Talk about Newsnight

Ethical Man - Justin Rowlatt

Does your daily bread contain human hair?

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 10 Jan 07, 02:50 PM

justin_turkeydinner_211.jpgI don’t mean one of your stray locks that fell into the butter. What I want to know is whether amino acids produced from human hair were used to process the flour that went to make that piece of toast you wolfed down on the way to the bus stop.

It sounds unthinkable doesn’t it? But since I became a vegan on New Year’s day I’ve developed a keen interest in what goes into the food I eat and I’ve discovered that a food additive which is sometimes produced from human hair can be used as an additive in some baked goods.

But first, the veganism. I am not becoming a vegan out of high principle. The idea is to test the claim made by a number of people who have emailed in to insist that becoming a vegan significantly reduces one’s impact on the environment.

I will be vegan for all of January. So my new diet did not preclude me eating Ned the Newsnight turkey

I am happy to report that Ned was as tasty as he was ethical. My family gnawed our way through his ample carcass over the course of a full week. We ate Ned roast on the big day, then sandwiched, curried, as a supreme and finally in a tasty soup. Then, as the last few slices of Ned grew an extravagant mould in the bottom of our fridge, the New Year turned and my diet became completely meat and dairy free.

It is not easy. I’m not just cutting meat and fish out of my diet. Vegans don’t eat any animal products including milk, eggs and honey. So will cutting out all animal products reduce my carbon footprint?

I need a bit of persuading about the bees but cows certainly produce an impressive quantity of greenhouse gases. I cited the extraordinary figure of up to 500 litres of methane a day per animal when I announced this project in December.

At a conference last week the environment secretary David Milliband pointed out that "the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than transport". Agriculture is reckoned to account for 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions, about the same as aviation.

And methane isn’t the only issue. It is claimed that one acre of arable crops can produce enough food for up to 20 people. Turn that field over to beef production and it will feed just one person.

Not only that, raising animals is a lot more carbon intensive than growing vegetables. David Pimentel, an ecologist from Cornell University, has calculated that animal protein production requires more than eight times as much fossil-fuel energy than plant protein yet yields proteins only 1.4 times as nutritious for humans.

That’s the average. When you look at individual sectors the figures are even more startling. Take beef, for example. Using US Department of Agriculture figures he found that beef production requires an energy input to protein output of 54:1 (as well as 100,000 litres of water per kilogram of meat).

Vegetarians shouldn’t feel too smug, though. Milk protein has a ratio of 17:1. In fact, rather depressingly the most efficient form of animal production – perhaps not surprisingly – is battery chickens. Pimentel finds that broiler chickens have a ratio of energy input to protein output of just 4:1.
My problem has been eradicating all these inefficient animal proteins from my diet. Take my very first day of vegan living, New Year’s Day.

I hadn’t prepared very well and hadn’t got any margarine in. The local corner shop, a Londis, was open and they stock a good range so I wasn’t too worried. But as I worked my way through the eight or so different varieties of margarine I was amazed to find that every single one contained milk or dairy products in some form.

justin_lunch211.jpgIt makes you realise just how common the use of animal products in food is. Before I became a vegan I would eat animal products in every single meal. Indeed the Vegan Society points out that some vegans consider tap water unacceptable because it contains chemicals that have been tested on animals.

I am not going that far but I have certainly developed a mania for reading food labels and there are all sorts of unexpected animal additives.

Most people know that gelatine is produced from animal skin and bones and that the rennet used in some cheeses comes from calves stomachs. But did you know that bone char (from cow bones) is still occasionally used to whiten some sugars or that some wines and many beers (particularly real ales) include isinglass – a substance obtained from the swim bladders of fish?

Which brings me back to the possibility that human hair may be used in bread. A vegetarian friend alerted me to the existence of an animal-based flour additive called L-Cysteine. It is an amino acid which is used as a flour improver. It is known as E920 and is permitted for use in all biscuits, breads and cakes except those that claim to be wholemeal.

The problem for a would-be vegan like me is that traditionally L-Cysteine is produced from feathers, pig bristles and sometimes even human hair. These days L-Cysteine can also be produced synthetically but apparently human hair remains one of the richest sources of this amino acid – it makes up about 14% of your hair - and there is a small industry in China making the additive from hair clippings.

There’s even a paper on the web written by a Rabbi about whether L-Cysteine from human hair is kosher. Apparently it is – so long as the hair in question was not harvested from dead bodies.

So how commonly is L-Cysteine used? My vegetarian friend claims that the problem with E920 is that – even when it is used – it doesn’t have to be listed in the ingredients. She says that’s because it is broken down in the baking process so the manufacturers argue that doesn’t constitute an ingredient.

That is something the Food Standards Agency flatly denies. It says that L-Cysteine must always be labelled. Indeed, the industry says the reason you so rarely see E920 on labels is that these days it is very rarely used (apparently it was much more common fifteen years ago). The industry also says that the only L-Cysteine their members would use is the synthetic variety.

That is a little odd because according to the Food Standards Agency the European regulation specifies that only L-Cysteine produced from duck and chicken feathers or from pig bristles can be used. That means that, so long as your daily bread was baked in Europe, it almost certainly does not include human hair.

But it leaves me a little confused. If British bakers are using synthetic L-Cysteine are they breaking EU guidelines? It is hard to get a straight answer because the biscuit makers told me it would be added when the flour is milled and the millers say it something the bakers would add.

So if anyone can put this hairy issue to bed once and for all I’d be very grateful. And while I am on the subject, if anyone knows of any other animal-based (or human-based) food ingredients an embryonic vegan like myself needs to steer clear of please do tell me.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:32 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Alex Delafin wrote:

Pull the other one,your report on hair sounds suspiciously full of caveats-sometimes,some,can be.What kind of journalism is this?
I believe glycerin is sometimes added to tinned marrons glace here in France.Must go and write an award winning scoop story about it.

  • 2.
  • At 06:22 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Chris Rowley wrote:

Great article, and re: Monsieur Delafin's
whinge, the food industry is, on the whole,
excellent at baffling investigators and

They don't want us to know this stuff, because they know that a lot more people would become vegan if they actually understood what the hell went into their packaged foods.

The more you know the less you want to eat
mainstream, profitable feedstocks designed for ignorant human consumption.

  • 3.
  • At 06:23 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Preethi wrote:

Cochnieal beetles are used in a variety of products for their red colouring. As recently as two weeks back, I found them in a bottle of Tropicana Sweet Grapefruit Juice. It is apparently also used in a wide vareity of make up products.

  • 4.
  • At 06:26 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • lois.raynor wrote:

Kudos to this journalist. We need to know the truth about what ape turned carnivore has done to this earth. We also need to know what the"food scientists" are adding to food to ensure longer shelf life for higher profit. The epidemics of obesity, diabetes, circulatory disease and osteoporosis are caused by our unnatural diets. Bad food choices are costing the earth, causing pain and misery(to people and animals) and crippling health care providers.
Say no to milk, butter, margarine, eggs, fish and meat. The earth will benefit and so will your health/

  • 5.
  • At 06:29 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Elizabeth wrote:

I have also heard that the red pigment called carmine, used to color foods such as candy, is made of a carminic acid that comes from a specific insect called the cochineal bug.

  • 6.
  • At 06:31 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Frank wrote:

I don't think you've thought your campaign through well enough. You need to restart.
If you want to be low impact (and improve your health) you need to use Organic ingredients.
The way you are approaching it allows you to buy all those easy inexpensive veggies, but leaves the nations fields polluted and the Oceans life/organisms (which I think will soon become a huge problem for the world, as life needs it in full working order) in decline from run-off.
Oh yeah, that bread that's glowing with pesticides and is about to make you glow, trash it. Restart in Febrary and see how you come along.

  • 7.
  • At 06:31 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Mike wrote:


I very much doubt the above article is intended to be award winning scoop journalism - but a light-hearted blog detailing a man's journey into the world of vegan food. Caveats are surely to be expected from someone in the learning process who is not quite sure and thus, requires help not scepticism of his journalistic integrity.

  • 8.
  • At 06:33 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • veronique wrote:

I think E130 (a red colorant often used in sweets) is animal-based too; If I remember correctly it is basically squashed fleas.
And don't forget not to wear anything made of wool or silk (or leather, of course).

  • 9.
  • At 06:34 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • George wrote:

What's the big deal? A barber shop sells hair clippings to a manufacturer for the production of a product. The true conservationist would approve. Waste not, want not. Relax brother.

  • 10.
  • At 06:35 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • cw wrote:

Did you know, that the reason your stawberry yogurt is red in color is because they use little red beatles to color it? Although, of course, yogurt made from milk would not be vegan anyway. And watch out for casein in so called vegetarian products - it's a protein found in milk. I think it would be the ultimate joke back on you, with all due respect, of course, if you found you liked being one of us vegans!

  • 11.
  • At 06:37 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Joss wrote:

Question:That acre that the Vegans say will feed 20 people veggies or 1 person meat where is it? Norfolk (UK), Iowa(USA)? what if you live somewhere with slightly less soil and more rock, I suppose they just go hungry, sorry I can't the combine up that mountain. Realistically the point is if you happen to live somewhere flat with good soil you could develop a sustainable vegan lifesyle but a bit impractible say in Mongolia, or huge parts of Europe and Africa, N & S America the poles, infact anywhere where theres a mountain or hill
My other question is does human hair constitute an organic ingredient?

  • 12.
  • At 06:38 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Greg Bullock wrote:

If these additives are from living people why worry about it. We are not going to "eliminate them" to make their carbon footprint any smaller so it doesn't matter.

  • 13.
  • At 06:44 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Amina wrote:

Veganism is about ethics - whether you want to admit it or not: holistically, nutritionally, environmentally, or purely on the basis of animal rights. Your indulgence into an area full of sanctity with the disclaimer of it being only an experiment into environmental science, is not far off from claiming to "try" a religion for a month to gauge the "uptake" in spirituality. Be a vegan or don't - tap water contains everything from MTBE to lead (in the US at least,) and human hair (regardless of whether it truly exists in bread or not,) and honey are *not* vegan. There should be no argumentative "journalistic" analysis needed to determine whether or not these are relevant issues. Since you're only engaging in "environmentally relevant" veganism however you're turning issues that are in reality, superfluous, into seemingly important research. I was vegan for 17 years - long before it was the "trendy" thing to do. I've seen the diet make everything from complete turn arounds in terminal cancer patients to significant improvement in serious mental illness. However, at the point when I was no longer doing it for spiritual/ethical reasons, it meant nothing. Your "experiment" will yield little (especially in the way of relevant journalism,) as long as your basis for doing it leaves something to be desired.

  • 14.
  • At 06:47 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Lori wrote:

I am a vegetarian, but not vegan. I found this article to be useful and scary. I won't eat products with gelatin, bone meal or cheese with animal rennet in it, so this is good information to watch out for. I really don't want to eat human hair proteins, but I find it more humane to use than animal feathers and hair because the animals would have been killed for their hair/feather proteins.

  • 15.
  • At 06:49 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Gail Vasonis wrote:

Is there any way I can harvest my garden without depriving insects of their food source?

  • 16.
  • At 06:50 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Hari Singh Khalsa wrote:

It always surprises me that this so-called "ethical man" is allowed to participate in a lifestyle choice for a short time and still be labeled “ethical”. He has also been allowed acknowledge alternatives to his "new ways" as more ethical or beneficial and still not participate in them. While I applaud him and the BBC for bringing some of these issues to the forefront… Actually, let me revise that last statement. While I feel deep gratitude towards this man and BBC for standing alone amongst all other entities with a voice of equivalent or greater magnitude and highlighting these issues, I still find it somewhat paradoxical. That is, if he willingly acknowledges that what he is doing now (as a vegan) is more ethical, than when he ceases to be a vegan at the end of a very short time span (one month), won’t he be knowingly doing something “unethical” and should thus be known as the “unethical man.” To all those who read this comment after having read this story I must ask the same thing. Now that you have seen the facts about animal products in our food chain how can you call yourself any of the following: ethical, moral, religious, spiritual, caring, eco-friendly; without also adopting a vegan lifestyle?

  • 17.
  • At 06:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Chloe.Thomas wrote:

I agree with lois.ratner. Becoming concious about the food fueling your body is a great step in helping yourself live longer and leaving more for others. I don't really expect you to keep it forever but I applaud your bravery in throwing yourself into veganism for a story.
Check out the recipes online and beware some cheese: they don't always list whether they are using synthetic rennet or real enzymes. Also, many synthetic vegan products (like margarine and cheese) contain a lot of bad fat, are expensive and in my opinion, over-processed. Skip it for naturals: olive oils and baker's yeast.
Good luck!

  • 18.
  • At 06:55 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • chris n wrote:

"since I became a vegan on New Year’s day I’ve developed a keen interest in what goes into the food I eat"

Basically, what you are saying is that you are doing this as a publicity stunt. If you are so environmentally conscious and ethical then you should have known all this BEFORE choosing to become vegan. Here you eat your turkey, become vegan, and then start to worry about what is in your food.

Rubbish journalism as far as I am concerned !

  • 19.
  • At 06:55 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

If you're going to worry about ingesting human hair, surely you should worry about kissing your significant other. Same principle, no?

It is tedious though, to have to read the ingredients on processed foods. I wish they had a simple system whereby they would label the ingredients as vegan or not.

Other than that, good luck with your month, though you won't see any health benefits unless you try it for at least 6 months. I was vegan for a long time. One time, I fed a family of 5, and at the end of the meal, they were astonished to discover that there were no animal products at all in their meal (entree, main course, desert).

Here's a few ideas: use rice milk as a cow juice substitute, use coconut milk (and make delicious curries), have tortillias and guacomole, use Swedish Glace instead of ice cream (and never look back), etc.

The main thing to note is that, done properly, your diet will become much broader, much richer, much more variety. I hope you're a good cook though. You need to think a little more, but it's worth it.

And for all the naysayers out there, my doctor marvelled over my blood test results as 'perfect'.

  • 20.
  • At 06:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • jfrese wrote:

Wouldn't it be best if the amino acid actually *was* derived from human hair (assuming the doner was not killed or abused in the harvesting process)? It seems to me that would be akin to chewing on one's fingernails, from an ethical standpoint.

  • 21.
  • At 06:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • David Tampke wrote:

If you are just starting out on the road to healthy, uninfiltrated, and uncompromised food enjoyment, then may I suggest that you find a source of grains of different kinds, buy a grinder or use a good quality coffee grinder, and make your own bakery goods immediately after grinding the grains. Bacteria and fungi love grains as much as we do and reduce the nutritional value and taste in a closed flour container in stores.

  • 22.
  • At 06:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Oh, please. I feel like hell whenever I have tried to go vegan in the interests of weight control or cholesterol or whatever. I hit 298lbs eating only low carb, then low fat, then said the heck with it and went back to the diet of my grandfathers. Now, at 240lbs and back running and playing sports, I feel like a human being again with normalized blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.

There is a reason you have incisors and eyes on the front of your head and not on the are a carnivore. We are unhealthy not because of meat but because of all the crap that has to be done to food to have a shelf life of more than 12 months.

  • 23.
  • At 06:58 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Revd Michael Whitfield wrote:

Just a thought - if we all stop eating cheese, eggs, fish, meat, butter, and drinking milk - what use would there be for most farm animals especially cows and pigs? Apart from a rare few, who would keep a cow as a pet or a pig for that matter - they would soon become extinct. Most of my Vegan friends won't wear leather either so what use are animal hides? I would hate to see the demise of cows and pigs England would not be the same without them. However I do appreciate your concern about additives in food and where they come from.

  • 24.
  • At 07:00 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Andy Hemmings wrote:

Funny and balanced arcticle with the right amount of distain for the food industry and vegans alike. I totally agree that some of the junk put in food is nasty and should be avoided as much as possible. But for all vegans out there humans are now and always have been omnivores. You cannot deny this basic fundamental of your species.

  • 25.
  • At 07:01 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Tobias wrote:

Hair? In Bread? Do get real Vegan

  • 26.
  • At 07:01 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Charles wrote:

My uncle (who was a prominent neurologist) once proclaimed at lunch "A strict vegan diet is incompatible with life." He said that it cut out certain necessary vitamins or something - I've forgotten the details. So I'm happy you're only doing it for a month! I imagine there are different 'flavours' (sorry) of veganism, so you wouldn't have to pick that one anyway.

Blindly following someone else's rules seems a bit like radical religion to me anyway...

  • 27.
  • At 07:01 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Sandra Peake wrote:

What is truth? Truth is, there are vast areas on earth totally unsuitable for field crops for humans that can be harvested by foraging animals, and are sustainable if numbers controls are adhered to. Moreover, after failing miserably several times as a vegetarian , with subsequent health consequences, I underwent metabolic typing that revealed I NEED meat. I am now a confirmed carnivore.

  • 28.
  • At 07:03 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Joel wrote:

Ape turned carnivore?? Studies of wild chimpanzees have found they have an appetite for meat, including other chimpanzees!
How un-PC of them...

  • 29.
  • At 07:03 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Super wrote:

I don't understand what the big deal is? If human hair was indeed used it is not as if people were killed or otherwise mistreated for it. Also the environmental impact (if any) is not an issue because those people were going to cut their hair anyway.

  • 30.
  • At 07:04 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Rich Paul wrote:

Lets mount an emergency military mission to wipe out Lions, Tigers and Bears. They all eat meat, and they will not be deterred by sanctions. It says right on the barn that no animal should kill any other animal. (without cause)

(see Animal Farm)

  • 31.
  • At 07:04 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Lindsey wrote:

Interesting article.
Other nasty ingredients to look out for are mono and
di-glycerides,commonly added to blend ingredients together and often found in bread and margarine. They can either be animal or vegetable, but unfortunately the labels rarely state which.
Good luck!

  • 32.
  • At 07:04 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Barbara wrote:

In response to Alex's comment, despite your synicism, may I say that you hit the nail on the head. You say that you BELIEVE that glycerine is SOMETIMES added to marron glace, but do you KNOW? How are you to know if the labelling is ambiguous? You complain that the content of the article is full of caveates, but that is the very core of the arguement - No one KNOWS the truth.

While diet regimes are, for some, followed for ethical or religious reasons, others have no choice but to limit their diets for health reasons. I have two grandchildren with lactose intollerance. To give them ANY foods containing dairy ingredients causes severe digestive upset and pain. No one plans to deliberately inflict that misery on a small child but to prevent it, accurate and HONEST labelling is essential. We have found out, through trial and error, which foods are safe for my grandchildren to eat, but only after they have suffered in the process of finding out because of shoddy, even deceitful, labelling. If manufacturers were open and honest about the total content of their products, articles like Justin's would not be necessary.

  • 33.
  • At 07:05 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Tucker wrote:

It is true that a vegan diet has a smaller impact than a traditional diet. Pursuant a more ethical existence, I have therefore done my best to make vegan choices for about a year.

However, I think that a diet comprised only of locally made products, regardless of their animal content, can have a smaller impact than even a 100% vegan diet.

  • 34.
  • At 07:06 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Ergin wrote:

Great article, my wife and son have been vegan for a number of years and have had the same shock when it comes to ingredients. The trick by manufactures is to use strange and obscure language that only a scientist working in that field would recognise.

My wife has spent many hours and sent countless emails to food manufactures asking for clarification of ingredients, some are very upfront whereas others are obstructive and non responsive.

Another point is that this is not a British or European thing, we live in the USA and have had the same experience with British and US companies.

The public should have the information at hand to make the appropriate decision about anything they eat. Especially in a world which is multi-cultural in nature, for example, how would a Jew or Muslim react to their being pig hair in the bread they but at the supermarket? Or a Hindu who eats cheese which contains rennet from a cow?

It's about time that companies were forced to publish this information and make it available on web sites etc.

Justin - a few helpful tips from someone that's been there: keep reading those labels, and read a few books...

...while you're at it. Also, enrol for a good vege cooking class and learn what you can. You'll find that, come February 1st, not only will your acclimatised taste buds reject the taste of meat, but your revitalised mind will too. And, while you're soaking your alfalfa sprouts, read this article:

and this one too:

  • 36.
  • At 07:08 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Richard K. Prescott wrote:

It is interesting that one digs up Cysteine usage as a problem. What about the sources of other amino acids neded by humans to survive. Why not mention that most 'organically' grown vegetables have to be fertilized organically. Well, you can certainly see where this is headed. A 'true' vegan would essentially starve.
It is like statistics, the data can be used properly or improperly.
Anthropologists 'assume' that because we may have evolved from ape-like creatures that we originally were vegans that turned meat eaters. The possible truth is that even supposed Chimpanzees that do not eat meat, actually do when it is available, as did our ancient ancestors. Some even hunt, but they are rare.
Also, we forget that these same (not identical) scientists state that certain human advances were the direct result of learning to eat meat, thus providing increased brain size and other important developments.
And, those who might have tried low or no carb diets eating only high quality protein are aware that they produced less waste material. However, look at the purely vegan animals, like cows, sheep, fowl. They produce vast quantities of waste, and, they occured even without the need for them to be human food.

  • 37.
  • At 07:09 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

So human hair could be used, so what.
We have been eating produce for centuries that have been grown using all sorts of 'unmentionable' types of fertiliser, human excreta being only one.
Listening to you pundits we should have died out a long time ago.
Going back to my childhood, I can remember people who used to empty their cesspit's, (septic tanks), over their home vegetable gardens.
Amazingly we not only survived but fought and won WW2.
We were also generally healthier and not aware of obesity.
Maybe we should recover the old values

  • 38.
  • At 07:11 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jules wrote:

Personally I find the sound of the stuff these people will eat to avoid meat products scarier than the genuine article! We evolved as omnivores and i'm happy not to let 3 million years of effort go to waste, bring on the bacon!

  • 39.
  • At 07:11 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Frank wrote:

I'd like to add to my comment, if I may.
You stated:
"I am not becoming a vegan out of high principle".
I have to ask, "why not"? What is more important to you than your life.
You'll probably be on a big binge in a month. You may have your last bag of crisps and leave the establishment and be that man I helped that had dropped on the pavement with a stroke. You may end up like the millions of elderly Mums and Dads at 55 crippled with a stroke or heart attack, or cancer. Almost all food related.
Half hearted efforts from the media unfortunately can attract followers. These followers won't be doing this for all the right reasons (as you aren't).
Come at it from a health 1st angle, and then all the pieces will come together and add on nicely, and the followers will gain more benefits and be more likely to succeed.
I'd recommend assistance from a Vegan Health expert for your February article!

  • 40.
  • At 07:12 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

I'm sure if you look hard enough you will find animals products involved in computer manufacture. I think all vegans should stop using the internet until they can be sure that this is not the case. Perhaps a letter to IBM or Apple, on vegan friendly sustainably farmed paper, would be a good start.

  • 41.
  • At 07:12 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Ivan wrote:

Whether Justin is doing this to be liked by vegans and vegetarians or not, the good thing is another human being is becoming aware of the downsides of our modern industrial lifestyles (this is not meant to sound as arrogant as it does). I guess the clear lines between science, politics, ethics and our daily lives are finally starting to fade... Kudos indeed; we do need to realize what we are doing to our planet/ourselves. Something else: maybe in februari you could use stevia instead of other sweeteners as an experiment.

  • 42.
  • At 07:15 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Vern wrote:

Isinglass mentioned in the article is in fact muscovite mica (a mineral). What it is doing in beer or ale is , als, a mystery to me.

  • 43.
  • At 07:17 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Meatisgood wrote:

Eat meat. It is simple as that. Next thing we will be hearing is that some species of plant is going extinct because to many vegis are around. It has worked for how many thousands of years. Mmmm a nice meal of veal sounds tasty right now!

  • 44.
  • At 07:18 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • cp wrote:

Great article. I have been trying to go vegan slowly and gradually. I have been successful to quite an extent but not fully.

Do you know that sugar is processed/filtered through animal bone chars ? Brown sugar is almost the same with the molasses added. I am trying to cut down on sugar and use jaggerry for sweetening.

  • 45.
  • At 07:20 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • David wrote:

I am a bit puzzled by the focus on animals. Why should animals and their produce be exempt from our diets? Is it solely because they are energy intensive? Or is it because some people think it's immoral/unnatural/unhealthy to drink milk, eat meat and wear woollens?

How is plant material any less suspect?

  • 46.
  • At 07:20 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Simon Day wrote:

Isinglas is whats known as finings (its used to clear the beer)

Very few real ales use this - its more for home brewers unable to controlk the temperature of where their bottles are stored for clearing (in the summer it can be hard to get beer to clear though I have never had a problem)

Gelatin is also used for this purpose but more usually in wine.

Did you also know that on a daily basis you breathe in skin cells that have come off other people?

Frankly I just look in a mirror, note the placement of the eyes and teeth and accept the fact I am a predator.

If need be I would kill and git an animal for my own consumption - but I also feel that you should only kill what you need and should make the best use of the carcass properly - only wastage is unethical

As for aditives? I grow my own fruit and veg, make my own beer and wine, avoid super markets where I can and use local organic butchers.

How much of the soy in vegan food was grown by slave labour or work that is close to it??

  • 47.
  • At 07:20 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • jeff wrote:

Confectioner's glaze contains beeswax.

Shellac is insect-derived too.

Dried bananas are often dipped in honey without it being explicitly labelled.

I assume you've already figured out that things with names like sodium caseinate (many things) and sodium stearoyl lactylate (bread-like products) are milk-derived. In general, there's some chance anything with "lact" in the name has animal precursors.

A short list is here: .
An internet search will provide you longer lists.

Remember that a vegan lifestyle also involves, for most of us, not wearing animal products like wool or leather either.

Also, companies like Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble are both famous (in some circles) for testing their products on animals. You may be interested (for this month) in who makes your food as well as what they make it from.

Good luck, I guess, although that you realize that subsisting on animal-based foods is not only more cruel but less ecologically-sustainable and will still be resuming carnivorism in February doesn't seem particularly "ethical" to me.

  • 48.
  • At 07:21 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

Just reading one or two of these comments, I can't help thinking that what you have written makes some people feel uneasy. Even though your article has been written with a jounalistic professionalism that, in my opinion, the BBC can feel proud of, some readers need to make unnecessarily derogatory comments about it. Are they perhaps feeling threatened? Truth can hurt, so I guess I'll try and be understanding for now.
On a slightly different issue... I liked the Stern report - to be green or not to be green and the national/international economic consequences. I'd love to see a similar report on the national/international economic and ecological consequences of going veggie. Would anyone take it seriously? Probably not.

  • 49.
  • At 07:22 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Frank Gresslin wrote:

Thanks Justin for this blog. Interesting what you start to dicover when you stop eating the food we used to grow up with. I even recently pondered over the question how it all started that we began to cook our food - cook the nutrients out of it. What was the reason again that we have to eat at all? RDI anyone? McDo?

  • 50.
  • At 07:22 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • PinkPurrrr wrote:

Surprisingly, some 'dairy-free' products actually contain egg- some sort of legal loop-hole that you should look out for. Anything containing omega 3&6 (often a selling point)should also be treated with caution, as more likely than not it will contain fish- even bread. Eating out is a real pain, plan well in advance to avoid the "Ok i'll just have a plain salad and a bread roll scenario" - not fun!You should feel the benefits of veganism within a month. After i became one, i rarely suffer from colds, have low cholesterol and have stopped snoring!(dairy produces catarrh). Don't forget Iron supplements, I also take flaxseed oil to get my EFA's.

  • 51.
  • At 07:23 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • dan wrote:

I once worked on the roof at a rendering plant in Arthur. Surprised about the hair? not in a million years.

Hands up who thinks we should care about more important things?

  • 53.
  • At 07:26 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • wendy wrote:

One can buy dairy free margerine from Kosher food suppliers or from some supermarkets in the kosher section. Tomer margerine is one example

Tesco's also sells a soya margerine that is vegan

  • 54.
  • At 07:26 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Julia R. wrote:

Vegans say that a mother's breast milk is alright for a child to consume since the animal grants permission, and there was mention of a rabbi declaring that the additive in question is kosher as long as the hair harvested was from living people... so if the hair was taken from willing and living people, this would make the additive vegan, right?

  • 55.
  • At 07:26 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Bruce Bowerman wrote:

What is wrong with eating human hair? Sounds like an excellent way to recycle humanity to me, and a great way to reduce our demands on other plants and animals on the planet. Also, at least some grass fed cattle are raised on land that is not suitable for growing crops. Humans cannot digest grass, while cows can. Thus eating grass fed beef does not waste anything, in terms of what people could have eaten otherwise. Methane farts is another issue, however, but I believe all animals have methane farts, including humans! Although cows are probably more egregious than you or me in this respect.

It seems to me that if the food industry didn't constantly turn out creative and cheap ways of using land, the world hunger problem would not, as it currently is, be slowly going down. Unnatural and unhealthy it may be, but modern food production is making food more affordable and feeding more people than ever. I happen to think that's a good thing.

Of course, I suppose it would be an even better thing if cheap food was as healthy as natural food. But as long as it's healthier than starving, someone will want it.

  • 57.
  • At 07:28 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Mary Bolton wrote:

My children both lived entirely on human protein for the first 3 months of their lives, and thrived.

  • 58.
  • At 07:29 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • James wrote:

Post 23, I'd recommend some decent food. Oh wait, you're a vegan, so that's not possible. Shame...

  • 59.
  • At 07:29 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • alice kay wrote:

i hear that most beers, wines and sugars are refined through animal bones / fish guts, although this is purely by word of mouth.

also why is everyone so angry

  • 60.
  • At 07:31 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • pyrocook wrote:

Well done on turning vegan, even if it is for a month. Don't listen to the skeptics and critics, they're the type of people who will point the fingers at the government and professionals when global warming and other environmental factors start to collect its debt. Excellent article!

  • 61.
  • At 07:32 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Viva the BBC,

This is a tricky subject to get across. Big business has a long and successful history of squashing anyone that tries to raise this subject in the popular media. A knighthood for Mr Rowlatt and whoever authorised this piece...... if not for the simple common sense it brings to us all, then just for the sheer courage of it.

  • 62.
  • At 07:33 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Boddy wrote:

Heh, remember the age old adage... "Everything in moderation."

  • 63.
  • At 07:34 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jason wrote:

What about all those hundreds of millions of poor farmers around the world who uses human/animal wastes for fertilisers? Do we stop them and the people they feed from being true vegans?

  • 64.
  • At 07:36 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Khawer wrote:

L-Cysteine mostly comes from human hair and widely used in bakery products. Muslims and Jews are forbidden to east products containing L-Cystenie.

  • 65.
  • At 07:37 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Benefit the earth? Everyone claims to understand what the earth needs. Is it not possible that the earth will benefit more from being rid of humans sooner? What's a couple million years recuperation to planet that's shaken off such a brief pox?

  • 66.
  • At 07:37 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Alex B wrote:

This article convinces me of two things:

1. Vegans take themselves WAY too seriously. They act as if being "ethical" and supposedly more healthy by not eating animal products will make your lifespan not just longer, but infinite. Got news for ya: you're gonna die anyway, may as well enjoy some of the finer things in life. Not drinking wine because it may contain animal products? Proposterous!

2. Fanatical dieting promotes pseudo-intellectual knowledge of science and spreads it mouth to mouth, causing pop-culture misconceptions about their true benefits and/or effects. For example, the Atkins/South Beach/Vegan diets.

  • 67.
  • At 07:40 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Derry Ironside wrote:

When the buffalo were roaming the Great Plains were they producing greenhouse gases? And how much did we save by killing them off? Was it a significant change from today - or not?

  • 68.
  • At 07:40 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Sebastien wrote:

As a reply to Frank...

The question is, so what if people follow this example but don't do it "for the right reasons"? The important thing is that they will be doing it. Maybe some will drop out after a while and maybe some others will like it and reflect on it and then see "the light".

The important thing is that people do it, for whatever reason. The result is the same on the environment, etc...

I guess it's never enough is it? Let's not be too harsh. I mean, come on, at least the guy's doing it. Isn't that already something?

  • 69.
  • At 07:41 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Un Drain wrote:

I wanna be the only one to support you man.
Don't worry, eat what ever you like, (except Pork) but dont WASTE.


  • 70.
  • At 07:43 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • dm lawrie wrote:

I don't think very many people realize just how difficult it is to Avoid a food whether it be by choice or for health reasons, many people have to deal with food & ingredient lists on a daily basis(Allergies, Diabetes or Disease,etc). I think it's interesting that Mr. Rowlatt would try to even if only for other reasons. It's still a lesson learned! That not everyone is willing to do!

  • 71.
  • At 07:43 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Oxana wrote:

Was very funny, indeed - hey, are vegans going to save the Earth by forcing the Chinese not to cut their hair? Refusing to drink tap water sounds like a paranoia diagnosis. Walk to office and back every day in February, this probably will have a much larger environmental and your own health impact than chewing on carrots.

  • 72.
  • At 07:44 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • David_The_Goat wrote:

Great article, thanks. To those who point out the NEED for meat for humans: I've been a vegetarian for 10 years and am now the healthiest person of my family. Don't have a cow, man.

  • 73.
  • At 07:45 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

Actually, post 21, we evolved from fruit-eating monkeys. Meat had nothing to do with it.

Justin, full respect to you for attempting a vegan lifestyle for a month. Like many people following your ethical efforts, I have been a vegan for ten years, and am still learning. As you stated, we live in a society that exploits animals: a wool mix carpet, a leather sofa, a silk tie, a shellac glaze, casein to clarify vegetable oil, animal hoof glue to seal an envelope. I believe that being vegan does minimise my carbon footprint. However, I am concerned to minimise my overall 'ethical footprint'. I used to believe it possible to arrive at an ethical lifestyle, but now realise that becoming vegan was only a milestone: living as ethically as possible requires that I am always in process.

You are all lucky that you are rich and can make these choices.

If you were poor and you were hungry, you would eat anything.

So, eat less and get more exercise.

  • 76.
  • At 07:49 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Stan wrote:

There's only one problem: overpopulation.
We have to go through all kinds of trouble just to accommodate more and more people. We have to watch what we eat, what we drive, what we do, to "save the planet". The planet would be just fine if it didn't have to support 6 billion people. More people, more irreplaceable resources turned into garbage, more mass-produced junk food, more of all kinds of bad things. When will we grow up and save the planet from overpopulation?

  • 77.
  • At 07:51 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Eileen wrote:

The answer to the greenhouse gases, carbon footprint, and similar problems is likely unattractive to us 21st-century "civilized" folk. Intensive agriculture, with production of all types of foodstuffs (animal and vegetable) concentrated in a few large-scale operations, contributes to soil depletion, spread of livestock diseases, and more intense environmental impact from waste products around these operations.

As unappealing and primitive as it might seem, extensive agriculture with appropriate local knowledge and waste control, diffuses the environmental impact of feeding people. It's not so many generations ago that even city dwellers often kept a few chickens and a small vegetable garden. I know, I'm not ready to become Farmer Brown in my suburban starter home, either. But realistically, we might all have to move in that direction.

  • 78.
  • At 07:54 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Josh wrote:

It would seem that the proliferation of animal products in food, cosmetics, and other consumer goods exhibits why the vegan arguments about energy to protein ratio are disingenuous. If animal products are truly in everything, then the protein we get out of them isn't the only use we get from them either. If there's to be an honest, serious, scientific discussion of the energy benefits of veganism, then all factors must be taken into account.

  • 79.
  • At 07:55 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jerome wrote:

I felt it was a good well rounded animal. I have a question though, Vegans don't use animal products because they were given unwillingly (thus fertilizer would be fine). If a human gave their hair for use as an additive in breads, would it really be against Veganism to consume it?

  • 80.
  • At 07:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Oxford Oz wrote:

Apparently, licorice is made from RATS BLOOD!!!!! Someone at my school told me!

  • 81.
  • At 07:57 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Gabi wrote:

Reading all of these responses makes me wonder. Do you think a vegan diet doesn't impact the environment so much because they starve to death anyway?
Not trying to insult anyone, just don't see how you can fill up on such a diet.
I love milk!

  • 82.
  • At 07:57 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Steve L wrote:

I live in the USA, the home of mass-produced and "fast" food, and health nuts. I love to travel in Europe, where you still can find local flavors, markets with fresh, farm-grown produce, and small, family owned local restaurants and bakeries.
If it's fresh and tastes good, I consider it food. If not, it's garbage. I don't care for Atkins or South Beach or Vegan diets. You have to eat at least 3 times a day, might as well enjoy it.

  • 83.
  • At 07:57 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Eileen wrote:

BTW, an extract from the scent glands of the civet cat is used in some foods as a flavoring agent. It sometimes is listed as "absolute civet," though it's often just lumped in with "natural flavorings."

  • 84.
  • At 07:57 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jules wrote:

Hey post 60, what's wrong with pork?! Sausages, good
Bacon, divine
Pork Chops, can't describe in suitable terms before the nine o'clock watershed!

Oops, sorry Justin, didn't mean to mention so much proper food while you're torturing yourself!

  • 85.
  • At 07:59 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Robert Cranston wrote:

Readers: from your childhood school days answer the following:

The point the author is trying to make is:
a). Vegan's rock

b). One man's turkey is another's treasure.

c). There may be human hair in your food.

He's reporting about hair in a specific food product. Why berate the guy with the billions of "yes but what about X in Y..." other examples?

Vegan is not central to the report so why carp on his switch from canivore to Vegan?

In his vegan experimentation he's come across something he thought he should write about. Period.

  • 86.
  • At 08:01 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • jen wrote:

I do hope that vegans recognise the luxury of being able to consider tap-water as ethically unacceptable... not everyone is quite so fortunate...

  • 87.
  • At 08:02 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • poop scoop wrote:

The one nutrient it's almost impossible to supply in a Vegan diet is B-12. By a strange twist, this vitamin exists in large quantities in human waste, ie the cesspit contents mentioned by number 12. Thus if you fertilize your veggies with human waste, you can end up getting enough B-12 in your vegan diet to get by. Just cook the heck out of those veggies.

  • 88.
  • At 08:04 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Benito Honda wrote:

How finely do you want to parse these things? It's like trying to count the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin. Can you eat from plants pollinated by insects? Must one inspect every last thing you eat to avoid any animal products? Yeasts are alive, so yeast-leavened bread shouldn't be part of the vegan diet. How about eating a roadkill deer?

A philosophical question: In addition to being gross, is eating someone else's fingernails cannibalism?

  • 89.
  • At 08:05 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen Nelles wrote:

my heart goes out to all of those who are strong enough to become vegans. Unfortunately, they are trying to commit to a unatainable standard. If the qualification of being a vegan is that you cannot use or ingust anything that once came from an animal; you must immediately go kill yourself . Given the qualification, even the air we breath has human skin cells, as well as a whole host of other living organisms. Furthermore, our digestive system has bacteria in it and without it, we would die. Thus, if you claim "I am a vegan, i never ingest any animal products, and don't use any either", you might as well surgically remove most of your intestines and never again take a breath. And as you slowly let death take you, try not to think that your body will soon be forcing another human to either burn your body, making many more of us breath you in, or soon reside within the soil which may eventually find its way along the path to another vegans mouth.

  • 90.
  • At 08:05 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • George wrote:

Arguments such as "The possible truth is that even supposed Chimpanzees that do not eat meat, actually do when it is available, as did our ancient ancestors" are irrelevant. Evolution and development are surely all about change and adjustment. The point is that as members of a supposedly civilised society, it is unethical to use and abuse other living creatures for our supposed benefit when there are so many other viable alternatives available to us.

  • 91.
  • At 08:06 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • QRDeNameland wrote:

To Vern's question about Isinglass, the collagen used in beer-making has nothing to do with muscovite mica.

See wikipedia article below:

  • 92.
  • At 08:07 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Lisel wrote:

The issue for me is to live lightly on the planet, not be purest. So, in my book, the use of human hair voluntarily contributed to produce L-Cysteine is great in environmental terms--maybe we could harvest it from beauty salons and barber shops. Think of all the waste we could eliminate and possibly all the animal lives we could save.

And seriously, Western people do need to think about the environmental impact of their consumption habits, if for no other reason, to marvel at the wonderful abundance of the earth and the wierd, complex system we've developed to process and distribute (or fail to distribute) this abundance.

  • 93.
  • At 08:08 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Reckless wrote:

So many of these vegans cite health reasons for not eating meat. Why are most of the vegans/vegetarians I know, scrawny malnourished looking people? Nutritionists have long been telling us to eat a balanced diet, and evolution would seem to agree with them. I for one am happy to keep balancing my diet with a fair helping of animal flesh (with plenty of veges as well)

  • 94.
  • At 08:09 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Robert Enschlager wrote:

I don't care. I like meat and will eat it.

  • 95.
  • At 08:09 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Gerrit wrote:

Balance, People, balance... as I found this article amusing and somewhat informative, it highlights the extremes we found ourselves surrounded by. On the one hand we have a society entrenched in Burgers and Hot Dogs, while the other side walks around chewing a home-grown kosher carrot, needing a regular B-12 shot.

The food industry isn't about to change their ways, because it's not our health they are concerned with, face it! We'd be eating "crap" if they could get away with it.

The article highlights that we need to make better choices in our diets and forcing the food industry to provide foods that are nutritious, because that's all we would buy. But we will still need meat. Our body's just work that way.

It's about avoiding extremes, whether it is eating meat, or going vegan. A healthy diet is a balanced diet, including meat, but not mainly.

  • 96.
  • At 08:10 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Thompson wrote:

Good on Justin for giving Veganism a go. It sounds a bit extreme, and even a bit threatening to folk brought up on an animal-based diet. But I've been vegan for nearly 20 years now, and I can say hand on heart I enjoy a more varied, tasty and nutritious diet than I ever did when I ate meat and dairy products. Yes, you have to be a bit fussy, but one you know the brands that are OK and focus on fresh vegetables it's a lot healthier and a lot less hassle than a meat-based diet. Incidentally, while you have to be careful about some vitamins, some studies of optimum nutrition end up recommending something very close to a vegan diet. At the end of the day though, being a militant holier-than-thou proponent of veganism doesn't persuade anyone. I once converted a houseful of meat-eating flatmates to a largely vegetarian diet just by cokking up lots of good vegan meals. If it tastes good, nobody cares if what's on their plate wasn't killed!

  • 97.
  • At 08:13 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

This article focuses way too much on the minutia of being vegan. There are plenty of vegans who don't sit around pondering these minor things. You stray from the point of it by focusing on these minor things. The point is to help preserve the environment. Why not make it your new year's resolution to eat vegetarian 2 nights a week, or if you already do, then 3 nights a week? That is a goal many people can achieve, and if a large number of people do so, it would do a lot to help the earth. For delicious gourmet vegan meals, try the cookbooks: Voluptuous Vegan, Vegan with a Vengeance, and How it all Vegan (for desserts--its the best).

  • 98.
  • At 08:14 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Fraser wrote:

It's intended as an interesting experiment to experience someone elses life for a month!
He isn't telling anybody what to do or shoving any opinions down anyones throats...
So calm down and get a life!!!

  • 99.
  • At 08:14 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jack wrote:

I a know a hog farmer in the Philippines, who is considerably happier than most vegans I've met...

  • 100.
  • At 08:14 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Adacadus wrote:

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you that most wonderfull piece of machinery, the one that no arable farm is without - the muckspeader.

Yes, this trailer that spreads its contents accross feilds (and occasionally roads) at high velocity is a staple of british farming.

Hear this, vegans, and think about the animal produce you are consuming next time you enjoy spuds, carrots, swedes, cabbages, sprouts, sugar from beet, squashes, and anything else that can grow in a field.

  • 101.
  • At 08:14 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • David Margorian wrote:

I have no problem eating human hair, or other human based products. Veganism is just a fad of people who have no understanding of basic chemistry and biology. I assure you, it will go away in a few years..

  • 102.
  • At 08:19 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Oli wrote:

We are all born to be homnivores. Do you fell bad when you cut a salad, a tomato or an onion ? They are all alive, they might not scream, move or seem to feel pain but they are living being that will trive under Classic music and die under constant Hard-Rock music or your knife...
Our body needs proteins and meat is the best thing to fill this gap.
Go for a good BBQ and don't feel guilty, it's natural, you kill animals for food, you also cut and kill veggies to feed.
Oli, Doctor in Brussels.

  • 103.
  • At 08:19 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jim wrote:

Since when did anyone only get one piece of meat off a cow? The so called statistic that a field turned over to meat production can feed only one person is rubbish. Lets have the real truth, how long will a field of veg feed 20 people, a day, a week a month and the same for the cow, how long can people live off the meat of that cow?
Facts and figures from the Vegan Society are like those from car manfacturers, they are produced to sell an agenda and therefore manipulated and misquoted.

  • 104.
  • At 08:21 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Emma wrote:

The only problem I have with justifying the vegan lifestyle is that it is supposedly more ethical and better for the environment. But for those vegans who don't wear leather, wool, silk or buy products made out of these, the only other substitute in a lot of cases is products derived from oil, such as plastics (eg polyester). So unless you only wear clothes and shoes made out of cotton or some other plant product, you can't justify your lifestyle by arguing the carbon footprint point.

  • 105.
  • At 08:25 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • McTavish wrote:

Living is dangerious to your health.

  • 106.
  • At 08:25 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Owen wrote:

L-cysteine being produced from human hair was mentioned in British papers a few years ago. It's made in China as it is economical to gather the vast amounts of hair required to produce L-cysteine commercially. It is commonly used in noodles too.

  • 107.
  • At 08:25 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jesse wrote:

I was under the impression that vegans, in theory, can eat people based products. It would seem, that all the basis for being a vegan would not apply to a humans as food, in any capacity.

It is not cruelty to animals, to eat people based products. It might be cruelty to people depending on the circumstances, but I don't gather that is typically an issue most vegans are concerned about, at least not when it comes to a source of food. And as the energy input/output rating of people, that is negated, since it would be sustaining people, and they are not looking to make less people, to save the environment. So to use a person to aquired food is fine, since that person is a person anyway.

So I say, if there is human hair in your bread it should be Vegan-friendly.

But that's just me.

  • 108.
  • At 08:26 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • PJ wrote:

So here's the secret: Look at rice under the microscope.
Insect larvae, eggs, the works will greet your "eye" (modified with super-human resolution).
I am a vegetarian (not vegan.. guilty of all that methane production.. a _moderate_ amount of which Nature was designed to handle anyway. Just that we humans are too many now!). So I have now to the realization that one can at best be a macro-vegetarian/vegan. Any times to "cleanse" your diet to microscopic details is sure to result in failure.
Having said that, insect eggs are a whole lot more nutritious than funky synthetic chemicals "processed" from here and there.. red colouring agents and associates included.
Stick with grandma's approach of cooking from a scratch (like making your own bread! Much easier to get unadulterated flour, than unadulterated bread), and you're lot less likely to get nasty shocks.
All the best!

  • 109.
  • At 08:26 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Organic wrote:

JUST EAT ORGANIC OR ALL NATURAL. Cuts out more toxins than Vegan anyway. The non organic/non natural vegan diet will contain a lot of chemical additives, pesticides, etc. Organic farms also raise their animals in a way that is more sustinable to the environment. In this toxic world of ours I don't see how vegetarians and Vegans think they're getting ahead by not eating milk and/or meats if their diets aren't based on organic, natural or local produce. They are still supporting the currently unsustainable agriculture industry. Most native people (native americans, natives of all continents) ate meat in a fashion that was respective of nature and also reused and recycled the parts of the animal that couldn't be eaten. IMO the problem isn't meat or milk its how the the way we treat animals now, how we get our food and how we consume it that is hurting the environment so why not buy local meat, milk from your local farm or organic meat and organic milk?

  • 110.
  • At 08:32 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • mohammed wrote:

Believe me I am no at vegan but
I found your article very useful.

Just want to let you know that
Mono and Dyglecerides used in many bakery products including your daily bread is also from animal origin.

  • 111.
  • At 08:33 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • E.K. wrote:

As #54 said, why is everyone so angry?

Obviously "Ethical Man" is not claiming to be Mr. Righteous, he's just trying to investigate some ethical issues for the benefit of the rest of us.

Secondly, he apparently doesn't mean he is following a vegan "religion", he is simply being vegan in terms of not eating animal products. Some people are vegan for health reasons, not ethical reasons.

My last and most important point is that none of this is more vital than compassion. As long as we can't see another person's point and give them some room to make their own decisions, we will never have peace. I suppose if we just keep killing each other off, there won't be an "overpopulation" problem much longer.

For the record, I've been vegan in the past as well.

Surely the point's got a bit lost here. Animal products do take up vast amounts of resources (as a rule of thumb, the amount of energy and resources involved goes up by a factor of 10 with each link in the food chain), so cutting out meat and cheese and that will certainly reduce Ethical Man's footprint.
Obsessing amount trace amounts of crushed beetle, however, will not. It's fine and good for a vegan of moral or religious conviction, but in terms of environmental vegetarianism it's insignificant, like taking a long-haul flight and turning off the reading light to save energy.

  • 113.
  • At 08:34 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • S Moynihan wrote:

One is to worry about the slightest possibility of eating some by-product of human hair, yet day after day after day one breathes and ingests plenty of dead skin and hairs? (being dust, for those who think the stuff appears magically)

Vegans worry about some slight amount of food colouration from cochneal beetles, while each night they would sleep on a pillow infested with house mites, and eat those while dreaming pleasant dreams.

As posters before me have stated, there are plenty of non-arable areas unsuitable for agricultural farming, but on which sheep or other animals will live quite happily - are we to ignore these resources? With the introduction of the bike and car we lost our horses - and the glue factories made a killing (no pun intended). Is this to happen to our cows too? (And, as they have been bred for nought but food production, and are now unviable in the wild, their decline would be far far more drastic).

I will freely admit that a number of the arguements you stated are worthwhile (such as the environmental impact of cows and the land usage of cows versus vegetable crops). However, the scientist in me baulks at the flagrant confusion of logical analysis, semi-anthropomorphic empathy (the animals experience pain and discomfort worse than they would in the wild during the keeping/killing process) and purely irrational emotion (it is wrong to consume the chemical byproducts hair from a living creature that wasn't harmed in the process, just, well, because).

We are omnivores, we have the ability to eat many forms of organic matter, whether it be from animal, vegetable, bacterial, synthetic or otherwise origin. Should they (and I hesitate to say "you" here - one month does not a lifestyle make) ask us restrict ourselves to a particular arbitrary division, I would care for a particularly well reasoned arguement where the various "strands" as it were of Veganism were decoupled.

  • 114.
  • At 08:36 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Steve Kando wrote:

Hello Justin,
Get in touch with the Suma Ching Hai organisation near you. They are devout vegans and have a complete list of every known food additive that has animal origins.
Best - Steve

  • 115.
  • At 08:39 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Alex G wrote:

If the article is interesting and informative, the number of angered and insulting responses from some of the readers are even more so.

I can understand why some people may choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle. What I cannot understand is why so many of the vegan readers here respond in such an extreme way. After all, here is a person who is --in the journalistic spirit-- trying to explore and understand the lifestyle/choice/position/"religion" they engage in.

What nerve is being touched for such a rage to be produced?

If only we had such strong response for other issues, say the Iraq war, the world might have been a better place. But being so vocally negative on a journalist's exploration of vegan lifestyle -- give me a break!

  • 116.
  • At 08:41 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

Hi Ethical man, I enjoy reading about you, but I think you are losing the plot a bit with the human hair issue.

It is good that you are exploring the Vegan way, but you stated that this was to "reduce your impact on the environment". While I get the point that a Vegan way of life may have a substantially lower carbon footprint, seeking to avoid the consumption of a very small quantity of human hair does not affect that carbon footprint. How Vegan can you get? It is not possible to live for even a few minutes without digesting some bacteria, which is animal!

Also Comment 21 above stated that cows, sheep and "fowl" are vegan. Well I can assure the author that my chickens naturally eat anything that moves (spiders, beetles, worms) and that my sheep suffer from animal parasites that they consume while grazing. I have no cows but I know that they are not very bright and have big mouths.

  • 117.
  • At 08:41 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Laurie Sain wrote:

You need not go to some remote Eastern or Asian highlands to find land not arable for plant production. In Wyoming, we have about 4 inches of soil over much of the state (highland desert), with more than a modicum of rocks thrown in and a nice base of ancient-seabed rock below. Plus there's very little ground-based water (rivers). The result: native bunch grasses and small plants with lots of open ground between them. If all our land has to be used for plant-based agriculture, the folks of Wyoming might as well leave now. The only things you CAN raise in much of Wyoming are cows, sheep and goats -- with an odd llama or camel thrown in for local color.

  • 118.
  • At 08:42 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen W. wrote:

1. I like my occasional shake thick. So keep adding the bentonite (clay).

2. I like my bread light and fluffy.. so keep adding the human hair.

3. I like strawberry yogurt to look kinda like strawberries... so keep adding the beetle parts. (And you have not lived until you have tried chocolate covered crickets).

People around the world have grown to eat what is available. We are not vegetarians, nor are we Carnivores, we are Omnivores. We are opportunistic eaters. So take the opportunity to enjoy the finer things. At the rate humans are multiplying and destroying the world (and vegans can't stop it). They won't be around long.

  • 119.
  • At 08:44 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • eat what you want wrote:

ever notice how its only the "meat-eaters" who taunt the veggies and vegans? I've been a veg for over half my life and I run into this pretty much every time I tell someone I'm a veg. I hear "OH! I can't live without steak!" or "MMMMM I'm gonna go eat some veil right now!".

I don't understand this. Its as if there is this universal hatred for people that don't eat meat. Do you think I'm going to go run and by a steak just cause you go on and on about the smell and taste. Guess what, I don't LIKE the taste of meat. Is that ok with you? Have I or ANY of the Veggies or Vegans on here said "Just stop eating meat." no, but many of you meat eaters have no problem saying over and over "its normal. its natural. we're supposed to eat meat. eat meat. eat meat. eat meat." You all need to relax. You aren't going to convince me to eat meat, and I sure as heck don't care what you eat. Maybe if you stop taunting veggies and vegans they won't have any reason to explain their reasons why and you won't have to hear it. Novel idea I know, but give it a try. Just shut up and leave people alone. How bout that?

As for the article, good luck. Veganism is very expensive, and as you've already realized almost impossible to do if you don't know how. Is it news? Yes and No. The fact that YOU are going vegan for a month is not news. What the food industry does to what we eat is, so thanks for at least bringing that to light.

  • 120.
  • At 08:44 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Shawna Jacoby wrote:

I commend the author for his bringing this issue further into the pubic eye. As a vegan of 14 years, I was sceptical of the 'spin' of the human hair headline, but the article did contain more relavent information, and the author did attempt to present the issues in a respectful versus defensive way. Being vegan has had an immensly positive impact on my life, also hopefully, the lives of those around me. This would be my advice to the author: remember to focus on what veganism is versus what it isn't; stay positive! Over the years, I have come to view veganism as a spectrum: at one end, as you are finding, is the absolute embodiment of the ideal, which I believe is unachieveable, especially for those of us living in industrialized countries. The other end is dairy products, meat, etc. The new vegan does spend quite a bit of time reading labels, etc, but after a while you develop a feel for it and know what you can eat. Don't get too bogged down in the details! Find what works for you and your lifestyle, and establish your sustainable place on the 'spectrum'! What makes the biggest impact for the planet and our collective health is the overall reduction of consumption of animal products. Not everyone will be or has to be vegan, but being aware of what we put into our bodies and reducing our impact is something everyone can participate in. Be a good role model, be positve (not preachy), and you will be surprised how much will 'rub off' on those around you. Best of luck in developing your new lifestyle!

  • 121.
  • At 08:46 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Claire van den Broek wrote:

Personally I think this attempt is incredibly funny. Vegans and vegetarians always are in my opinion. I honestly couldn't care less if human hair was used in my bread as long as my bread tastes delicious!

And just so you know: For every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three! :)

  • 122.
  • At 08:46 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Kim wrote:

You also have to watch out for certain beers and sugars that are processed with animal products. Also, Vitamin D3 is not vegan and is often added to products like soymilk and otherwise vegan products. (Vitamin D2 is fine.)

  • 123.
  • At 08:46 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

Horrifying reading!

Thank-you for writing this article.

I was surprised initially at the torrade of abuse at you for doing so in some comments, but I think it is that it makes us feel uncomfortable as it seems so all encompassing in everything we eat and too difficult to deal with and better to leave alone and consider normal. It most certainly is not normal!

But I will probably carrying on eating thing not marked with containing human hair, animal parts, etc, because it is simpler and less distressing to do that than try and look everything up when you can't.
So please continue to do it for us:


  • 124.
  • At 08:46 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • lolabaird wrote:

Great to be vegan, but I noticed you using plastic fork and container. Using your own containers (and making your own food) will help lessen the footprint. Wake up.


  • 125.
  • At 08:47 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Stan wrote:

A true Vegan won't eat anything that casts a shadow.

I on the other hand believe that pork fat rocks! Ham and eggs for breakfast, sausages for lunch, Wiener Schnitzel for dinner. Life is good!

  • 126.
  • At 08:48 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Kim Gordon-Bates wrote:

rings absolutely true.
In 1984, I was a journalist based in India and I did a story (and subsequently a documentary) on a temple called Tirutipati in Andhra Pradesh. It's a shivaite temple and was said to tbe the second richest place of worship in the world after the Vatican. Most of the temple's money came from the "sacrificing of human hair" - devotees would queue and pay to have their heads shaven. The hair of course was recycled. Only the best "quality" female hair was used for wigs, the rest was broken down into cystein and then used as a food additive, notably for making bread. The best quote however came from the then state agency handling the human hair exports, its manager told me, in writing, and I still have the letter, that India's exports were then slumping because "the Chinese shave systematically their dead".

  • 127.
  • At 08:49 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • David R wrote:

My goodness, what a lot of defensive agression over an idea which seems to be pretty inofensive and actually very informative. It reminds me of when people ask me why I am a vegetarian. On many occasions,as soon as I begin to explain my moral, ethical and environmental decisions and plain reasons of choice I have made not to eat anything, or any products derived from, living things with a central nervous sysytem, I find myself on the receiving end of of all shades and colours of responses, many trying to catch me out in my rationale and some quite abusive. I can only put it down to attack being a form of defense. Oh and for information,isinglass, obtained from the swim bladders of fish, is used, in the same way as gelatine is sometime used, to clear brewed beer and wine before bottling. Good luck with the experiment, you have already identified many of the reasons why people choose not to eat animal products and I hope by the end of the month you will be able to reveal many more...but be prepared for further beatings from the irational ranters you have so far unfortunately attracted

  • 128.
  • At 08:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Nic wrote:

I have always been confused about Lactose. I know it is a sugar found in milk - hence lactose intolerant people must avoid milk. But does this mean that lactose itself is an animal product? And if so, does that mean any cakes containing lactose would be unsuitable for a vegan?

  • 129.
  • At 08:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • meat hole wrote:

This morning i woke up and ate some pig. then i took a shower. for lunch i had a wonderful dish, cow on bun. then i got home and drank some beer. i am a consumer whore. and how.

  • 130.
  • At 08:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Kim Gordon-Bates wrote:

rings absolutely true.
In 1984, I was a journalist based in India and I did a story (and subsequently a documentary) on a temple called Tirutipati in Andhra Pradesh. It's a shivaite temple and was said to tbe the second richest place of worship in the world after the Vatican. Most of the temple's money came from the "sacrificing of human hair" - devotees would queue and pay to have their heads shaven. The hair of course was recycled. Only the best "quality" female hair was used for wigs, the rest was broken down into cystein and then used as a food additive, notably for making bread. The best quote however came from the then state agency handling the human hair exports, its manager told me, in writing, and I still have the letter, that India's exports were then slumping because "the Chinese shave systematically their dead".

  • 131.
  • At 08:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Don Clark wrote:

What is a vegan anyway- It sounds like a creature from the TV show Star Trek... Although I appreciate the journalistic foray into the minutiae of food additives, what exactly was it that the world will avoid by not eating flour processed with L-cysteine? One cow fart worth of greenhouse gas was it? Please... How does this compare to one volcanic erruption? FYI, the rest of us are still trying to figure out what they put in a hot dog! Find the answer to that Gerraldo and you've got the scoop of the decade!

  • 132.
  • At 08:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • dani wrote:

i just think all of this is quite hilarious. first of all, the article was written by someone who was just starting this whole vegan adventure. can you criticize someone who is giving birth for the first time and decides to post her experience and ask for help? why get all worked up over this man and his eating habits? some people on here got REALLY angry- and frankly, it makes me laugh...
second, i was vegetarian for about 8 years, and i learned a TON from it- but when i became pregnant, my body was craving a lot of things i couldnt get from my diet, so i started eating a small amount of meat again. veganism brings to light a lot of questions- one thing i always wondered was, cows NEED to be milked. if not, they can get sick, and i think, die. so, if we stop milking them, they could be ill, or die, and if we milk them but dont use it, because we are "vegan" we are being horribly wasteful when there are people starving in parts of the world- so who is right, and who is wrong?
third, when it comes to what the label says, what you hear, and what is actually true- well, good luck. i have heard so many things thru the years of being veggie- that it takes 8 years for red meat to completely leave your system, that geletin, when made from horse hooves, the horses are taken out on slaughtering ships and killed simply for the hooves, i HAVE heard that many food dyes are made from bugs- or butterfly wings, and for that matter, i have heard that peanut butter is "allowed" to have a certain percentage of bugs in it, because of the harvesting process. ?! now, some of this i may have heard as a freshman in highschool- but STILL, who knows?!
my point is, relax- in the big scheme of things- this man is trying something new, and if it's not directly harming you- why get all worked up? i swear a couple of you should go get your blood pressure checked- i think that temper is more unhealthy than the diet your on...

  • 133.
  • At 08:53 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • zoe wrote:

If we listened to every health tip and diet that seemed good for us, we would probably have to stop eating as nothing would be healthy or suitable. Even the air we breathe is not fresh! The Bible says it's ok to eat animal products! maybe we should be praying more...

  • 134.
  • At 08:53 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Brammers wrote:

Wow, everyone is so angry and standing up on their soapboxes ramming their views down each others' throats :) how mature.

Act like adults, guys - it's publicity for vegans in a not-pushing-it-hard sense, so both vegans and omnivores should be happy - and he's only doing his job.

Very interesting article, Mr Rowlatt!

  • 135.
  • At 08:53 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jc Osorio/ Toronto wrote:


Great info, Justin.
Exposing practices of big business and educating the public are worthy pursuits. They return power to the consumer. Here's to informed choices.

  • 137.
  • At 08:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Zoe wrote:

And then there are fruitarians!
next it will be nutarians!!!

  • 138.
  • At 08:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • marcus b wrote:

I'm a vegatarian, formerly vegan. I became vegan for the same reason, trying to reduce my impact on the environment. Soon, however, my veganism became out of hand to the point where I too, as mentioned in the article, was not drinking tap water. It became less about the environment and more about something that made me feel superior to other non meat eaters and even vegatarians. At some point I realized that veganism, although noble, is more like a religion than a life style choice. Plus I really wasn't to keen on being on a diet that required B12 vitamins in order to be healthy.

  • 139.
  • At 08:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • CL Tanner wrote:

I agree with eating organic to reduce your footprint, and especially eating locally produced organic foods when possible. Eating in season is the best way to do that. But, sorry, organically produced animal products still have a heavy impact on the environment. I visit several beef and dairy farms a month to collect data for placing conservation easements on the land. I'm often disgusted at the waste of land for hay, the widely dispersed overly-enriched excrement that washes into our rivers, and the riparian vegetation and stream ecology damage. That's not even mentioning the tremendous amount of methane released, fossil fuel consumed, the impact of diverted water for cattle and the energy to produce and transport feed and products. Even though I've been vegan for over a decade I still believe the most important thing you can do for the environment is educate yourself on your impacts. If you're going to eat meat first reduce the amount you eat and then learn to hunt. And leave the milk for baby cows. Your body and Mother Earth will thank you for it.

  • 140.
  • At 08:59 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Katherine wrote:

I agree with Organic that eating natural, organic, and locally produced foods, whether animal-based or not, is the best way to go. However, the sad truth is that this lifestyle is not affordable to many people. At least in the US, organic and natural foods are very pricy - families living on the minimum wage often have to buy groceries at Walmart, or eat out at McDonald's because it is all they can afford. How sad is it that buying a greasy, processed burger from a giant fast-food chain is actually cheaper than buying healthy natural groceries to make a meal? It is depressing to think that a person cannot eat healthy, organic foods the way that we as a species used to do before "modernization" came about.

  • 141.
  • At 08:59 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Nick Whittome wrote:

What a pointless conversation. Half the world haven't got clean drinking water.

  • 142.
  • At 09:00 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

RE #79 - Jim:

Good question. I hadn't though about these statistics in that way. Let's have a bit more discussion about how to represent the statistical impact of a carnivorous vs. vegan lifestyle in a more truthful and comprehensible fashion...

Who knows more about this 20:1 business?

  • 143.
  • At 09:01 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

Hey, good for you! I've been Vegan for about two years now, and I feel great. Sure, I slipped of the bandwagon a few times,- including a frozen custard incident- but it's safe to say that I haven't ingested any animal products since December of 2001. Turtle Island foods ( has some excellent stuff, including soy protein, meat alternatives, etc. They even have sweets! So good luck on your road to Veganism, and God Bless.

  • 144.
  • At 09:08 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Graham B. wrote:

If veganism became more widespread the gas given off by these ruminant-like humans would cancel out the savings in gas production from the lesser numbers of farm animals... eat more vegetation - make more gas.
Now if vegans collected their own gas and recycled it for cooking, etc., would that tilt the scales in favour of veganism having less overall impact on the environment?

  • 145.
  • At 09:09 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Art Homer wrote:

Veganism is a step in the wrong direction. First, there are not to many cows; there are too many people. (Cows don't drive cars, live in centrally heated houses, etc.) Second, eating lower on the food chain just shortens the food chain when there is such an environmentally dominant species as humans. No cows=no dung beetles, =no birds that eat dung beetles,= no organic fertilizer. For the carbon input of farming that grain that feeds 20 people in monoculture agriculture, see the following article on eating fossil fuels:

I know lots of vegans, and my problem with their arguments is that they eat so much processed food. Even if you keep it simple and eat rice and steamed vegetables, you have to use many more calories to make the rice edible than to thoroughly cook a piece of meat--not to mention the processing that goes into many things most people eat as "meat substitutes." The reason it takes more to make grain and legume protein edible is that we aren't ungulates, thus do not have the propler digestive tract to eat them unprocessed.

It doesn't seem environmentally conscious or particularly ethical to replace animal products with fossil plant and animal products. The whole point is going to become moot within our lifetimes at any rate as we feel the effects of peak oil and uncontrolled population and energy use growth.

To paraphrase an old teacher of mine, "people who worry about the morality of their lifestyle choices should."

  • 146.
  • At 09:09 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • CF wrote:

As to John Raggett's comment about needing to be wealthy to eat vegan I have two words: Rice and Beans. You're right, most of the poor in the world wouldn't be picky about eating animal products - if they could afford them. You are right in your intent, I believe, our footprints are generally gigantic in comparison. So kudos to those who at least question the status quo way of life and try to do something to lessen their impact on the earth.

  • 147.
  • At 09:10 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Ann wrote:

Most candles and bar soap are made from tallow - beef fat. Parafin candles are made of petrochemicals. Avoid beeswax ones. Sometimes liquid dish soap can be used in place of bar soap for body washing, and it doesn't leave bathtub scum either. It usually made of vegetable fats. Some glues are made of animal bones, and latex may be from milk.

  • 148.
  • At 09:10 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Rinn wrote:

Hey all you level-8 vegans who won't eat anything that casts a shadow: I've always wondered- is beer vegan? Aren't those little yeasties alive?

Here's to the slippery slope!

  • 149.
  • At 09:13 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Bernard wrote:

My brother informed me that while on a plane he got talking to the person beside him about what they did for a living. It turned out that his fellow passanger was a food sientist who's job it was to find the most addictive ingreedients that could be added to the range of products the company made, witout changing the flavour or texture.
This could be why i have met overweight vegans.

  • 150.
  • At 09:13 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Christine wrote:

Brammers (90), you are so right. People often ask me why I became vegan only to try and shoot down every reason I give. I gave up answering that question many years ago. What's important is that you inform yourself on what you are eating and if you aren't comfortable about it then the noble thing to do is to change your habits, whether it be eating organic, local or vegetarian. But certainly we could use more open and inclusive discourse on what is ultimately a personal choice.

  • 151.
  • At 09:13 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:

Good grief people, give the guy a break. I found the article interesting, but I have a brain of my own, and I'm capable of deciding how much of it to take in. The pompous rantings of other vegans on this topic does nothing to further your cause. Accept it for what it is, a piece of journalism, entertainment, and a walk into the unknown for the journalist concerned. I enjoyed it. It was entertaining, but not compelling enough to make me want to give up my delicious meat products! But then, that wasn't the intention.

  • 152.
  • At 09:14 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Mohamed wrote:

It is the dark side of the science by not leaving the nature its originality. Is'nt it?
Your article was an eye opener for many.

  • 153.
  • At 09:15 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Dyson wrote:

Some people who post on these stories take themselves way too seriously. Many of the posts above seem full of pompous, self-righteous indignation.

I'll just content myself with a wee light-hearted dig at cw's post (no. 11)... it would be a bit harsh if Paul McCartney or Ringo were being used to colour our yoghurts!! :-)
The insect-type beetles are spelt with "ee" ... the beatles with an "a" are of the Liverpuddlian fab four variety! :-)

And the story? Interesting, but "nuff said". No need to insult anyone, question anyone's integrity, or the like. Read, digest (no pun intended), move on. Life's too short.

  • 154.
  • At 09:21 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Lee Anne wrote:

I have tried being a vegetarian and it never felt healthy for me. Now that I see the impact of cows I am trying to each only fish & foul. I have been living organically for many years and this seems to me to be the best choice. Local is also very important. Food that travels far to us, and the chemicals we use to grow food, do much more damage to out environment and the animals in it than eating a hamburger occasionially.
To all those vegans that don't drink tap water, don't you think the plastic water bottles that end up on every corner of this earth disturb the animals?
We all need to look at the big picture and not be so self-centered and self-righteous.

  • 155.
  • At 09:22 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Joshua wrote:

I want to thank all you vegans and vegetarians out there. You help keep the price of steak down for the rest of us.
Enjoy your soy.

  • 156.
  • At 09:23 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jack Kardakovsky wrote:

This story strips the food industry to reveal one of the many shocking things that go into our food. I appreciate this approach.

As for turning vegan, its one's choice really. We are a part of the food chain so eating both animals & plants is neccesary to keep a balance.

PS- Its sad to see some people mocking the author for only "trying" the vegan approach and questioning his ethics.

  • 157.
  • At 09:30 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Daniel wrote:

It is pathetic to see how many people seem to feel threatened by this man for denouncing meat and animal products.

What this man does and chooses to eat is his decision. If you happen to have some residual guilt for still eating meat then don't try and make yourselves feel better by criticizing him for making a decision that you are too weak to make.

  • 158.
  • At 09:31 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Name Required wrote:

Can you please tell us why the first photo has you wearing an apron with the McDonald's logo on it? Is it meant to be some kind of a pun? Are you really that cheap?

  • 159.
  • At 09:32 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

Being vegan, vegetarian or meat eater, doesn't matter

I know vegans that are quite happy to get in the car and go to the gym and I know meat eaters that live on their bike - so, who is more right?

The article, in my opinion, is suggesting that the problem is ignorance, we should try to understand the origin of the product we are about to consume and then make an informed decision. It is not possible to have zero impact and I don't suggest that we all roll over and die -

There are far too many who should know better and a fair amount who do

But still we carry on in ignorance - well ignorance is bliss after-all.

  • 160.
  • At 09:33 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • sillyme wrote:

Just All Natural or Organic - man, someone must have money. As for the rest of us, omnivorous diets are the most affordable in the real world.

  • 161.
  • At 09:34 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jeff Cox wrote:

Eat Fresh food! 90% of the food you buy contains some kind of an additive.
Fresh meat, fresh milk, fresh vegatables are good for you. Do you have any idea how long have the avocados, oranges, and carrots been sitting on the supermarket shelves?
Fresh -meaning FRESH!! A chicken farmer told me once, that he could taste the difference between a freshly layed egg, and one that is a day old. What are we eating? Can you trust the food industry? Labeling the food "Organic" is so misleading that most of us associate it with "healthy". Muesli sitting around for years just as deadly as pesticide free tomatoes picked from a old nuclear waiste site! It might sound crazy, but the only way you can be assured to get decent food is to plant your own vegetables and become a shepherd!
Needless to say that eating in moderation some "bad" food will not kill you, but living on hamburgers, crisps, and coca cola for 20 years will effectively put the last nail in your coffin.

  • 162.
  • At 09:35 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • allan taylor wrote:

foods are only given loger shelve live because the general public want it sell bread with a one day code and the majoroty of the public dont want to know make it 4 or 5 days and watch the sales go up

  • 163.
  • At 09:37 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • allan taylor wrote:

foods are only given loger shelve live because the general public want it sell bread with a one day code and the majoroty of the public dont want to know make it 4 or 5 days and watch the sales go up

The arguement about cattle producing 500 litres of greenhouse gasses a day apply to any other animal consuming and converting vegetable matter to usable energy for life. So our vegan brothers and sisters are producing as much greenhouse gas between them as the friendly cow chewing the cud. We humans are not built to consume lots of vegetable matter, or we would have been supplied with multiple stomachs to process and convert the vegetables to energy.
I am one of the lucky ones for whom eating vegetables is not a choice - I am alergic to green vegetables, and have not consumed any for over 30 years. I am in better phisical condition than my vegetarian friends, and enjoy a good balanced menu where every meal is based around one type of meat or another.
Last year my wife and I shared our home with a young couple who were both vegetarans, They were both in their early 20's, but neither had much energy, and wanted to spend their lives sleeping. This has been my experience with vegetarians and vegans all my working life. My employees who ate balanced diets were healthier (less sick days), more alert and looked alive.
The fact that vegetarians and vegans need to suppliment their diets with vitamin tablets prove that their diet is niether natural or good for them.
My family have all been meat eaters, and with the exception of 2 people in the last 4 generations have all lived into their 90's Of the current generations, My father, currently in his late 70's enjoys nothing better than white bread spread with dripping followed by a cup of instant coffee with 3 spoons of bleached white sugar. I had only a handfull of days off sick in 30 years of work. My children are all healthy and all eat meat.
In all my working life I have only met 1 vegetarian over 60.
In nature there are few creatures that are vegetarians, and many of those assumed to be have over the last few decade been shown to enjoy meat as much as humans ( apes, chimps etc)

Eat a little of everything - a balanced meal is far better than extremes one way or the other.

The arguement about cattle producing 500 litres of greenhouse gasses a day apply to any other animal consuming and converting vegetable matter to usable energy for life. So our vegan brothers and sisters are producing as much greenhouse gas between them as the friendly cow chewing the cud. We humans are not built to consume lots of vegetable matter, or we would have been supplied with multiple stomachs to process and convert the vegetables to energy.
I am one of the lucky ones for whom eating vegetables is not a choice - I am alergic to green vegetables, and have not consumed any for over 30 years. I am in better phisical condition than my vegetarian friends, and enjoy a good balanced menu where every meal is based around one type of meat or another.
Last year my wife and I shared our home with a young couple who were both vegetarans, They were both in their early 20's, but neither had much energy, and wanted to spend their lives sleeping. This has been my experience with vegetarians and vegans all my working life. My employees who ate balanced diets were healthier (less sick days), more alert and looked alive.
The fact that vegetarians and vegans need to suppliment their diets with vitamin tablets prove that their diet is niether natural or good for them.
My family have all been meat eaters, and with the exception of 2 people in the last 4 generations have all lived into their 90's Of the current generations, My father, currently in his late 70's enjoys nothing better than white bread spread with dripping followed by a cup of instant coffee with 3 spoons of bleached white sugar. I had only a handfull of days off sick in 30 years of work. My children are all healthy and all eat meat.
In all my working life I have only met 1 vegetarian over 60.
In nature there are few creatures that are vegetarians, and many of those assumed to be have over the last few decade been shown to enjoy meat as much as humans ( apes, chimps etc)

Eat a little of everything - a balanced meal is far better than extremes one way or the other.

  • 166.
  • At 09:42 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:

Hi, i am a research scientist from the UK working in the US on Obesity and metabolism diseases. I have also examined ingredients in items i have bought since Home Ec classes when I was 12. I think what you need to investigate is an ingredient call 'High Fructose Corn Syrup'. This ingredient is in 99% of all packaged and processed foods in the US - including items labelled 100% Fruit juice. It is frequently the second most abundant ingredient in any product and is replacing tomatoes for the number 1 spot in Ketchup. Two years ago when i noticed this in the US, i had never heard of it - now each time i return to the UK i see more and more of it in British products. On my last trip i bought a can of BritiVic's Apple Tango (one of my favourite canned drinks) only to cringe from the taste - lo and behold, sugar replaced with HFCS.
Please investigate its spread in the UK and make people aware of it as it may be causing rising levels of obesity.

If you think finding genuine vegan food is hard enough, i challenge you to come to American and live on HFCS-free food.

  • 167.
  • At 09:42 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Tom RIley wrote:

I'm at the top of the food chain and I am going to do everything I can to consolidate my position there.

  • 168.
  • At 09:44 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jamie wrote:

Unimpressed; veganism is an old and over-tooled debate. Every vegan I've personally ever met will also not incorporate animals into any part of their lives, clothes included. They tend to rely on plastics to replace the many animal based objects in their lives. This is often overlooked when calculating footprints.

As previously mentioned, you're not removing wild game from your diet, but livestock. A move to veganism is not one to revive life, but to erradicate man's symbyotic relationships with life. What would happen to the cows and the chickens, etc, etc. It's obvious. What in the world have we become where the only way to save the planet is to disect ourselves from parts of it.

If you're interested in looking at your carbon footprint from this new perspective, then enjoy. But, I have yet to hear any arguement that justifies veganism, and still see it as wishful thinking on the part of those who have what my circle of friends refer to as 'guilt trauma'.

I'm more of a realist when it comes to spiritualists. If chickens have feelings and have a soul, then grass must too. I thereby claim to respect ALL life equally, unlike some. And a good deal of respect is about the only thing that's going to save this planet.

  • 169.
  • At 09:45 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jan wrote:

Such a great article Justin. Its got everyone screaming. Just look at all these emotional posts. Moral pacifist Vegans spouting in rage at the fact that you might be vegan and yet not oppose the killing of animals. Carnivores demanding their rights to enjoy their life and try to persuade themselves that they can be environmentally friendly. Organic farmers claiming that, even though they take up so much land and produce so little food, that they are morally superior to the factory farms of intensive modern food production. I think if they were all in the same room there would be blood spilt. Horray !

  • 170.
  • At 09:47 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • orval wrote:
  • 171.
  • At 09:47 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Greg wrote:

Local farming practices where I live have seen a significant change over the past 10 years. In my little part of the world we are now surrounded by greenhouses, the mega factory ones that cover hectares of once rich open farmland. They are in production 24 hours a day, and hence, with their lights turned on at dusk, have stolen nighttime from all who live in the area - 2 small towns, and many scattered communities.

Once the price of oil started to climb they converted from natural gas power to burning wood waste. Smoke laden pollutants from their many smokestacks is now pumped into the local air. The provincial government has taken steps to make it easier for these industries to do more or less what they want - all in the name of good business and the provincial economy.

Of couse, the ironic part of all of this is that some of these greenhouses now produce vegetables that are labelled 'organic'.

Sometimes even the labels on the food we buy fail to tell the whole story.

  • 172.
  • At 09:47 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Dinesh wrote:

Just like many pointed out being vegetarian or vegan has to do with how you feel about things like animal rights etc. I wouldn’t set a starting date to start anything like this because, I cannot tell how I will be feeling on Jan. 1st. If you had the feeling to be a vegan on Dec. 21st 4:00 PM let us say, you should be a vegan from then onwards. Being raised as a meat eater I gave up eating meat (I mean flesh from animals incl. fish) in the year of 1992 and in my philosophy eating eggs and milk are ok. As long as producing food doesn’t involve violent treatment of animals (questionable! Since chicken are forced to lay eggs and cows are carrying most annoying unnatural size udders). My feeling faded away to some extent and I started eating fish 2 years back. After repeated arguments with colleagues and thinking over this again and again, I feel that all these philosophies are bogus. I feel bad for animals, but how about vegetables? Do we know that they don’t have feelings? I am not sure we are that scientifically advanced to understand it.

Anyway, every living being on this earth is directly/indirectly dependent on other for its own survival. Everything that is born has to die, making way for the new ones. That is what life is all about.

  • 173.
  • At 09:48 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jake Henderson wrote:

I am having lamb chop for dinner.

  • 174.
  • At 09:48 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • wrote:

Stricly speaking you sould also avoid all canned foods since the lubricant used in the cold rolling process to reduce the steel before tinning, is derived from animal fat!

  • 175.
  • At 09:48 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Victor wrote:

You are all barking up the wrong tree. First of all, use olive oil, not butter or margarine. Second, you can try as hard as you like, it is nearly impossible to stay clear of animal products. It's this simple, and someone else has already said it (I live in the U.S., by the way, which is probably the most criminal in this regard, along with several other similar ones), we don't know what they put in the food we buy and consume, there are laws passed by our governments that allow food companies to put additives in without telling us 'exactly' what it is. but what the don't tell us is what the hell that really is. It could be a mixture of elephant dung and kangaroo placenta for all we know. Go local. Cows are good to eat, get your beef from the nearest menanite or amish community, or hunt it, or grow it in a community garden. People have eaten animals, and animal products, along with vegetables, for years. Eating only vegetable products won't change anything, because it is not about what you eat, it is about the processes that our industrialized, capatalistic food companies incorporate into the production of our food, meat and/or vegetable. Organic foods is the only solution, and you can only get that by buying local goods. And watch the documentary, 'The Future of Food', if you haven't already, it will blow your mind.

  • 176.
  • At 09:49 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Emily wrote:

You'd be doing a lot better for the environment if you stopped driving a car- that produces many more greenhouse gases than one cow! If you use that theory, you should also stop farting, because, alas, it produces methane. . .

  • 177.
  • At 09:51 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Randall VE wrote:

I have a question...perhaps it was answered...perhaps not. When you harvest the veggies and fruits you are going to eat...are you SURE that no bugs were killed or processed? :-)

  • 178.
  • At 09:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

I just wanted to say that I highly doubt the "facts" in this story are actually factually true. There deffinately needs to be a balance in what you eat, but mankind has always been omnivorous and will always be. It is how we were designed. If by eating a specific lifestyle you are forced to pop vitamins and such just to make your NEEDED daily amount then you obviously are not living as you were created to.

I will continue to eat those lovely steaks, I will always enjoy being true to my design.

I also would be interested in who funded the study that said you can feed 20x the amount of people on a plot of land specifically used for fruit and veggies compared to a plot used for cattle. I would venture a guess it most likely was PETA or some other group(govt) who has a vested interest in the study being in their favor.

As another poster said, enjoy your soy... it will make my beef purchases cheaper.

  • 179.
  • At 09:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Emily.Benton wrote:

I applaud people who act upon their discomfort with food production methods but I find the sanctimony of many of the posts above very unpalatable. The human body is constructed for omnivory- this is not to say that one cannot object to the environmental impact of farming and abstain from animal products accordingly, but all human land use is damaging. Farming is no worse than housing development, road construction, etc in terms of its impact on the 'natural' order of things. At least pastoral and arable farmers attend to the countryside and truly understand that living things have to die to feed other living things. Human methods of food production are so far removed from the time when we chased down giant game on prehistoric plains that ofcourse it has effects, but then as a race we have taken quantum leaps in many areas that have changed how we interact with the world around us. I have worked in a slaugterhouse, been a vegetarian and spent a considerable time on a farm where the livestock experienced the best care possible on land maintained to high environmental standards (acknowledged by government grants). I don't mean to completely belitle veganism as i said at the start, I dislike cynicism for the sake of it, but i really don't think it is superior ethical position. It is one possible ethical position open only to those of considerable means and flexibility in the way they source their food (a product of the supposedly deleterious capitalist monster). Whether we should eat animals is determined by our biology and therefore not an ethical question. How we treat them in the course of their lives is obviously subject to criticism. Sorry this is so garbled.

  • 180.
  • At 09:53 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • AJ wrote:

How many vegan's do we see in the starving world, perhaps its a choice made by people with not enough to worry about in life. We are not designed that way, check out the canines (two top and bottom jaw)combined with also the molars and incisors if you'll still got your teeth. We're omnivorous. The canines are not there to bite through a burnt nut roast.

  • 181.
  • At 09:54 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Heena Vekaria wrote:

I just want to remind vegetarians that to be a "pure" vegetarian, you also have to abstain from the use of leather and silk materials for obvious reasons!Yeah, shoes, belts and those and upholstery in cars and homes!!! It is remarkable how many times I get vegetarians tout their beliefs and are sporting marine collagen face creams and makeup tested on animals,etc etc....

  • 182.
  • At 09:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • vegetarian wrote:

if you're eating foods with nutritional info (industrial process food) you are most likely NOT doing the environment a noble favor. human hair is an otherwise wasted biproduct of our existence. the local beef is better for the ecosystem than a monocultured tofu burger with soy mayo and parts delivered to you from every corner of the planet. your diet will not save the world, common sense will.

  • 183.
  • At 09:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • jill dunbar wrote:

I'm so happy to come across your article. You have shed light on many things that most people don't want to know. I have been a vegetarian for about 12 years and have recently fallen off. I don't know why exactly. But I can tell you that a burger tasted pretty good after all those years. After reading your article, I can say that I will get back on the horse. My stomach is turning as I write.

Good luck on your adventure. Hopefully you'll enlighten many!

  • 184.
  • At 09:59 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

How dare anybody not call this man ethical? He is defending the freedom of speech of all of us, and allowing us all to exercise the right to it immeadiately underneath his article (although I am sure somepeople here would say we should be alongside). Ethics by its definition is a personal thing. you may believe that eating animals is unethical, I believe evolution (whoa dangerous) suggests that it is fine for me to do so. I don't believe that some corporations are acting ethically in their products, but neither do I beleive in suggesting forcefully that all omnivores are unethical. Stop trying to make people think the same way you do. To little lysine in their brains if you ask me.......

  • 185.
  • At 10:00 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Martin Longbow wrote:

I don't mean to point fingers here, but ironically, blaming our destruction of our natural habitat on farting cows, energy inefficiency (energy efficiency is the problem because efficiency = lower cost), etc is really just a self-serving strategy of avoiding addressing the true cause of our environmental woes as a species: unchecked human expansion. There are too many people breeding too fast and consuming too much. If everyone ate nothing but soy (a malnutritious, joyless, miserable existence mind you), 6 Billion people would still be far too many for how much planet we have. To simply change some aspect of your lifestyle and feel better for doing what you perceive is the least amount of harm as an individual and pat yourself on the back is somewhere between delusional and sociopathic. It is choosing to make yourself feel good when you're not really making any difference at all. Capitalistic expansion into India and China is an environmental issue; cows farting is not.

What's more, the ideas being propagated here are quite fallacious and unscientific. For example, take this little gem:

"Not only that, raising animals is a lot more carbon intensive than growing vegetables. David Pimentel, an ecologist from Cornell University, has calculated that animal protein production requires more than eight times as much fossil-fuel energy than plant protein yet yields proteins only 1.4 times as nutritious for humans."

This is completely nonsensical, since all plant proteins are not alike. The same goes for animal proteins. It also seems to compare
the amino acid makeup of one gram of protein versus another, ignoring the fact that animal matter tends to be much higher in protein on average. What's more, since essential amino acids are not optional, and all 9 must be gotten from somewhere for us to live, typically either meat and dairy or by catabolizing our own muscle mass, weakening our bodies and slowing our metabolism, "only 1.4 times as nutritious" is the difference between nutrition and malnutrition, a pretty significant difference!

The argument about cattle producing 500 litres of greenhouse gasses a day applies to any other animal consuming and converting vegetable matter to usable energy for life. So our vegan brothers and sisters are producing as much greenhouse gas between them as the friendly cow chewing the cud. We humans are not built to consume lots of vegetable matter, or we would have been supplied with multiple stomachs to process and convert the vegetables to energy.
I am one of the lucky ones for whom eating vegetables is not a choice - I am alergic to green vegetables, and have not consumed any for over 30 years. I am in better phisical condition than my vegetarian friends, and enjoy a good balanced menu where every meal is based around one type of meat or another.
Last year my wife and I shared our home with a young couple who were both vegetarans, They were both in their early 20's, but neither had much energy, and wanted to spend their lives sleeping. This has been my experience with vegetarians and vegans all my working life. My employees who ate balanced diets were healthier (less sick days), more alert and looked alive.
The fact that vegetarians and vegans need to suppliment their diets with vitamin tablets prove that their diet is niether natural or good for them.
My family have all been meat eaters, and with the exception of 2 people in the last 4 generations have all lived into their 90's Of the current generations, My father, currently in his late 70's enjoys nothing better than white bread spread with dripping followed by a cup of instant coffee with 3 spoons of bleached white sugar. I had only a handfull of days off sick in 30 years of work. My children are all healthy and all eat meat.
In all my working life I have only met 1 vegetarian over 60.
In nature there are few creatures that are vegetarians, and many of those assumed to be have over the last few decade been shown to enjoy meat as much as humans ( apes, chimps etc)

Eat a little of everything - a balanced meal is far better than extremes one way or the other.

  • 187.
  • At 10:00 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Stanley Jones-Umberger wrote:

Who cares if there is human hair L-Cysteine in our bread? It's the values that define the diet, not vice versa. As long as the hair came from the barber shop floor and not from genocide victims, who cares? This would-be Vegan will never get it no matter how long he eat a "vegan diet."

  • 188.
  • At 10:00 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I don't see what's so shocking about these ingredients. If there's some demonstrated harm from these animal products, nobody's talking about it.

This seems to be a matter of people being "grossed out" by certain ingredients. Get over it. Don't carrots spend most of their lives in the dirt, anyway? Just think of the number of worms who might have rubbed against them. Disgusting.

  • 189.
  • At 10:03 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jon Douglas wrote:

I think that it's important to understand that organic and natural foods are not necessarily less impactful on the environment, which is the point of Justin's exercise. I consume primarily organic foods myself, but it should be made clear to everyone that organic foods may consume the same, or more, energy than conventional farming, may introduce significant nitrogen pollution to the environment, and suffer from cases of contamination and poor quality, just as non-organic foods do. Try purchasing more local foods, foods with less packaging, and then try composting your waste.

  • 190.
  • At 10:04 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Ina Vekarie wrote:

Nice article ... author failed to mention that he has also given up on leather goods, silk, face creams made with collagen derived from marine animals, etc etc..vegan lifestyle is absolute in quality; let us not merge and blur this with overlaps of " not taking things THAT far" ...

  • 191.
  • At 10:05 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • angela wrote:

In your research on veganism for the environment, have you researched the environmental harm caused by soy production (since soy products tend to be the main source of protein form most vegans I've met)? From what I've been told, it's one of the worst soil-depleting crops grown in the US. How do the fertilizers required (whether organic animal dung or petrochemicals) factor into this? If the farmer uses organic manure to fertilize his fields, are the veggies grown still vegan? What about all of the cute little bunnies slaughtered by the combines harvesting the beans or grains that go into your tofu or bread? Is that tofu really vegan if a few bunnies were torn limb from limb in the process of harvesting the soy beans?

  • 192.
  • At 10:06 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

I can't believe how callous you vegans are about killing innocent vegetables. What about all the seeds that you make orphans of every time you brutally rip a vegetable from its home soil. Also every time you take a breath you kill thousands of bacteria and other microorganisms, so I guess the best advice I can give to vegans is to stop breathing.

Great article, thanks!!

  • 194.
  • At 10:08 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Greg Tartakovsky wrote:

Are cheeseburgers vegan? If so, I am a vegan.

  • 195.
  • At 10:11 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Luca wrote:

I would not worry about human hair!
After all, we are not raised in order to provide hair clippings, and we will go on producing greenhouse gases, via our bodies or vehicles, whether you use hair clippings as food additive or not.
So if your concern is the environment, hair clippings are most likely fine.

  • 196.
  • At 10:12 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • vasu wrote:

"The idea is to test the claim made by a number of people who have emailed in to insist that becoming a vegan significantly reduces one’s impact on the environment."

> Watch out for the container in which you buy vegan food as much as what the food is made of.....

  • 197.
  • At 10:16 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Oscar Lima wrote:

Don't forget to stop your car/plane/boat travel: every mile you do by car kills about 250 bugs through impact. Even cycling does its share: I'm afraid you are bound to walk... and be careful with those ants that may slip under your sole.

  • 198.
  • At 10:17 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Justin Hamm wrote:

Your argument about cattle is ignorant. What would you suggest we do with them? Every time I think about a vegans argument of being against eating meat because of their methane.. "output" makes me laugh.

Lets kill all the cattle so loony vegans can't use it as an excuse. Letting them live would only make the problem worse, right? More cows, more methane.. right?

I evolved to eat meat. Our digestive system is extremely inefficient at digesting greens. Our organs are fine tuned to make the most of meat, not grass. I've seen many vegans. Their skin is yellow and their muscles have lost tone. They're appearance is more disgusting than the the thought of eating half a rat in my hotdog (which I find delicious anyway.)

  • 199.
  • At 10:20 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • C Stansfield wrote:

Thank you Justin Rowlatt for your article.

It's a shame that these kinds of articles tend to attract a lot of juvenile and unhelpful comments.

I'm not familiar with "Ethical Man" being from NZ but I would assume people know it's just a media name or title to describe the type of articles you write so I don't think too much should be expected.

Well done on providing a peak into veganism. It was a good start to reveal some of the animal based additives in foods that most people assume are animal free - like margarine and bread: Been there, done that. I wish there were more articles like this. I think it's a shame that most people don't know what is being put into their food. I'm an avid reader of food labels - and it's been a real eye opener for me what the food industry gets away with. My family is often surprised (horrified) when I point out the dubious ingredients in everyday 'foodstuffs'. I think it's a basic right that people should know what they are buying. I'm tired of food companies whitewashing over unpleasant facts.

I used to think veganism was extreme and ridiculous myself until 10 years later I became one.
I would like people to understand that for me, it was not about rules and restrictions on what I couldn't eat - but rather the freedom that came with realising that I didn't need to eat meat/diary/eggs. This was a huge step for me as I grew up in a meat/milk producing country - New Zealand.

After driving past the local abbattior each day, and seeing the animals (including calves for veal) in the holding pens awaiting slaughter - it was a relief to know I didn't need to eat meat. And then learning about how slaughterhouse products get into so many foods from deserts (gelatin) fertilisers (blood and bone) cheese (rennet) as well animal feeds (feeding animals back to themselves)the extra step to veganism came naturally.

Seeing video footage on the internet of the abuse in piggeries and broiler/battery chicken farms affected me deeply as I had always liked and cared for animals.

Reading about the massive protective benefits of whole plant foods against cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc (The China Syndrome) helped too.

I have since given birth to a beautiful healthy daughter and fully breastfeed. We are both very healthy.

So being a vegan has been a freedom to me.

  • 200.
  • At 10:20 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • j. p. ward wrote:

I can imagine that amino acids from hydrolysed fur or hair might be used in some food products for animals. For doggies and the like. I remember years ago research being done into hydrolysed chicken feathers with that aim. There' an awful lot of chicken feathers in ... Brazil, perhaps, and elsewhere.
J. P. W.

  • 201.
  • At 10:20 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • GaryM wrote:

In response to veronique, E130 is a synthetic blue dye -

  • 202.
  • At 10:21 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Eric Prescott wrote:

I'm stunned to see people that still think eating meat is necessary to keep the balance. What?

What is balanced about what you read above?

There are SIX BILLION people on the planet. Species of wild animals are going extinct in record numbers. Animals raised for food are FACTORY-FARMED (see above). People in the West eat an insane, disease-causing amount of meat.

And some of you commenters have the audacity to suggest that we HAVE to eat meat?

If there ever was a balance between humans and the rest of the world, it is very far gone, and a vegan diet may just be one of the choices that helps restore some semblance of that balance.

  • 203.
  • At 10:22 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Evan wrote:

When I first read this I almost didn't believe it. Vegans moaning over traces of human hair in their bread? Give me a break. I hope these people carefully inspect each dish their loved ones cook to make sure they don't accidentally commit cannibalism. I hope they sweep the path they walk on with a broom so they don't accidentally crush insects. I hope they wear face masks so they don't acidentally inhale any sentient life. As a matter of fact, I hope they just stay in their rooms and waste away, lying motionless on their beds, afraid to even move a muscle lest they crush an innocent dust mite, because that's the only way to live that doesn't involve harming anything. Plus, it would mean we wouldn't have to listen to them.

  • 204.
  • At 10:23 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Quartz wrote:

Be careful eating crisps, the flavourings often contain animal products.

  • 205.
  • At 10:24 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Stevie Dreg wrote:

I've just read the article and each of the 104 subsequent comments. Do I win a prize?

  • 206.
  • At 10:25 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

There is a disturbing and unpersuasive tone from some of the vegan posters which is reminscent of PETA, to the extent that it is difficult for the layman to distinguish between the two groups.

Would someone please clarify whether those, exercising their freedom of choice not to consume products derived from animals, do so because they feel that animals are equal and therefore not to be exploited and/or if it is simply a dietary preference.

Perhaps I have missed the point(s) entirely and the goal is, in fact, assuming personal responsibility for protecting the ozone layer and reducing global pollution.

All three issues may be intertwined with the devout vegan and none of those reasons are unworthy. What I consider unworthy is the assumption that one's own ethical, dietary or environmental beliefs "trump" anyone else's.

On the bright side, as we cosmic microorganisms mull such weighty issues, there is probably a rogue asteroid heading on an impact trajectory with our little planet; just Nature's way of shuffling the evolutionary deck.

Twitter on.

  • 207.
  • At 10:26 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

There is perhaps yet another facet to all this. I read a comment about "kissing" Well, you should be aware of the fact that a vast amount of make-up, cremes, lipstick etc, is produced from beef/pork fat !, So if you are really in to not ingesting any animal products, then I strongly suggest that you ask your wife/mate, to abstain from using these.

Curitiba, Brasil.

Here is a link to E-numbers

(Food additives) if your interested. I use it quite often and is most helpful.

Best of luck

  • 209.
  • At 10:32 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Stephanie wrote:

According to some of these comments it seems that a lot of Vegans are just angry. If you want to explore being vegan for a month that's great but check out some of the responses that you've ellicted from doing so. It really shines a light on why a lot of people are 'weirded out' by vegan lifestyles.

  • 210.
  • At 10:33 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • vikram wrote:

Vegetarianism is localised and need based as is Nonvegetarianism.

Certain foods produce heat (meats & even some vegetables) which is required in colder regions and certain foods are cooler in hot environments. The evolution of food has been linked to environmental factors with humans and our bodies have evolved to handle such foods.

In harsher regions humans are completely dependent on animals for their source of energy. Their bodies are different to those who have evolved in river basins with adequate agricultural options.

In India, certain vegetables are eaten in the summer which produce a cooling effect on the body along with yogurt which is also considered to have cooling effect on the body.

The discussion should be more on sustainable food production, green house gases and proper labelling of food for customers to make their choice.

Social-Anthropolgy of Food ? Should be able to answer a lot of the ethical issues being discussed here.

  • 211.
  • At 10:34 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Chris Linthwaite wrote:

Yes I know that cows produce Methane which is a more efficient greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide.

Of course using this logic Justin, you will not be able to eat Rice as Paddy fields produce even more Methane than cattle.

Now where is that Steak sandwich?

Just a thought

  • 212.
  • At 10:35 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:

This whole argument is quite silly. Vegans insist that they will not eat or use anything that involves animals or animal products. Excuse me, but do you understand how plants grow?

I am a plant ecologist and believe me, there would be no life as we know it on this planet if it were not for the animal kingdom...

I'm referring to the incredibly necessary functions performed by the zillions of bacteria and other microbes that allow for life on earth. No plant could live without the bacteria living in the soil. A plant does not "get" nutrients from soil. Plants are incapable of doing so. Bacteria in the soil release the nutrients through their processes into solution in the water in the soil, which is then taken up by plants. Plants themselves are full of bacteria and other microbes.

These all belong to the animal kingdom, not the plant kingdom. It appears that vegans are drawing lines, i.e., it's OK to eat little animals, just not big ones? What about microbial rights??? One other thing to consider is the number of critters vegans routinely consume. Do this experiment - place a head of freshly cut organic broccoli upside down in a sink full of tepid water that has a large amount of salt stirred into it. Wait for an hour or so and check it. My, my, the sink is full of bugs and broccoli. The bugs were in between the flower buds out of sight, but are always there. That's how many bugs you eat every time you enjoy fresh broccoli. That's not vegan.

Two other quick points to consider. First, check on what the term "organic" means in the country where you live. Here in the USA, that term allows fields to be fertilized with "biosolids", a PC term for municipal sewage sludge, which itself was an early PC term for "human poop". Consider that most of that sewage came from carnivores in the nearby city where it was flushed down the toilets.

Second, vegans that don't have a proper education in these matters shouldn't be so arrogant. They should do what they like to do but if they don't know about something, keep out of the conversation. You can learn more by listening than by postulating.

  • 213.
  • At 10:37 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jorzef wrote:

Read Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle.

  • 214.
  • At 10:38 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • S.Pande wrote:

A website of Vegetarian Resource Group list following info on l-cystine -

A very small quantity of l-cystine is used in less than 5% of all bread products. Often the hair of third world women is used.

I think that having raised this issue BBC should go to roots and do some research and publish the facts.

  • 215.
  • At 10:38 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • tee gee wrote:

For thousands, ten thousands even, of years we have been eating. We naturally eat both meat and vegetation. So should it remain.

To the 'veggies' I would say - if you're worried about your 'carbon footprint', then stop eating beans, sprouts, cabbage, etc., since such food will give you, yourself a 'gas' problem and you will fart, releasing the very methane you are saying you wish to reduce!

  • 216.
  • At 10:38 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Kilroy wrote:

I hear they use moldy elephant testicles to make bananas. Ain't that a kick in the head? Eat me, I'm organical.

  • 217.
  • At 10:43 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Kelsey wrote:

It is amazing to me that you would not ONCE mention animal cruelty as a reason for going vegan. Humans' factory farming inflicts cruelty, torment, and death on billions of innocent animals. This is as much an ethical/moral quandary as it is an environmental issue. Saying, "broiler chickens have a ratio of energy input to protein output of just 4:1" is an absolute insult to animal life. And as for going vegan for a month--come on. If you were really serious, you'd make the commitment indefinitely. Woop-de-do for your big ecoconscience.

  • 218.
  • At 10:43 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Phil Gale wrote:

The cows and their greenhouse gases are a red herring, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor. Surely.

They're part of the carbon cycle in the biosphere; they're not contributing to climate change.

If there's a serious problem with putting carbon into the atmosphere it's that which comes from fossil fuels, and has been locked up in the earth for millenia.

All the rest goes around and comes around.

  • 219.
  • At 10:46 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Trelawney Grenfell-Muir wrote:

I think it is great for each of us to nudge each other along the road to more ethical conduct, so long as we try to avoid drawing black-and-white lines, which divide people (for example) into the "ethical" vegans and "unethical" non-vegans... this approach is both innacurate and unhelpful. It will only discourage people from taking steps toward more ethical food and lifestyle choices. And not all vegans are automatically more ethical than all non-vegans... anyone who uses computers is contributing to drastic environmental damage, even if they recycle them (send them to Asia where they give low-paid workers cancer in just a few years). Anyone who uses any petroleum products (including polyester clothing), drives a car, or rides on a bus or airplane is contributing to global warming. Anone who buys anything not fairly traded may be supporting child slave labor. Anyone who buys diamonds or gold is contributing to bloody conflict or severe environmental damage.
We should all support and encourage each other, continue to take small steps as much as possible, and NOT beat each other up with a contest for who gets to be "holier than thou" - which is hypocritical and ineffective. Instead, let's join hands and all try to do what we can.

  • 220.
  • At 10:47 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Laurie Chapman wrote:

Has anyone noticed that we have teeth called 'canines'? They are specifically used for eating meat.
Also, there are at least two mentions in the Bible where we are told we can eat meat. Sorry but although I enjoy vegitarian meals, I will still be eating meat and fish.

  • 221.
  • At 10:49 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • thessalonian wrote:

As a vegan Christian I find Reverend Michael Whitfield's suggestion that animals are only useful if humans eat them to be appallingly human centred. Does he not think that God might have made them for His own purpose, not for us to manipulate their generations until the resulting inbreds are incapable of fending for themselves. Not for us to cram into factory farms. Not for us to slaughter daily in their millions, just so people can gorge themselves on flesh.

He seems to have forgotten that in the Book of Job God listens to the voices of baby birds who cry out to Him for sustenance. Or that He knows the death of every sparrow that falls. He seems to have forgotten that we were originally designed partly to protect the animals, certainly not to destroy them.

Although there was dispensation given for eating flesh after a huge environmental cataclysm, there is nothing in scripture to suggest that animals are simply useful if we eat them - or even that they should be "useful" at all.

I was brought up to believe that gluttony was a deadly sin.

  • 222.
  • At 10:56 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • David wrote:

# 94 - Good comments, Art :)

Replacing locally available "animal" products with products made from or dependent on fossil fuels does seem rather counter-productive in the long run...If vegans won't wear clothing made from wool or leather, what do they wear? Synthetics made from oil? Cotton? Cotton itself is not a viable crop in most areas of the world, and where it can be grown, it requires huge inputs in terms of fertilizers and water that often make it economically unsustainable...

In any case, I for one LIKE meat (and cheese, and milk, etc). Frankly, it TASTES GOOD, much better than tofu...And good leather/wool clothes are not only attractive and comfortable, they are also very durable, and a good leather/wool clothing will frequently outlast those made of nylon or other synthetics.

  • 223.
  • At 10:58 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • pedro wrote:

Amina / No. 13:

You are very wise. Thank You.

  • 224.
  • At 11:03 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Mel wrote:

What Judeo-christian-islamic crap. Oh this has human bits in it! So what? Based on sound non religious evidence we are animlas too so if you are going to eat animals you should be prepared to eat a bit of human. Personally I can't think of a nicer way to be disposed of than a bevy of my closest feasting on me and enjoying a glass or two. But I digress. If we all stop eating animal products then what will happen? Brazil will produce more and more soya to fill in for the lack of 'dairy' so reducing the rain forest to zero. Farmers in Europe will be forced to slaughter all their animals (sorry, did you think there would be petting zoos everywhere? And sell the fields that they can't grow crops on to builders and such like (a farmer friend of mine had offers on his sheep fields on a daily basis - too rocky and steep to profitably grow crops but lovely views for housing devlopments). Not to mention the farmers that have clawed their way back from bankcruptcy by producing specialist organic meat for farmer's markets having to sell their homes and go and work in call centres. So what do we do instead? Ship in soya? Buy vegetables from the other side of the world, forzen and packaged? Produce chemical manure? I applaud anyone trying to reduce their carbon footprint but being vegan isn't the answer and there are easier ways to do it that don't compromise ethics or your health. Don't fly, don't drive, buy local and seasonal, don't buy unneccessary things( including energy and houses bigger than you need) and question all the time - I try to do this and it's hard but even though I don't eat dairy (allergic since birth) I won't give up meat. Maybe we could just eat the animals with the highest carbon footprint?! Ah, sorry that takes me back to the beginning of my argument again. Now where is my bacon sandwich?

  • 225.
  • At 11:06 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • M Menard wrote:

It isn't easy being vegetarian or vegan. As soon as you mention you're one, for any reason, you get strange, sometimes unflattering, comments. It's a choice, and let's leave it at that.

  • 226.
  • At 11:09 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

Interesting article, but a litle tricky, because I feel you are puting stress on a very unmaterial point such as a human based aditive extracted from hair, which I am sure will bother very few ethical vegans and will seem ridiculous to non vegetarian people. Vegans do not eat animal products because of the suffering that that consumption produces in the life of animals. It seems it is not this the case with this aditive.
What will you comment at the end of this month, how starving for a McDonald you feel? Well, if I try a marathon the first time I run in my life, it will surely make me wish something similar.
A very popular and interesting theme could be investigate about where does cholesterol come from and stay one month without eating any. Or you can also try one month in an industrial farm, etc. Well, good luck.

I just wanted to wish good luck. I'm vegetarian since I'm out of my parents' house, I cut fish only in September and usually tend to be vegan when I am the only one responsible for my food. What drove me to change is mostly the footprint impact as well. Reading labels can only help you :).

  • 228.
  • At 11:14 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Caitlin wrote:

A couple people have mentioned how angry everyone seems to be. I think that is what is particularly interesting. I have been a vegetarian for ten years and I never bring this up in conversation although I sure do get browbeaten regularly by carnivores/omnivores who feel what I decide to put in my body a personal attack on their character. (Just to point out if you go back and look at the comments its generally the pro-meat eaters who are angry while the vege-heads seem to leave non-judgemental informative comments.) On another note I know many great philanthropists who eat meat and I think its important that everyone pick their own battles! But why are you fighting vegans/vegetarians? Next it'll be those evil budhists!

  • 229.
  • At 11:15 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Kasper The Karnivore wrote:

Humans have evolved as omnivores....NOT HERBIVORES. Going against evolution is a battle that one cannot win.

As far as i'm concerned, vegans are involved in the killing of many living organisms due to their eating fruits and veges.

Where does a vegan draw the line? Do they use antibiotics when they are gravely ill? Well, if so they are complete hypocrites.

I challenge you to find me an elite athelete who has been a vegan for an extended period of time.

From a physiological perspective, vegans are doing themselves a great disservice. This becomes dangerous when they brainwash their children into having the same diet which will lack a lot of the essential things needed to foster brain development and physical growth, which as far as i'm concerned is criminal.

  • 230.
  • At 11:16 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Caitlin wrote:

A couple people have mentioned how angry everyone seems to be. I think that is what is particularly interesting. I have been a vegetarian for ten years and I never bring this up in conversation although I sure do get browbeaten regularly by carnivores/omnivores who feel what I decide to put in my body a personal attack on their character. (Just to point out if you go back and look at the comments its generally the pro-meat eaters who are angry while the vege-heads seem to leave non-judgemental informative comments.) On another note I know many great philanthropists who eat meat and I think its important that everyone pick their own battles! But why are you fighting vegans/vegetarians?

  • 231.
  • At 11:17 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

Candy and chocolate are often coated with "confectioners glaze" another name for shellac. Shellac is the bug juice secreted by Laccifer lacca beetles. Some fruits (e.g., citrus, apple) get their shine from a shellac coating.

The drink Campari gets its distintive red colour from the crushed bodies of pregnant wingless female cochineal beetles.

  • 232.
  • At 11:23 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Roger wrote:

I have been a vegan for 33 years for ethical reasons - that covers animals and people as I am always aware of how costly non-vegan diets are to our planet. I have not benn ill in 33 years (now 57), and I have been flying on extra energy ever since the process of detoxing which occurs a few weeks after you turn vegan - your body finally expels all of the redundant negative toxins related to your previous diet - then you really notice the difference. I hope our reporter perseveres long enough to pass this barrier. As somebody said above, once you know these truths, there is no logical/ethical way out of it. Once a vegan, always a vegan - or you have to live as a hypocrite.

  • 233.
  • At 11:25 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Marie wrote:

Dear Justin,
This message is not nessarily meant to be posted. It is meant to notify you of a very valuable source of information related directly to your current experiment. A must read, vegan or not, is the reader friendly book "The China Study" written by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD. It will certainly open some eyes to the fact that we all should be limiting our intake of animal products to not more than 6% of our daily caloric intake, or risk potentiating a multitude of modern maladies from cancer to heart disease and diabetes to name a few. The extent to which the American food industry has gone to cover up this information is also revealed in the book. FYI: I have no commercial or other ties to this book.

  • 234.
  • At 11:27 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Dominic Pinto wrote:

To bring this back to bread, and your starting point (if not to veganism) I highly recommend Andrew Whitley (of the Village Bakery) and his recently published book 'bread matters'.

I was ill over Christmas week, and this book was all-abosrbing.

I'm not particualrly vegetarian, although meat is a small part of my norml diet. Bread is important, and I've been making my own off and on for many years.

Bread really is the stuff of life.

  • 235.
  • At 11:37 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • andrew wrote:

I once knew a rabidly vegan couple who inflicted their diet on both of their kids from birth.
I don't know how these kids grew up, but in the time I knew the family, both children were constantly at the doctors surgery, suffering from any cold/flu virus that came along. They appeard to have no immunity to illness whatsoever.
I hope that when they grew up, they switched to a more sensible diet.

  • 236.
  • At 11:38 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

It's not just the excessive destruction of the Amazonian rainforest for soya bean production (albeit for chickenfood) that has finally tipped me, after years of veganism, to consider the benefits of Macrobiotic Fruitarianism: Populist journalism such as this has made what was once an unassailable holier-than-thou moralistic high-ground easily accessible to the food-fashionista. Damn, you can even buy tofu ice-cream in the supermarket nowadays. I'm going to have to eat rocks to maintain any sort of karmic one-upmanship...

  • 237.
  • At 11:42 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Lou wrote:

Environmentally friendly? The rainforests are being cleared at an alarming rate to be planted with Soya to feed the growing number of veggies and vegans who are apparently trying to save the planet. How ironic. The food miles involved in shipping this product from the ex-rainforest to the western vegan's plate then contributes even further to the destruction of our fragile environment. How can that be a better option for the environment than eating a local, organic animal? It's not. Veganism is about ethics and those that think it is an environmental stand are kidding themselves and killing the planet.

  • 238.
  • At 11:46 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Gulli wrote:

Could someone inform me, at what point in time did it become unethical to raise animals for human consumption? Who decided and on what grounds that it was from then on not ethical to consume animal products in any form?

As for people being able to survive on growing plants for food without any need for animals. I can point to my native Iceland that had to survive for over 1.000 years on fish, cattle and sheep almost entirely because plant crops would never even have come close to sustaining humans there. Even today with modern agricultural technology and geothermal electricity and heating, no one would be stupid enough to even raise the issue. People know that it would mean famine within months.

The very obvious matter of "seasons" simply eludes people that think it's just a question of swapping farmland from cattle to vegetables.

  • 239.
  • At 11:51 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Pook wrote:

A primary question is, surely, whether it is ok to use human protein (from hair) in food (for humans). Remember the headline?
Does your daily bread contain human hair?
Veganism and vegetarianism aside, is it not possible that a prion disease a la CJD might be transmitted in this way?

  • 240.
  • At 11:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • vegan maniac wrote:

Vegans should not use cars, because petroleum is a animal by-product (although those animals died very very long ago). For that matter even bicycles - after all steel and rubber manufacture use lots of energy, most of it coming from coal (also a bio-product). Vegans should let their babies die, because they are not fit to be born in this thouroughly polluted world, bereft of ethics. If this thought seems too repulvive, it is, then they should coputae less.

  • 241.
  • At 11:59 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • vegan maniac wrote:

Vegans should not use cars, because petroleum is a animal by-product (although those animals died very very long ago). For that matter even bicycles - after all steel and rubber manufacture use lots of energy, most of it coming from coal (also a bio-product). Vegans should let their babies die, because they are not fit to be born in this thouroughly polluted world, bereft of ethics. If this thought seems too repulvive, it is, then they should coputae less.

Your ethics sound kind of confused. I can't work out whether your goal is to reduce environmental impact or to avoid "hurting" animals or whatever really.

What's the issue with using human hair clippings, for example? Seems to me it makes better sense to put waste human protein back into the food chain than to dump it or burn it.

In fact surely there could be nothing more ethical, kind to living animals and environmentally friendly than to start recycling the dead into the food chain? So long as one is eating the juicy flesh of a recently deceased athlete, say, with minimum fat and maximum protein (though it might be somewhat stringy and need to be served rare) and avoiding the brain and offal of CJD victims, one should be perfectly healthy and completely ethical.

We eat ourselves the entire time anyway. Everytime you swallow you swallow and digest your own cells, saliva, mucus, and even blood at times. Forget veganism: humans eating humans is the new ethical.

  • 243.
  • At 12:09 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • keith wrote:

it's always a trap... like those drunken religious discussions through university... god vs the emptiness of an unmoderated universe with no goals, no end point, no owners manual or ethics to confuse things. The point here is: you cannot have a serious discussion with anyone about food science when 99% of the people in the discussion have no background in basic organic chemistry. Use phrases like 'purge toxins', 'cleanse the system', 'fat blockers', 'certified organic', Cholesterol listing on food and on and on with all the other catch phrases and bad science that propels the weight loss and health food industry. The bottom line... We are nothing but a collection of chemical reactions creating electrical and thermal results organized in a container that requires some very basic interactions with the surroundings in order to make it run as smoothly as possible. Your ability to do this efficiently has much more to do with your genetics than how much hair you ingest with your daily bread. We, as a species have been able to create a synthetic version of L-cysteine that is indistinguishable to the body from that derived from hair. Only your MIND knows that it's from hair.. a cockroach when seen by your container is simply a collection of fat/protein/carbs and water.. in both cases your container immediately sets about breaking it down the proteins and the fats and the carbs so it can use those to make something it needs. It might end up as hair.. but more than likely will be taken apart to sugars, phosphates and other components and either eliminated or used depending on the immediate need and the entire life sustaining process once initiated, has very little to do with your conscious thought. It's that it came from someone else's head or from their apartment in Toronto that is the catchy part of this article, designed to cleverly divert your attention from other important things that you were doing on line at the time (while your 'container' was still going at that bear claw and coffee you had for lunch trying desperately to get enough raw materials out of it to build more macrophages to fight that cold virus you caught). We are not dissimilar to the life forms around us in that we have evolved (oh, oh.. here we go..) into containers that entrust the organ between our ears to figure out the best way to get those needs met through a very complex set of hormonal signaling mechanisms.. (oh, oh.. MORE chemistry!)
Our container, by design, knows exactly how to take those raw materials and make something useful from it, say like... HAIR... without the $100k and 3 years of post graduate school.
We can't control such things as our mitochondrial output at a cellular level just as we can't address what the needs are for that process in terms of raw materials... the organism looks after that for you.. you just need to add the 'chemicals' into the opening at the top of the tube and over the course of your life, see what keeps it running the best it can. Vegans? sure it will work, better for some than others. Vegetarians? why not.. Carnivores? We exist AND we have evolved and thrive to this day. We have even created industries to ensure safe and steady supplies of meat and other required 'chemical' substances. We are nothing if not lazy when allowed to be so it's still the simplest way to get the 10 essential amino acids and the Essential fatty acids required to keep this form humming. We are, after all, animal protein under the microscope and there are just some parts of the machine that can't be built without consuming similar stuff. You can live a very long time without it as an adult.. but in the critical periods of development it's just as connected as FAS and drinking in your first trimester, as Rickets is to Vitamin deficiency, excess calories to fat cells when it comes to the wholeness of the machine when fully realized. Sure, read all the labels that you want...but really understand what you're looking at. If you see Cholecalciferol don't run to your guru or your Kundalini Yoga teacher.. bad chemicals, evil additives.. oh.. then realize it's vitamin D...It's all chemistry... everything we eat can be phrased into a formula of some kind. That's what 'food' is. Elements forged or placed into molecules by other organisms or processes. Now.. sure.. Some are synthetic and of questionable purpose and impact on your container... nitrites, nitrates, MSG, Benzene, but make no mistake.. they are ORGANIC and they are NATURAL.. They're just not good for our containers as a whole. But feeding 4 billion people requires a little trial and error. In our G8 countries, we have it pretty good, what we're NOT dying of in the age of processing more than makes up for the fact that once in a while something not so beneficial gets through, but after the industrial revolution, we're not able to have it both ways.. live in condos in cities with 4 million people AND have a garden with perfect vegetables always ready to eat at the peak of their freshness at our disposal. So.. here's the problem we all have in common. What's a good chemical and what's a bad one and more importantly can we understand each and every interaction that will take place with each and every meal. In first year pre med nutritional science you find out that although spinach is chock full of Phytic acid, a good cancer fighter (again with the catch phrases that can't be proven but get endless media attention) that particular chemical is not available to our particular model of container upon digestion so it's of no real benefit. Don't tell that to your mother or Popeye...still it only hints at the complexities involved...anything we can derive nutritional value from or that we call a 'meal' is about 2 million times more naturally we'll never know all there is to know, particularly where it relates to body chemistry. That's exactly why some folks can get away with the out of control diet book claims or with claiming that they know someone with 6 feet of undigested meat in their colon. A LITTLE education goes a long way and it's out there. If you think that your 'carbon' foot print is too large, beam up to the planet on star trek where the life forms where Silicon based. You'll feel positively special.

  • 244.
  • At 12:20 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Clayton wrote:

Wouldn't it be much more efficient to attempt to reduce airtravel or make it more efficient?

Veganism is a 20th century invention, just as artificial or unnatural as plastics or amino acid derivatives. I don't recall ever reading anything about the ancient Greeks relying on nutritional yeast for their health. They ate a diet comprised of foodsources at their disposal (like man has done for ages), including meat. In fact, I don't think a vegan wouldn't survive in nature without the modern commercial machine making their "nutritional substitutes" available.

I'll echo a sentiment I've seen in quite a few of these posts: my unqualified suspicion with public health (particularly in the U.S.) is that a large number of our problems are caused by portion size or balance. You can keep your soy sausage, I'll have a steak. But at the same time, you can keep your 14oz. steak, I'll have 5 ounces. And pass the vegetables.

  • 245.
  • At 12:21 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Charley wrote:

This evening (Wednesday) on Radio 4's PA there was an item regarding a calf born in the UK from a cloned US cow. In an interview on the subject, Lord Melchett, policy chief of the Soil Association, made an interesting point about dairy farming:

"High-yielding Holstein cows are already one of the biggest welfare concerns in farming because of the huge strain of producing vast quantities of milk. Government figures show that a third of dairy cows are killed after just one lactation because their bodies cannot cope with any more. Cloning would push this whole catastrophe one step further."

A cow's natural lifespan is 25 years. Cows - sentient, intelligent living creatures - are being treated like machines and being pushed to be so 'efficient' in generating their product that they are being killed by about 3 years old because they are too worn out to be profitable any more.

Does nobody care that we are inflicting this kind of suffering on other living creatures just to satisfy the appetites and taste buds of the 25% of the world's population that can afford to make animal products its staple foods?

To answer a previous question, the only reason cows 'need' to be milked is because they are artificially inseminated every year to make them produce milk and they are made to produce 10 times the amount of milk they would naturally produce for their calf. A cow's pregnancy lasts nine months, meaning the cow is pregnant and breastfeeding for the majority of each year. Then there is the question of what to do with the useless male calves which result from the yearly pregnancies (I'll give you all a clue - kill them straight off, or raise them for veal in horrible conditions and then kill them).

Do we have a right to unnecessarily inflict this kind of damage on millions of animals, just because we can and they can't fight back? Hands up who still needs explaining to what veganism has got to do with ethics...

  • 246.
  • At 12:24 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • me wrote:


  • 247.
  • At 12:25 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

What's wrong with L-Cysteine made from human hair?? As long as it doesn't come from dead people, how can it possibly have a bad effect on the planet? In fact, human hair L-Cysteine means you can get it without raising and slaughtering animals. Of course I'm being a little bit facetious. I'm a vegan and it is true that you find animal products in practically everything. Most people don't ever give it a second thought. Veganism is the fastest most effective way to solve the planet's problems and get rid of many many diseases.

  • 248.
  • At 12:31 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Aswin wrote:


Watch out for Lecithine. They can be produced from Eggs, Soya or Sunflower.

I carefully see whether the products I buy exclude Egg Lecithine. If so, I do not buy them.

Also, do not buy any product that has an emulsifier [E###, E###]. Its very unlikely that it isn't a non-animal derivative.

Only when consumers react this way, will food manufacturers come up with more vegan products.

I have noticed people when they shop. I hardly see anybody going through the contents. Of course, some people do. But its for their susceptibility to allergy and not because they care for the contents.

Become a Vegan. Atlest a lacto-vegan. Please spare the poor animals. They have a right to live too.

Can you imagine men folk to be slaughtered and processed for eating? Why do you kill animals?

Becoming vegan or a lacto-vegan is not tough. I am a lacto-vegan.

  • 249.
  • At 12:34 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Charley wrote:

As for all the stuff about additives and hair and so on, the definition of veganism established by the founders of the Vegan Society reads: "Veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude - as far as is possible and practical - all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment."

Note - "as far as is possible and practical". I read somewhere that car tyres have animal products in them, but I don't consider driving to mean that anyone who drives a vehicle cannot be a vegan. We live in an imperfect world and we just have to do the best we can. Instead of just focusing on minute points of detail that just give ammo for hardened meat-eaters to attempt to ridicule vegans with, we have to remember the wider picture too: the good that the lifestyle can do for the animals, the planet and our health - and the fact that vegans are in no way deprived of a varied diet and plenty of delicious food! You just have to see the number of recipe books I keep bringing home from the library to work that one out :-).

And yes, milk is in Everything. Even the salt and pepper-flavoured crisps! Scary how much we rely on the stuff...

  • 250.
  • At 12:37 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • me wrote:


  • 251.
  • At 12:53 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • nikolas wrote:

I am not vegan or vegetarian, but we do grow all my own food organically, Everything from the bread we eat to the meat we eat, we also produce our own eletricity from animal manure (and we sell the excess to the national grid , a nice earner for us). THE ONLY WAY TO CONTROLL WHAT YOU EAT IS TO PRODUCE IT YOURSELVES.We have just completed 3 yrs of eating and living this way and the benifits we have found both mentally and physically have been huge. As to the ethical debate the choice is yours do or dont eat meat.

  • 252.
  • At 01:07 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Robin wrote:

It's nice to read an intelligent internet debate of a very emotive issue.

I remember once reading a pompous web article titled 'Why vegetarians should be force-fed lard'. The article itself is hardly worth mentioning, but the comments people had left at the bottom of the web page left me quite shaken. I hadn't realised that there are people around with so much irrational hatred for vegetarians.

  • 253.
  • At 01:07 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Jan wrote:

Post #115, a cow produces milk because she is forcibly impregnanted every year so that she will lactate. When her babies are born, they are stolen away to become veal or future dairy calves. Then, when her milk production drops, her throat is slashed and she is turned into hamburger.

  • 254.
  • At 01:10 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

'At a conference last week the environment secretary David Milliband pointed out that "the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than transport". Agriculture is reckoned to account for 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions, about the same as aviation'.

Is it just me, or is this a ridiculus thing to say? Why the fuck does it matter how often a sheep or a cow farts? I assume that fart levels in livestoke remain fairly constant. The next thing you'll know, is that Mr. Milliband will want to know how often the human population of the UK farts. This will then be used to calculate human greenhouse gas emissions. Then we will have to pay some form of 'fart tax' and we'll either be forced to ease our concience by 'off-setting' our emissions or trade them in a similar manner to the governments proposed 'carbon trading scheme'.

How about this for an idea; we could all fart into specially adapted gas cylinders and collect all our methane emissions, then we could use these fart collections as an alternative to burning natural gas. There is only one problem with this idea; when you burn methane you release carbon, thus increasing your carbon 'footprint'. I guess there's only one way to save the Earth, lets kill all the animals, then each other and hey presto - no more greenhouse gas emissions. Last one alive please turn out the lights....

  • 255.
  • At 01:24 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • WC wrote:

I actually do not mind having vegans around. I know that sounds self-righteous, but I had to say it nonetheless. For you see, life really is about balance. There are good people because there are bad ones. The beautiful babes of the world are because they have hair, and if it used in bread – who cares, and because the ugly ones are a shock to the eyes. I would love to have more people buy hybrid cars with 150 horse power so that the M6 5 liter 40 valve 500 horse power 10 cylinder two door convertible BMW that I have always dreamt about becomes affordable. I would rather fight an enemy carrying a wind powered rocket propelled grenade while I have a nuclear war headed real rocket fuel propelled grenade. So let there be more wind power advocates. Yeah that’s right, this world would be better off with a lot more balance. Let’s have more vegans, so that we meat eaters can enjoy affordable real juicy grade A cut steaks in front of our mansions built out of real rock decorated with real marble and powered by reliable electricity from cheap fossil fuels, because a lot of the vegans would rather use bio-diesel that comes from the grease of our fine steaks, and let us be contented in admiring our amazing cars with amazing engines powered by cheap fossil fuels, some of which are naturally organically derived (as if that is important), and hell, let us die knowing that we had fun while it (what ever this is) lasted. That’s the balance I am talking about. So more power to you vegans and whoever wants to join your club, and while you’re at it donate a bit of hair - ok.

  • 256.
  • At 01:45 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

I think part of the problem with modern Western eating habits is that we're sold the idea by the meat industry that we should eat meat at every meal - bacon and eggs for breakfast, chicken sandwich at lunch, meat and two veg for dinner, etc.

Surely the healthiest option would be to have meat once or twice a week? This way, cruel intensive farming wouldn't be necessary as it currently is to feed the huge demand the market has created.

Is balance not the key here?

And just because in the West today it's near-impossible to live 100% ethically doesn't mean you shouldn't try at all!

Also, to all those 'Sun'-reading carnivores with the childish, ignorant, and thick comments (43, 137 and others, you know who you are) - grow up, you do no argument any favours!

  • 257.
  • At 01:55 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Yolanda Soryl wrote:

Hi Justin,

If you can be vegan for 6 continous weeks, you will be eligble to particpate in the 3rd annual Vegan Triathlon in Christchurch New Zealand in February. Get the BBC to pay for your ticket and get on your bike and have fun with all the kiwi vegans. Welcome to our vegan community!

  • 258.
  • At 02:16 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Philippa wrote:

If tap water is "unacceptable", how do vegans manage to wash - themselves or their vegetables? Or even flush their toilets? I don't suppose that collecting rainwater provides enough, and taking it out of the river may even be illegal.

Washing itself provides another "ethical" dilemma - what happens to all the animal life you kill in the process? I understand that strict parsees always walk carrying a broom so that they may sweep the path in front of them as they walk, to avoid treading on any insects, who are animals too.

As someone else pointed out, one of the biggest problems is the sheer level of human population - providing clean water for everyone on the planet is going to be a major challenge for the next century. So I would say to the people who maintain a strict vegan approach to life - that of minimising the damage you do to the ecosphere as a whole - that they must also accept not giving birth to children.

And if you do produce, or adopt, children, how do you justify giving them vaccines which have tested on animals - and there are very few that haven't. Or medicines of any sort? And the life lived by the elderly or the disabled in the West, which often involves many medicines, lots of processed food and a great deal of electricty soon leads you into serious ethical dilemmas.

After a while you have to start engaging very seriously with the question of how you justify any aspect of your life.

There are two answers which I find morally unacceptable.

The first is that you can do what you please so long as you are not in any way connected to anything involving anything which might harm any animal big enough for you to see it, unless that animal is human. After that, anything goes.

The other is that, being human, we can do what we like to anything (animal, vegetable or mineral) we find, including other human beings, so long as we pray in the right way to the right god. After that, anything goes.

The only positive conclusions I have come to is that we cannot regard any action as disconnected from the web of life in all its forms, and that following almost any moral argument to its logical extremes will cause it to collapse into absurdity.

  • 259.
  • At 02:40 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Pook wrote:

There is life and there is death.
I didn't (vicariously) spend 200,000 years clawing my way to the top of the food chain in order to eat weeds.
If something eats me first, sweet...
I will recline forever in the nothing.

  • 260.
  • At 02:50 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • D. Burke wrote:

I find vegans to be caring, compassionate and intelligent human beings. Most people DON'T THINK about what they are eating, nor the impact of their choices. Do some googling and investigating on factory farms, or better yet visit a slaughter house.

  • 261.
  • At 02:55 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Tanja wrote:

Hi Justin

Yes, come to Christchurch to the vegan triathlon in February, it'll be fun! :) (And what's more, WARM AND SUNNY!)

And I couldn't agree more with Peter Hughes, who wrote above:

"However, I am concerned to minimise my overall 'ethical footprint'. I used to believe it possible to arrive at an ethical lifestyle, but now realise that becoming vegan was only a milestone: living as ethically as possible requires that I am always in process."

I couldn't have put it better myself. To me, veganism means reducing my impact on human exploitation as well as on animal exploitation (because after all, aren't we all animals? Even if you don't believe that, surely the approach is not a bad one.)
And that's not always easy, given, for example, the limited choice of Fair Trade goods, so I'm working on it - in process - as Peter Hughes says.

To the comment above about Justin being lucky because he can make that choice: Well, if you can make that choice, why not make it? Because somebody else (say someone living in a place where vegetables don't grow and there isn't a supermarket around the corner) may not be in a position to make that choice? That doesn't make sense, especially if the choice is a good one.

What, exactly, is troubling people so much about somebody else trying to be a bit kinder to animals and less destructive to the environment?

Also, I really think human hair is a bit of a red herring in this debate; it really isn't the most pressing problem – just another surprise behind the labelling, as the article shows. So - because some people may be fine with eating human hair, they don't need to worry about factory farming, separating baby calves from their mothers, mincing up one day old chicks alive in a macerator, mulesing merino sheep, increased CO2 emissions, etc. etc? To the person above who wants to tuck into some veal, do you even know how that is produced?

As for human hair itself, indeed I don't have too much of a problem with it if someone wants to throw their hair into a loaf of bread, but let's face it, it's just gross. Seriously, is there anyone who prefers bread made with human hair over bread made without human hair?

Best wishes and good luck on your journey! :)


You may be interested in this, if you haven't already seen it. Only one of many interesting sources:

Eshel, Gideon and Pamela A. Martin. “Diet, Energy and Global Warming”. Earth Interactions 10 (2006): 1-17.

  • 262.
  • At 03:54 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Jan wrote:

Post #174:

The rainforests are not being cleared to provide soy for veg*ns. They are being cleared to provide soy to LIVESTOCK, as well as for cattle grazing land. Nice try though.

I direct everyone to this new study by the UN, which came to the conclusion that livestock production is WORSE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT THAN CARS.

Go veg*n--save animal suffering, preserve the environment, and save your own health.

  • 263.
  • At 06:38 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Joshua wrote:

(1) Do what you can when you can. It's impossible to be perfect, but if you get halfway there, you're freakin awesome.

(2) People who are concerned with the ethical treatment of beetles and microbes are few and far between. This thread is a red herring, giving nitpickers something to focus on.

(3) What's gonna keep us from a global warming disaster is reducing worldwide carbon emissions. Reducing our consumption of large livestock and our burning of fossil fuels are key aspects of that.

(4) Going vegan is honorable.

(5) Why non-vegans like to heckle vegans is a mystery to me. But the pattern is clear: bigots heckle civil right activists, wife beaters heckle suffragettes, oil-industry lobbyists heckle tree huggers.

(6) It's true that the very poor must eat what they can when they can. The well-off are at liberty to make food choices based on ethics. We keep making the wrong choices, and the poor are still hungry.

(7) There's nothing unethical about eating human hair, milk, or fingernails, if they are willingly given.

  • 264.
  • At 08:28 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • giovanni wrote:

A lack of education is a common theme of people that are afraid of change. The fear of something different is the same fear that creates racial and gender discrimination.

There is nothing wrong with wanting something better than what is considered NORMAL. Being a vegetarian or a vegan is a powerful tool to create change in the world.
And by-the-way, a VEGAN is someone who eats PLANTS, for those of you who may be unsure.

Anyone that has a conscience will care about whether animals suffer or even worse, that we are losing many species of animals because of land loss and deterioration of habitat. Many of the world’s big cats are disappearing and will be gone in our lifetimes.

There is a direct connection between consumption of meat and dairy and these losses. No one has the right to cause the destruction of these glorious wild creatures. Not you, not me. They deserve a life unmolested by humans, there are 7 billion humans, and only several thousands of the big cats left. Wild Bengal tigers for example will disappear within ten years unless we do something right NOW! We should all bow our heads in deep shame. I am disgusted by ignorance disguised as belligerence.

  • 265.
  • At 10:45 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Jane Easton wrote:

Dear Justin, well done for making the change and I hope that you keep at it now you understand more about the ethical considerations.

Veganism may seem bewildering at first, but it gets easier, believe me. I've been vegan for over 5 years now and never felt better. For me, it wasn't a case of 'giving up' (never was big on martyrdom!), but about jumping off the bandwagon of cruelty and environmental devastation - very liberating, in fact! Vegan food is delicious - it doesn't have to mean spending hours slaving away over lentils, either. I enclose some favourite links - these contain recipes and all sorts of interesting stuff - hope you find them useful: (not sure if I'm allowed to do this?!)

Everything I have read, including recent evidence from the UN confirms that veganism is one of the biggest ways of countering environmental damage - meat production being more destructive than vehicle pollution. And I can't help believe that our tendency to the systematic violation and exploitation of our own kind and of the planet has its roots in our enslavement of animals around 10,000 years ago. I'm not talking about some mythical golden age, but human slavery followed on shortly after agriculture and there are some well-documented links between the Nazis' 'processing' of the Jews during the Holocaust and the industrialisation of the meat industry. Chilling stuff - you can read more about it in Charles Paterson's 'Eternal Treblinka'.

As for 'what will happen to all the nice piggies, cows, sheepies?' comment from the reverend - talk about humancentric! Those nice piggies et al face a terrifying and barbaric fate - better they'd never been born, frankly. As for the countryside, agriculture has wiped out tons of native wildlife - and trees. Growing more vegan-organic foods instead of devoting so much land to food animals would not only make the UK more self-sufficient, but improve the countryside - and create jobs, organic farming needing more human input than factory farming.

  • 266.
  • At 12:07 PM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

I'm not convinced by the statements made about reduced environmental impact by going vegie or vegan. A calf can grow to fat (600-750Kg), eating only stuff that we cannot make use of, grass. When that animal goes off for slaughter it has made a positive contribution to the fertility of the land. Whimsically it can be viewed that it grew on sunlight.
Contrast that with vegetable growing,a market garden can use something in the order of 60-100t of manure per hectare. This will still not maintain organic matter levels in the soil, levels will fall with each cultivation.If synthetic fertilizers are used the fall is faster.
Organic matter, read CO2.

  • 267.
  • At 12:59 PM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Gail wrote:


I would just like to point out that "dairy-free" items can contain egg protein as cows don't lay eggs and eggs are not dairy! I know this doesn't help your vegan diet but it does confuse people when my son who is dairy intolerant eats eggs!"

  • 268.
  • At 02:04 PM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Mendrys wrote:


The truth is that few livestock is grass fed. Most are grain fed and are dependant on grown crops like corn and such. The vegans have noble goals. They do not deserve our ridicule but neither do those who choose to continue consuming animal products. The bottom line:

Eat les meat, eat more fruits and vegetables and you will be healthier.

  • 269.
  • At 02:30 PM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Rosamund Raha wrote:

Hi Justin
When you said 'Indeed the Vegan Society points out that some vegans consider tap water unacceptable because it contains chemicals that have been tested on animals' you misquoted me. What I said when you asked about 'hidden unvegan ingredients' was: 'no one can be 100% vegan, even tap water contains chemicals that have been tested on animals, but we would never advise anyone to avoid tap water!' I was telling you to chill out a bit and be as vegan as you can be for the benefit of people, animals and the environment.' There is no need to be obsessional!

  • 270.
  • At 10:10 PM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Gemma wrote:

Oh no,I have just discovered that my children's fruit flavoured tooth paste has animal based flavourings.Not sure if I can face weaning them on to the groan up stuff.

  • 271.
  • At 11:16 PM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Maria wrote:

Something that very few articles name is the deficiency of B12 in a vegetarian or vegan diet (it's on the Vegan Society website).

This vitamin is crucial for your health.

I have been vegetarian for 16 years, I became one because my body simply rejected eating either meat or fish.

I liked the flavour and I didn't take neither a rational or a moral decision about it, I simply didn't feel like swallowing any dead animals and I had to make no effort whatsoever not to eat them, the other way around, I had a very bad time if I saw myself in a situation where I had to eat any. With the time my body also started rejecting eggs and milk and I found myself eating less and less food from animal origin.

Last year I went into serious health problems, I didn't know what it was, I had severe memory loss, was always confused, nervous, tired... the blood test also came out perfect until a different doctor from Spain had the idea of testing the B12... it was below the minimum level, as soon as I started taking the vitamin I started to feel better even though I still feel some of the symptons.

I'm saying all this because when talking about this subject everybody should be aware that there are health issues to bear in mind with both diets, healthwise it's extremely irresponsible to say that a vegan diet covers all your needs because it doesn't (I'm still following the same diet but now I take B12). The consequences of a long-term deficiency of B12 are severe.

  • 272.
  • At 12:01 AM on 12 Jan 2007,
  • Gio wrote:

Of health and vital energy, I teach yoga everyday. Most of the classes I teach are considered advanced classes and are extraordinarily physically demanding. They require stamina and strength of the greatest level. You will sweat profusely and you will cry like a little girly man.

I am vegetarian and have been for most of the last 25 years. Many of the meat-eaters in my classes are unable to keep up, they simply don’t have the energy and vitality that a vegetarian has. I used to be a body builder and people would ask me what I ate to get so muscular, it would shock them when they found out I was a Vegy. There were two short periods of time in the 25 years that I ate chicken, I suffered the difference in my performance.

If you want to change your body and change your life, and in the process change the world, become a vegetarian or vegan. You will also save money on your groceries. You won’t ever want to go back to being a meat-eater.

  • 273.
  • At 03:17 PM on 12 Jan 2007,
  • Shari Black Velvet wrote:

I've been vegan for 4 years and the first few weeks missed eating cheese pizza and cheese on toast - but then I discovered all the different varieties of soya cheese that was available. I have one variety (the super-melting one) for cheese pizzas, the slices for grilled cheese sandwiches and a hard block for regular sandwiches.

Everything that you eat that has animal products in you can get vegan alternatives now. There are many varieties of soya milk, and other milk such as rice milk. You can even buy vegan marshmallows. The trick is to know where to buy them from - which you learn along the way. But we definitely need more regular shops to sell more vegan products. I shop a lot at an online vegan store and online store with a large vegan section.

I just bought an 'Animal Ingredients A To Z' book (see here: You should get a copy of that and you'll be well away. The Vegan Shopper from the vegan society is also an awesome bible for vegans.

I hope that after a month you continue to stay vegan. Not just for yourself and your health but also for the animals that you'll be saving and the planet.

  • 274.
  • At 05:48 PM on 12 Jan 2007,
  • Lucas wrote:

Although lowering ones ecological footprint is always a step to be proud, of it always strikes me how shallow many people’s analysis of the issues of food production actually are. If you really want to make a difference start taking responsibility for your own existence. Plant a garden, talk to farmers, make barters, in short do your best to eliminate the middle man. If you wish to start thinking globally in terms of agricultural ecology the best first step is to start shopping locally. It is time that everyone put aside reading labels and ingredients and started buying foods without long lists of them in the first place.

  • 275.
  • At 08:18 PM on 12 Jan 2007,
  • ant wrote:

A couple of thoughts:

Before the MP Tony Banks passed away a few months ago, he had spent many years pushing regulators to standardise the term 'vegetarian' on food labelling. As we've seen above some aspects of food production do not have to be stated on packaging, to the extent that we can not be certain of what is included in our foods. The food industry has such a powerful voice and it may take many more years to change - the food industry does not want us to know all the secrets of food production - but we must continue to try.

It is very difficult to be a 'true' vegan - so many bacteria and organisms in all parts of life - but to their best practical efforts they are doing the little they can - every little helps in this regard. And to the nay-sayers and those who have to shout the veggies down at every opportunity - live and let live. Respect others wishes, as I respect yours. I just feel happy that my meal today didn't cause suffering (ie result in the killing) of another creature.

  • 276.
  • At 03:28 AM on 13 Jan 2007,
  • Lacy Syverson wrote:

I gave up reading these comments about half way down because so many of them frustrate me. I do appreciate that there are some concerned, educated people clarifying the issues here.
The first thing that aggravates me is the prevalence of people claiming that humans NEED meat. If you'd like to argue that it's an individual's choice, I might hear you out, but if we NEEDED meat, the millions of vegetarians and vegans around the world would be very unhealthy. There are indeed some unhealthy vegetarians, as some people have mentioned here, but in most cases, this is because they do not take the time to educate themselves about what to eat or are too lazy to prepare the diverse foods needed to maintain health. As a long time veg, I am thrilled that my diet post-meat has become so much more varied. I rarely get bored with food anymore. Of course, I know some people have already touched on the moral issues as well, and they should not be taken lightly. Even if you do not care about the suffering of BILLIONS of animals each year, you might care that a meat centered diet significantly contributes to the world's poor populations starving, top soil erosion, air and water pollution, species extinctions, etc. And, for the goober who said "what would happen to all the cows and pigs of they were no longer needed," please consider that as much as many of us would love to see the whole world go veg at once, it will not happen. However, it is happening at a quickening pace, and each year as fewer animal products were needed, fewer would be bred. If it got to the point where the mass factory farms and light speed slaughterhouses were no longer needed, the moral reasons to completely eliminate animal products might be eliminated as well and the few remaining could be used with minimal suffering or waste. And so what if they weren't? Cows are not native to many parts of the world where they now exist, so if they were to "become extinct" in those areas, great! Maybe the national parks and other lands being trampled by them could be restored. If you want to defend your meat-eating ways, educate yourself first so that you don't make comments that further reinforce the idea that meat-eaters are uneducated barbarians.

  • 277.
  • At 11:12 AM on 13 Jan 2007,
  • doc bob wrote:

Ethical man? In a McDonalds apron?(see photo above!) Are you trying to tell us something Justin?

  • 278.
  • At 12:25 PM on 13 Jan 2007,
  • Rod wrote:

What's the fascination with all this microscopic detail - all this nit-picking angels-on-a-pinhead stuff? The net contribution of recycled human hair to anything of importance in the world is next to nothing. You're not going to save the planet by stamping it out.

Same with micro-generation. A personal wind turbine isn't worth a gnat's fart in the global scheme of things. True, every little helps, but even a huge collection of gnats isn't going to fart enough to do anything useful.

Then theres's the question of what fraction of the population will ever be interested in taking up these fascinating ideas. If that tops 0.1% I'd be amazed.

No, to solve big problems you need solutions with a bit of grunt. Things like nuclear power, for example. Unfortunately, that's not exactly a DIY solution.

  • 279.
  • At 02:16 AM on 14 Jan 2007,
  • Fanny wrote:

All those grains , nuts, fruit and vegetables are the result of fertilisation by insects for the most part and by bees in particular.
I find it remarkable that honey could be considered non-vegan. It depends on the nectar of blossoms and, if the nectar fails, as it occasionally does with some plants, there is no honey. It can be eaten straight from the hive without pasteurisation or treatment and does not require any preservatives. It contains useful trace elements and can be helpful in the treatment of pollen allergies. It is more perfect than any other sugar.
Yes, apiarists manage their hives but
the bees behave like bees whether feral or not. The orchard owners and crop growers on whom we all depend welcome the participation of apiarists who can move hives from place to place to improve the productivity of the crops.

  • 280.
  • At 08:43 PM on 14 Jan 2007,
  • Phil Corkery wrote:

For a more light-hearted look at food I heartily recommend "The Man Who Ate Everything" by American Vogue writer Jeffrey Steingarten.He sets himself the heroic task of eating all the things to which has a longstanding aversion(it is quite a long list).He also tries to live for a period on food stamps and concludes that it is just impossible.

  • 281.
  • At 09:52 PM on 14 Jan 2007,
  • Jane Soaper, Bath. wrote:

I do feel very sorry for anyone who has an allergy to peanuts-every bite could be a matter of life and death,and going out to dinner must be rather like playing Russian Roulette.My own allergy is to shellfish,it simply brings me out in spots.You never know where you are going to find it(a certain well-known retailer of ready meals is a particular culprit-I dare not write the name in case this post is banned).I was also quite surprised to find that taramasalata-which I thought was just fish eggs,can also contain shellfish.I wonder if this is a UK corruption as I never had problems when I ate it in Greece.

  • 282.
  • At 11:53 PM on 17 Jan 2007,
  • Viktor The Vegan wrote:

"Hair? In Bread? Do get real Vegan!"

Uh-oh, looks like Tobias has consigned you to the 'Them' pigeon hole (the one placed as far away from the 'Us' pigen hole as possible in Chez Tobias)

See how quick meatheads are to reject their own? I'm sure Tobias will happily welcome you back in February when you go back to being one of them, so long as you eat enough flesh and dairy to make up for the shocking behaviour of January...

  • 283.
  • At 05:28 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Yugi Mahler wrote:

I don't think we should get too bogged down in the trivial with food products.There are so many labels that read like hieroglyphics.I would hate to subject my doctor to an inquisition about the possibilty of animal products in sugar coatings every time he writes me a prescription.Perhaps we should concentrate on preserving the peaceful balance of nature and not allow the "noise" to get in the way.

  • 284.
  • At 09:30 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Ashley wrote:

wow... very interesting, is it true? i have no idea.. all i know is that i will eat anything and everything as long as it tastes good and doesn't make me sick...hehehehe... ;) thats me!! but i will make sure to eat more vegetables ;)

I was watching a BBC doc. the other day, and in North America there used to be millions of bison. They are all gone now. But did they have an adverse impact on the environment? I can beleive the C02 emission problems, but animals farting? Can this really be the nail in the

And what do vegans have against honey? I have never heard anything so silly! Honey, made from plants, by bees. No animals killed, all the bees free to come and go as they please. They love making honey don't they? They're like the Doozers in Fraggle rock. If you don't eat their constructions, eventually the whole of their society will collapse. Is Fraggle Rock still on tele?

  • 286.
  • At 11:14 PM on 02 Feb 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

Just watched the so called ethical man? It started of positive an at the end it seemed they was throwing meat in a vegans face by putting meat right in front of the screen? I've read the comments on this page an people are getting at vegans for using cars but most vegans i know do everything they can for the environment an as we know most people don't care at all. If we all did our bit for our planet we can make a change before it's to late if were not to late.

  • 287.
  • At 01:48 PM on 16 Feb 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Grow up. Babies and children have "diary requirements". Adults do not.

  • 288.
  • At 04:14 PM on 16 Feb 2007,
  • John Wilson wrote:

Today I heard another troubling urban myth about to start the rounds - Baby Boomers are more responsible for climate change than any other group.
Blimy I thought at first they were refering to the term "Old Fart" and then take away the baked beans. But it seems they infer that this sector is awash with money and keeping airlines and extreme sports going strong. Can we
now get on with the culling.

  • 289.
  • At 01:16 PM on 05 Mar 2007,
  • Jeffrey Lam wrote:

"It is known as E920 and is permitted for use in all biscuits, breads and cakes except those that claim to be wholemeal."

Hold on a minute... why not just have wholemeal? It would be healthier and there would be no E920 in it.

  • 290.
  • At 06:31 PM on 11 Mar 2007,
  • Vijay K Vijayaratnam wrote:

To spot a human hair in my culture in the past is the end of the eating of food.But now,i am forced to clear that and get on with it.I used to think it is noe reason chefs and theri assiatance are expectd to wear head scarf at all time in the kitchen like nurses at hospital for hygenic reasons.
As for it use as aditives is news to me.By the way if one can create a life or trace DNA from a hair,it must be treated as useful in other form.

  • 291.
  • At 02:29 PM on 16 Mar 2007,
  • Rose wrote:

I cannot believe that there any nasty hairy things in the lovely ploughman's lunch I eat every saturday at my local country pub.There are at least some advantages to living outside London.As for the dangers of pesticides-why not just wash the food one's self? At least that way you don't pay over-inflated supermarket prices for ready prepared fruit and vegetables.I average 14p for an apple.

i'am really impressed!!

  • 293.
  • At 08:20 AM on 14 Apr 2007,
  • John Mayer wrote:

Amazing the plethora of pro-meat pronouncements made here without the slightest basis in fact. I’d have to write a book to refute them all, but such books have already been written, and these meat apologists aren’t going to read them; they only want to justify their lack of making any change in their lives. At random: At 09:53 PM on 10 Jan 2007, AJ wrote: “How many vegan's do we see in the starving world, perhaps its a choice made by people with not enough to worry about in life. We are not designed that way, check out the canines (two top and bottom jaw)combined with also the molars and incisors if you'll still got your teeth. We're omnivorous.“

And what prey do you envision our ancestors pulling down with these tiny canines (and rending with our flimsy fingernails)? Grub worms, maybe? In fact many herbivores have canines including the male gorilla, an obligate herbivore who has fangs that certainly put ours to shame (used to win females) and the _Balbaroo fangaroo_, an extinct kangaroo which used its canines for defense.

We are designed precisely “that way;” our incisors and molars are designed, as were our austrolopethecine ancestors‘ (also vegans) specifically to eat plants. That’s why our jaws move sideways, unlike a carnivore‘s.

A couple of other points: on the notion that we can’t maintain our bodies without the complete protein of animal flesh. Funny; how do the cows manage it? The ones that aren’t fed the remains of other cows, often contaminated with prions, that is.

And, as to why vegans would be advised to take vitamins if their diet is natural: why would meat-eaters be advised to take vitamins - especially folic acid for child-bearing age women - if their diet was adequate? We take vitamins for the same reason corpse-eaters do; just to be on the safe side.

B-12 is indeed recommended for vegans, but far and away - something like 90% or better (if memory serves) - the majority of people with B-12 deficits are not vegans; they are people with a deficiency of intrinsic factor in their GI tracts. Vegans in nature probably wouldn’t need any supplements; there are enough bacteria (and tiny bugs, if that gives meat-eaters a loophole to seize upon) on plants in the field or in the farmers’ market to supply our miniscule requirements if we didn’t clean them under the spray nozzles in our sinks. I think 3mcg a day of B-12 is recommended, but our bodies can store B-12 for long periods (unlike most water soluble vitamins). Primitive vegan tribes still exist, doing fine with no Flintstone vitamins because their vegetables are not so thoroughly cleaned.

Veganism, not omnivorism, is the natural diet of humans, and most vegans are healthier than most flesh-eaters. I didn’t turn veggie for health reasons; I’m healthy as a byproduct of vegetarianism. I’ve always done contact sports, and I still do; rowing and grappling against young Turks a third my age, young men in their prime, and more than holding my own. BTW, I’ve recently decided to go back to school in a health field and had to take nutrition courses; about half the professors in that department are vegetarian. Of course, in making that decision they had the advantage over the carnivorous “contributors” here of actually having the scientific facts to consider.

But why waste bandwidth? If it weren’t for the animal suffering and environmental destruction I’d be delighted to have those who wish eating their fill of bacon and cheeseburgers, now that we can’t rely on smoking any longer to thin the herd. At least it’s good to know the cows and pigs will have their revenge.

  • 294.
  • At 08:10 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Sly wrote:

You cannot be an ethical man if you enjoyed killing and eating a turkey.

  • 295.
  • At 10:50 PM on 14 Feb 2008,
  • su wrote:

if vegans avoid living things why do they eat vegetables? After all they are classed as living whilst growing in the ground and dead when withered. Can you guaranty they have no feelings or are not living?
Get a life you vegans, God gave us teeth for a reason and thats to eat meat as well as veg.
As for the hair dont believe everything you read or you will very soon starve to death.

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