegan Speak says it’s because, “In the egg industry, only females are required since males cannot lay eggs. So at the hatcheries, male and female chicks are separated as they pass through a conveyor belt. Males are considered useless so they are either killed at the hatchery (either by being macerated alive, drowned or suffocated) or thrown into the bin alive. Females are painfully de-beaked and sent off to farms, where they will lay a painful 300+ eggs per year due to genetic manipulation (as opposed to a wild chicken’s 20 or so per year). This process happens on any farm, regardless of it being free-range, organic or whatever. After hens stop producing eggs at a profitable rate, they are sent to slaughter, which involves being thrown into an electric bath to be stunned, then hoisted up upside down and going along a conveyor belt to have their throats slit. Many chickens will remain fully conscious after their throats are slit and will be boiled alive in the de-feathering tank afterwards. Their slaughter happens at around two years of age. The natural lifespan of a chicken is eight years.”
However to my mind, so long as I buy my eggs locally from a source where I can see how the chickens are kept and looked after then I have no issue with them and will continue to eat them.
After sifting through all these arguments for and against I can honestly say I see both sides of the picture. However, do we say that just because we’ve always done it one way that we can’t change? Surely we can evolve and progress with the changing times, is how we choose to eat part of this process?
My mind tells me that I should strongly consider turning towards the vegan side of the argument and saying, “yes” to them ~ that the time has come to make some changes and only the future holds the answer to whether the argument about veganism helping the planet and environment is true.
So let’s see how I manage throughout Veganuary and beyond ~ watch this space!