Environmentalists vs vegetarians


by Sunny
30th August, 2007 at 3:09 pm    

The New York Times has an interesting article about the hypocrisy of environmentalists over vegetarians. It points out:

The biggest animal rights groups do not always overlap in their missions, but now they have coalesced around a message that eating meat is worse for the environment than driving. They and smaller groups have started advertising campaigns that try to equate vegetarianism with curbing greenhouse gases.

Some backlash against this position is inevitable, the groups acknowledge, but they do have scientific ammunition. In late November, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

When that report came out, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups expected their environmental counterparts to immediately hop on the ‘Go Veggie!’ bandwagon, but that did not happen. “Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and S.U.V.’s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate,” said Matt A. Prescott, manager of vegan campaigns for PETA.

I think this applies more to the US than the UK since most environmentalists I know in the UK are also vegetarian, as they should be. But the hypocrisy of preaching vegetarians who don’t want to give up meat is well made. Being somewhat more biased towards animal-rights than the environment (I think) and being vegetarian, I know which side I’m on.


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  1. Rumbold — on 30th August, 2007 at 3:16 pm  

    If livestock are causing greenhouse gases then we need to do our bit for the environment by pushing away our bowls of museli and eating a nice steak for breakfast.

  2. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 3:24 pm  

    I don’t think even I (a confirmed carnivore) could manage a steak for breakfast.

    Having done the Atkins in the past (which worked very well, incidentally), even I got tired of meat after a while.

  3. Sunny — on 30th August, 2007 at 3:26 pm  

    by pushing away our bowls of museli and eating a nice steak for breakfast.

    That would only make things worse because the demand for meat rises and thus more cows are bred specifically for that purpose.

    Embrace the muesli, it will save your ass (literally and figuratively)!

  4. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 3:32 pm  

    Embrace the muesli, it will save your ass (literally and figuratively)!

    Nononononono…..bums are like armchairs – well-upholstered ones are much more preferable than skinny little things.

  5. Leon — on 30th August, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

    Embrace the muesli, it will save your ass (literally and figuratively)!

    I dunno, sometimes I feel like I’d rather die young with the taste of a good steak in my mouth than live till old age eating veggie ‘food’!

  6. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 3:43 pm  

    “My body is an amusement park, not a temple”

    - Anthony Bourdain (who else?)

  7. Max — on 30th August, 2007 at 4:22 pm  

    It’s simple economics. Feeding grain to cattle gives a much lower return. Feed those grains to people, lots of problems solved.

    Good vegan cookbooks: How It All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan. Or how about Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen?

  8. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

    Veganism….ugh. Think of the flatulence….

  9. Rumbold — on 30th August, 2007 at 4:32 pm  

    “I dunno, sometimes I feel like I’d rather die young with the taste of a good steak in my mouth than live till old age eating veggie ‘food’!”

    Exactly. I tried veggie sausages once and considered eating the cardboard packaging instead.

  10. Rumbold — on 30th August, 2007 at 4:37 pm  

    If you think that there are too many cows, then perhaps this is the answer:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6970305.stm

  11. Rohin — on 30th August, 2007 at 4:39 pm  

    As discussed on other sites, it’s not so simple. It’s unclear HOW the meat industry is contributing to pollution more than SUVs. Is it the transportation of the meat, the refridgeration, the machinery involved or is it just a whole load of cows farting away?

    Secondly, the evidence base supporting this claim is slim at best.

    I am a meat-eater, a scientist and deeply un-religious. However, whilst I might tease veggies, I think that they’ve probably got it right. The argument for meat is getting weaker as we become more adept at utilising vegetables (i.e. more Indian!) I am weak and I like meat, I would never say any other reason for not being vegetarian.

    But where I differ immensely from Sunny is that I overwhelmingly place the environment above animal rights. Of course they’re linked. But I’d rather keep living a green existence on my bike and have a burger than be a vegan in a humvee.

  12. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 4:47 pm  

    Well, there is the basic fact that we have evolved to eat an omnivorous diet.

    On the other hand, they’ll have to drag my chillies from my cold dead hands….

  13. Sunny — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

    Secondly, the evidence base supporting this claim is slim at best.

    The evidence is spread out over different factors (cows farting, transportation of animals, grains /water needed to support them) but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    Aha, Max my fellow vegetarian is back again.

    Damn the rest of you meat-eaters!

    But I’d rather keep living a green existence on my bike and have a burger than be a vegan in a humvee.

    The two are not exclusive of course, I wouldn’t drive a humvee, unless it was green-friendly. But we have to weigh up what has a big impact on the environment rather than simply bang on about planes when they contribute relatively little.

  14. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:05 pm  

    But we have to weigh up what has a big impact on the environment rather than simply bang on about planes when they contribute relatively little.

    So why has pratically the whole environmental movemnent in the UK had a collective fit over the mere possibility of air travel the last three weeks or so?

    The simplest way for the human race to stop affecting the environment is to stop having so many sprogs. More johnny, less bareback please!

  15. Sunny — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:10 pm  

    So why has pratically the whole environmental movemnent in the UK had a collective fit over the mere possibility of air travel the last three weeks or so?

    That is one part of the movement’s efforts, not all.

  16. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:15 pm  

    And a very self-defeating effort as well. The environmental movement has come across as nowt but a bunch of crusty gits that want to stop people flying. Any other message has got lost in the hysteria from groups such as “Plane Stupid”.

  17. Rohin — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:17 pm  

    But Sunny you defended those Heathrow people vociferously and now you’re saying actually that whole flying thing isn’t such a big deal?

    Evidence exists about this meat industry thing sure, but there is no peer-reviewed evidence to categorically say more tonnes of CO2 or however you want to measure pollution is produced per annum than gas-guzzling cars.

    I am yet to be convinced. I am open-minded and hell it looks like I’ll be vegetarian once I’m married, which I don’t mind at all (being veggie, not married..!) but I will not believe such claims until clear, irrefutable evidence is presented. Unlike the contribution of cars to CO2, for example, which is well-documented. Or cigarettes to lung cancer etc.

    Perhaps I shouldn’t argue. I’m off to the showroom to potentially buy an horrifically ungreen 420bhp car. If I just quit the meat, I can buy it and stay carbon neutral!

  18. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:21 pm  

    Perhaps if we developed a beef-powered car then both problems could be solved.

  19. Rohin — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:29 pm  

    A beef-powered car like this one?

  20. Roger — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:05 pm  

    “eating meat is worse for the environment than driving. ”
    What about eating roadkill?

  21. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:09 pm  

    Rohin, chief benefit I can think of is that we can all live on Pho.

  22. Riz — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:14 pm  

    Fact: The veggie movement has never really taken off because the group is too weak due to lack of meat. This has been proven to lead to feeble thought, circular arguments, and poor quality nails and hair.

    Fact: By eating an animals, humans extend their lifespans by however many years the animal would have lived.

    Fact: God has allocated a certain number of animals per person, to be eaten. Nature’s bounty.

    Fact: PETA and other such organisation were set up the gvt in the 1970s so they could create a hippie database. You are being watched.

    Fact: Linda McCartneys sausages are very nice if wrapped in kitchen paper and microwaved for 1 1/2 minute. Grilled, they are terrible.

    Hold on, what’s that last one? Just which side am I on, oh yes, there’s my line…less articles on the hippie communists please and more promoting healthy competition and free enterprise !

  23. Rohin — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:17 pm  

    Haha!

    Fact: If God hadn’t wanted us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them taste so good. (Homer)

  24. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:19 pm  

    Riz, you were going great guns until you suggested that a Linda McCartney product (I refuse to call them “food”) tasted of anything other than recycled mushroom shit. Methinks you are some sort of agent provoctaeur.

  25. Riz — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:22 pm  

    Rohin knows the truth!

    ps – agent provoctaeur…don’t they make lingerie?

  26. Bleh — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:27 pm  

    PETA = (P)eople (E)ating (T)asty (A)nimals.

  27. soru — on 30th August, 2007 at 9:56 pm  

    Doesn’t this line of argument also apply to organic food, which generally takes a lot more acreage per calorie?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food

    One such meta-study by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency found that, area-for-area, organic farms of potatoes, sugar beet and seed grass produce as little as half the output of conventional farming. In part, the long-term study of all available published evidence concluded that without pesticides, output would drop from 10 to 50 percent, depending on the crop type, and that some crops would be ousted altogether.

  28. Sunny — on 30th August, 2007 at 10:14 pm  

    In part, the long-term study of all available published evidence concluded that without pesticides,

    But that’s the whole point of organic food – to make sure pesticides are not produced or pumped into the environment. There is a debate going on about importing organic food from other countries, and the ethical position is to buy locally produced British organic food where possible. That is a not a dilemma for most environmentalists.

    But Sunny you defended those Heathrow people vociferously and now you’re saying actually that whole flying thing isn’t such a big deal?

    I defended them (I went there too) against the stupid accusations that were being made. I’m not judging them, because certain activists choose to focus on plane flying and there is a huge need to make sure that does not get out of control.

    Others focus on putting pressure on the government and others on the animal industry. I’m just saying that the focus should not be on one area alone (and it certainly isn’t for me).

    but there is no peer-reviewed evidence to categorically say more tonnes of CO2 or however you want to measure pollution is produced per annum than gas-guzzling cars.

    I’m pretty sure I read about a studying saying the animal industry and animals themselves were a massive contributor to global warming. I’ll try and look for it.

  29. Leon — on 30th August, 2007 at 10:37 pm  

    Well, there is the basic fact that we have evolved to eat an omnivorous diet.

    On the other hand, they’ll have to drag my chillies from my cold dead hands…

    I hate to say it but yup me too. No one is ever going to stop me eating meat, hell I’d hunt and kill my own food if I had too!

  30. Don — on 30th August, 2007 at 11:11 pm  

    Reforest and eat game. Venison is the ideal meat. Try it.

  31. Clairwil — on 30th August, 2007 at 11:25 pm  

    I don’t want to sound like someones mother but rather than wate your time and money eating crap Linda McCartney pretend meat why not try eating actual vegetables?

    Failing that go for a tasty Cauldron Foods Cumberland sausage. Even my militant carnivore bother likes to them.

    http://www.cauldronfoods.co.uk/CMSPage.aspx

  32. soru — on 30th August, 2007 at 11:30 pm  

    But that’s the whole point of organic food – to make sure pesticides are not produced or pumped into the environment.

    Organic pesticides, being weaker, are used in much greater quantities, and they are not biodegradable, so stay around polluting the environment, and builing up in the tissues of those who eat them, forever.

    Small-scale local organic farming is all well and good, but large-scale intensive agribusiness organic is an environmental or health catastrophe waiting to happen.

  33. Jess — on 31st August, 2007 at 11:10 am  

    Sadly, few of those working in the environmental field that I have met are vegetarian.

    The upshot? Other than increased greenhouse gas emissions and animal death: the veggie options at their events are less than brilliant.

  34. Katherine — on 31st August, 2007 at 2:26 pm  

    I’m vegetarian AND don’t own a car. Can I have extra green points please? Joking.

    Seriously though, regardless of the farting cows, transport of meat stuff, it is certainly less efficient to feed grain to cows and eat the cows than to just eat the grain, in terms of calories in, calories out. That’s not controversial.

    It is also the case that rich westerners eat far far more meat than people have ever done in the history of humanity – far more than is needed for simple protein. I’m a pragmatic vegetarian, not an evangelical one – I completely understand humanity’s omniverous nature and that you just won’t be able to persuade people to all stop eating meat. However, there is certainly a case to persuade people to stop eating SO MUCH meat, from a health and an environmental perspective.

  35. Sunny — on 31st August, 2007 at 2:49 pm  

    However, there is certainly a case to persuade people to stop eating SO MUCH meat, from a health and an environmental perspective.

    I’d raise tax water given to animals and also make it more expensive to transport animals around by tightening up restrictions on how many animals per cage companies are allowed.

    Meat is way too cheap to reflect its true economic cost.

    Small-scale local organic farming is all well and good, but large-scale intensive agribusiness organic is an environmental or health catastrophe waiting to happen.

    Why’s that?

  36. Max — on 31st August, 2007 at 3:28 pm  

    The best argument for vegetarianism/veganism is good cooking. Using rubbish vegetarian sausages as your evidence that “vegetarian food tastes like cardboard!” is like saying “meat-based food is crap!” and your only evidence being McDonald’s dodgy chicken McNuggets, Findus Crispy Pancakes and Turkey Twizzlers.

    Weedy vegetarians? You must have been thinking about these kind of people and not all these guys!

    Looking for inspiration? Flickr has hundreds of thousands of photos of vegan food, vegan cupcakes, vegan num nums, vegan raw food, more vegan food, everyone’s favourites from India uttappa and masala dosa, tadik from Iran…

    Sunny — it takes a special kind of post to make me come on over from my RSS reader!

    Remember kids — vegan power begins at home!

  37. Rumbold — on 31st August, 2007 at 6:49 pm  

    Just had a nice rump steak for dinner- a third off the price too.

  38. soru — on 1st September, 2007 at 11:19 am  

    Why’s that?

    As an analogy, anyone can jog around the park, but if you want to push your body the the point where you can compete in the olympics, you need an accurate scientific understanding of muscle recovery times, bone stress, and so on.

    If you leave your training to some guy who says ‘Take this. Don’t worry, it’s not a drug. It’s herbal’, you are likely to either cripple yourself, or end up with a life ban.

    Organic farming, as regulated by the Soil Association, is based not on science, but the pseudo-scientific ideas of Stiener, an early 20C german theosophist. There was a lot of that kind of thinking about then – it was a member of a related group, the Thule society, who picked the Hindu swastika symbol for a German ultranationalist political party.

    Many people don’t realise that organic farming does routinely use things scientists or doctors would call pesticides, in large quatities, without safety or environmental testing. It just does not call them pesticides, because under theosophical principles, they are herbal or natural, and so can’t possibly do any harm.

    Typically these are concentrated plant neurotoxins, for example Pyrethrin, from chrysanthemums, Sabadilla, from lily seeds, and Rotenone, from the roots fo a tropical plant. Others are heavy metals such as copper, and living poisonous bacteria (Bt).

    In general, this is not a problem to me – I’m no Dawkins, people can believe whatever nonsense they like. Providing they are harmlessly pottering around, not organising on an industrial scale, there are other things to worry about.

    Problem is, organic is now a multi-billion industry. With the demands of the supermarkets pushing up the requirements for ever higher and more reliable yields of their new profit source, the soil association is pushing the message that organic is so inherently safe and natural that there is no possible health risk, no need to even evaluate, record and minimise the risks. Sort of like Russia saying that, as a Socialist state, there is no need for trade unions.

    The farmers are stuck in the middle, with a mortgage to meet and working longer hours to provide more field with the individual attention that is supposed to partially compensate for the lack of fertilisers.

    Sometimes you can sit on a hilltop and see there is going to be a trainwreck, and it all takes place in slow motion and there is nothing much you can do about it.

    I would seriously advise anyone reading this to always wash organic food thoroughly, not feed it to the elderly or children, and hope the inevitable scandal that brings all this to an end is a minor one that only kills a few people.

  39. Dave S — on 3rd September, 2007 at 1:28 pm  

    Rumbold, I’d love to cook you a meal!

    I’m a vegetarian, not a vegan, but have lots of vegan friends and am well versed in all things vegan.

    I pride myself on cooking veggie and vegan meals so good that meat eaters don’t even notice anything is missing, and I guarantee you, if there was some way I could cook you a meal by surprise, you wouldn’t realise either. In fact, I’ll wager you’d be coming back for seconds and maybe even thirds if you could fit it in.

    I could make you a vegan pizza so good you wouldn’t even notice the cheese on it wasn’t cheese (and wasn’t crappy vegan cheese from a packet either – I have a special recipe).

    The problem with a lot of bought (pre-prepared) food is that it is generally just crap food. Veggie sausages are no exception to this – often just another generally tasteless bit of processed junk that it should come as no surprise that you shouldn’t want to eat! Not fit for human consumption – at least, not for anybody with taste buds!

    I’ve had some absolutely lip-smackingly delicious vegan sausages, but they are made from scratch by a friend of mine, who has a (non-secret recipe) mix he makes up himself. The good thing is that it’s a dry mix, so you can prepare loads of it, removing it as needed, and simply adding water (and any other herbs and spices you want – variety is easy to create) before rolling your own delicious vegan sausages.

    The best fry-ups and cakes I’ve ever had have been vegan, and my girlfriend (a meat eater with zero inclination to become even vegetarian) agrees.

    You probably just haven’t met the right chefs – and I think it goes without saying that a machine in a factory somewhere can never be the right “chef”.

    If you’d eaten the right vegan food (which incidentally is easy to grow and make yourself, or cheap to buy from a greengrocers if you must), you might change your mind.

    My vegan pretend “cheese” sauce (which rocks) aside, the problem mostly comes from looking for drop-in replacements for things, when what’s needed is to change our overall approach and be more creative and take more pride in the art of our cooking in the first place.

    You can (and I hope would) apply that to whatever you eat – be it meat or not. Your body and your tastebuds will thank you immensely if you stop eating manufactured foods, and cooking is incredibly rewarding and fun once you get over the first few hurdles.

    Not to mention being an awesome way to impress friends and loved ones! ;-)

    Supermarkets don’t even sell food, as far as I’m concerned. If you’re eating so-called “food” without human passion, love and flair put into it’s preparation, you really might as well just eat the packaging, as you said.

    Oh, and one last thing: of course buying organic veg is a scam, because you can grow it yourself for a fraction of the cost! We only have a tiny garden, and we get quite a lot from that. If you don’t have a garden, you can get an allotment for about £20-30 a year, and it’s really not so much work, especially if you share it with friends. Forget buying food – growing it is easy, cheap and fun!

    It’s my dream that the land used all over the country for building supermarkets was instead just giant community gardens, supplying locally grown organic food, entertainment and a point of community building. Think what the UK would look like with those instead of supermarkets everywhere, and how differently we’d feel about our neighbourhoods and other people if we were used to growing and sharing food together… can you imagine it? Wow! :-)

    This could be a reality, if we demanded it and took steps to make it happen… and some of us already are doing that.

  40. Sunny — on 3rd September, 2007 at 6:39 pm  

    Heh, your idealism Dave S and Max is infectious. I agree, all those decrying vegetarian food haven’t experienced it properly. For a start, just head down to South India! Best veggie food in the world in my opinion.

    Soru: and hope the inevitable scandal that brings all this to an end is a minor one that only kills a few people.

    I think there’s likely to be a bigger fall out from the lessening diversification of food types through intensive farming and the insecticides used (and the mutations that result from that) than organic farming.

    I’ll do more reading on what you say though.

  41. Rumbold — on 4th September, 2007 at 12:31 am  

    Dave S:

    “Rumbold, I’d love to cook you a meal!”

    As long as I can pick the menu. I will either have a nice rib eye steak or a succulent lamb/turkey roast dinner.

    “I pride myself on cooking veggie and vegan meals so good that meat eaters don’t even notice anything is missing, and I guarantee you, if there was some way I could cook you a meal by surprise, you wouldn’t realise either. In fact, I’ll wager you’d be coming back for seconds and maybe even thirds if you could fit it in.”

    I always notice when there is no meat on the plate, though I am intrigued by your claims.

    “The best fry-ups and cakes I’ve ever had have been vegan, and my girlfriend (a meat eater with zero inclination to become even vegetarian) agrees.”

    Well if a meat eater says so …

    “Oh, and one last thing: of course buying organic veg is a scam, because you can grow it yourself for a fraction of the cost! We only have a tiny garden, and we get quite a lot from that.”

    We have a small patch as well, and manage to get potatoes, raspberries and a few peas from it. It is rewarding, though we could not become self-sufficient on the produce. If I am honest, I am pro-supermarket, but I do enjoy growing some of my own food; specialisation of labour forestalls me growing all of it though. I do not live in Surbiton.

    I have to agree with Sunny on this one. You do have an enthusiasm about things which really inspires. I know that I apologised for being rude before, but I would like to again. If you had another of those climate camps, I might even pop along if you were going (with my meat sandwiches of course).

  42. Dave S — on 4th September, 2007 at 3:07 pm  

    Rumbold:

    As long as I can pick the menu. I will either have a nice rib eye steak or a succulent lamb/turkey roast dinner.

    Sorry to say I wouldn’t cook those for you – but I’m confident you’d like whatever I did prepare! :-)

    Back in my meat-eating days I knew some great meat recipes, and was really starting to get into fish too, but I sleep a lot easier these days, and I think my diet and general health have improved considerably.

    Still, mostly this is due to a general improvement in my diet – me deciding to care about what I eat and stop ingesting junk – which anybody can do, regardless of whether they eat animals or not.

    I’m realistic in that I know it would be virtually impossible and futile to try and persuade everyone to give up eating meat, but I do have some hopes that in time, people will realise it’s healthier for themselves and for the environment to eat quite a bit less of it, and to insist on quality meat from animals that have actually had a life before death.

    Despite being a vegetarian, I am far closer to the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall school of thought. Meat isn’t for me any more, but I would prefer it if those who do choose to eat meat would at least make sure they aren’t eating mass-produced stuff from factory farms, filled with goodness knows how many drugs and diseases, and causing untold amounts of damage to the planet.

    If it costs more to reflect the true cost of rearing animals that can live a full, normal life right up until the very second of slaughter, then that is a good and necessary thing in my opinion.

    Meat should be seen as a delicious and exotic treat to be enjoyed and savoured to the last morsel, not the everyday mundane just-gobble-it-down staple it has been reduced to in these days of 3p-per-chicken farming.

    I guess that could be said about just about all mass-produced food though: it’s a total passion killer, so it’s hardly surprising many people don’t care where it comes from, or what’s in it as long as it’s easy.

    Whatever our individual dietary preferences, I reckon passion (in the preparation of the food we eat) is the number one ingredient required for health and happiness!

    If you’re preparing it yourself, you get double the enjoyment… hehe! :-)

    I always notice when there is no meat on the plate, though I am intrigued by your claims.

    Well, maybe one day I’ll cook you a meal if I get the chance. (I know, that seems a bizarre thing to be posting on a politics blog, but it’s a semi-serious offer – I love cooking!)

    We have a small patch as well, and manage to get potatoes, raspberries and a few peas from it. It is rewarding, though we could not become self-sufficient on the produce.

    Glad to hear you grow some of your own! I think for most people, eating a locally sustainable diet (meaning most food produced locally and in tune with the environment) is a far more realistic target than self sufficiency. Probably even for me, though my eventual aim is to be as self sufficient as possible, say 80-90%.

    So I think not a WW2 diet, but certainly most of the food production ethos that was present during WW2 (grow your own, don’t waste anything, eat healthy etc.) – that needs to come back, and I think it probably will as resource depletion and climate change alter the world we live in.

    I have to agree with Sunny on this one. You do have an enthusiasm about things which really inspires. I know that I apologised for being rude before, but I would like to again. If you had another of those climate camps, I might even pop along if you were going (with my meat sandwiches of course).

    Well, my thanks to both of you for your nice comments, and there’s really no need to apologise! I should learn not to rant anyway, and I ought to thank you really for (hopefully) being the last person who has to remind me how alienating a rant can be.

    Maybe I’ll even cook a meal for you at Climate Camp next year… well, just for you and several hundred other people, anyway! :-)

  43. Sunny — on 4th September, 2007 at 3:15 pm  

    Maybe I’ll even cook a meal for you at Climate Camp next year… well, just for you and several hundred other people, anyway!

    We’ll hold you to that Dave, I’ll drag Rumbold down with me, if kicking and screaming.

  44. Leon — on 4th September, 2007 at 3:35 pm  

    I agree, all those decrying vegetarian food haven’t experienced it properly.

    Er…and those who’ve don’t believe in God just haven’t found the right religion too? :P

    Seriously, it’s statements like this that make me glad I stopped being a veggie.

    I’ve eaten all kinds of veggie food from all over the world (in fact one of my fave dishes contains no meat: shai paneer, man I love that stuff!), processed, proper made etc, I know good veggie food and still I could not it only eat veggie food because I love meat too much!

  45. Rumbold — on 4th September, 2007 at 4:33 pm  

    Dave S and Sunny:

    “Maybe I’ll even cook a meal for you at Climate Camp next year… well, just for you and several hundred other people, anyway!”

    “We’ll hold you to that Dave, I’ll drag Rumbold down with me, if kicking and screaming.”

    Heh.

    Dave S:

    Eating less meat would be better for me, but, like Leon said, I love meat too much to give it up. I will concentrate on helping the environment in other ways.

    “Glad to hear you grow some of your own! I think for most people, eating a locally sustainable diet (meaning most food produced locally and in tune with the environment) is a far more realistic target than self sufficiency.”

    I think that is the best people can hope for, which is fine.

  46. green muslim — on 12th September, 2007 at 12:06 pm  

    sunny, it’s easy for you to be a vegetarian, you’re indian, but wont you think of the poor arabs?

    Let’s get somethings straight and not mix too agendas here. Being green doesn’t mean you are pro-animal rights. I am pro- animal rights to the extent that I think they should never be treated cruelly. However, in essence, I don’t believe it’s wrong to kill them and eat them. In pre-agricultural societies, it was the only way to live. (And once a friend at uni killed a pigeon and ate it cos he was broke and hungry). The environmental problem arises not out of the practise of eating meat, but out of the practise of eating mass-produced meat. Being green is about questioning the ethics of producing anything on mass which is always ultimately unsustainable.

  47. Sunny — on 12th September, 2007 at 2:26 pm  

    sunny, it’s easy for you to be a vegetarian, you’re indian, but wont you think of the poor arabs?

    I’m Punjabi / Indian GM. There’s as many vegetarian Punjabis as there are braincells in GW Bush’s head.

    Being green doesn’t mean you are pro-animal rights.

    But the point is if you’re Green it should be logical you should be vegetarian (if not necessarily pro-animal rights).

    In pre-agricultural societies, it was the only way to live.

    Agreed, but we don’t live in those eras any more. Vegetarian food is plentiful and actually much more healthy.

    . Being green is about questioning the ethics of producing anything on mass which is always ultimately unsustainable.

    I agree with you. But given how much meat people want to eat, and given they won’t rear chickens/cows themselves, the economy will always veer towards mass producing meat.

  48. green Muslim — on 13th September, 2007 at 12:02 am  

    the green party want to reduce meat production/consumption cos the space it takes to grow cattle feed could be used to grow grains to feed starving people.

    But it doesn’t automatically follow that you should be vegetarian if you’re green. Like I said, if you hunt a pigeon yourself to eat, it might be a crime against animal rights but it’s not a crime against the environment (although I could never do that myself). Remember, we’re part of the biodioverse food web too.

    And at least as a south Asian you have more of a variety of vegetarian dishes to munch.

    And my apologies to any arab vegetarians for my comments- we cannot of course forget the famous tenth century arab philosopher and poet abu ‘alaa al ma’ri who was a vegan.

    But usually, if you’re ever being entertained by an arab, and they bring you a chicken/lamb they have just freshly slaughtered for you, it’s strongly inadvisable to not eat it and relish it with a burp.

  49. Sofia — on 13th September, 2007 at 10:29 am  

    Isn’t there a hadith somewhere Green Muslim that talks about not turning your stomach into a graveyard? Not sure where I saw it…
    Anyway, for all of you who are fasting this month I hope it all goes well..and if you’re south asian, plz stick away from having too many fried samosas, veggie or not:)

  50. sonia — on 13th September, 2007 at 11:01 am  

    i didn’t understand this :

    “But the hypocrisy of preaching vegetarians who don’t want to give up meat is well made.”

    anyhow, for me the environment is not just plants or soil its all about the entire ecosystem – which involves animals too. ( and humans!) my personal choice is not eating meat cos i couldn’t differentiate between the animals we love ( and i love animals with a fierce irrational love) and the ones we think are ok to eat. its difficult with a muslim family so i will occasionally eat meat so as not to make a fuss.

    if people were to eat meat in a sustainable way – like in the old days, then that is what we could push for. its the scale that’s a big problem, and the fact that people are so removed from the reality of eating meat. i bet if a lot of people had to kill it themselves, there wouldn’t be that much meat eating.

    also, its not just what we eat, but where it came from. it could be argued that if you caught a fish from a river here ( which you were looking after sustainably so over-fishing didn’t happen) it was – in terms of food miles – a better option than eating some veggies flown in from miles away.

    in the end, we’ve got to do what we can, as much as we can, but i wouldn’t go on about “hypocrisy” etc. into it because that never works, people just get pissed off. just like all the moralising religions etc.

    Anyhow i’ve been so much healthier since i’ve been eating vegetables – they are so yummy as well – much better psychology to focus on! positive thinking and so on.

  51. sonia — on 13th September, 2007 at 11:10 am  

    er..i meant to say “people are far removed from the reality of producing, packing and transporting meat”.

    i think the Meatrix is a good thing to see if you haven’t already.

    personally i don’t think i have the right to dictate that no one should ever eat meat, in a flat out, no room for discussion and other points of view kind of way. its not really even that straightforward.

    again, its the ‘mass farming’ aspect that is really damaging,

    ( as far as i can see, mass farming of crops is also not a great idea) yes there is something to be said for feeding people grain rather than feeding people on meat which was fed on grain.

    and even if people felt it was their choice to give up meat, what are they going to do about pet cats or dogs who are carnivores? of course this is the issue with domesticating wild animals really – they don’t catch their own food anymore, we feed them, if we do so, we kinda have to feed them meat if they are carnivores.

    i.e. Nothing is straightforward – and it would be facile to pretend otherwise. let’s not forget that and get all high and mighty. in the end – that’s what turns so many people off the idea of being ‘environmentalists’.

  52. sonia — on 13th September, 2007 at 11:22 am  

    i suppose which is what green muslim was getting at in the other post!

    anyway as far as i can see, the main issue is looking at how we can make trains less expensive, and not so bloody late all the time – and more trains from here to europe, and ones across europe that people can actually bloody afford. oh but then we would have to dip into the whole transport and public transport, and privatisation of the rail services all over again. governments therefore – and transport orgs – are cunningly focusing elsewhere.

    i think its only sensible to have sensible alternatives otherwise what are ordinary people to do?

    if we want any REAL change we’ll have to think about that. next time Richard Branson gets on to warble about whatever it is he’s up to with Nelson mandela and shimmying about with top dogs and celebrities, we can ask him why he can’t just get his bloody virgin trains to run on time and be cheaper and maybe during peak times, it would be nice if you actually got a seat after paying £70.

    that would be progress.

  53. sonia — on 13th September, 2007 at 11:23 am  

    “anyway as far as i can see, the main issue”

    i meant – one of the critical issues.

  54. green muslim — on 13th September, 2007 at 12:06 pm  

    I think it was Ali ibn Abu Talib who said “do not go 40 days without eating meat, but do not turn your stomach into an animal graveyard”

    with sayings like this you can see why some Muslims may actually believe they should eat meat (once every 40 days). What I see this hadith as saying is that there should be a balance in what you eat.

    What I find most insulting is this new vegetarian pet food fad. As if it wasn’t bad enough you domesticated the poor things to provide you cuddly comfort, now you’re forcing them to be herbivores!

  55. justforfun — on 13th September, 2007 at 12:30 pm  

    Sonia – less trains not more trains! – make them all very expensive.

    I think in the future, quick foreign travel will be a real luxury. My grandchildren will look at my BOAC Travel club book with all its stamps from exotic places and signatures by the Captain and Flight Engineers as a book from a totally foreign inconceivable age.

    Travel by sail boats will become more common place – huge sailing islands – perhaps even huge sailing tax havens, using solar powered heat pumps to suck out the heat from the seas and propell themselves along. As the sea rises, of course harbours get deaper – good news for my sailing islands.

    Seriously – the issue is population and what is possible for this Earth to sustain when living standards of the vast majority begin to improve and thus they consume more ‘Stuff’. There has never ever been a truely sustainable civilisation before. We romanticise past cultures as living ecological lives. Perhaps some did when in a very adverse areas like the Arctic or deep rain forest and all on a small scale, but in the main tribes just exploited their local areas and then moved on. There was space to move on so their lifestyles appeantly looked sustainable. However we have fully explored the Earth and there is no more space left. We have come to the fence around our reservation, and we have no where left to plunder.

    We have to educate ourselves and future generations to live frugally and with fewer children – and get happiness from activities that do not require ‘stuff’ or energy. This will require a massive investment in the ‘arts’ so all children can be active self entertainers (no Kismet not what you’re thinking) and not receive their entertainment and material aspirations from people wanting to promote the use of ‘stuff’. The idea of an economy that can only work when growing will have to be discarded and a new economy based on contraction devised. How this will be done – at this time I have no ideas that people would consider sane.

    Except I give you a start – ban all ‘portion’ packs. It is a convenience too far to get your portion of yogurt in its own little bottle. In the meantime send the damn little bottles back to the company headquarters of Danone. Let them see what a pain they are.

    With this small step, our children, whose minds we all know can be moulded to consider anything normal, can be educated to actually pour themselves a self restraining portion of yogurt.

    Justforfun

  56. justforfun — on 13th September, 2007 at 12:33 pm  

    Dogs are omnivores – in fact boiled rice, a bit of cabbage and carrots and a few bones for taste , and my dog loved it.

    Cats – when we could catch them they went into the dog food.

    Justforfun

  57. justforfun — on 13th September, 2007 at 12:49 pm  

    read John Sauven’s article on CiF.

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/john_sauven/2007/09/a_quality_report.html

    It is just a call to people to think and reflect. Each to his own solution and thoughts, but I would add – do not be taken in by Climate Change politics. It appears to be being hijacked by people who want to preserve the existing status quo for a little bit longer by making out that the world’s ‘consumption deficits’ can be solved by using exist economic methods and ideas …. and then once we plant a few trees, pay for a few new light bulbs, we will all be OK – problem solved.

    Justforfun

  58. Sunny — on 13th September, 2007 at 1:02 pm  

    Hi GM, you’re in that killing and eating a pigeon yourself is an animal rights issue not a green issue. But there are two ways of looking at this. Firstly, as Sonia says above, environmentalists could be worried about the whole ecosystem (incl animals and humans) as I am, rather than just vegitation.

    Secondly, most people don’t actively kill animals themselves and eat them. They buy from an industry which mass develops animals, pumps them up with harmones to fatten them up, transports them around in terrible conditions and basically uses up tons more resources in feeding that animal (not just the grain needed to feed it, but the land and the water and transportation later) than it would require to feed a person.

  59. Sunny — on 13th September, 2007 at 1:04 pm  

    Oh I accept its not easy being a veggie Arab as it isn’t easy being a veggie Punjabi. When I first announced I was vegetarian my immediate and extended family were shocked. But over the years they’ve started separating out veggie food from meat food and cooked more veggie food too because its there for everyone. Trust me, Punjabis are similarly obsessed with chicken etc, it’s not easy. But like being religious, it eventually becomes a lifestyle choice.

  60. Sofia — on 13th September, 2007 at 1:53 pm  

    (Sunny i wish more people would think of religion being a lifestyle choice rather than something that is force fed).

    I have plenty of vegetarian and pescatarion friends and family both Muslim and non Muslim. I do think it is a lot more “acceptable” to be vegetarian nowadays and there is a lot more on the market suitable for all palates..(Mars Uk being a company which I think took a step back, bizarrely)..As someone who only sticks to Halaal meat, I do remember growing up telling people I was vegetarian as i couldn’t be bothered to explain the whole Halaal thing..and even now would prefer going to vegan and vegetarian restaurants as I know that there is absolutely no meat being used. (Restaurants like Sakonis are great for me as they don’t serve alcohol either..) I’m still a bit unsure of the whole halaal industry in this country which needs to be regulated a more than it is. I keep telling my husband that he should eat less meat..due to the whole hormone thing (and I don’t want him growing man boobs!!), as well as for health reasons. The older we get, the harder it is for our digestive systems to break down meat. He has definitely cut down, which is great, and GM I do keep reminding myself of the “turning our stomachs into graveyards” quote. I must say that on my trip to Pakistan I asked to have vegetarian food and was served up chicken…bless!!

  61. justforfun — on 13th September, 2007 at 2:50 pm  

    With these cattle movement restrictions, we now have the company of a herd of young bullocks in the field next door. They have just now literally stampeded down to our fence to check out my garden. My daughter will be back from school soon and I know she will be straight into the field to pet them – they are such loveable creatures and very friendly and innocent – I ‘ve just been out for a chat and patted those that come up to me which they all do – its their inherant curiousity. This really is the smell of India, that earthy smell of their hides and mucus ariound their moist noses. That smell when the doodwallah comes round with his buffulo.

    However I was stuck by a saddness as I looked into their engaging eyes, to know that these fine beasts, all male heinz 57 crosses , some with the distinctive blue grey of a charlois I believe, and are the by-product of the dairy industry which needs to keep cows lactating. They are only going to be around for a year before being sent off for slaughter.

    Where our meat comes from is worth knowing, but I also know this farmer who really loves his animals and they are one of the few things that are economic for him to do. What solutuions do we have for him and the fields around. Quad bike races?

    Justforfun

  62. Sofia — on 13th September, 2007 at 3:00 pm  

    I don’t think you can isolate British farming as there are so many other things involved to do with International Trade, farm subsidies etc that also need to be taken into context. I do feel for farmers here though, there is no understanding of what they have to go through to get food into our stomachs.

  63. justforfun — on 13th September, 2007 at 3:00 pm  

    check out my garden – I meant eat my garden :-)

    Now boys and girls – remember once you have petted a cow, wash your hands. Use hot water and soap and then a disposable towel.

    Its this sort of thing that just uses up reasources. I have not washed my hands and I have not used any hot water and soap. I’ll smell of cow for the day and I’ll have my shower tomorrow morning.

    Justforfun.

  64. justforfun — on 13th September, 2007 at 3:15 pm  

    Sofia – it is a complicated interwoven net. Just when this country needs to increase its knowledge of the science of agriculture and the possible directions it will need to take to adapt to the future on a rational basis …..

    http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/09/380626.html

    This government and country just does not understand the natural world. We are seemly incapable of planning a rational policy for the future and creating the scientist and engineers needed. I urge everyone to do their own research and then remain ever vigilant. Only with a highly educated populace will we stand any hope of safeguarding ourselves form the buffoonery of a few who hijack things. Do not take anything at face value – always double check and enquire.

    Happy researching everyone

    Justforfun

  65. green Muslim — on 13th September, 2007 at 7:27 pm  

    sunny, of course environmentalist care about eco-systems, they are eco-logists afteral, and part of that eco-system in the capacity of omnivorous consumers. I think we’re all in agreement that eating meat is not evil in itself, but a continually growing economy and mass production are.

    It is always helpful to reduce our meat consumption, but I can never become a vegetarian as it is absolutist, and will never allow me the occassional concessions when I’m at a tribal desert banquet.

    Recently, a sheik in Iraq, in an act of charity, donated camels to Iraq’s food-insecure families which resulted in a bloodfest in the street as hungry Iraqis slaughtered them then and there. Unfortunately, Iraq’s four million food-insecure don’t have the luxury of lifestyle choices like vegetarianism.

    And GM! what an unfortunate acronym…ah well.

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