It’s World Vegan Month, so to celebrate we’ve coughed up some words and regurgitated them on a page like some half digested bits of meat.
In the beginning, we all ate fruit; spat or shat it out, and occasionally a tree would grow. Or at the very least we’d help to fertilise the soil. Soon after, we killed a beast, we cooked it and ate it, the carcass was used for soup, the skin for leather and the bones for tools. A little after that, we popped to Tesco and bought a ready meal to watch in front of the TV.
It’s clear something has gone a bit wrong with the way we consume our food. It occurred to me the other day that we’ve split into a couple of battling tribes, vegans and vegetarians and those who believe it’s alright to shove a bit of anything and everything down your gullet. I fall into the later category, but with a conscience, and only believe it’s OK if the meat and dairy come from a good place. It’s murder, but I’m doing it right. Kind of. I still fall off the ethics wagon from time to time.
At the bakery we love promoting Veganism, it’s a goal we should all be considering in the future, to help towards fixing the world and solving a few of Mother Earth’s little problems like climate change. But this promotion needs to be done in the right way, with a little sympathy and respect towards non-vegans, as telling people what to do, what to eat and how to shop, might end up damaging the cause. Public Relations on the ethics front need to be done in a more gentle, educational manner. No finger pointing or tut-tuting. I for one being an omnivore, feel disappointed when vegetarians or vegans target me for displaying a love for high quality, outdoor reared / free-range meat. But sticks and stones may break my bones, so they can become some delicious intensely meaty broth.
At the bakery we’ve always used social media to promote good things, rather than an incessant stance on self promotion, so we’ve constantly pushed positive articles, recipes and interesting opinions on Veganism, but also about meat and the importance of buying local, outdoor reared, organic and dare I use the word ‘Ethical’? Is there anything ethical about breeding something that you intend on killing? Perhaps not, like I said, it’s murder. But I believe there’s a right way to do this, and also a wrong way. So why do we still get targeted for promoting the right way?
This feeling of being victimised first became apparent when a vegan friend of mine seemed overjoyed by the fact that our local dairy had decided to cease trading. Ashclyst Dairy within the last year shut off the udder suckers for good, for whatever reason, I’m not sure. But this was a good company, who farmed organically, was very local to Exeter, and supplied pretty much all the good cafés, restaurants, delis, farm shops in the city and surrounding areas. So when this friend said ‘good’ after I told him the news about this dairy closure, I asked him why this was a good thing and his response was ‘we should drink less milk’. I agree with the comment, but this closure meant that we didn’t stop buying milk, we just bought it from a less local and perhaps a less ethical source, along with all the other local customers of this dairy. So no good can come of it and we’re certainly not bad guys for using such a company.
The word ‘good’ could describe a government initiative ensuring that all dairies are organic and have grass fed animals, with tight hygiene regulations and have a minimum price to stop the supermarkets bullying the farmers into selling milk for less than the price of bottled mineral water. That might be a step in the right direction. But my opinion comes from nowhere, this is poorly thought out, without any considerations for the consequences or implications, I have a less than basic knowledge of the dairy industry, so I’m the wrong person the put out such a thoughtless, offhand statement. The same goes for foodie do-gooders who go around trolling on Instagram despite having little real knowledge of the food industry, although they sure know how to photograph their Oatly latte next to a pair of sunglasses and a Kinfolk magazine.
The majority of people who have even the smallest cares about what, where and how their food is produced will know that buying your meat from Tesco is wrong, in fact buying almost anything from these giant supermarkets is wrong. It doesn’t help anyone but the fatcats, and feeds an industry of animal cruelty, mass agriculture that destroys eco systems, wildlife and adds thousands of carbon air miles to your Golden Delicious apple.
On the flip side, it helps millions of people stay in work, offering the living wage and creates even more jobs as a knock on effect, spanning throughout many different industries. It boosts the economy and most of these companies now buy autonomously from select small local businesses, sell free from products, organic meat and dairy and make efforts to pay most of their taxes. So are they moving in the right direction or should we burn them all to ground?
Absolutely don’t burn them to the ground; the carbon emissions would be immense! But seriously, I don’t know the answer. But I do know that change doesn’t happen overnight and the best way to change our system is develop a conscience and buy with a little consideration. Money is the fuel to change things, so voting with your wallet will create a market for good things and if people keep buying badly the direction will not change.
So omnivores can make some simple choices to try and create a bit of balance and create some progression, such as; buying seasonally, local and organic, eating dairy from high welfare and local suppliers, eating less meat, eating better quality meat, buying from zero plastic shops, getting a bicycle and drive less, cutting out supermarkets or reducing your spend in such places. Reducing the number of pets, as cats & dogs that consume a massive amount of poor quality meat. Doing just one of these things is progression I feel. So don’t knock a flexiterian for trying.
One big solution could be a huge population cull or a ban on reproducing, but we’re not in a James Bond movie, so some simple things may have an accumulation of differences to make a slight change. Including vegans doing a bit of research on the products they consume, for example Avocados, Palm Oil, Coconut Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Mono Crops, Herbicides, Pesticides, Food Miles, Local Economies and Communities, because being on such moral high ground will enable them to view such issues and chomping on all those carrots will enable to see into the darkness which lies ahead of us all.
Further Reading/ Watching
For bias against veganism or vegetarianism read
The Vegetarian Myth http://library.uniteddiversity.coop/Food/The_Vegetarian_Myth.pdf
For a bias against animal agriculture watch
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2zuhks
For a more balance intelligent view read