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Author Topic: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***  (Read 3793 times)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« on: January 18, 2020, 10:03:37 am »
I've put this under "Sheep" as that is our most active livestock board.  I'm happy for the thread to be moved elsewhere if the mods think there's a more suitable board.

I'm sure I am not the only livestock-keeper who is unsettled by the continuing rise in vegansim, and the increasing levels of extremist hype and activism associated with it.

Most of us on TAS are well-rehearsed in the arguments for extensive, pasture-fed meat and dairy, and as frustrated as I am that there seems to be no realistic recipe for sustainable veganism in the UK - but that doesn't stop the spread of it.

Reports of activists "saving" piglets by "releasing them into the wild" make me fear for such livestock, many of whom are now unsuited to undomesticated living.  Attacks on farmers and their steadings are thankfully rare, but it is a concern that these could increase if the activism continues to become more militant. 

I suspect that many of us thought it was a fad, and like all fashions, it would be ousted by the next big thing.  It is becoming more and more mainstream, however, and, bolstered by people feeling that going vegan is something they can do to help the planet, its growth seems at present to be unstoppable.

Of course I am not objective, of course I do not want livestock farming - and livestock - to become a thing of the past.  But I believe myself to be someone who would not put personal interests ahead of the global good, and until I can believe in an alternative model for the UK, which delivers a plant-based diet sustainably, I remain very concerned that lots of very well-meaning people, by turning vegan in the UK, are in fact creating an increased environmental risk.

I chip away on Facebook, adding factual content where I can, and asking questions, trying to be unemotive but factual, trying to open up the conversation.  Very occasionally I see a moderation in someone's stance, and feel I have got the point across to at least one person - but I am feeling a bit like Canute...  And in truth, I don't speak up any and everywhere, only on threads of friends who I know to be reasonable people. 

Factors which make it so hard include :

  • most people know very little about agriculture
  • much of the pro-vegan material arises from the US, and most people in the UK don't understand the massive differences which make it so different in the UK
  • most people are waking up to the climate emergency and want to feel that they are doing something
  • most people find it far easier to give up meat than to give up their cars / flying / buying new products
  • the vegan lobby has almost infinite financial backing from the companies who make money out of arable farming

And, possibly most significantly,

  • Debate is no longer about facts and logic.  This seems to apply across the board, not just this topic.  Propaganda strikes directly into the emotions and seems to create an unassailable belief.   I have no idea how to counter this; polite, factual discussion bounces off

I am wracking my brains trying to fathom how to reach people who have bought into the hype, and am getting nowhere.

« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 12:04:26 pm by SallyintNorth »
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing
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Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2020, 11:56:46 am »
The vegan movement has good points and bad points, but either way it’s here to get bigger. -I know it’s only some tiny proportion of the market share but with the backing from big pharma and the way of the world, it’ll definitely get bigger.

A lot of animal farming is cruel and harms the environment. There are alternatives, perhaps forest pastures or diverse swords, with animals suited to the environment, living extensively and organically.

But at the moment there are systems where animals spend lots of time indoors, eating and living in what I’d still describe as factory farming type conditions. 

Taking animals off their mothers at a young age is harsh, calf at foot dairies sound much nicer. Hatching all these chicks, sexing on conveyor belts and culling all the males doesn’t sit well with me nor most people who think about it.

Our pets are almost worshipped ‘fur babies’ and their deaths are greatly mourned. This is the animal experience of most people, reinforced by Disney’s talking animals. One day they wonder if the cow that made the burger was any any less important or sentient than their bunny and realise the hypocrisy.

I am aware that grass may just save the planet and that vegetable farming is very hard on the soil. Without good soil there’s nothing sustainable. Veganism as is isn’t any better at the moment.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2020, 12:11:10 pm »
I should have clarified that I think anything which improves animal welfare is to be applauded, and that my preference would be massively less intensive livestock farming, a much better balance between extensively-farmed meat and dairy, sustainably-grown plant-based foods and farming for the environment.  Less meat and dairy in our diet, but a much higher proportion of that which we do eat from extensively-farmed animals.

I don't know enough about how things could work in the US to comment on whether veganism could be the environmentally correct choice there.  But I do know a lot about farming and land in the UK, and I am worried we might follow - are following - a lead which doesn't apply here, and are in danger of harming our own environment and being a net drain on world resources, when in fact we could probably feed ourselves sustainably within our own boundaries if we went about it correctly.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 12:18:07 pm by SallyintNorth »
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2020, 12:18:14 pm »
Another factor which concerns me greatly is putting ourselves in the position of being reliant on imported food.  It seems to me that vast swathes of our countryside is most suited to growing grass, and hence the foods in which it is easiest for us to be self-sufficient are meat from grazing animals, and dairy.  If we decimate those industries, we will not be able to meet our dietary or nutritional needs from within our own borders.  That would make us very ripe for invasion and take over - and that prospect no longer seems fanciful or ludicrous, as it did 20 years ago.   :'(
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2020, 01:06:49 pm »
Let's remember that it's not just veganism v meat eaters.  There's vegetarianism in there, as well as all the latest labelling fads of piscitarians, flexitarians, probably more.  To my mind, vegetarians just get on with their lives and don't get in anybody's face, but vegans seem very militant and I prefer to avoid that.


Factually, the vegan proposition that all pastureland should be ploughed up and used to grow crops is both ridiculous, given how varied soils and local climates are, and downright dangerous re climate change.  Pastures, bogs, moorland, grassland, scrub all sequester carbon just as well as trees, including the Amazon rain forest, sometimes even better.  To plough it up would release unbelievably large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.  We still seem to be stuck at 'plant more trees' where we should be thinking of maintaining the natural vegetation that we have in good condition.  Yes, plant more trees, but do so on ground which has been previously spoiled, rather than spoiling established ecosystems to replace them with trees. There have been so many attempts to do the right thing without a full understanding of what is best - this plant a tree thing, left unqualified, could be a huge cock-up.


Then think about it.  So you plough up all the pastureland and ban meat production.  You then have a population of ex farmers who have not the first clue of how to run a business growing food crops.  Gone is all their expensive big machinery, but to produce food on a scale large enough to feed 7.7 billion (and growing) vegans they will need new and different machinery, using up more raw materials and energy to make and distribute them.  Without animals there will be only human manure to fertilise those crops, with it's scrumptious burden of pathogens and parasites.
The claim has been made that if everyone in the world was vegan, that there is land enough to feed us all, there is land enough to feed to extra 2 billion yet to come.  BUT in fact, we don't manage to feed those 7.7 billion people adequately as it is now, because of problems like inequality of income, poor transport, poor distribution, wars, crime and corruption.  And then there is food wastage, which is much worse in the vegetable sector than the meat sector.  I don't have the actual figures to hand, but overall, something approaching half of the food produced in the world is wasted or lost somewhere in the system.  Before we try to feed 7.7 billion vegans, we need to solve these matters.


I haven't mentioned US style feedlot meat raising systems because I think we in Britain must be agreed on that?


Do I think veganism is a threat to the Planet?  A threat yes, but I don't think veganism alone will destroy the Planet.  The only threat to our Planet, beyond the usual comets off-course, is us, humanity.  Until that is acknowledged we don't have a chance of saving our world as it is.  The earth will survive, but we won't, vegan or carnivorous.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2020, 01:50:12 pm »
I personally couldn't care less about veganism, any more than I care about Sharia law, or people that believe the world is flat. (Yes some still do!)
The world is full of people with different opinions. I may believe they are wrong, but I still respect their right to their opinion.


But it seems to me that vegans' views are being spread predominantly by people that don't share their opinions! (Look at the amount of discussion on here!) I go on various livestock forums and am forever seeing them repost some further crap or stupid actions perpetrated by vegans.  If they were just ignored they would not have half so much influence and their views would be mainly spread amongst themselves and not publicised worldwide.


There always have been and always will be extremist groups. But nature finds its own equilibrium and I believe if we stop giving them such efficient publicity - which must be beyond their wildest dreams - that they too will shrink to a manageable level or these extreme beliefs will die a natural death.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2020, 03:39:03 pm by landroverroy »
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2020, 02:44:56 pm »

I think that the gap between the people who derive their protein from meat as opposed to alternatives is something like 54% and 46% and it is estimated the gap will close over the next ten years to more like 50/50 so a long way to go to get us all giving up meat.


I think that more people will give up eating as much meat not because of veganism or vegetarianism but cost. The days of meat and two veg dinners has been declining for a long time and people eat a more varied diet these days.




arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow - some say it's in England !
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2020, 04:35:37 pm »
 I reckon veganism gets far too much “air time”.
If folk prefer not to eat animals or use/wear animal by-products due to personal ethics or religion, good for them:  I don’t mind.
What I do mind is having veganism stuffed down my throat (so to speak) as the answer to all world ills (OK, OK – so I’m stretching things a bit!).
Leaving aside the industrial scale production of stuff like quorn (which I frequently eat) or “laboratory” grown animal flesh, animal husbandry (or hunting/fishing) for meat will be the only sustainable way to generate food from some environments. AND, when world social order finally breaks down, I should like to think that our descendants will know what a “meat” animal looks like and what to do with it if they are lucky enough to come across one !!
 
(While I’m posting:  I don’t hear much debate about vegans’ use of plastics, derived from fossil fuels driving climate change, or of cotton which is a very resource-hungry product.  Also, there is some research that suggests that plants can produce methane - by no means yet proven - and that rice paddy fields might not have a clean bill of health either, methane-wise.  We almost certainly have so very much more yet to learn about how to sustain billions of humans along with the planet.  In the meantime, locally produced - UK & Eire - meat & veg will both remain the key part of my diet as I am anxious to do my bit for the planet !)
« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 09:00:33 pm by arobwk »

PipKelpy

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • North Shropshire
  • Dreamer with docile cattle and sheep!
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2020, 07:13:24 pm »

While I’m posting:  I don’t hear much debate about vegans’ use of plastics, derived from fossil fuels driving climate change, or of cotton which is a very resource-hungry product.

Finally!! Someone who thinks like I do with regards to vegan alternatives!!

One thing that NO vegan has ever answered (I did post the question in the local rag 'Shropshire Star' many moons ago and a sarky comment came back along the lines, "Typical meat eater question!!")

If the entire planet were to suddenly go meat free, what would vegans suggest we do with the animals??

If they had their way, NO animals would ever be destroyed for food, fur, skin, glue, dog food etc. So what would you do with them?

Probably like some folk on this forum, smallholding for me is a lifestyle (I've lived here all my life) it doesn't mean that I have money. The few sheep that I have, now down to 8 with only 3 lambing this year (2 weren't interested in the tup, 2, I won't lamb and 1's a wether), is a small enough number to stay here for the foreseeable future (1 in particular lived in the house for 7 months so she'll be here for life!) But, they still have costs. I can escape certain vet bills as I treat homoeopathically. The cattle numbers have gone from 4, (December 2018, Cow with 8 month weanling, bulling heifer, 6 week old rearing heifer calf (Mary Moo!), to 7 (today, - Cow with 8 month weanling, weaned weanling, 14month bawling heifer (Mary Moo!) 10 month heifer for bulling later this year and 2 week calved Knickers and her lad Eddie!)

And yes, I am attached to my cattle.

So, if we all went meat free, what do I do with my animals. As said above, sheep numbers are low enough, I don't have a tup on the place, so yes, I could never lamb them again and they all live here until they decide to kark it.

Cattle however, are very much different and this is where the problem lies and NO vegan seems to understand this!

Female cattle come bulling every 17 days. Some are very VERY vocal about it. (Mary!!) Some are quiet and its shear guess work! (Juniper and it appears also Jennifer. Must be a family  thing!!) And others are very "Hiya mum!!" Wink wink, nod nod! Knickers!! Trust me when I say, she's not the type to turn your back on when she's up for it!!

So, sniggering aside, if we don't breed these animals and don't cull these animals, what are we to do with them? I am very much aware that some farmers will not castrate the bulls when they are calves so they let them go out on the place and mix in with the heifers. Auctions are having to sort out the arguments when unsuspecting farmers are buying in heifers for fattening only to find them bagging up as the animal is in calf.

And that's animals going for the chop.

Cattle need feeding and the honest truth is as much as I like my cattle, I cannot afford to have 4 females here and NOT breed them. Not when they will be coming bulling every 3 weeks and basically be dangerous and frisky through no fault of their own.

If my cattle are like that, then surely worldwide they are. Its hormones and its nature. If these animals are NOT culled then they maul the heifers (the bulls that is) and they will continue to breed. The planet will be overrun with cattle and sheep even more than it is now. Pigs? Don't pigs come into season once they've weaned their litters?

Do vegans suggest mass culling of rabbits and other wildlife or is it only farm livestock?

"While I’m posting:  I don’t hear much debate about vegans’ use of plastics, derived from fossil fuels driving climate change, or of cotton which is a very resource-hungry product."

I suppose where I am, I'm living in la la land with regards to thinking grow your own (looked on the garden and could weep at my brassicas!!). How many vegans though in this country, ONLY survive on food grown in this country?

One of the main arguments about Veganism this time round (it usually happens after every Christmas) is to do with the latest on climate change, fair enough. I apologise if I'm going off target!! However, similar to the "what to do with all the animals comment of mine", with regards to climate change, rather than blame the animals (mind you, Juniper belches like a trooper!!, though my one dog farts too so she could be blamed aswell!) why don't they blame the real reason, US!!

Blaming the animals is easy, but its not their fault. It's US. There are too many of us on this planet. The demand for meat, and if you see in the shops, the good cuts too. Personally I prefer brisket over topside. Due to this demand faster growing breeds have taken over from the slower growing breeds. We once bought in a dexter butchered and the chap said you'll never taste anything as good. I did actually, a Brown Swiss that I took to 29 month old. He was castrated as a calf but when he went the hump had come on his neck and the abbatoir thought he was a bull. He was actually some of the tastiest beef I have ever eaten. Thats the 29 month age! Now a days beef is bright red in the shops and thats what, 14 month old?? We once ate a joint out of the freezer, Pesky, was done in 2004 and this was 2010. Rather freezer burnt, but I cut it all off and then wacked it in the oven. Wow! Melt in the mouth!

So, Veganism - if we were meant to eat grass we wouldnt have been given wisdom teeth!! Evolution for you. I still got one, its impacted. Dentist has said "look after it, if it ever has to come out, its a hospital job!!"

2 Final points -

1 - There was a program on tv a few weeks ago and my sister admitted that if it weren't for the fact she knows where her meat came from, she would give it up as it upset her knowing how some producers treat their animals considering that they are going for meat. If my sister can think this and she sees her future meals out of her window, you can understand why those who don't have these picturesque views stop eating meat!

2 -  I know of a young teenager, a vegetarian who has recently become a vegan. Why? Because whilst she was on holiday, she ate the national dish of that country. Guinea Pig!! Her friends were disgusted as guinea pigs are pets - hence now a vegan!! Don't the Chinese eat dogs??

Halter train the cattle to keep them quiet but watch your back when they come a'bulling! Give them all names even those you plan to eat. Always be calm. Most importantly, invest in wellies with steel toe caps and be prepared for the clever cow who knows where the toe caps end!!

sheeponthebrain

  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Turriff
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2020, 08:16:04 pm »
if it is morraly wrong for a vegan to eat truffles found by working pigs.  then is it also 'vegan' morraly wrong for a working rescue dog to save survivors of earthquakes???

just a thought

alang

  • Joined Nov 2017
  • Morayshire
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2020, 09:23:30 pm »
Wonder if vegans have a problem with us keeping (working) bees for honey and also pollinating their plants?  :innocent:
I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies. This is me!

Old Shep

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • North Yorkshire
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2020, 10:27:13 pm »
Ooh Sally you're leaving no stone unturned!


I dont have a problem with non slaughter holdings if the stock are well looked after.  But what happens when the stock is old? Is it kinder to send to the abattoir or keep in poor health till they drop dead? A conversation me and my son have regularly with the old favoutite ewes.
Helen - (used to be just Shep).  Gordon Setters, Border Collies and chief lambing assistant to BigBennyShep.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2020, 11:13:16 pm »
I am not personally aware of any such operation where the animals are ill-cared for or whose existence is prolonged beyond what is humane.  And I believe that all the setups I know personally do use the vet as and when needed.  One does of course hear of places where these things are not true, but I do not have any personal connection to any such.

I think that in this context, "slaughter-free" means that the animals are not slaughtered for meat; it does not imply that they are kept alive beyond the point where they have quality of life.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2020, 11:32:48 pm »
if it is morraly wrong for a vegan to eat truffles found by working pigs.  then is it also 'vegan' morraly wrong for a working rescue dog to save survivors of earthquakes???

just a thought

pukka old school vegans - yes. The modern lot?  Who knows?!
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Is veganism a threat to the planet? *** contentious ***
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2020, 11:34:03 pm »
Wonder if vegans have a problem with us keeping (working) bees for honey and also pollinating their plants?  :innocent:

They do.  They believe that there are plenty of pollinating insects doing their thing without human intervention, and that farming bees for honey is morally wrong.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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