BBC BLOGS - Ethical Man blog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Think before you carve

Justin Rowlatt | 09:00 UK time, Sunday, 20 December 2009

santa_afp595.jpgCan I apologise right now if the content of this blog dampens your Christmas spirit? It is about something many of us believe we should do, but very few of us actually get round to doing.

It was certainly the hardest thing I did during my "year of living ethically" for the BBC.

But Adolf Hitler managed it and so did Linda McCartney. Indeed, the government's former chief economist says we should all do it.

Are you there yet?

Yes, I am talking about giving up meat. Or, in my case, giving up all animal products.

But I should warn you we started our exploration of the ethics of what we eat with a lustrous Norfolk Black turkey chick we named Ned.

We watched him grow into a magnificent one-and-a-half stone stag... and then came Christmas.

Viewers with a sentimental nature should NOT watch this film.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

I said at the time that I regretted not killing Ned.

"An ethical man should be able to stomach dispatching his own supper or should decline to dine upon it, shouldn't he?" I wrote.

And I am sure lots of us carnivores would be a lot less keen on our mixed grills if we had to look all the animals that go into them in the eye before they were served up on our plates.

Ned the turkeyBut this blog isn't about sending you on a vegan guilt-trip - though if that's what you want, you can learn more about the mechanics of turkey slaughter here.

Neither is this blog about the bizarre animal ingredients I discovered might be lurking in even the most innocent-seeming foods - bread anyone?

It is also not about the incredible health benefits I experienced from my brief flirtation with ethical eating - I shed 2kg in 31 days and saw my cholesterol level plummet from 5.6 mmol/L (rather high) to just 3.4 mmol/L (very low for a man of my age).

Nor is it about how the food we eat is destroying the planet. Everyone knows that now - though, if you will allow me a little boast - we in the Ethical Man team pretty much got their first.

So what is this blog about?

It is about another aspect of the food we eat - the threat of an impending food crisis.

There was a hint of what could be to come back in 2007-8 when world food prices soared leading to food riots around the world.

Well, don't imagine that the worldwide depression has got us off the hook. Food prices have risen dramatically this year even as economic activity has fallen.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) a billion people on earth will go hungry this year - one in six of the world's population. That's a thought that will haunt you as you sit down to enjoy your Christmas dinner isn't it?

fao_afp226.jpgBut, lets be clear about this, there is no shortage of food in the world. Agricultural output is pretty near its historic high. So why are so many people going hungry?

The problem is that, increasingly, we don't actually eat the food we grow. Some is converted into bio-fuels - and rising oil prices makes that more profitable - but even more is used to fatten up the animals so many of us eat.

There has been a huge increase in meat consumption around the world in recent years. That trend should be a cause for celebration because it reflects that fact that people in developing countries are getting significantly richer. One of the first things people do when their income rises is to buy themselves some meat.

The problem is, these trends - coupled with population growth (which I will be discussing next week) - mean there is unprecedented pressure on food supplies.

The FAO estimates that by 2050 the amount of food available in developing countries will need to double - which is the equivalent of a 70% increase in food production.

We would need a lot less if people stopped eating meat because it would require so much less land.

It is yet another powerful argument for changing our diet. So the question is: how can we get people to change what they eat?

We can try persuasion, working through some of the arguments, as I have here. But don't underestimate how difficult it is to change people's behaviour on this.

If you want a measure of just how tough a problem this is to crack, look no further than me.

I know the arguments pretty well (I hope you will agree) and I've experienced the health benefits first hand. But I will still be sitting down to a turkey dinner come Christmas.

So perhaps some gentle coercion might therefore be more effective. There is already a lobby for "fat taxes" - higher taxes on fattening foods. It is a short step from there to taxing foods that have an adverse impact on the environment.

turkey226.jpgBut would any politicians have the courage to impose a tax on meat? They are reluctant enough to impose taxes on other, more directly polluting, behaviours.

There may be other ways - please use the comment box below to send in any ideas you have - but, in the meantime, I have two suggestions for determined meat eaters who want to reduce the environmental impact of their food.

First off, eat less meat - that's something my family is doing (though not this Friday).

The second is even more straightforward, actually eat the stuff you buy!

In developed countries a quarter of all the food that is produced goes uneaten, most of it no doubt growing mould at the bottom of all our fridges.

So here's a festive challenge: I want you to craft that limp carrot, half-eaten packet of cheese and the remains last night's pizza into a delicious Christmas spread. It has to be possible to rustle up something palatable... doesn't it?


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    It'll be difficult to cut out meat altogether so simply eat animals which are treated well rather than subject to the horrendous conditions of most - most farm animals are basically tortured before being killed. That will mean cutting out meat from most restaurants and shop-bought sandwiches and the like but you will be able to eat some delicious meat at home and that should be enough to answer those carnivore urges.

    I never knew that meat-eating was responsible for 20 per cent of CO2 emissions. That's another reason for doing so.

  • Comment number 2.

    Congratulations of a year of living ethically but please don't give credence to the myth that Hitler was a vegetarian. He ate plenty of animal-sourced food. He was a vegetarian of the "I only eat chicken and fish variety". He liked his sausages, ham and caviar by all accounts. Not only that but he had a thing for leather clothing and accessories too.

    Good luck for next year.

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree, we should eat what we buy. Meat can be replaced with Quorn, tastes just like chicken, lol

    Water however, is more important, vast pollytunnels growning crops that should be grown here. We should not demand seasonal foods all year round.

    Transporting food half way around the world to support a, "Buy one get one free" , is not right.

    If the industry would come clean and label corectly Food sourced and grown in the UK, we could vote with our wallets.

  • Comment number 4.

    When I found myself apologising, in my thoughts, to the animal on my plate which had once been alive, I realised that it was time to embrace vegetarianism. I know it doesn't suit everyone's palate ( my husband is a meat-eater) but it suits me and has for the past 5 years. I don't miss meat and have a varied diet. Each to his own, but food waste is not such a big problem in our household now.

  • Comment number 5.

    I don't think the problem is meat consumption (which in my view a human right), It's the people who decide to have more than 2 children.

    If the world wasn't overpopulated we could all eat meat.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm with you on the 'use what you buy' concept, though I do this for financial rather than ethical reasons. My mum always used to make soups and stews out of leftovers, and I've extended this to include pasta sauces (ham, bacon, chicken - anything will do). I've also been selective about the meat I buy - buying independent, UK-source brands, local where possible.

    But I can't imagine eating less meat - the militant, Peta-supporting vegetarian brigade have proved to be counterproductive. They've annoyed me to the extent that I want to eat meat, just to spite them!

    And the UK is an easier country to be a vegetarian in than many - complaints of vegetarians taking holidays in countries which regard their diet as somewhat 'freakish' are common. I have, of course, lost all sympathy - especially when they try and inflict their self-imposed restrictions on others by demanding to pick where everyone eats!

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am willing to cut down on my meat consumption right up to the point that someone suggests Quorn is a suitable replacement. I tried that and got a week of (not going to describe it here...) for my trouble. Quorn doesn't taste like meat any more than plain yoghurt adequately replaces ice cream.

    I will reduce my meat intake by 1/7, and not eat any on Thursdays. (But I *won't* be replacing it with Quorn, as I need to not spend the day in -a certain room-).

  • Comment number 9.

    A report published just last week by the Sustainable Development Commission, the government’s independent advisory body on sustainability, highlighted three areas of action for improving diet and saving the planet at the same time. These are: cutting the consumption of meat and dairy products, cutting the consumption of processed foods, especially fatty, sugary ones and stimulant drinks and finally, reducing waste. These are eminently sensible recommendations and tally with Ethical Man's own experience. There is a big difference between extensively reared animals, which are grass fed on land which arguably cannot be used for any other purpose, and intensively reared animals, which are grain fed , which is both fossil fuel intensive and preventing better use of agricultural land. Up to 60 million buffalo roamed the plains of North America in the past, yet these could be said to have been carbon neutral. The damage is caused by releasing carbon from fossil fuel or by removing carbon sinks (forests, etc). As with all these topics, the devil is in the detail.

  • Comment number 10.

    Again the title is the opposite of the truth.

    Turkey produces food more efficiently than Beef or Pork, so if we all ate more turkey and less beef and pork, there would be more food available.

    What would really help, is if synthetic meat could be made at a close to 1 to 1 input to output ratio. Most of us wouldn't care if or hot-dogs, hamburgers or even stir-frys were made with synthetic meat. Turn up your nose if you want, but it will be easier to sell than vegan-ism.

    Nice tip at the end though. With food getting more and more expensive, it makes good financial sense, to never waste the food you have by not eating it.

  • Comment number 11.

    As i was raised in the country and grew up with shooting fishing and hunting i would have no qualms whatsoever in dispatching my own dinner.

    When it comes to the environmental consequences of meat consumption this is being argued in a similar way to the puratanical 'reduce your carbon footprint' people, intentions may be good but it misses the point entirely.

    Whats the point of reducing meat consumption/reducing your carbon footprint when you are merely delaying the inevitable?

    We need to stop using carbon 100% to solve the problem ergo we need to find a solution and we need to stop increasing world population and demand for food ergo we need to find a solution.

    All this 'ethical man' stuff is a red herring. We need investment in technology to SOLVE the problem not merely put it off.

  • Comment number 12.

    Considering it needs something like 17 times the amount of energy to produce 1 unit of red meat versus 1 unit of wheat/corn/rice, I don't mind if the animal slaughtering, meat-eaters carry on. When we run out of fuel for the power stations one day, we can put them all on exercise bikes hooked up to the national grid to power up the nation!

  • Comment number 13.

    To say quorn does not taste like meat.Exactly it is the texture that is important.My children cooked all thier friend quorn dishes and they all thought they had eaten chicken.some people have to be flesh eaters ie alaska,russia etc yet when we have choice to be violent to animals surely some kind of human decency should say no. We butcher animals and butcher each other.What would it take for this madness to stop?

  • Comment number 14.

    I personally understand the ethical and financial issues concerning meat production as my parents used to own a poultry farm and I used to work on it. And I understand the potential health benefits of a vegan diet - I have tried it and it really helps, but only to a certain extent. I need to be able to use my body for hard manual labour and hence I need to have an adequate intake of protein to sustain my strength. But I also admit to having eaten meat purely for pleasure rather than the benefit and have resolved to change my ways by eating a small amount of meat only once a day except Fridays which is when I go all-vegetarian. Basically all I am saying is that in these times of world hunger, poverty and financial crises around the world, we all need to conserve resources and not splurge on anything including food. As meat-products continue to sore in price, those who aren't concerned with the ethical issues should be concerned with the financial ones.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ledders: "I don't think the problem is meat consumption (which in my view a human right), It's the people who decide to have more than 2 children. If the world wasn't overpopulated we could all eat meat."

    Well, some people might also say that it's their right to have 2 children and if people didn't eat so much meat then that would be OK.

    Personally I don't think ANYONE has a right to meat consumption or to two children and that attitude is on a collision course with the reality of where we are right now. I doubt that the International Declaration of Human Rights champions either or those two lines of thinking. How about your obligation to leave the world of the future a better place than when you arrived in it?

    I gave up eating meat in 1985 and fish in 1987 after reading the Gaia Atlas of Planet Management, the chapters on food presented me with no alternative. I changed my diet, which up until then I'd never given a second's thought to because a) The idea of that much suffering being inflicted on sentient creatures so that I could have cheap meat was too awful to support and b) The sheer wastefulness of the world's grain being converted to flesh at a ratio of about 10:1 just seemed insane. Both of these two reasons are just as strong for me today.

    I'd urge you to read that book - it's remarkably prescient and still just as relevant as it was in 1985. Also, have a read of the chapter on meat in the book 'Fast Food Nation'. I tried reading it and found it so harrowing that I just sobbed and had to put the book down. Most meat is NOT produced by the humane killing of a creature that has enjoyed a free-range but (obviously not) full life in a healthy environment. Oh no. Not at all.

    I love my food and I've never missed meat or fish one day since becoming vegetarian. I don't think I'll ever be vegan though I realise the ethical implications of the dairy industry too. But I've cut my dairy and egg consumption dramatically since 1985 and at my total health check last year my GP told me that my overall score was excellent for my age. I walk and cycle which helps but as we can see with the look at obesity rates and general use of the NHS, we must take responsibility for our own body.

    Vegetarianism is part of how I try to relate to the world I'd like to see and am trying to create - it's not just a 'diet' subject to some fashion. It's rooted in who I am now.

  • Comment number 16.

    Humans are supposed to eat meat, and for that reason, and the fact that many essential nutrients can only be found in meat and meat products, I am opposed to vegetarianism and veganism. It may seem harsh but you don't see other animals, except pandas who are supposed to be carniverous and have to eat all day, not eating something because it's unethical. Another reason why I can't cut out meat is that due to medical reasons I have to follow a low fat low fibre diet, I buy good quality meat dispite being a student because I can eat very little else and everything I buy gets eaten. I buy packs of meat and freeze it, I make batches of sauce and freeze it, this way I don't waste anything except the occasional loaf of bread that goes mouldy before I have chance to seperate it out and put it in the freezer.

  • Comment number 17.

    In the past century the human population of this planet has increased enormously owing to the eradication or control of many life threatening diseases and man's obsession with living longer, multiplying and saving countless millions around the planet threatened by starvation etc. As agent Smith pointed out:

    "I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you aren’t actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet..."

  • Comment number 18.

    'please use the comment box below to send in any ideas you have'

    The BBC has wasted an awful lot of our money on you. Sound nutritional advice is absolutely fine but we don't need you and the silly things you get up to - its an insult to hypocrisy to send you all round America on our money and then tell us to eat what we buy.

  • Comment number 19.

    One thing people often miss when talking about how much more efficient growing crop is compared to rearing animals is that there are large areas of the world that are unsuitable for commercial farming. Areas where wild grazing animals can do just fine.

    So by not eating these delicious grazing animals, who are ethically eating grass on uneven, hilly land that would be impractical to farm (and thus wasted otherwise) you are squandering natural resources and acting in an unethical manner.

    If you want to protest against battery farming, feeding the animals large amounts of crop that could have otherwise been used to feed people, using up farmable land then you may have a point. However meat CAN be produced in an ethical way. In fact, to avoid meat entirely is unethical.

  • Comment number 20.

    "I am talking about giving up meat. Or, in my case, giving up all animal products."

    Yes, let us give up all meat and all animal products. Halelujah! However let us not give up the idea that eating animal meat gave us the brains we have today, lest we regress into bovines and become subject to the magnanimity of other, and currently lesser, meat-eating animals.


    PS: If you really do decide to give up all animal products, eat lots of jelly.

  • Comment number 21.

    How can you give up all animal products and eat lots of jelly? Jelly is made from gelatin which is made from the boiled bones, skins and tendons of animals.
    Unless you specify using agar-agar :-)

  • Comment number 22.

    "the Ethical Man team pretty much got their first."

    Dear oh dear. " there first" surely?

  • Comment number 23.

    John. It isn't just "wild grazing animals". Lage areas of upland Britain are unsuitable for growing crops but can sustain a large population of sheep. And those sheep are not subject to the indignity of intensive rearing in the way that pigs and poultry often are. Mutton might not be very fashionable these days but it is the most ethical of meats.

    And if we ent back to making clothing from wool instead of synthetics we would eek out our oil reserves that little bit more.

  • Comment number 24.

    A far simpler improvement is possible: ban bottled water.

    Why are millions of tons of water being transported around the world, never mind the plastics bottles?


    I recall that a group of expert tasters were invited to try 10 different waters in (obviously) unmarked bottles and to rank them. This they did, London tap water came second.

    And no, I will not give up meat: I was designed to eat meat and will continue to do so.

    At least I haven't made any babies...

  • Comment number 25.

    I say save turkeys the embarrassment of trying to hide at christmas them all year round....and obviously if we don't eat meat especially beef...who is going to tell the bull at the sperm bank he is out of a job ??

  • Comment number 26.

    I sympathise with the Blogs author but I have raised 3 turkey's in my back yar..they have had plenty of exercise fresh food and water and I feel they have been kept in an ethical way having freedom to do what turkey's do naturally.

    Every year I have a project and this year's project is to produce everything on the xmas dinner my self.

    I am not looking forward to preparing the birds but I am an omnivore and I am prepared to go through the whole process myself.

    During the last World war many people would have had no qualms about growing live stock for food and i think more people should do as I have done so that they know what is involved in food production.

    Merry christmas to all irrepective of their faith and beliefs..

  • Comment number 27.

    We have been eating meat since time began. We are designed to be this way. Not eating meat is against your natural instincts. This doesn't give man the right to be cruel but it does give man the right to eat. And what about a balanced diet?

    For all veg-warriors' good intentions, they fail to see that it is a natural process. Only thing that seems unnatural is how we do it, us humans being clever enough to 'farm' and domesticate our livestock making the whole process relatively easy.

    So this Christmas, I shall be tucking into a festive feast with all the trimmings, just like my ancestors before me have done, and thank God for providing such a bounty.

    Merry Christmas and praying your "limp carrot, half-eaten packet of cheese and the remains last night's pizza" special doesn't need the attention of an ambulance.

  • Comment number 28.

    Clearly, the answer is heavy investment in artificial (in vitro/cultured) meat. Even PETA won't argue with that one.

  • Comment number 29.

    Eating meat is inherently cruel but is a necessary part of life in the natural world.

    In the past half-century, industrialised societies have developed many palatable and healthy alternatives to meat, from Kesp (spun vegetable protein) to Quorn and everything between. The widespread availability of these meat substitiutes means that meat is simply unnecessary in our modern diet.

    I view unnecessary cruelty as immoral and so, apart from a brief period of experimental carnivory in the 1980s, I have been vegetarian since 1975. To be clear, I have always eaten fish but not meat.

    Most importantly, avoiding meat is a positive choice rather than a sacrifice. As Donald Rennie says above, most people don't care if their hot dogs and stir-fries are made with synthetic meat. We occasionally host parties for children and adults: we offer typical party food - sausage rolls, cocktail sausages, etc. - and our guests either don't notice that they are eating no meat or are happy to find that fun finger food doesn't have to mean meat.

    The benefits of eating less (or no) meat continue to mount up:
    Avoid the unnecessary cruelty of intensive animal farming and slaughter.
    Feed the world's people instead of big businesses' livestock.
    Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from animal husbandry and growing feedstocks.
    Keep the rainforests.
    Eat a low cholesterol, high fibre diet.
    Gain additional health benefits from regular consumption of soya and other vegetable proteins.
    Less food waste.
    I could go on ...

    John Mason notes that wild, grazing animals live on land and vegetation that cannot be farmed. I agree that this can be a sustainable use of natural resources, like responsibly-farmed or sustainably-caught fish. However, he is wrong to suggest that my choice not to eat their meat is unethical!

  • Comment number 30.

    Various contributors seem to think that we must eat meat because it contains essential nutrients and that we are 'designed' to eat it. Neither of these are correct (although they are handy excuses for anybody that is too conservative to consider changing their lifestyle).

    The idea that you 'need' meat is incorrect. You can get all the nutrients you need from a vegetarian diet (in fact it is healthier). This has been known for a long time. And for the record: no, I'm not a vegetarian - but I don't delude myself that meat-eating is 'better'.

    The argument that human beings 'must' eat meat because we are designed to do so falls down on two levels:
    1, it isn't true - our bodies aren't very good at dealing with meat at all; our bodily 'design', whether you are talking about teeth or digestion has very few concessions to carnivoral activity. This is hardly surprising when you consider that for the vast majority of our evolutionary journey we have consumed very little meat.
    2, even if it were true, it is irrelevant. Ethics is about CHOOSING a course of action, not doing something because you think you 'have to' or that you were 'designed to'. They tried the 'I had no choice' defence at Nuremberg, and it didn't go down too well.

  • Comment number 31.

    Are we forgetting people are meat? What if we introduce some kind of donor card? 'Liver for transplant, kidneys for pies'. Surely this would help.

  • Comment number 32.

    If animals and birds didn't want to be eaten they should have tried harder as a species to get to the top of the food chain. And thats what it is, a food chain. This is like asking sharks not to eat fish.

  • Comment number 33.

    Humans are omnivores & we need animal products end of. The biggest issue is overpopulation that affects everyone of us, no one will grasp the nettle & do something about it. It is causing untold misery around the globe already. Something should be done now before it's to late. Copenhagen is a money grabbing front - people cause emissions & pollution. Less people less emissions & polution it doesn't get any simpler than that I'm afraid. Everybody limit yourselves to 1 - 2 children and save humanity. The planet is fine & has suffered worse calamitys than humanity it will soon recover from us!

  • Comment number 34.

    We do not need to eat meat to still enjoy a variety of lovely foods, but this argument comes down to the same one that will end the human life as we know it - The I WANT IT, I WANT IT, I WANT IT!! Attitude followed by the tantrums people have if you say - please don't do something destructive - change your behavior.

    At the end of the day meat is barbaric - eating the butchered seared flesh of other animals animals, kept in their own ordeal, often unable to move around and pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. I agree it tastes nice (used to eat flesh) but frankly heroin is supposed ti be the most amazing feeling - most people still resist cos it's bad for them and bad for society.

  • Comment number 35.

    i believe this is yet another example of a fallacious argument, you are shifting the issue from the political to the psychological. i do not think problems such as the food industry's plundering policies can be resolved by the good will of isolated citizens. wherever you put forth this argument you end up with a tragedy of the commons. these issues can only be tackled through political involvement, i.e. become politically aware and active and organize your community.

  • Comment number 36.

    Re: bigsammyb.Growing up in the country does not automatically brain wash you into being able to kill for your dinner!I also grew up in the country with shooting/fishing and hunting and killing animals horrified me then and it horrifies me now. I could not murder a living creature. Intensive farming of animals is unimaginable living hell for the poor creatures bred for our food and is kept behind closely guarded doors because the ghastly truth is truly unpalatable. Whilst the debate for meat eating versus vegetarianism/ veganism will be discussed until the cows come home (or go to the slaughterhouse) the fundamental truth is this:-human beings are such diverse creatures that there will always be carnivores and there will always be vegans.There will be those that kill easily and those that could NEVER kill. Those that turn a blind eye and those that campaign.Those that care and those that don't.One thing is for sure, anyone who lectures another against their beliefs is wasting their breath and the outcome is usually the opposite of what they had hoped to achieve.

  • Comment number 37.

    I really don't understand. You are speaking about ethics. You say it is not ethical to eat meat. You mention sympathetically and praise: "Adolf Hitler managed it". What did he manage? With whom the animals or the humans? A pity you couldn't have worked out your ethics with the likes of him in one of his institutions for ethics, you could learn arbeit macht frei and be free to practice your ethics.
    This is the way of the wicked. Eating or not eating meat is an ethical play to cover unethical life with a righteous feeling. The matter of eating meat is a diet and health matter. Some people thrive on it and some should not eat eat for heath reasons. The entire world is built on a principle of living off one the other. Maybe a cow is wicked to the grass? How to,live ethically in this world requires a slightly different approach for those who indeed are interested and not just trying to make face for a life based only on fulfilling personal desires whatever is the outcome.
    Thank the Lord I gave up many personal desires to do right for mankind. Let there be common sense.

  • Comment number 38.

    Last night we had mackerel from the freezer. Caught, despatched and gutted by myself. Tomorrow it's lamb, also from the freezer, which lived a happy life a few hundred yards from here, made a short journey, was despatched humanely at the slaughterhouse, then cut into suitable pieces on my kitchen table (by me). If the broody hens produce cockerels, they have a lovely free-range life until ready for eating, my husband does the necessary (I catch them, because they're used to me and it's less stressful for them), and the flavour's second to none. So, yes, I do look my meat in the eye (and I have been known to apologise to a trout as I bop it on the head). There is no wasted food in this household! Humans are omnivores, with suitable teeth and guts for the purpose, and the countryside of Britain would look very odd if there were no grazing animals. Soya has to be imported. No idea what Quorn is but I've not seen it growing here. If veggies want to be truly ethical, then it's a diet of potatoes and turnips with the odd carrot and parsnip and maybe some winter greens for most of the winter!

  • Comment number 39.

    This issue is so often portrayed as a contest between carnivores and vegetarians when there is a sensible middle course. The real issue, that has been touched upon by some posts, is that of waste.

    My family eats omnivorously and well but we have always ensured that we don't waste food. We grow a lot of our own food in our small garden and the labour involved in bringing fruit and veg to the table makes us value it more than an equivalent a bag of supermarket produce.

    This doesn't make us hippies, just people who want to eat the very best flavoured strawberry at the moment when the flavour is perfect.

    Our children respect the food on the table and that includes the meat or fish elements. Waste is almost unknown at our meals and surplus, including bones is always reserved for subsequent meals, soups, stews and similar. Only those parts of vegetables that are unusable are discarded but then only as far as our compost heap. We never send compostable organic matter to land fill.

    If people were more connected to the food production process and had to actually get their hands dirty on a regular basis they would respect and enjoy the food on their table more. As I see it the issue is overproduction of inferior quality leading to overconsumption and excessive waste.

    I have always taken the view that this is their misfortune but perhaps the message should be quality not quantity in order to reduce demand in developed countries. Incidentally quality has nothing to do with getting fruits all to an identical size and weight, that's just production engineering.

  • Comment number 40.

    "So the question is: how can we get people to change what they eat?"

    Easy - celebrity chefs. Just get Jamie Oliver, or whichever one of them is most in favour these days, to bring out a vegan cookbook, and get some delicious veggie and vegan food onto the cooking shows. Way more effective than anything the Government could ever achieve. How about it BBC?

  • Comment number 41.

    I can eat meat 3 meals a day, and do it while idling in a gas guzzling SUV for 20 minutes just to let it warm up. I can leave my lights on 24/7 and even burn a few tires just for the hell of it and STILL I am having less of an impact on the environment than most people. Because I am choosing to remain childless. Not only that, given that I'm also less selfish than most as the average person concerned about the environment goes with the motto "We need to save the planet for our children and grandchildren to enjoy". Im saving it for other peoples children and grandchildren.

    You can stop the basic math, no matter how much consumption per person you cut down, if the number of people never stops growing than you will always keep growing in the amount of resources people consume. If you got everyone to the diminish our quality of life so the whole world used 1/6th the rescources (and coincidentally torpedoes all the "wasted" resources on high science) we would have breathing room for under a century before we are right back to where we are now, only with 36 billion people and no more waste to cut.

  • Comment number 42.

    The arguments above against abstaining from eating carcasses seem to be

    1. Humans are carnivores "designed to eat meat". Wrong. Unlike carnivores we do not have claws sufficient to rip flesh, dont have sharp teeth sufficent to eat flesh (and we have flat rear molars), our intestinal tract is 4 times the length of carnivores (short intestines mean decaying meat can pass quickly) and our stomach acid is 20 times less strong than meat eaters.

    2. Its too difficult. There are millions of healthy veggies and vegans eating a wide variety of food and living very healthy lives thank you! There are plenty of celebrity veggies for those who need role models, and for the men who find it difficult to step beyond the "I'll eat anything ho ho" macho image there have been World Boxing champions and wrestling champions that are vegetarian!

    3. I can eat meat so I will and theres nothing you can do! The standpoint of a bully. No reason, just the fact they can. Could justify any cruelty to people or animals.

    George Monbiot has accepted that going vegan is the way to contribute to saving the planet. And importing foods from struggling countries to feed animals being intensively farmed so people here can eat their meat is selfish and contrary to chaning world poverty

    No one can stop people continuing to eat meat but please don't put forward lame arguments in defence, just hold your hands up and say "sorry, I know its selfish and harmful to animals and the planet but I'm not a person with the necessary will, determination or courage to do it"

    Finally, to answer some other points above. Sheep farming IS uneconomic, without the subsidies we taxpayers pay on each sheep (resulting in overstocking of land and the resultant starvation and suffering of millions of sheep and lambs) there would be no money in it.

    There are only so many cattle because we commercially and unaturally breed through artificial insemination. Giving up meat would not mean an explosion of the cattle population!

    Just because someone was brought up shooting fishing and hunting does not mean they have to blindly accept it, though of course most people are blind followers and do not have the character to challenge it.

    Sadly most people feel safer and happier as part of the "herd" looking out for themselves, unable to take an independent moral position (if its legal they'll do it).

  • Comment number 43.

    #41 is absolutely correct that the biggest problem facing the world today is overpopulation. OTOH if all the socially responsible people stop having children while the feckless and criminal display reckless fecundity, where will that leave us?

    What needs to happen is that governments grasp the nettle and stop rewarding people who have more than 2 children and instead do the opposite.

  • Comment number 44.

    Do you think that Native Americans should also give up meat? I hope that you don't think so. I hunt with a Crow guide on his reservation. It is one of the greatest pleasures on earth. About the only impact we have on the flora & fauna is that, by me spending a little money, we are keeping things exactly as they have been since the last Ice Age.

    Farming (even organic vegetables) destroys nature. The antelope I hunt (legally with the permission & benefit of the Crow Nation) would not be there if the land were converted over to feed vegans. Therefore, I believe that the Jain doctrine of ahimsa is ethically bankrupt. I believe that people, just like dogs & cats, should eat meat and not feel bad about it.

  • Comment number 45.

    Vegetarians don't eat fish! You cannot eat fish and call yourself a vegetarian. No fish, no flesh, no fowl, according to the Vegetarian Society.

    As for me, well, I was a vegetarian for four years in my late teens until I went for a curry one night and just couldn't face yet another vegetable biryani. I certainly eat less meat now than I used to, but I do enjoy what meat I do eat, which for the four or five years prior to my stint of vegetarianism I didn't.

    As far as climate change goes, I am not convinced that carbon dioxide is responsible for global warming. I consider biofuels to be a total con, and the use of agricultural land to grow crops solely for biofuels is just crazy. We do need to conserve what petrochemical resources we have, obviously, but surely we could do that by way of producing vehicles that don't use so much petrol (Americans would hate that), designing more efficient gas fuelled power stations and using less plastic packaging.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    The argument for stoping meat consumption will not work the same way the climate change argument will not work either. The reason for this is simply Elitist talking down to people to enforce their views on others. I also have a problem with creating a sort of perfect world, it is strange that you mentioned Adolph Hitler as he tried to create a perfect world too. Living in this world means some people will smoke some wont,some eat meat some wont,some will drink some wont.
    My greatest problem is leftwing-liberal minded persons trying to force their view on others,try having people vote on these things and you will see what happen.The next reason these things will fail is that the majority of persons in the world are religious and elitist tend to ridicule this group and you are now coming to us with all these issues do you really think they will support you now.

    As a Christian myself we see a trend where the western world (leaders) have given up on their Christian and Jewish roots and replacing it with these causes. We even see a trend where the Animals are now being treated as Humans and embracing Earth worhip. While not advocating the destruction of the Earth, our Bible states clearly that GOD gave placed man in charge of everything on the Earth. The biggest problem you will have convincing people is simply that persons will associate causes like this with persons who are;

    Trying to change our laws on Sexuality and marriage
    Stop Christmas celebrations
    Trying to imprison Kids who pray at School
    Trying to subverte Pastors who preach the Bible
    Tree Huggers
    Extreme animal rights activist

    These all have one thinh in common-Elitist

    In closing i will state that eating healthy is good,sharing is good, but the greatest thing is seeking GOD before it is too late read John 3 vs1

    GOD Bless

  • Comment number 48.

    42. Rob Roach

    You are correct, we are not carnivores. However, we are not designed to be herbiores either, Our appendix is a stunted left over that it tiny when compared to herbivorous animals.

    We are, in fact, omnivores, designed to eat whatever we can get. This is why we have both canine teeth and flat molars.

    Where we differ from other animals in nature, is that we can choose to be Vegan (usually unhealthy pasty looking things who need supplements such as vitamns in their diet), plastic veggies (those who claim not to eat meat, but eat Ffish, chicken, or dairy products because it is fashionable to do so, or be what we are, an animal that is well placed to make the most of what food options there are, be it vegetable or animal!

    Going vegan will not save the planet. Apart from turning to bamboo while having an omnivore's digestive system being the major reason why Pandas will soon cease to exist without Man to save them, there is no sense in it. The way to help the environment is to stop breeding, limit ourselves to 1 child, 2 at the extreme, and while we are at it, boot the various churches out of the likes of Africa, as their insistance on not using contraception and requiring constant breeding of yet more starving children, is the biggest contrbutor to ocerpopulation, poverty and the spead of disease!

    If you are going to justify veggie-burgers, be honest and just say that you don't like meat, instead of hiding behind some holier than thow rubbish which is plainly a lie!

  • Comment number 49.

    20% of the worlds population consumes 86% of the world products and food.
    Bon appetite.

  • Comment number 50.

    The human species is still evolving- Vegetarians are more evolved than non-vegetarians.
    Reason:- 1) Man invented agriculture to stop hunting and cause less pain to his fellow creatures which was & is one of the most important stage and catalyst in the evolution of man to form civilization. 2) Compassion is a trait which cannot be found with people who think that it is their right to kill for their food when there is plenty of food available, without the need to kill animals. 3) Flesh is same, whether it is human or animal- There is no rationality in concluding that animal flesh is meant to be consumed by humans- If that is the case every carnivore has a right to eat humans and reclaim the earth or cannibals justifying their acts !
    Yes I understand, it is not possible to put sense into a non-vegetarian about vegetarianism, because he is less evolved. Finally, wherever there is a predominantly non vegetarian society- there is more violence and unrest

  • Comment number 51.

    You are Borrrrrrring! So don't attempt to impose your pathetic vegan ethical reasoning on the rest of us. A waste of space. You want to eat grass then go ahead. Mmmm Turkey. Pass the gravy.

  • Comment number 52.

    Why do people find it so hard to give up meat? I too was a meat eater for many years but phased it out of my diet about seven years ago.

    I really don't miss it at all now. It is still awkward at social occasions to declare I'm on the vegetarian option, because you are put in a position of having to justify what you eat and are given quizzical looks and shrugs of miscomprehension.

    The point has been made here that very few people would still be meat eaters if they had to slaughter their 'food' themselves or witness what truly goes on in factory farming and abattoirs.

    The vast majority of people choose to ignore all the disturbing aspects of meat production because their eating habits appear paramount to them.

    It really isn't that difficult to drop meat gradually from your diet. You will find yourself feeling healthier, spending less and having a new-found respect and concern for the farm animals who are so cruelly exploited at the moment.

  • Comment number 53.

    People say that meat production contributes to global warming, but say we were to stop eating beef for example, what will become of the cows that are no longer being eaten? Surely they will either are set free of kept alive or whatever and continue to cause gas emissions or millions of cows will needlessly be slaughtered.

    this would not be ethical or fair. People need to consider the outcomes of these farfetched kind of schemes and get down from their high horse.

  • Comment number 54.

    If we are to wait for a solution from commercial sources for this problem - we'll all be going hungry and paying more for our food. The commercial companies and system does not provide solutions unless there is a profit in it.
    That a third of the Brazilian rainforests have been levelled just so that the Brazilian farmers can grow crops to feed cattle and livestock is a testimony to commerce.
    Less people in the world need to be eating less meat. Simple.
    This would solve so many issues - all revolving around carbon impact - for the world.
    Getting western supermarkets to run/operate on a more ethical and environmentally sound strategy would help solve there issues too.
    Roll on 100% VAT on Steak!!

  • Comment number 55.

    If there were 50 percent less people in the world there would not be many problems. What about culling everyone at the age of 30 years and eating them just like in that film: Logan's run! .. oh right they didn't eat them they incinerated them.. what a waste! Anyway, I think the planet will settle our hash at some point, we have sucked it dry already.

    I think it's ridiculous to stop eating meat by the way, just so we can continue to infest this planet with more humans, but I strongly object to treating animals badly before we eat them.

    Merry Christmas! (from an atheist)

  • Comment number 56.

    I think that folks generally don't want to consider veganism because they think it is such a massive lifestyle change. I was the same, but realised I was a hypocrite for saying I loved animals, but I still ate them! I made the connection and went vegetarian but soon discovered that it was just as cruel as meat-eating, so then I went vegan. At the time there were not nearly as many vegan alternatives, but these days there is no excuse to eat meat/dairy - there are plenty of delicious vegan alternatives to everything!
    Even better - my asthma symptoms have halved, my eczema has disappeared, I feel fitter and have more energy. I just wish I had been vegan from birth.. talking of which, my (vegan) husband and I are also happily childfree, having chosen to care for farm and 'pet' animals that have been abused and/or discarded by non-vegans.

  • Comment number 57.

    It's hard to justify the annual slaughter-fest of an animal that in the wild can live for up to 20 years but which when farmed - even free-range farmed- gets just a few weeks of life before dying to fulfill a deeply untraditional (for the UK) Xmas role. Just when did the turkey become that indispensable part of our Yule indulge-a-thon? How about a commitment to satisfy our omnivorous appetites and consciences by refusing to eat immature as well as battery-farmed animals?

  • Comment number 58.

    Okay, next week about population growth, but I think you have got your priorities totally wrong. If we stop eating meat, population growth will fairly soon catch up, and the world will be hungry again (except of course that there will be a lot more people to go hungry then). On the other hand, if the world population should decrease sufficiently, we could all eat as much meat as we wanted to, and also enjoy all sorts of agreeable activities that are now frowned upon because they are supposed to destroy the earth, like taking very long hot showers. Tackle overpopulation first, an all environmental problems will eventually solve themselves!

  • Comment number 59.

    #42, "No one can stop people continuing to eat meat but please don't put forward lame arguments in defence, just hold your hands up and say "sorry, I know its selfish and harmful to animals and the planet but I'm not a person with the necessary will, determination or courage to do it"

    Hey, how about this. I don't believe in the CO2 hype, don't believe that eating meat harms the planet any more than I would do if I bought a new car, new TV and new hifi every few years, and therefore choose to continue eating meat because I disagree with every claim you make regarding why I shouldn't eat meat.

    But I did have to laugh at it being harmful to animals. I suppose killing animals (assuming you're not talking about eating roadkill) doesn't score highly on the "look after the cute fluffy things" chart does it?

  • Comment number 60.

    Catsbananas wrote:my (vegan) husband and I are also happily childfree, having chosen to care for farm and 'pet' animals that have been abused and/or discarded by non-vegans.

    Are you for real? With all of the orphaned children in the world needing loving parents you choose to take care of animals? And proud of it? I suggest you need to get your priorities in order. The high moral hair shirt tone that you vegans adopt makes me sick.

    You want to keep fit on your nut roast good for you but please don't seek to preach to me about the error of my meat eating ways. You are a minority remember.

  • Comment number 61.

    "Eating ethically"? I suppose then that you and your family didn't eat Quorn or any soya products as well then, seen as the rainforests of our world are being demolished to grow soya and the like. I suppose you also didn't wear leather, wool or silk either during that time.

    I'm sick of the holier-than-thou spew that vegitarians and vegans come out with. Yes, we might have a lower chance of having a heart attack but we also have a bigger chance of developing bowel cancer. Yes. You heard right. I myself am a vegitarian. For me, I don't particularly like the taste of meat or eggs or dairy, etc. I would be classed as vegan if it wasn't for the fact I use honey. That doesn't mean I have the right to tell my husband he shouldn't have a bacon toastie if he so fancied one.

    We may not have the right teeth or claws to eat meat, nor have the stamina to run after prey, but we were born with brains to help us make tools and our bodies need Vitamin B12. You won't find any of that in your veggies (and who wants to rely on artificial supplements every day??? I only do as I don't like the taste of animal products.)

    All I am trying to say is that each person knows what is right for them. I know far more vegitarians and vegans who are hostile towards meat-eaters than meat-eaters who are hostile towards vegans and vegitarians. EACH TO THEIR OWN.

  • Comment number 62.

    I am an ethical vegan, and have been so for about 2 years. It was a decision I made based purely on moral grounds, and even though as a lifestyle the ideology benefits personal health and the environment, an ethical vegan does so to remove their support of the notion that animals are there to be treated as property. The evidence of what is being done to other animals disturbs me so much, if being vegan was detrimental to my health, I would do it without question.

    From an early age as children we are suppressed in a conditioning system which makes us believe, it is okay to love “domestic animals”, but accept the use of so called “farm animals” for our own ends. An ethical vegan challenges the belief that any being should be used as property of others, and call to the forefront the confusion inherent in society that we can love cats and dogs (to extremities in most cases), but sticking a fork into a pig, raping a cow for milk, or wearing animal products as clothes is okay. There is absolutely no moral difference between the life of one creature and another, and all sentient beings deserve to be treated with the same respect we ourselves expect from others.

    If we were to consider a situation where these suffering animals were replaced with humans, be that for production of food, drink, clothing, medical testing, racing, breeding, and all the other forms of twisted exploitation, we would stand up and protest - without question. The only reason we do not is because we feel (incorrectly in my view) that we are in some way superior to these other beings. Sure, a cow cannot send an email or do calculus, but intelligence is not a factor we should use to determine the validity of other beings lives. The animals we are exploiting are all sentient, they feel pain, emotions and have an interest in staying alive. We are acting in a speciesist manner towards nonhumans, there is no question of that.

    If you care for other beings, there is no choice to make here, it is our moral obligation to respect other animals and go vegan.

  • Comment number 63.

    I have to disagree with much you say. First you say 'most people agree they should not eat meat' and then go on to point out that the first thing people do in developing countries when they have a better economic position, is to increase the meat they eat.

    Second the old chestnut, you should be able to kill an animal yourself if you want to eat it. Can you build a computer, not from parts, but from plastic, solder and basic materials - No I thought not, so why are you using a computer on the Internet ?

    I believe we have to understand that we have little or no control over nature, and that it is fanciful for scientists to say we can limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees just by decreasing our CO2 levels, the globe doesn't have a thermostat on it. We may well have triggered this warming, but stopping it is a whole different ball game.

    We need to use technologies to ensure there is more efficient use of water and better ways to provide food, this does not mean everyone going vegan. We also need to control the global population. There are just two many hidden agendas in the climate game, people like McCartney who I suspect fly and drive rather a lot whilst promoting their own vegan agenda.

  • Comment number 64.

    I find that if those talking about reform of the healthcare system in the U.S. were seriously concerned with health, they'd be including an end to meat and dairy subsidies. But since the traditional way to make deals in Washington is over a steak dinner, perhaps that sort of consistency is too much to ask?

  • Comment number 65.

    Eating meat is fine.
    It is good healthy food. Eating meat is not contributing to the destruction of the planet. Eating meat will not contribute to a food crisis; there is plenty of land to produce whatever is wanted/needed.
    I can’t see how all this nebulous, self-indulgent scaremongering at the BBC can be considered in any way ethical. Perhaps this blog should be renamed ‘Scaremonger Man’ or perhaps even ‘Right On Man’.
    And surprise surprise, the subject of taxation appears. Of course! Save the Planet! Use more tax! It reminds me of David Miliband’s fatuous conclusion ‘green is the new red’.
    Tell you what – if we ship out all the unethical meat-eaters to Siberia then all the others that are left (the decent, the spiritual, the ethical, the lovers of ye earth) can get on with saving the planet without being hindered by all those nasty old criminal minds distracting from the call to the tax office!

  • Comment number 66.

    I greatly appreciate your efforts and this information you are sharing. It is too bad we haven't figured out how to live while also looking at the big picture. IF WE COULD instigate 1 day/week that was meat free in SCHOOL LUNCHES and then in RESTAURANTS and at HOME and WORK. If we could just have a slow increase in the one day a week we didn't have the more resource taxing types of foods, then we could all share the responsibility and maybe even build some character.

  • Comment number 67.

    Royalalbertdock:- I too, care for and rescue animals which have been abused and discarded by the human race.I too, am childless. My unborn child died naturally and I have not conceived since and aged 44 I am now unlikely to. I think I could offer a fantastic home to an unloved child who needs a parent. I have seriously considered and looked into adoption, but to adopt a child from abroad is all but impossible (even illegal) and to adopt a child in England the authorities here take months of deeply delving into your private life and lifestyle before deciding if my skin matches the child/ whether my religion is the same as the birth parent/ if i am the right weight to adopt etc etc.It is a sad fact that most of the orphaned children you refer to will NEVER find a home because of the restrictions imposed by our government.I am, therefore, sorry that people like me, who rescue animals instead of children make you sick.

  • Comment number 68.

    I generally have no problem with vegetarians. It's their choice at the end of the day. However, peope like the person posting comment #62 really get my goat. Firstly - what right do you have to tell me what to eat? It's these people who may invite you to a meal, but offer only vegetarian/vegan food. How would you like it if I invited you to a meal and offered only meat? People deserve to choose what they eat, regardless of another's moral/ethical view.
    Secondly - all of these things about "sticking a fork into a pig" etc do not hold water. These animals are bred for this purpose - these animals as you know them wouldn't exist otherwise. For example, we do NOT "rape" cows for milk. The breed used produce too much milk for their calfs, so we simply take the excess which causes no harm to the animal. If they're fed properly and given all the nutrients they need, this milk production has little or no effect on their bodies (I'm a vet by the way before you question my knowledge). If you truly knew what you were talking about you would've pointed to the thousands of bull calfs born on dairy establishments which are killed each year because they have no practical use and provide the farm with no profit. These are the real losers, and these animals should be used rather than cruelly wasted in the way they are.
    Broilers - that is chickens reared for meat - suffer from many medical problems due to their massively increased growth rate. This is because of the way they have been bred in the past, but steps are being taken to breed this trait out of them because it causes unnecessary suffering.

    I have worked on many farming establishments - dairy, beef, extensive/intensive pig and poultry, sheep and deer farms etc. and in my experience these animals are incredibly well looked after. It is, after all, in the farmer's best interests to look after his animals as well as possible as these are his livelihood. One dairy farm I worked on was incredible - unlike most farmers who have their animals shot when they need to be put down (which is far from barbaric since it's instant death) they called a vet out to give a lethal injection, so concerned were they that their animals were respected and cared for until the moment they died.
    I feel that everyone should be educated about where their meat and animal products comes from. It will stop the sensationalist view of this "harsh and cruel life" domesticated animals lead. The truth is cruelty and suffering is in a tiny minority of establishments. It is the good places people should go and see, instead of swallowing these PETA propaganda videos that select one bad establishment out of thousands of good ones. Instead of saying "look how bad this is, stop eating meat" you should be saying "look how bad this is, lets get that place shut down and care for the animals there properly."

  • Comment number 69.

    Scientific data show that e.g. during WWII mental illnesses and especially schizophrenia significantly decreased because meat was not a readily available food source.
    However, vegetarian cooking has to be taught correctly.
    What is offered in Restaurants is a disgrace, usually just tinned food dressed up with lots of runny cheese, lots of wheat and gluten, salt and sugar. We ought to rediscover the wonderful tast of natural food, e.g. just potatoes cooked in a little water, mashed, green beans cooked for 7 minutes in boiling water, and an omelette with tomatoes etc.
    We also ought to rediscover fruit cooked and raw as an accepted dessert.
    All the messing about with food by chefs on any TV channel does not help the vegetarian mandate. It is not that our children "only eat chips and burgers" but that women/men who find little time for their kids or cooking prefer it that way. Sanity and rational thinking in how to rebuild family structures that benefit society will naturally lead the way away from enormous meat consumption. (Ever ventured into a restaurant with loads of retired people carted their by bus eating giant meat portions which will lead to illnesses the NHS has to pay millions of pounds for. The Vegetarian option is not for sentimental old ladies or
    teenagers but the one way forward for this world's population.

  • Comment number 70.

    I would prefer to feed my family natural meat than manufactured quorn! Several commentators have already hit the nail on the head - its over population that is the problem.

    More money for effective birth control in developing countries, plus a benefit system that doesn't reward extra kids. Free choice is important (China is no role model) but something needs to be done and we should look firstly at our own country. If population is pegged at current levels or even better reduced, we can all eat meat (though maybe should consider quality over quantity)

  • Comment number 71.

    Well I have followed this thread following my own post earlier today.

    Nobody is going to persuade me to eat vegetables (only). Vegetables with the exceptions of potatoes, onions (and their kin) peas, mange-tout, carrots, salad stuff and sometimes parsnips, are disgusting and make me vomit. To suggest that I might become a "vegan" is an insult to the intelligence.

    As for the animals, well no I don't approve of what I consider to be cruelty, equally I find pathetic the attitude that seeks to ascribe human characteristics to them.

    And for what it's worth, I have bought free-range eggs exclusively for more than thirty years. Now we have our own chickens, so the eggs are excellent. Every now and then a chicken drops dead so we leave her out. Here there are foxes (horrible things) martens, stoats, buzzards &c., so this is recycling in action one might say.

  • Comment number 72.

    Petra wrote:The Vegetarian option is not for sentimental old ladies or
    teenagers but the one way forward for this world's population.

    Thus endeth the first ( but snorringly not the last ) vegan lesson. Amen. Shall we pray.Zzzzzz.

  • Comment number 73.

    I am a veterinarian and raise fiber animals (NON food)precisely because I find the slaughtering process abhorrent.

    Thirty years ago the book DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET by Frances Moore Lappé anticipated it all: reading it changed my life and attitude towards meat-producing animals, and it should be a bible for everyone involved in 'ethical' living

  • Comment number 74.

    Here's an idea for rearing cattle, while minimising their carbon footprint:

    Cattle should reared in vast buildings the size seen in modern warehousing. If this were the case, methane could be captured, stored and used for energy. Cattle would have free movement within the building, but would never venture outside, other than being transported for slaughter.

    The slurry would be swept from the smooth concrete florr regularly, even automatically, and transfered to silos, where further sources of energy can be extracted. The remaining solids, would then be used to fertilise the surrounding fields which are used to grow the cattle's feed.

    This idea is not going to win any ethical debates any time soon, but if we continue to eat meat, we have to find a more efficient and less carbon intensive way of producing it.

    As far as cattle is concerned, the breeds we use today, are so far removed from those nature intended, due to selective breeding through the centuries, that they would not be able to survive in the wild. They are beyond a tipping point.

    Breeding cattle in this way may not appeal to most, but it does have its merits.

    Far in the future, as we venture into space, we will need to feed ourselves.

  • Comment number 75.

    The one commment that I read that made most sense was the one about over population.
    Frankly the sooner we can persuade the catholics, muslims, and other 'faith zealots' that breeding billions extra followers is not needed and is putting their lives in danger the better, then finally we might find preachers telling people to use condoms, the pill etc. to reduce their own output of offspring.
    WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER SINGLE HUMAN for at least the next 10 years! We don't need them to provide for the old ones, we don't need them to continue to hold unsustainably large number of humans in populations, we certainly don't need them to avoid offending 'God' in whatever form he takes.
    We DO need to reduce the human population DRASTICALLY, this one act will solve global warming, starvation, lack of medicines indeed most of the diseases. In a lot of respects I am saddened that the various pundits were so wrong about swine flu, the human population could do with a good 25% knocked out. Heres a nicer idea - restrict every woman to a single pregnancy, once she has had that then sterilize her, restrict every man to causing a single pregnancy, after that castrate him, stop ALL forms of artificial preganancy (test tube etc.) This way we will reduce the population - and quite quickly.

  • Comment number 76.

    The Bible says that the animals and plants were here to sustain us, doesn't it? I don't feel sorry for the cows, turkeys, chickens etc. I have some fresh deer meat that I intend to thoroughly enjoy! Eat what you want, but don't expect me to follow your example...

  • Comment number 77.

    We have eaten less and less animal flesh over time because we actually like experimenting with other foodstuffs to find recipes that are easy and tasty, ethical to a greater extent than before, and less harmful to our household budget as well as our carbon footprint.

    It's not been difficult, it's not been too challenging, and yes, we have eaten all that we have made, good, bad or indifferent so as not to make too much waste from those meals production.

    What amazes me at festive times like this, the sheer amount of foodstuffs crammed into trolleys, people shopping for a siege, complaining bitterly afterwards that they haven't got the storage space for so much gluttony and greed. The shops are only shut for a day or two, yet all i see are people with two trolley loads where there would normally be one! How many of you folk out there, hand on heart, couldn't have fed a small battalion of lonely old folk or a few homeless souls on the overbuying of food you did, just because it's Christmas?

  • Comment number 78.

    It is actually pretty easy to lead a vegetarian life in the UK. There are nearly always vegetarian options on restaurant menus and there are vegetarian restaurants throughout the country. This is NOT the case in the rest of mainland Europe. I would especially love to see someone try and persuade the French, Spanish and Italians that eating meat is wrong and unethical.

  • Comment number 79.

    In regards to 62. Richard Frost :

    I am pretty sure that you can't get milk out of a cow by raping it, unless of course, you have some new findings to share with the scientific community.

    If you want to sway people, try using cool, logical arguments, rather than fanatical sophistry. You will only alienate people who may have been sympathetic to your cause and further polarize the divide between meat-eaters and omnivores, a dynamic that pervades the modern discussion of this issue.

    If your logic is sound, you ought not need to resort to such histrionics to sway your listener.

  • Comment number 80.

    Re post No 75; I agree: the population is probably 25% too large.

    I do not agree with the suggestion that men be castrated; I have never made any babies, so why should my sex life be ended by fiat?

    By all means address the nauseating "may you have many sons" tradition.

    And on this subject, not only have neither I, nor my girlfriend made babies (and we won't) we have both smoked for years (I for for over forty). Governments would do well to rescind the absurd anti-smoking legislation - after all, according to the "experts" having smoked and eaten meat and cream, taken lots of salt and no exercise &c. ad nauseam, I am statistically dead aren't I?

  • Comment number 81.

    "It is also not about the incredible health benefits I experienced from my brief flirtation with ethical eating - I shed 2kg in 31 days and saw my cholesterol level plummet from 5.6 mmol/L (rather high) to just 3.4 mmol/L (very low for a man of my age)."

    That sounds like it could be due to not getting enough rather than being healthy.

  • Comment number 82.

    Sigh... another week, another vegetarianism debate full of lame generalisations, spurious science and over-defensive comments from dunder-headed meat-eaters.

    Eat what you want, you lot, but don't try and mask your unease about the horrors of the mechanised meat trade in hackneyed juvenile cliches about farting and Hitler (who, incidentally, WASN'T a vegetarian - and even if he was, so what? Stalin was a meat-eater!)

  • Comment number 83.

    I wonder how things would be if it were a mandatory part of grade school to visit a slaughter house?

  • Comment number 84.

    Of course when push comes to shove we shall probably have to eat each other - and we will when we are hungry enough. Too many people that's the real problem facing the planet.

  • Comment number 85.

    You write: "I know the arguments pretty well (I hope you will agree) and I've experienced the health benefits first hand. But I will still be sitting down to a turkey dinner come Christmas. So perhaps some gentle coercion might therefore be more effective. "

    How about this: You Will Die earlier. In addition, you will have more health problems throughout your life. You will get (have a higher probability of having) more cancers, more heart attacks, more internal organ diseases, more sugar imbalances, probably diabetes type 2, your skin will develop more signs of aging, and you may even become impotent due to circulatory issues which will destroy your sex life.

    Read The China Study (and associated books like The Engine 2 Diet). It's not the greatest "final proof" of veganism, however it's the best that medical science has currently produced. The medical literature is quite clear on this: being vegan is the best option to live a long fully healthy life without risk of cancer, heart attack, obesity, etc. Vegan means: eating whole grains, raw vegetables, cooked vegetables, eating fungus (mushrooms), taking a B12 vitamin supplement, no dairy, no eggs, no meat.

    As your own cooking showed, a vegan diet is very tasty. There are thousands of spices and ways to cook.

    If you want to die early with many health complications along the way, then eat meat. Plain and simple.

    As for your trite ending: "So here's a festive challenge: I want you to craft that limp carrot, half-eaten packet of cheese and the remains last night's pizza into a delicious Christmas spread. It has to be possible to rustle up something palatable... doesn't it?"

    Don't be so ridiculous -- a limp carrot and old cheese?? As a vegan, I eat really, really well, and your joking reference to a limp carrot is not palatable. Secondly, leftover cheese is not vegan anyway and should not be included. Fresh, crispy vegetables are the way. Take a fresh carrot that's sliced, some garlic, some onion, tumeric powder, chili powder, garbanzo(chickpea) beans that have been soaked overnight and previously boiled lightly, mix these up with a handful of mixed seeds (sesame seed, sunflower seed, and flax seed), mix all this up, and you have a splendid salad or main course if put over a small amount of cooked rice noodles. There is zero added "oil" and zero animal product in something simple like this. Everyone will be jealous, too. So why do people eat meat? Maybe it's just that people are sheep and follow what they've been given by parents or massive amounts of corporate marketing, rather than spending a little more effort to be healthier.

    Your video showed there was only ONE sandwich in the entire shop which you could eat, and that's quite sad. Corporations are pushing meat harder than anyone, and the vegan gets squeezed out. Do the corporations care about your health? No, they are only concerned with whether you buy that meat sandwich today, regardless of giving you cancer tomorrow.

    It doesn't require "coercion" to become vegan. It just requires only buying vegetables and grains at the grocery store. If you don't bring the bad stuff home, you won't eat it. It is a simple decision for the future. Eating out is more difficult and takes some creativity. Normally pack a lunch or skip dinner out. Even "vegetarian" menus may use chicken stock to cook rice. So, unfortunately, restaurants are also not on your side as a vegan.

  • Comment number 86.

    Is it a coincidence that all the aggressive comments here are from meat eaters? Meat eating is no more "what we are meant to do" than is killing all the weak people in society - both are what we evolved to do but we have managed to recognise there is also an ethical dimension to these things - well, at least some of us have. The arrogant attitude displayed by many posters, assuming without question that "subhuman" species can be exploited at will without concern for their suffering, is what will see the end of the human race on this planet - the shame is that we will destroy many other innocent species on the way.

  • Comment number 87.

    Rob Roach says "Giving up meat would not mean an explosion of the cattle population!"
    He is of course quite correct. Farmers have cattle to make money. No meat eating means no demand for cattle. No demand means kill them all and let the countryside be full of cabbages with the only cattle in zoos. Then the veggies can say to their children "look what we used to have in the fields in the bad old days.
    PS. I am 66, I am an omnivore, I am healthy and my cholesterol level at the last reading was 2.8.

  • Comment number 88.

    Ethical Man!? What is ethical about man choosing to kill another creature (having treated him or her as a possession for the whole of their shortened life) so that he can eat their flesh, when he can live a perfectly healthy life without doing so?

  • Comment number 89.

    Yeah, yeah - 'ethics' as cruelty to animals. What else happened on the ethical front while you were faffing about with quorn, mate? Did you get to notice the religion that has no name on the attack? Did FOLKS getting blown to hamburger all over the world engage your attention for a moment or two? How about the Nobel going to a bloke that sent 30,000 soldiers into battle and launched several cruise missile at a sovereign country within days of accepting the 'peace prize'?

    Yes, there are strong connections to be made between eating (too much) meat and the the ecological decay/famines that drive people to war, but you never made them in any real terms, and neither has the Beeb.

    Why is it that all modern experience has to be organised? Kind of thinking 'What would it be like if....?' when there's a whole world out there to experience and report upon. Problem is, the dumb left has shifted the lexical goalposts so far that the words of shock, outrage, anger and frustration we need so badly are now tabu. So we have to hide under the blankets with our pet turkey. In more ways than one.

    I solved the veggie ethics problem by not eating any meat that I hadn't reared, killed, dressed and cooked myself at least a couple of times, then trying to treat meat as the luxury it is, rather than an anachronistic demonstration of social status ('rich enough to put meat on the table seven days a week') - another part of the discussion that anyone, repeat anyone, involved in this particular debate touches upon - unless they blog for the Beeb, in which case a little superficial emotion, a couple of anecdotes, and a very slightly bloody pic are enough to secure a good postbag, the only measure of success. Pathetic.

  • Comment number 90.

    People seem to have this wierd belief that if we had to kill our own animals we would be less likely to want meat.

    I hate to point it out to these spoiled rotten modernists, but for thousands of years people did kill their own meat. In most of the world people still DO kill their own meat and no one has a problem with it.

  • Comment number 91.

    I feel certain no one brought up in the depression years ever wastes food,much more likely to be miserly with it. My nickname in America when I was a student there in 1950 was "The Garbage Can" as I would not let anyone throw a black banana away. There would be disgusted sounds as I ate them even when I showed them the pristine white flesh revealed when I peeled them. As food becomes more expensive through scarcity people will learn not to waste it.

  • Comment number 92.

    Quote "Nor is it about how the food we eat is destroying the planet. Everyone knows that now - though, if you will allow me a little boast - we in the Ethical Man team pretty much got their first".

    1) the food we eat is NOT destroying the planet. A major metor stike might do this, but nit eating meat thank you.
    2) you didn't get there first by a number of decades - hardly "ethical" to lie like this.
    3) how do you define ethical? Since your view is the ethical one and anyone else is, by your definition, "unethical". What an insulting and patronising person you are - far from ethiical. Yet another exmaple of my licence fee wasted.

  • Comment number 93.

    I watch animals carefully and they think identically to humans with peaks and dips in their thinking. They have minds. But the honest truth for my avoiding unhealthy meats like beef is my doctors advice. I don't need colon cancer etc.

  • Comment number 94.

    I cannot understand why products such as orange juice are VAT rated whereas marmalade isn't. And considering marmalade is half sugar it seems a bit daft. Also a lot of sugar heavy cereals are VAT exempt. Come on let's get it right. Or is it because the sugar lobby is more powerful than the government. Come to think of it most food industry lobbies seem to be more powerful than the government. Not a lot of optimism then.

  • Comment number 95.

    Bacon for breakfast, a ham sandwich for lunch and chicken for tea. Is it not a case of meat is OK but as usual we are having too much of it. Same with births. What ever happened to everything in moderation? We are highlighting meat but what about dairy products as well - surely the two go hand in hand (well hoof in hoof). People just don't know when to stop.

  • Comment number 96.

    "The point has been made here that very few people would still be meat eaters if they had to slaughter their 'food' themselves or witness what truly goes on in factory farming and abattoirs."

    The point may have been made, but it is still nonsense. Plenty of us are not so fragile we cannot kill an animal and butcher it up for dinner. I have done it with birds, fish, and rabbit. In my opinion, it is preferable as the meat is obviously fresher and tastier.

    If you don't have the stomach for it, I have no problem with all of you eating rabbit food instead. I, however, will stick to eating the rabbits (and hey, more for me!).

  • Comment number 97.

    "The arrogant attitude displayed by many posters, assuming without question that "subhuman" species can be exploited at will without concern for their suffering, is what will see the end of the human race on this planet - the shame is that we will destroy many other innocent species on the way."

    Lol. Yes, we are almost as bad as those arrogant lions who exploit the 'sub-lion' antelopes at will without concern for their suffering. Have you given those carnivores (therefore worse than us omnivores) a stern talking to yet?

  • Comment number 98.

    I've been a vegetarian for about fifteen years and although I've become quite accustomed to ridicule, it never ceases to amaze me how critical people can be of a lifestyle chosen (in my case) for ethical reasons. We (veg*ns) are always accused of forcing our views on others and yet in my experience it's always been the other way around.

    People who eat meat seem to enjoy belittling our beliefs and making ridiculous comments such as "Humans are designed to eat meat" (I and many others are living proof this is clearly not the case) or "Plants feel pain too" (They are devoid of a nervous system aside for a start). Perhaps (omnivorous) people find it easier to make fun of veg*anism than confront the possibility that how they choose to live is wrong and causes unnecessary suffering to others.

    I can't speak for other vegetarians but when I look at meat, I see an animal that has suffered and died needlessly and it is extremely difficult at times not to feel anger towards the person that has (indirectly) caused that pain by eating/buying the meat.

    I'm sure there are many people who would love to pick apart my lifestlye by highlighting the things I don't do to help people (or animals for that matter) but I do a heck of a lot more than most and surely it's better to at least do something rather than eat/live how I like without a second thought as to who or what may be suffering as a result. If I dedicated my life to helping children in developing countries I've no doubt I'd be criticised for not prioritising the needs of people in this country.

    This Christmas I'll be doing my bit for animals and humans alike (as well as the environment) and that involves (happily) avoiding the traditional turkey dinner. If others want to ignore the ethical issues surrounding their choice of meal then I hope at least they will opt for free range or organic meat/dairy which is far from ideal but it's better than nothing I suppose.

  • Comment number 99.

    I can't believe people are bullying one another over an individuals choice of lifestyle. I'm a vegetarian, I don't believe it's right for anybody to preach to anyone else what is right and wrong to eat. I don't eat meat because I like to think that I'm stopping the suffering of another living thing. What's more, I certainly wouldn't eat my dog so I don't see it as fair that I should eat a cow/sheep/bird/whatever. That said, there is no universal rule book and so I don't think anyone is right or wrong in their eating habits. Each to their own I say, I've got no qualms with any meat eaters (in fact I'm the only veggie in my family/close friends), they riddicule me and I riddicule them back, "meat is murder" etc. I've felt better since I've gone veggie though and I don't miss meat, in fact I think curries are probably nicer without meat.

    I dont think theres anything that can be done that will ever promote worldwide vegeteriansim, unless theres another outbreak (God forbid) of something like B.S.E...then again there could be killer carrot syndrome and then I could pop me clogs.

    Stop the bullying/high-horsing though, no need whatsoever.

  • Comment number 100.

    this is the first time I read this blog, and I find this very interesting, It's totally true that the world has no shortage of food, we are using this food to feed the cows and other animals that live in filthy conditions and die in the most horrendous way you can imagine, believe me I have seen it live!!! I come form south America where at least animals are eating grass and have a good live before dying and here in US animals are fed with other animals corpses that they make into a powder or concentrated food to fatten up chickens and cow and pigs... this animals that we are consuming are less than good for us. i am a carnivour and can't help to eat meat because is everywhere!!! but after reading this I'm gonna try my best to stop and so should everyone... it's cruel, it's bad for you (eating to much red meat will hurt your joints by the accumulation of uric acid causing horrible pain and a condition called "gout") we must stop and maybe all that corn that we are feeding to animals may be shipped to africa or central america or wherever it's needed to help ease the hunger that's affecting this people... check out this movie: Food inc. and you will find out what's going on, what are we paying for when we buy food and what we need to do to stop this and be more earth friendly, maybe that way we can have a more stable world and a few more years on earth.


Page 1 of 3

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.