Meat Feast

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/14/sophie-heawood-zoo-depressing-place

Great article by Sophie Heawood in yesterday’s Guardian weekend magazine.

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How to get enough protein on a vegan diet…

The following is an article from One Green Planet that explains very helpfully how you can get plenty of protein on a vegan diet, even if you don’t want to eat soy products such as tofu, seitan, tempeh etc.

So how much protein do we really need? According to Reed Mangels, Ph.D. and R.D., “The RDA recommends that we take in 0.36 grams of protein per pound that we weigh.” So, let’s say you weigh 175 pounds. You should then be aiming for around 63 grams of protein per day. Now, for some tips on how to achieve this feat, all the while staying plant-based, as well as gluten and soy-free.

Learn to love lentils.

Lentils are a protein powerhouse at around 18 grams of protein per cup. They’re also cheap and versatile. A triple win!

Hail the hemp seeds.

Hemp seeds weigh in at 16 grams of protein per 3-tablespoon serving. I like to add these seeds atop salads and throw them into smoothies whenever possible.

Beans are your friend.

Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans…all of them will give you, at minimum, 15 grams of protein per cup. Throw beans on or in to at least one of your meals, and you’ll get a good bit of protein. I like to sneak beans into my breakfasts to get a nice morning protein boost.

Pass the peas.

Other legumes, like chickpeas or black-eyed peas, are a great protein source that can be made into veggie burger patties or cooked in soups, placed on salads, and so much more! These will bring in from 13 – 15 grams of protein per cup.

Quick, eat quinoa!

The gluten-free eater’s go-to rice substitute, quinoa is a staple for me and so many other gluten-free vegans. I eat it probably once every day, either at lunch or dinner. Two cooked cups will add 16 grams of protein to your daily count.

Get those greens.

Even your greens can be a source of protein – especially if you eat them in abundance! Spinach totals at 5 grams per cooked cup, while broccoli will give you 4 grams of protein per cooked cup. If you’re a healthy vegan, you’re eating greens in copious amounts – so add these and other protein rich greens in throughout the day, and it’ll add up fast.

Now, let’s put some of this together to see how easy it can be. If you made a dinner of, for example, 2 cups quinoa (16 grams protein) + 1 cup of black beans (15 grams protein) + a sprinkling of 3 tablespoons hemp seeds (16 grams protein) + 2 cups each of spinach (10 grams protein) and broccoli (8 grams of protein), all stirred up with some delicious vegan stir-fry sauce, your lunch or dinner would be giving you 65 grams of protein – above what is recommended for one day for the average 175 pound person!

Arcadia’s rude awakening…

So my daughter (Arcadia, 5 yrs old) has started to notice that Ed and I don’t eat meat, eggs or dairy and is beginning to ask questions.  This shouldn’t be tricky but of course it is because all I want, as a parent, is to be able to answer any questions my children might ask me, as honestly and thoughtfully as I can and with eating animals this is tricky.  For example… here’s yesterday’s conversation:

Arcadia: “Mummy why don’t you eat sausarcadiaages?”

Me: “Because sausages are made from pork which comes from pigs and I don’t want to eat pigs”.

Arcadia: “Sausages don’t come from pigs mummy they come from shops”.

Me: “Yes we buy them from shops but they are made from pigs that have been raised and killed for their meat”.

Arcadia: “But that’s horrible.  Why would people kill pigs?”

Me: “Because they like the taste of sausages”.

Arcadia: “Maybe they don’t know their sausages come from pigs – I think we should tell them.  Or maybe it should say pig on the packet and not sausages and then people would know not to eat them.  I don’t think the school knows that sausages are pig because then people wouldn’t eat them”.

Now why people would choose to kill and eat pigs when they don’t need to is completely flabbergasting to me so how on earth I explain it to a 5 yr old I don’t know.  Because of course it makes entirely no sense to her – as it doesn’t to me. Now I could tell her what my parents told me which was that pigs and cows are here to provide us with food.  I could say that they live long and happy lives on Old Macdonalds farm before one day, after a long and happy life, they wander down the lane to the cosy slaughterhouse and get turned into scrummy sausages for the lovely butchers.  But of course I can’t because we all know this is utter bullshit.  So I am left with trying to tell her the truth, to arm her with the facts so that she can then make up her own mind, without leaving her entirely dumbstruck, appalled and confused because these aren’t things that a 5 yr old should be feeling.  But the facts leave her feeling all of those things.

Luckily there is a Rastafarian boy in her class who is vegetarian and a Hindu girl who doesn’t eat beef and a Jewish boy who doesn’t eat pork and only eats kosher and lots of Muslim children who only eat halal so she can discuss all of their food choices with them and make up her own mind.

Today she told granny that she didn’t want to eat the fish that she’d bought her for lunch because she didn’t want to ‘kill fishes”.  Granny promptly cooked and fed her fish anyway so its clearly going to be a long and bumpy road…

Any advice from parents, teachers, siblings etc who have fielded questions on the subject from curious small people is very welcome!

Founder of WNY Vegans talks about her diet, misconceptions about veganism

Good article by Melinda Shaw on her experiences as a vegan:

The word “vegan” carries an inordinate amount of caustic weight despite its simple theory and definition. The term sparks trigger quick, flippant responses and reactions based on – from what I have found through casual conversations – a misappropriations, distaste and individual perplexity.

Statements like, “Why would you do that?” “Isn’t is hard to not eat meat?” and “You’re missing out on so many good foods!” spring up regularly, creating inadvertent and glaring testimonies that being “vegan” really means being “different.”

And ultimately misunderstood.

After reading about “Veganuary,” my seminal curiosities led me to dig in a bit deeper in what it is to be truly “vegan.”

I understand the core concepts: no meat, no animal byproducts, and conscious and ethical living practices, but never did I realize that living as a vegetarian, how far off I am from living a vegan lifestyle, thanks in great part to the products I use that contain animal components – as opposed to the foods that I eat.

So “Veganuary,” the promotion of “veganism” last month, afforded me the opportunity to reach out to Melinda Shaw, the founder of WNY Vegans, who spoke about what it is to be vegan.

“A vegan is someone who chooses not to consume any animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs and byproducts made from animals, including honey and gelatin. People generally choose to become vegan for either humane, environmental or health reasons, or a combination of those reasons. Most ethical vegans also generally abstain from using health and beauty products and cleaning products that contain animal ingredients or were tested on animals,” Shaw said.

Also, ethical vegans will desist from wearing fabrics derived from animals, including wool, leather, fur and silk. They also will refrain from attending events and activities where animals are being used for entertainment purposes, such as rodeos, zoos, marinas and circuses.

As a vegan for 23 years, Shaw began living in this manner for “ethical reasons.” Her primary concern was “for the animals.” With more than two decades experience, Shaw attests to the “health and environmental benefits of being vegan.”

“I know that the choices I make every day have a positive impact on the world and do the least harm possible to the animals, my health and the environment. The physical benefits of a vegan lifestyle are tremendous,” Shaw said.

“Today, more people are dying from lifestyle-related disease than infectious diseases! These lifestyle-related diseases are mostly due to high consumption of processed, animal-based foods and lack of physical exercise. We know that most of these diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer, are linked to the over-consumption of animal products and can be reversed through a whole-foods, plant-based diet.”

Thanks largely to innate commonsense and research, omnivorous and vegan diets are, nearly to entirely devoid of animal byproducts, thus traditionally lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol in comparison to non-vegetarian forms of nourishment. Numerous studies also support claims that vegetarians and/or vegans appear to have a lower risk for coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and various forms of cancer.

With all the health benefits associated with non-meat based diets, misconceptions about herbivorous diets are incredibly and shockingly pervasive in our society, especially one that has access to answers in as little time as it take for someone to think and type in a question on Google.

“The biggest misconception about being vegan is that it’s too hard and the foods are too restrictive,” Shaw said. “Many people who try or become vegan are pleasantly surprised to learn about the huge variety of foods that are vegan and actually enjoy cooking and eating more as a vegan as they experiment with new foods and flavor combinations.

“The other misconception is that vegan food is expensive, which is just the opposite. Beans and rice are very inexpensive. When you remove the costly meat, dairy and eggs from your diet, which is generally about 40 percent of an average grocery bill, that frees up a lot of room in your budget. You get more for your money on a vegan diet.”

As for vegan foods, the variety available is extensive. Per the recommendations from Shaw (and some of her favorites), there are “vegan” meat products like Gardein and Beyond Meat, which she uses when cooking for those who are non-vegan, and nutritional yeast, an accent spice of sorts; high in vitamin B12, it gives food a pleasant, nutty flavor.

“The biggest apprehension from people about being vegan is concern over what they will eat,” Shaw said. “I will often go grocery shopping with people to show them some of my favorite products. Most people are shocked to see all of their familiar food items in vegan form, such as butter, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream, shredded cheese and meat-replacements. It’s a big relief when they realize that they can still eat very similar to what they are used to eating, just in a more humane and healthy way.”

Should you want to experiment with being vegan for a day or just a meal, there are numerous local restaurants that offer vegan dishes. They include Saigon Bangkok, Falafel Bar, and Pizza Plant, to name a fast few.

Also, as the old, clichéd, but ever true adage goes, “knowledge is power.” The more information you have on veganism, the better informed you will be about the relatively misconstrued subject matter. Check out these documentaries: Vegucated; Earthlings; Forks Over Knives; and Food Inc. Or try one of these books: “Diet for a New America,” by John Robbins; or “The China Study,” by T. Colin Campbell.

Now you can go seek out, find out and try out what works for you. Like anything in life, options are good, and this is just another one for your consideration.

If you must eat meat, save it for Christmas

Here’s a great article by the wonderfully eloquent and engaging George Monbiot which was published in The Guardian on the 16th Dec 2014.

image via Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

If you must eat meat, save it for Christmas

From chickens pumped with antibiotics to the environmental devastation caused by production, we need to realise we are not fed with happy farm animals.

What can you say about a society whose food production must be hidden from public view? In which the factory farms and slaughterhouses supplying much of our diet must be guarded like arsenals to prevent us from seeing what happens there? We conspire in this concealment: we don’t want to know. We deceive ourselves so effectively that much of the time we barely notice that we are eating animals, even during once-rare feasts, such as Christmas, which are now scarcely distinguished from the rest of the year.

Christmas turkey

It begins with the stories we tell. Many of the books written for very young children are about farms, but these jolly places in which animals wander freely, as if they belong to the farmer’s family, bear no relationship to the realities of production. The petting farms to which we take our children are reifications of these fantasies. This is just one instance of the sanitisation of childhood, in which none of the three little pigs gets eaten and Jack makes peace with the giant, but in this case it has consequences.

Labelling reinforces the deception. As Philip Lymbery points out in his book Farmageddon, while the production method must be marked on egg boxes in the EU, there are no such conditions on meat and milk. Meaningless labels such as “natural” and “farm fresh”, and worthless symbols such as the little red tractor, distract us from the realities of broiler units and intensive piggeries. Perhaps the most blatant diversion is “corn-fed”. Most chickens and turkeys eat corn, and it’s a bad thing, not a good one.

The growth rate of broiler chickens has quadrupled in 50 years: they are now killed at seven weeks. By then they are often crippled by their own weight. Animals selected for obesity cause obesity. Bred to bulge, scarcely able to move, overfed, factory-farmed chickens now contain almost three times as much fat as chickens did in 1970, and just two thirds of the protein. Stalled pigs and feedlot cattle have undergone a similar transformation. Meat production? No, this is fat production.

Sustaining unhealthy animals in crowded sheds requires lashings of antibiotics. These drugs also promote growth, a use that remains legal in the United States and widespread in the European Union, under the guise of disease control. In 1953, Lymbery notes, some MPs warned in the House of Commons that this could cause the emergence of disease-resistant pathogens. They were drowned out by laughter. But they were right.

This system is also devastating the land and the sea. Farm animals consume one third of global cereal production, 90% of soya meal and 30% of the fish caught. Were the grain now used to fatten animals reserved instead for people, an extra 1.3 billion could be fed. Meat for the rich means hunger for the poor.

What comes out is as bad as what goes in. The manure from factory farms is spread ostensibly as fertiliser, but often in greater volumes than crops can absorb: arable land is used as a dump. It sluices into rivers and the sea, creating dead zones sometimes hundreds of miles wide. Lymbery reports that beaches in Brittany, where there are 14 million pigs, have been smothered by so much seaweed, whose growth is promoted by manure, that they have had to be closed as a lethal hazard: one worker scraping it off the shore apparently died of hydrogen sulphide poisoning, caused by the weed’s decay.

It is madness, and there is no anticipated end to it: the world’s livestock population is expected to rise by 70% by 2050.

Four years ago, I softened my position on meat-eating after reading Simon Fairlie’s book Meat: A Benign Extravagance. Fairlie pointed out that around half the current global meat supply causes no loss to human nutrition. In fact it delivers a net gain, as it comes from animals eating grass and crop residues that people can’t consume.

Since then, two things have persuaded me that I was wrong to have changed my mind. The first is that my article was used by factory farmers as a vindication of their monstrous practices. The subtle distinctions Fairlie and I were trying to make turn out to be vulnerable to misrepresentation.

The second is that while researching my book Feral, I came to see that our perception of free-range meat has also been sanitised. The hills of Britain have been sheepwrecked – stripped of their vegetation, emptied of wildlife, shorn of their capacity to hold water and carbon – all in the cause of minuscule productivity. It is hard to think of any other industry, except scallop dredging, with a higher ratio of destruction to production. As wasteful and destructive as feeding grain to livestock is, ranching could be even worse. Meat is bad news, in almost all circumstances.

So why don’t we stop? Because we don’t know the facts, and because we find it difficult even if we do. A survey by the US Humane Research Council discovered that only 2% of Americans are vegetarians or vegans, and more than half give up within a year. Eventually, 84% lapse. One of the main reasons, the survey found, is that people want to fit in. We might know it’s wrong, but we block our ears and carry on.

I believe that one day artificial meat will become commercially viable, and that it will change social norms. When it becomes possible to eat meat without keeping and slaughtering livestock, live production will soon be perceived as unacceptable. But this is a long way off. Until then, perhaps the best strategy is to encourage people to eat as our ancestors did. Rather than mindlessly consuming meat at every meal, we should think of it as an extraordinary gift: a privilege, not a right. We could reserve meat for a few special occasions, such as Christmas, and otherwise eat it no more than once a month.

All children should be taken by their schools to visit a factory pig or chicken farm, and to an abattoir, where they should be able to witness every stage of slaughter and butchery. Does this suggestion outrage you? If so, ask yourself what you are objecting to: informed choice, or what it reveals? If we cannot bear to see what we eat, it is not the seeing that’s wrong, it’s the eating.

“Lobsters do feel pain? Oh. Ummm… well sorry for all the boiling alive guys…”

IMG_2908.JPG

So it turns out that lobsters, octopus, prawns, crabs, squid etc probably do feel pain.  This article was recently published in the New Scientist and suggests that all of these animals not only feel pain but some of them feel it more acutely than humans do.

But do people care?  Will everyone who read the latest evidence in the New Scientist or all of you reading this blog post now, finish reading this and then vow to stop eating these animals?  No, most won’t according to what history shows us.  Not until the vegan movement gathers a lot more momentum and swells to much bigger numbers.  Why not?  I don’t understand why otherwise kind, caring, compassionate people don’t change their behaviour once they’ve discovered that that behaviour causes pain and suffering to innocent sentient animals. We’re not talking about political allegiance or tastes in music or something that is inconsequential in terms of pain and suffering.  We are talking about a global genocide that is causing billions of animals every year to endure immense abuse, pain and suffering.  Is that how incapable we are of thinking for ourselves, of acting upon proven facts, of swimming against the tide, of challenging the status quo?  It makes me feel so sad and angry and disappointed. But more than that it baffles me.  I’m not any more compassionate than anyone else.  I don’t love animals any more than anyone else?  I don’t enjoy seeing an animal suffer any more or less than anyone else I doubt.  We all have the same reaction when we see an animal in pain – we empathise enormously and will do everything we can to stop it’s suffering.  So why the massive blind spot when it comes to eating animals and animal products?  Is it ignorance?  It is fear?  I think we all know deep down that the process by which meat gets to our plates cannot be a wholly pleasant one.  But somehow we deem it worthwhile for the pleasure of taste and the fear of change.  So we do everything we can to remain ignorant and hide behind pathetic justifications such as ‘but we’ve always eaten meat’ (and?  we’ve also always enslaved other people and raped and pillaged our way around the world – it doesn’t mean it’s okay!) and ‘we need it for protein’ (no you do NOT).

The second I discovered what happens to the billions of male chicks born each year I vowed to never eat eggs again.  As soon as I discovered that I didn’t need to eat meat of any kind in order to eat a healthy, full and balanced diet I vowed to never be responsible for the slaughter of another pig, cow, duck, chicken, sheep, lamb or chicken.  I just the same way as when I discovered how foie gras was made I vowed never to eat it again. As soon as I discovered what veal was I vowed never again to eat it.  As soon as i discovered the life cycle of a dairy cow I vowed to never eat dairy again.  As soon as I discovered the human rights abuses committed by Primark I vowed never to shop there again.  As soon as I discovered the environmental ruin that Nestle is causing around the world I vowed never to buy their products again.  Why doesn’t everyone else.  Ignorance is a good enough answer if you really didn’t know.  But once you do know – what excuse do you have to continue to perpetuate the problem?

I’m bored of being polite and saying oh well some people don’t want to offend others or stand out from the crowd or be the objects of ridicule.  It’s not good enough.  Do better.  We all need to be better.  How can we pretend to preach the values of right and wrong to our children if we ourselves are knowingly perpetrating these cruel acts of needless violence and suffering day in and day out.  Enough.

Please stop eating and exploiting animals.  No more excuses.

The parable of the slaughtered lamb

Came across this article in the Guardian by Alex Renton from back in 2010 whilst researching whether or not I should take kids along to watch a lamb/pig/chicken be slaughtered….  It demonstrates my quandary entirely.

I don’t tell my kids what to eat.  When I’m cooking for them, they eat a vegan diet because that’s what I buy and that’s what I’m having.  When they’re at school or friends houses and we’re out in a restaurant or café they can have whatever they like.  I figure that, as parents, so long as I equip them with the necessary knowledge and information to make their own decisions in life then that’s my job done.  But this is easier said than done.  When it comes to eating meat, dairy and eggs – what is the ‘necessary knowledge and information?’.  Should I take them for a tour of the local slaughterhouse on Saturday?  Should I make them watch a day old calf being dragged away from it’s mother and shot so that we can have its milk.  Should I sneak them a peek inside a stinking, rotten hellhole of a chicken shed stuffed full of 30,000 chickens?  Should I invite them to watch the live baby male chick maceration process…? 

Probably not something a 3 and 4 yr old wants to see.  Probably not something any adult wants to see.  But then if we shelter our children from these things; these everyday things that are absolutely integral to the meat and dairy industry then are we really doing our job?  Are we not creating a generation of ignorant, naïve, misguided children who will go on merrily eating meat without understanding the effects their food choices have on the animals they choose to eat, take milk from or farm for eggs. 

If, as the article above linked to demonstrates, the reality of eating meat is something we want to hide our children from, then does that not tell us all we need to know about whether or not meat should be on the menu at all…?

All thoughts warmly welcomed!