X Close

What vegan propaganda ignores Cutting out animal products will kill us, not save us

Credit: Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty

Credit: Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty


January 5, 2022   6 mins

Curious how acceptable veganism has become. George Orwell scathingly described vegetarians as “that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking to the smell of ‘progress’ like bluebottles to a dead cat.” Somehow, via Linda McCartney’s textured soya sausages, veganism has become a mainstream path, not just to health, but to a bright future. As George Monbiot, the high priest of British veganism, exhorted his Guardian readers, “The best way to save the planet? Drop meat and dairy.” It’s the cows. They belch methane.

The UK is a world leader in veganism, the first country to have a Vegan Society. Here, more than a million people will stop eating animal products this month as part of Veganuary, of which Monbiot is an “Ambassador”. After that, who knows? You may want — and the Ambassadors certainly desire — that you embrace the whole vegan testament, and deny yourself not just meat, fish, eggs and dairy, but all animal products. The wool jumper on your back. The leather shoes on your feet.

Of course, the success of veganism is no mystery at all. Vegans are absolutely correct in maintaining that plant-based food can be healthy, and that the welfare conditions of much of the globe’s livestock are pitiful. (On ethical grounds alone, I wouldn’t touch an intensively-reared pig with a bargepole, let alone with a knife and fork. And I’ve farmed for 20 years.) True too: Daisy the cow is implicated in climate-change. No sane or caring human could disagree.

Such is lower case veganism. Sensible, and sensitive. The problem comes with majuscule Veganism, which rages beyond animal ethics, diet and environmental concerns into a fundamentalist crusade untroubled by science, untouched by rationality. When humans killed God, they needed a replacement for religion. Upper-case Veganism is the latest faith for the lost middle classes.

A certain proof is offered by THIS IS VEGAN PROPAGANDA (& OTHER LIES THE MEAT INDUSTRY TELLS YOU) by animal rights activist Ed Winters, published by Vermillion this salutary month. A cursory glance down the contents list is sufficient taster of Veganism’s salvationism: “Veganism is the Moral Baseline,” “Our Past Shows Us Why Veganism Must Be Our Future,” “There’s No Such Thing as a Happy Farm Animal” (if you go to the website of Veganuary, there is a photograph of a woman petting a cute cow; if the cow is not contented, then Veganuary is exploiting the cow. ) “Veganism Could Save Your Life,” “A Vegan World Would Be Better for Everyone.”

Where does one begin? With The Fall, I suppose. For Vegans the omnivorism of early humans is an inconvenient truth, to be negated by counterfactuals (such as PETA’s memorable “We Don’t Have Carnivorous Teeth”), or avoided by the “That was history” excuse, as with the author’s, “Whatever happened tens of thousands of years ago… should have no bearing on determining whether or not what we do to animals is justified now.” Actually, human anatomy has changed remarkably little in the last million years. We still have canine teeth, and a stomach more resembling that of a dog than a sheep. Meat-eating is natural. It’s why you salivate over a plate of bacon.

Veganism, in rejecting our animal essential, elevates us above the creatures of the earth. It is speciesism disguised as correct-thinking. Ironically, we would not be the verbal, intelligent humans of Vegan perfectibility without meat. Harvard University evolutionary biologists Katherine Zink and Daniel Lieberman, nailed that truth in their paper “Impact of meat and Lower Paleolithic food processing techniques on chewing in humans,” Nature, 2016: “Whatever selection pressures favored these shifts [the bigging of the brain, development of speech], they would not have been possible without increased meat consumption combined with food processing technology.”

As with any half-decent religion, Veganism has an end-of-Eden story. “Huge amounts of the forests of the UK have,” Winters writes, “over time, been cleared and replaced with grass pastures to feed artificially produced, selectively bred animals, all so we can produce what is an absurdly damaging product.” (He means meat.) But are grass pastures intrinsically ecologically evil? Hardly. A traditional hay meadow can boast 40 different plant species per square metre — one of the most botanically rich habitats you are ever likely to find. Grazing by livestock is essential to their biodiversity; without grazing, the trees and the most vigorous grasses take over.

Just don’t expect a Vegan to tell you this. On the altar of Veganism, the meadow pipit, the meadow brown butterfly, and meadowsweet will be sacrificed. For all of their fine talk against exploitation, vegans are no friend to the animal. Because, if we all go Vegan, there will be no farm beasts outside specimens in unsustainable populations in zoos. Ermintrude, Chicken Little, and Shaun the Sheep will have to be mass culled.

And this extermination would have a calamitous effect on ecology. I have no wish to be a nerd about turd, but a cow produces, via its poo, a fifth of its own body weight in insects annually. In the British countryside an upwards chain of wild creatures feed on said insects, culminating in the apex predator, the fox (a determined scavenger of beetles in dung.) There are dung beetles which actually specialise in types of farmyard manure, such as Onthophagus joannae, which favours sheep poo. Get rid of the poo, and you get rid of the dung beetles. Why the decline in swallows in arable East Anglia where bovines are a rare sight? Not enough cow shit, in all likelihood.

What you can expect from a Vegan is the catechism that meat and dairy take up 83% of global agricultural land and provide only 18% of global calories. But there is good reason for the planetary extent of livestock. About two thirds of farmland is “marginal,” meaning little apart from grass and scrub will grow there because it is too dry, too steep, too rocky, too wet, too wind-blown. As a Masai cattle-herder and a Shetland shepherd will delight in explaining, livestock are extremely efficient when it comes to transforming stuff humans cannot eat into tasty stuff they can.

Veganism knows the cost of livestock farming, but not its value; it knows the value of plant-based food, but not its cost. Not all the soya for which Brazilian rainforest is felled goes into cattle feed, it goes into “meat free” burgers too. The intensively farmed arable lands of East Anglia — which grow the Vegan’s daily bread — suffer soil erosion to the tune of tonnes per acre annually. A recent study in the Environmental Science & Policy journal calculated that about 3.07 tonnes of soil are lost per hectare of agricultural land per annum in Europe, with the vast bulk coming off crop-land. At that rate Vegans will die of hunger before they drown in the rising sea of climate change.

Ah, climate change. Will Veganism save the planet by killing off methane-emitting farm animals? Ruminants do indeed produce methane, but then so does rice; methane from rice farming causes 3% of anthropogenic global warming. Ruminant methane from grazing cows, however, is virtuously recycled into the soil by being broken down into CO2 and absorbed by new grass. Unlike the methane produced by water-logged paddies. If the Vegan dire prophecies scare you, it’s worth mentioning that seaweed additives for cattle may reduce emissions by 82%.

We cannot eat our way out of climate change by going Vegan. Professor Frank Mitloehner of the University of California, a world expert on air quality, calculates that if the entirety of the US were to go vegan for one year, the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions would amount to 2%. Something. But not the salvation of the planet.

And again, will no one consider the costs? Consider this: when did the West start getting ill? In the Seventies, when Western governments issued nutritional advice that demonised the saturated fats in meat, dairy and eggs and promoted carbohydrates as healthy food. The consequence is an epidemic of obesity. Winters talks about the “meat industry” as a monolith that puts profits before people, but what about the Vegan industry? Investors are pouring billions into alt-meat and dairy brands. Nestlé UK & Ireland supports Veganuary. Harrods and Volkswagen are taking part in Veganuary’s “workplace challenge.” Veganism has the fingerprints of Big Food all over its robes.

According to Mintel, Gen Z consumers are Veganism’s great hope, with over half (54%) of under 25s seeing the reduction of animal products as a good way to lessen humans’ impact on the environment. Big Vegan has done a job on them, and got them “flocking to the smell of ‘progress’”.  But Gen Z should be wary of the false prophets of Veganism.

If they really do care about the environment, they should  celebrate January by ditching the trainers in favour of a pair of leather shoes; synthetic trainers cause 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Then cancel the flight to Amsterdam; two years of Veganism would be required to offset the trip. Hell, buy a woollen jumper too, instead of a nylon one; nylon manufacture creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And then put back the supermarket’s Jasmine rice from Thailand, and tuck into a slice of local organic beef. Farm bullocks are not the problem. Fundamentalist Veganite bollocks are.


John Lewis-Stempel is a farmer and writer on nature and history. His most recent books are The Sheep’s Tale and Nightwalking.

JLewisStempel

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

205 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

It’s my impression that CND supporters, climate bedwetters, apologists for China, and vegans are pretty much all the same people. Am I right?
They deserve equal attention anyway.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Everybody out there is trying to be special, to have something different to say, to stand out from the Herd. Once upon a time, people were happy to be invisible – now they have to be influencers.
You could add extreme feminists, bandwagon transes, communists, fascists and others to your list. UnHerders??

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Just look at the top picture! The girl is biting the poor chicken’s neck off – no wonder people are anti meat, if meat-eaters are so unable to restrain themselves…

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

You are absolutely right Jon!

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Not necessarily. I’m definitely not a CND supporter, nor a China apologist, and I haven’t wet my bed for some while, although I do have concerns about climate change, I am also a vegetarian of c45 years (way before it became trendy). I admit I am not a vegan as I think that they are too vociferous (plus most of the vegan specific foods on the market are gross and unhealthy – I’ve tried them). I’ve never been preachy about my choice and recently I have come around do seeing the role of grazing animals in a healthy ecology and their role in helping to reduce CO2.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Thank you for not being preachy. If someone wants to eliminate meat from their lives, all the more power to them!
However, like most causes today, the issue becomes a matter of forcing others to abide by your ideals. It is only a matter of time before Veganism attempts to force itself on mankind in order to save us all.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

Oh we’re already well down that road Warren. Like any religion, there’s a loony fringe who believe they’ve seen the light & the rest of us will too as soon as we wake up (agree with them) In these people’s minds there’s no space for questions or doubts, no possibility that they could be wrong. They’re so sure they’re right, everyone else must be wrong. There’s no reasoning with that.

Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
2 years ago

You remind me of the “old school” Lefties who were all into freedom of speech, the working class and real social issues that effect real people

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Casey

Thank-you Kevin. I feel that I am part of a dying breed.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

You’re not alone.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago

I hope not. I like to think and hope that there are still people who open minded enough to make nuanced decisions and have new ideas etc. Don’t stop.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

That Orwell quote suggests it was trendy in the thirties.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago

Thanks for that honest opinion Linda

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

CND? How quaint! That seems like something from the dark ages. Despite in all likelihood the threat of nuclear weapons being as great as ever (admittedly maybe not to the UK), the Left seem to have got bored and moved on to more fashionable causes.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

No!

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago

I don’t deny the potentially positive impacts on health & environment of veganism. But this isn’t a black-and-white issue, as will become apparent through the following questions:

  • Can a large-scale vegan diet with sufficient protein be sustained through local growing, or will it rely on mass imports?
  • Is it ecologically sustainable to replace a locally grown steak from grass-fed cattle with an avocado from far away?
  • Where does the fertilizer come from if there are no animals?
  • What do we do with the unfarmable grassland?
  • What are the health and environmental impacts of industrial products like textured vegetable protein, insect protein or cultured meat?
  • What happens if saturated fat from animal products is replaced by sunflower oil, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids?
  • Who takes the responsibility for the micronutrient status of the public concerning vitamin B12 and other mostly animal-derived nutrients, such as taurine, carnitine, carnosine, creatine, DHA, EPA, vitamin A, vitamin K and calcium? Most of those can be gained from plant foods, but often not in sufficient amounts or in less bioavailable forms.
  • Who educates the public about what is considered a wholesome and healthy vegan diet?
Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Very detailed and well laid out. Thank you!

Dave Corby
Dave Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

I am pretty certain most of what you describe as animal-derived is in a vegan diet – with a couple of significant exceptions.
I have not eaten meat or dairy for 9 years (health plus I dont want to support intensive farming, in fact I dont want to kill intelligent animals at all when I dont need to) – but I was taking B12 and Omega-3 supplements. I have not missed meat at all but was missing fish – which contains B12 and Omega-3.
So I am a pescatarian now. This seems the right balance.
I consider it a luxury position. If at any time it was between an animal or me, then I would hunt and eat meat.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

Do you support abortion, killing an animal before it becomes intelligent?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

The problem is that eating fish seems to have even greater environmental impacts, obviously on fish stocks but also with all the antibiotics used in fish farming. I just try to eat a reasonably balanced diet.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

What you describe is the main issue regarding vegan diet.
All the vegan I know admitted eventually that they take supplements.
Without modern science we would not have supplements.
Without eating meat, we would not develop brain power to create science.
Lets just look at meat eating and vegetarian cultures.
There is no comparison in height, health and mental development.
Veganism is new religion for many lefties.
It is laughable now to argue for communism, though many still do.
So, veganism is ready made chewing gum for lefty mind.

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Any evidence to back up the claim repeated all over this forum that somehow eating meat gives you mental power? Do you mean the increased rate of Alzheimer’s with the increase in meat consumption (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_l-dqPyD0w&ab_channel=NutritionFacts.org)?
How do meat-eating and vegetarian cultures compare? Any evidence, again?

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack K

Sorry Jack, there’s no serious science linking meat & alzheimer’s. In fact there’s actually more hard evidence linking the rise in alzheimer’s with toxic seed oils. We will come to see those in the same light as tobacco in the future.

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

Well, if you can question the validity of research quoted in the video, and you present some evidence for the link of alzheimer’s and seed oil (BTW, I’ve hardly had any over the past several months) would take your claim more serious.

Sylar Petrelli
Sylar Petrelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack K

Seriously, “Vegans hears what they wanna hear” again ?

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Why do you associate being a vegan with being on the left?

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Agreed. Also many of the grains are staples for local people in South America and eating quinoa in Europe is not without its moral challenges.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

All excellent and relevant questions

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Let me allow to respond to you. You erected so many straw-men that it will take a while to tear than down, but bear with me.
Good locally-grown omnivorous diet and bad imported vegan diet is a fiction. Look at your shopping trolley next time you do your shopping and try to establish how much of it is imported. I hope you’ll find there some fruit and vegetables, so though vegans may consume it more, the fact they consume imported food is because much of diet is already imported. Secondly, check where your meat is produced. Even if it boasts to be British, it can only be so largely due imported animal feed. So without imports, as well as industrial process of breeding, rearing, slaughtering and processing animals, you would not have your modern meat-heavy diet. Yes, much of the vegan diet is imported, but it’s because in Britain we have relied on imported food for a good part of the last 2 centuries. While not all of the food that I typically eat can be grown in Britain, much of it (wheat, rye, oats, beans, lentils, root vegetables, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds etc) can, so if I had to eat a purely locally-grown diet, I would just have to settle for a bit less variety, just an omnivore would.
Regarding the avocados (somehow a quintessential vegan food – believe me, vegans don’t live on avocados, I personally have 2 a week at most, because they are fairly expensive) – yes, they are preferable to a ‘locally grown steak’ in terms of land use and emissions (about 100 kg CO2 equivalent kg of beef vs. 2.5 kg CO2eq of avocados), however you do the maths. The transportation emissions comprise a relatively small proportion of total food emissions (about 6% according to Poore and Nemecek, 2018).
Regarding fertiliser – and I’m no expert on that – how do we manage now? Do we really think that our contemporary omnivorous diet is sustained just by manure as fertiliser? The proliferation of meat consumption is partly possible by the artificially fertilised crops used an animal feed (most of them perfectly suitable for human consumption, such as soya, maize, sorghum or barley). So we could just continue with artificial fertilisers. Secondly, much less land would be needed to support a plant-based diet (about a third of it), so we can simply grow it less intensively and devote more of it to fallow land. Lastly, how about just making greater use of food waste as compost?
Unfarmable grassland – we don’t have to do anything with it, because at the moment its economic value and contribution to food production is marginal anyway. Compare how much land is needed to produce beef and lamb compared to plant sources: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/land-use-per-kg-poore and https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/land-use-protein-poore).
In relation to replacement ‘meat’, the solution can be simple – don’t eat it or eat less of it, just like I don’t – I rely on grains, pulses and veg for my dinner and very rarely have vegan ‘meat’, more out of curiosity. And they generally outperform animal sources of protein in terms of environmental impact and health effects.
Replacing animal fat with sunflower fat – again, don’t eat it or use it most sparingly! A few months ago, I virtually stopped using cooking oil, relying much more on stewing and steaming, and I get my fat from whole food sources such as nuts, seeds, olives etc.
Well, if vegan diets are indeed so nutrient deficient, how come vegan populations beat meat-eating ones on practically every health outcome, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer’s, longevity, etc. (for a presentation by brilliant dr. Greger with a lot of references see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30gEiweaAVQ&ab_channel=NutritionFacts.org). There is a lot of information how to sustain healthy lifestyle on a plant-based diet, you just need to look for it and then publicise it.
Granted, B12 is not naturally found in plant sources. However, many meat eaters are deficient on it and in fact, farm animals have to additionally supplemented with B12!

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack K

An interesting and informative reply; thank you.
Why do so many of the people commenting assume that vegans and vegetarians are left wing? You are probably the best qualified here to explain!

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Hi Judy, not so sure, there may be a tendency for vagans to be more left-leaning, but it’s generally the shoutiest of them which subscribe to the contemporary progressive/woke left. They can be quite intolerant to other vegans who don’t subscribe to their ideology. For example, my friend, a long-time vegan activist and by no means a rabid right-winger, has been hounded out of some of the vegan groups for being against abortion (as I am).

Sylar Petrelli
Sylar Petrelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Cause being a vegan it’s a cult, same with pet and similiar organizations, because everybody want’s to hear what they want to hear, and that’s how any propaganda or brainwashing scheme works, yet, you ignore other people that are way smarter than you and you instead just “copy and paste” facts based on your “research”, that’s Smart, very smart.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack K

Sorry Jack. You obviously know little about British agriculture or how livestock are reared. Let’s assume for a minute that the common myth touted by vegans that livestock farmers are cruel & lacking compassion, is actually true. Let’s then look at the basic economics. Grazed grass (abundant in the UK) £12-15 per tonne. Stored grass (silage) 65-75 per tonne. Feed barley & wheat are in the upper £200s this winter. Imported soya currently trading around £400 per tonne (£1200 if you want organic soya). So, tell me, if you’re actually trying to make livestock farming work financially (a really hard job these days) what would you feed your livestock? The expensive imported stuff or the cheap stuff growing in your fields that’s abundant? Now I want to add one more important component that people who know nothing about ruminant animals don’t know about. A thing called acidosis, feed a cattle or sheep too much cereals & you’ll kill them. Yes, you’ll kill them stone dead within half an hour. 
If you’re going to debate this, then
seriously, you’ll have to educate yourself. (You’ll look much less foolish)

Here’s an even better idea, get yourself out onto a livestock farm & see it for yourself – you might learn something, Not just about how the animals are reared but about the people too. Their love for the land, their love for their animals & above all how utterly fed up to the back teeth we are of people who know diddly squat about us & how we farm, taking complete & utter bollocks & behaving like they know something.
I don’t know what your job is, but I’m guessing you’re skilled at something (let’s assume its finance or IT)
Imagine if I turned up at your workplace next week & started pontificating about your industry (something I know nothing about) because I’d read a few articles online, that generally confirmed my views. You & your colleagues would righty ask “Who’s this idiot?” “How’s he qualified to know about our work?” You know what, they’d be right.
Now flip that coin around.

Time for a bit of self-reflection perhaps?

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

Granted Hugh, I’m not a farmer nor an expert on farming. I’d like to point out, however, that your post doesn’t invalidate my other points I made in my post, only the one about reliance on imported animal feed.
I don’t accuse all farmers of being cruel, there are probably better and worse farmers, and in some farms animals fare better than others. However, all of them end up in a slaughterhouse at a fraction of their natural lifespan and at the point of farmer’s choosing – usually when it’s most economic for them to do so.
Thanks for pointing out differences in the cost of different types of animal feed. I’ll do some further research. On your part, I would appreciate quoting some data on proportions in which these are fed to animals, and how much you can realistically rely on the grass alone.

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack K

21% of British agricultural land is used to grow lifestock feed, vs. 16% for crops for human consumption. I presume that what they grow on the 21% is not just grass. Are you telling me that in modern times you can just produce economically viable meat and dairy by letting animals chew on grass?

Sylar Petrelli
Sylar Petrelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack K

If you ain’t the expert, then what are you doing here?

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack K

Forgot to mention, if you don’t want to take B12 supplements, the British speciality of Marmite contains in decent amount, one teaspoon (about 8 g) has about 80% of daily recommended dose. It’s also found in yeast flakes and fortified plant milk.

Sylar Petrelli
Sylar Petrelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack K

Yeah except the plant based b12 is a very poor choice of supplementation, and again, vegans finding excuses to sound “smart”.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Shucks Michael, don’t ask questions of the vegan high presets now. Like all dissenters before you’ll be ‘burned at the stake’ (or the modern equivalent outed on SM & face a pile-on)

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

No Hugh, I won’t burn at a stake, and as you saw above, I offered an exhaustive reply to Marcus.

Stuart W
Stuart W
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael K

Hi MichaelK,
Those are some really great questions.
I’ll provide some answers and links to more info. I hope the formatting and links will be retained.

  • Can a large-scale vegan diet with sufficient protein be sustained through local growing, or will it rely on mass imports?
  • Is it ecologically sustainable to replace a locally grown steak from grass-fed cattle with an avocado from far away?

I believe your first two are answered here:
https://www.fastcompany.com/90461008/this-graph-will-show-you-the-carbon-footprint-of-your-protein
This article concludes saying, “It may seem counterintuitive to buy internationally sourced beans at the supermarket rather than a cut of beef from your local farmer. We’ve been told to shop local and go zero waste, but ultimately, this research finds, the biggest environmental factor lies in what it took to produce those 100 grams of protein.”
Human protein needs are way overblown, in fact this study says that the protein intake of plant-based diets might be one reason they’re so healthy.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2021.06.011

  • Where does the fertilizer come from if there are no animals?

Organic farmers have successfully used seaweed for generations.
https://bsranchandfarm.com/6-benefits-of-using-seaweed-for-organic-farming/

  • What do we do with the unfarmable grassland?

Why do we need to do anything with it? It’s a carbon sink. Let’s give it back to nature.

  • What are the health and environmental impacts of industrial products like textured vegetable protein, insect protein or cultured meat?

This is another great question. Fortunately, studies have been done on this. For instance, the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan revealed that compared to a quarter-pound of US beef, the Beyond Burger generates 90 percent fewer greenhouse emissions, requires 46 percent less energy, has 99 percent less impact on water scarcity, and has 93 percent less impact on land use.
https://css.umich.edu/publication/beyond-meats-beyond-burger-life-cycle-assessment-detailed-comparison-between-plant-based
As far as textured vegetable protein, which is made from soy, it takes one hundred times more land to produce a single gram of protein from beef or lamb than from peas or tofu.
https://ourworldindata.org/land-use-diets

  • What happens if saturated fat from animal products is replaced by sunflower oil, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids?

Uh, people will live longer? Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and sunflower oil is liquid at room temperature. So, the two are not really comparable to one another.

  • Who takes the responsibility for the micronutrient status of the public concerning vitamin B12 and other mostly animal-derived nutrients, such as taurine, carnitine, carnosine, creatine, DHA, EPA, vitamin A, vitamin K and calcium? Most of those can be gained from plant foods, but often not in sufficient amounts or in less bioavailable forms.

As far as B12 goes, nothing will really change in the US, as our food supply is already fortified with B12 and many other vitamins and minerals. Just take a look at any commercially available breakfast cereal in the US to confirm. I know that General Mills and Post are not fortifying their foods for vegans, they’re fortifying it for the entire US population and that’s not going to change.
My research indicates that bioavailability does differ from various foods, but by simply cooking many plant foods their nutrients become readily available. You can amp it up even more by soaking and sprouting foods, which makes them highly nutritious.
https://www.webmd.com/diet/sprouts-good-for-you
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13197-013-0978-y
As far essential amino acids go, they’re readily found in plant-based foods.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2021.06.011

  • Who educates the public about what is considered a wholesome and healthy vegan diet?

In the US, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics already does. I think they’d be qualified to do so.
I hope these answers to your questions are helpful.
Cheers!

Stuart W
Stuart W
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael K
  • Can a large-scale vegan diet with sufficient protein be sustained through local growing, or will it rely on mass imports?
  • Is it ecologically sustainable to replace a locally grown steak from grass-fed cattle with an avocado from far away?
  • I believe your first two are answered here:
  • https://www.fastcompany.com/90461008/this-graph-will-show-you-the-carbon-footprint-of-your-protein
  • This article ends saying, “It may seem counterintuitive to buy internationally sourced beans at the supermarket rather than a cut of beef from your local farmer. We’ve been told to shop local and go zero waste, but ultimately, this research finds, the biggest environmental factor lies in what it took to produce those 100 grams of protein.”
  • Where does the fertilizer come from if there are no animals?

Organic farming methods use seaweed with much success.
https://bsranchandfarm.com/6-benefits-of-using-seaweed-for-organic-farming/

  • What do we do with the unfarmable grassland?

Why do we need to do anything with it? It’s a carbon sink.

  • What are the health and environmental impacts of industrial products like textured vegetable protein, insect protein or cultured meat?

This is a great question. Fortunately, studies have been done on this. For instance, the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan revealed that compared to a quarter-pound of US beef, the Beyond Burger generates 90 percent fewer greenhouse emissions, requires 46 percent less energy, has 99 percent less impact on water scarcity, and has 93 percent less impact on land use.

https://css.umich.edu/publication/beyond-meats-beyond-burger-life-cycle-assessment-detailed-comparison-between-plant-based

  • What happens if saturated fat from animal products is replaced by sunflower oil, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids?

People will live longer? Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and sunflower oil is liquid at room temperature. So, the two are not really comparable to one another.

  • Who takes the responsibility for the micronutrient status of the public concerning vitamin B12 and other mostly animal-derived nutrients, such as taurine, carnitine, carnosine, creatine, DHA, EPA, vitamin A, vitamin K and calcium? Most of those can be gained from plant foods, but often not in sufficient amounts or in less bioavailable forms.

As far as B12 goes, nothing will really change in the US, as our food supply is already fortified with B12 and many other vitamins and minerals. Just take a look at any commercially available breakfast cereal to confirm. I know that General Mills and Post are not fortifying their foods for vegans, they’re fortifying it for the entire US population.

My research indicates that bioavailability does differ from various foods, but simply by cooking many foods their nutrients are readily made available.

  • Who educates the public about what is considered a wholesome and healthy vegan diet?

In the US, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics already does.

Mary Garner
Mary Garner
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael K

Thankyou yes well laid out and what about those of us with pets dogs and cats – cats would die without meat.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

I’m not a farmer, but round here a waste product of animal farming is used as a primary source of fertiliser, leading me to wonder what fertiliser would be used if animals weren’t available? Crop rotation also means animals on the fields when they are in a fallow or resting period, and the growing of crops like kale as a way of rejuvenating the soil, but that relying on the use of kale as animal feed. So does anyone know how feasible it is to separate out animals from crop production, without widespread use of fossil fuel fertilisers and artificial nutrients?

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Industrial fertilizer, which is made from natural gas. This stuff, in turn, has increased in price tremendously due to the natural gas shortage. This shortage has been caused by climate activism: natural gas is so popular because it has a low CO2 impact when used to create electric energy.

Gerard A
Gerard A
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Natural gas is effectively methane. I stand to be corrected but I read somewhere that the Russian gas pipeline leaks more methane than European cows produce

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Gerard A

As does the world’s wetlands, rice paddies etc. A very interesting study on methane to look at, is fracking in the US (huge spikes)
Lots of the opposition to fracking in the UK has focused on water contamination. That’s largely based on US issues.
It’s actually a weak argument here as most of our drinking water comes from rainfall.

Preventing methane leakage is where environmental activists should focus. It’s a very strong argument.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

The animal manure is just a concentrated version of the nutrients in the plants the animal was eating. You get the same fertilisation if you simply compost the same material and dig it in (or just dig it in and it rots).

Sylar Petrelli
Sylar Petrelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Highly doubt it that would be safe to eat if you eat it raw and unwashed.

Bruce Luffman
Bruce Luffman
2 years ago

This is a well written article and explains in an easy to understand way the inadequacies of the vegan argument. I will admit at the outset that I am an ex dairy and arable farmer who had 400 cows and all their milk going into yogurt and ice cream. I have a wife of 53 years who eats little meat but enjoys any recipe that has high quality mince – in other words, she likes her meat messed-about with.
For me, I eat all types of meat so long as it is not overly messed-about with and a lot of cheese but equally I eat vast amounts of salad and vegetables. My point is that we are omnivorous and should eat a balanced diet of meat, animal products and vegetables which will supply us with the right nutrients that do not need supplementation.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruce Luffman

Great to hear your view. Interesting to see so many tv programmes recently covering farming, and showing how farmers really care for their animals – something that the Vegan militants don’t believe and don’t want others to know.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Stewart
Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Well, tv consumers will tend to only require cared-for farm animals; not the ones I see from my window where cows stand on crippling concrete (in winter to save the field from becoming ‘poached’; also saves ££bedding), hoof ailments untended to save ££vet bills, unable to lay down for hours b4 being milked, & tend not to require what happens to the superfluous calves. Some things the dietary militants don’t believe or want others to know.

M. Gatt
M. Gatt
2 years ago

More steak please.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

I’m not a big meat eater but occasionally I crave a steak and when I eat it I’m flooded with a sense of wellbeing. So I take those cravings seriously – clearly they’re telling me something about my nutritional needs.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Exactly. Listen to your body. If it tells you it needs something, there is a reason. Nutritional needs vary enormously from individual to individual. A “one-size fits all” solution will of necessity leave some out in the cold.

Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I’m guessing that’s more your evolutionary inclinations kicking in

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I have also noticed how easy it is to digest a steak. Almost as if we a pre-disposed to eating meat. Who would have thunk it?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

“If they really do care about the environment, they should celebrate January by ditching …”
The author missed the most best points. If these virtue signalling chimps were genuinely serious they would ditch their mobile phones and internet connection. Data storage/transmission/streaming already account for 20% of the worlds electricity production.
In addition music festivals will have to go as will all digital TV. Back to 3 channels and a 10:30 close down.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

Data storage/transmission/streaming already account for 20% of the worlds electricity production.”
Please give evidence source for this.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell
Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Bravo, John, and extremely well-written – you are very loquacious for a farmer! It must be nice being the article writer wherein one can use all the naughty words without them being flagged by The Bot. Why did I find it amusing like some black comedy? Probably watching combatants attacking one another with statistics (I’ve heard both sides of their irrefutable claims). My heart is with the farmers, my stomach is omnivorous and my brain detests extremism; but hey – sh*t happens!

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

What “we” do in the UK is increasingly irrelevant, as meat consumption continues to grow in Africa and Asia.
However, I’m glad to see a farmer calling out the vegan fantasy that the vast grazing lands of Africa, Australia and South America can be converted to cropping for a net benefit.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago

Interesting times … as in so many things, the people at the ends of the spectrum go to ever more extremes. So we have the vegans, and the paleos, which mean morning teas at work are ever more problematic: presenting a cake to a paleo or vegan is like presenting a crucifix to a vampire. At least a life-long vegetarian, like me, is now considered almost sane.

Last edited 2 years ago by Russell Hamilton
Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago

True, I remember being a vegetarian about 15 years ago meant people would look at you funny, and not talk to you. If they did talk to you, it was usually to convince you that eating meat is natural and right, even if you never showed any desire to discuss the topic.
Nowadays it’s the other way around: vegetarians and vegans try to convince everybody else that eating meat is wrong.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Indeed, when I first got to London, in 1973, I found the most well known vegetarian restaurant was called Cranks! (In Perth, Western Australia, the most well known vegetarian restaurant was called The Sanitarium, which was just as bad).
The whole concept of vegetarianism was unknown to me, as a child, or, I think, to my parents. I just refused to eat meat once I knew it was ‘animals’. I have never once recommended it to anyone; on the contrary, I have always considered it totally annoying that I just couldn’t fit in with everyone else.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Don’t kid yourself. Now accepted generally but being commandeered by the woke puritans. Are you happy to be pulled into that company?
I’ve yet to meet a proselytising vegetarian/vegan with a logically consistent lifestyle – they always turn out to be hypocrites. But the quiet ones who don’t preach and just get on with it usually have perfectly good rationales for doing so.
Its a bit like gay culture – now equality is in place, the gay people I know just want to get on with their lives without showing it off to everyone else. They don’t like Mardi Gras, naked posteriors and camp behaviour.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Stewart
Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

“Are you happy to be pulled into that company?”

It’s not going to happen – too fond of good shoes. Apart from that, probably one of my objections to eating meat was aesthetic: all that blood and chopped up bones – just too yukky, and I wouldn’t touch the the vegan aesthetic/fashion sense with a ten foot pole.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

The meat eaters will also be hypocrites but not necessarily about their diet; it is the human condition!

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago

This article is so peppered with dubious and poorly founded claims that I’m at a loss where to start. There is pitifully little to back up the claim in the sub-title (‘Cutting out animal products will kill us, not save us’). It makes you wonder if it’s due to intellectual and ethical dishonesty, personal bias, or vested interests (or the mix of all of them). Let me point out some of the inaccuracies contained therein.
For Vegans the omnivorism of early humans is an inconvenient truth…
Well, actually, for most of our history not just as a species, but as a genus (primates), we’ve been by and large plant-eating. Majority of contemporary apes and monkeys are plant-eaters, and if they consume animals, it is mostly invertebrates (e.g. snails or insects), mostly to supplement their diets. The only other primate which hunts is a chimpanzee, and that again provides only a small portion of its diet.
We still have canine teeth, and a stomach more resembling that of a dog than a sheep.
 As for canine teeth, you’ll find much more impressive canine teeth in plant-eating gorillas or orang-utans. Also, no wonder that our digestive system is not very similar of the sheep, because sheep is a grass-eater, a ruminant, so not the best reference point.
Meat-eating is natural. It’s why you salivate over a plate of bacon.
I don’t. After 6 years of not eating meat, smell and sight of bacon makes me disgusted, rather than making me salivate.
A traditional hay meadow can boast 40 different plant species per square metre — one of the most botanically rich habitats you are ever likely to find. Grazing by livestock is essential to their biodiversity;
Well, how much of the pastures in the modern agriculture meets these criteria? Does the author suggest that prior to the arrival of large scale cattle- and sheep-rearing, Britain’s wildland was an arid, bio-undiverse land?
On the altar of Veganism, the meadow pipit, the meadow brown butterfly, and meadowsweet will be sacrificed.
How many millions of cows, sheep, pigs etc. would have to be sacrificed every year to satisfy this quaint notion of a ‘natural’ ‘biodiversity’ of pastureland? As pointed out above, is hardly the most ‘natural’ habitat (was it there a 1000, 5000 or 10 000 years ago?). It’s a particular habitat, developed in adaptation to human use.
For all of their fine talk against exploitation, vegans are no friend to the animal.
Unfounded ‘tu quoque’ and ‘ad hominem’ argument.
Because, if we all go Vegan, there will be no farm beasts outside specimens in unsustainable populations in zoos.
One hypothetical solution would be keeping a significantly reduced number of semi-domesticated cattle or sheep which would graze former pastureland.
And this extermination would have a calamitous effect on ecology.
Again, what was our environment like before the arrival of large-scale grazing of farm animals? A desert? As I will demonstrate with some data below, in a hpothetical scenario of the world going vegan or near-vegan, we could fully satisfy our needs whiyle using far less of our agricultural land, which means that the rest could be repurposed as wild grasslands or forests.
Also, the author conveniently neglects to mention (not for the first and for not the last time) the other, less beneficial impact of animal manure, such as methane emission, soil acidification, pollution of groundwater and rivers (FAO, Water pollution from agriculture: a global review, 2017; Poore, J. and Nemecek, T., 2018. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers.)
Why the decline in swallows in arable East Anglia where bovines are a rare sight? Not enough cow shit, in all likelihood.
More than a half of Britain’s arable land is devoted to crops used as animal feed. How much of the problem described above is due to intensive growing of animal feed?
What you can expect from a Vegan is the catechism that meat and dairy take up 83% of global agricultural land and provide only 18% of global calories.About two thirds of farmland is “marginal,” meaning little apart from grass and scrub will grow there because it is too dry, too steep, too rocky, too wet, too wind-blown.
Again, even if that was the case, it’s still widely inefficient use of land. To produce 1000 kcal from beef takes 119 m2, and to produce 100 g of protein – 163.6 m2. Compare it with 1.3 m2 for 1000 kcal and 2.2 mg for 100 g of protein from soybeans. Plant sources of calories generally beat animal sources, even those requiring least land, and most animal sources of protein require more land than most plant sources.  (https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food). Furthermore, the author again forgets to mention that to make those ‘marginal’ lands economically viable, you have to use other, non-marginal arable land to produce animal feed. Worldwide, 36% of calories and 53% of protein from crops is fed to animals, and only 55% and 40%, respectively, directly to humans, while the rest is used for industrial purposes. In countries such as US, this rises to 67% of calories and 80% of protein being used as animal feed. (Cassidy et al 2013, Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare). In Britan, arable land constitutes about 37% of agricultural land, but only 15.5% of it is used for crops for human consumption (while delivering 68% of calories and 52% of protein), while 21.8% is used to grow animal feed  (De Ruitera et al. 2011, Total global agricultural land footprint associated with UK food supply 1986–2011).
And before you say that the animals then turn it into usable food for people, barely 40% of calories and 43% of protein fed to dairy cows is turned into calories and protein we can consume. If you think it’s not too bad, for every 100 calories fed to beef cattle, you get 3 back, and for every 100 units of protein, 5 (Smil V 2000 Feeding the World: A Challenge for the 21st Century)
The bottom line is that while only some of the pastureland can be converted to arable land (I’m admittedly unaware of how much of it could be repurposed, though I would guess that at least a significant part of lowland pastures), but practically all of the land currently used to produce to animal feed can be used for crops for human consumption, which by some estimates could feed some 10 billion people, without even increasing our production capacity. The remainder of agricultural land can be returned to nature or used as fallow land, reducing the problem of soil erosion.  In the world where over 800 million people are hungry or undernourished, devoting so much of our land and crops to satisfy our palates and the notion of using ‘marginal’ land and protecting its ‘biodiversity’ is criminally wasteful.
Not all the soya for which Brazilian rainforest is felled goes into cattle feed, it goes into “meat free” burgers too.
How much of it, have a guess? The author again makes big claims with no data to back them up. Globally, 75% of soya is used as feed and only 20% as food for people. In the UK, it’s 90% and 10%, respectively (https://www.tabledebates.org/blog/soy-uk-what-are-its-uses)
 Consider this: when did the West start getting ill? In the Seventies, when Western governments issued nutritional advice that demonised the saturated fats in meat, dairy and eggs and promoted carbohydrates as healthy food. The consequence is an epidemic of obesity.
Probably, it’s people giving up on the sausage and steak and having too much of vegetables. Again, the author does not state what the actual patterns of consumption have been. And consumption of animals products has skyrocketed over the past 50 years (https://www.fao.org/3/y4252e/y4252e07.htm), while barely above a half of Britons eat their measly 5 portions of fruit and veg a day – which from a health-point of view, should be set as more 9-10 portions a day, kind of what I usually eat in a day. (http://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/health/diet-and-exercise/healthy-eating-of-5-a-day-among-adults)
Later, the author creates a vision of a nefarious ‘Big Vegan’ which wants to flood the humanity with its plant-based ‘chicken’ or ‘burgers’ as opposed to their ‘natural’ animal version (never mind these animals are kept in unnatural conditions, fed unnatural diets and bred to the point of practically becoming mutants). If you ask me, I very rarely eat vegan ‘pseudo-meat’ or cheese, instead basing my diet on whole grains, pulses, nuts, vegetables and fruit. But how does the supposed ‘Big Vegan’ compare to the size of meat industry? What’s the proportion of meat eaters vs. vegans in the society? Again, don’t expect the author to quote any data. For most vegans, the ‘vegan industry’ it’s simply synonymous with the omnipotent broccoli industry or lentil industry.  
Synthetic trainers cause 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Again, a solution would be to buy fewer trainers. And the author won’t tell you how much it costs to produce similar leather shoes, or mention the 14% of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to animal agriculture by GRAIN and IAT report from 2018.
…. nylon manufacture creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Again, even if it was so bad, how does it compare to the animal farming (particularly poultry) producing 65% of NO2 emissions?
…methane from rice farming causes 3% of anthropogenic global warming.
A sloppy use of language or deliberate manipulation of words? How would it be possible to calculate the exact percentage of causation of global warming? Did he mean 3% of greenhouse gases? And how does it compare to the emissions produced by animal products? Let me quote some date to illustrate it. Rice produces 21.16 g of CO2 equivalent for g of protein, and 0.45 g for 1 kcal. Compare it to 221.63 g of CO2 equivalent for g of protein from beef, and 22.01 g for 1 kcal. For pulses, it’s 0.58 g CO2e for g of protein, and 0.05 g for 1 kcal. (Clark and Tilman, 2017, Environmental footprint by food type).
The author previously made a case against factory farming and for ‘ethical carnivorism’. He does not seem to realise that contemporary animal agriculture doesn’t match the idyllic picture of a little family farm with a few cows, pigs and chickens grazing in peace at the back (a picture which never involves a slaughterhouse and butcher’s knife). If that was the case, the supply of meat would shrink to maybe a few percent of its current value, and it would become exorbitantly expensive. If our nutritional needs can be met, all while using less land and with less impact on the environment, to the benefit of our health, why defend the cruel, environmentally harmful and economically wasteful practice of animal farming? 

M Poulton
M Poulton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack K

Bravo, it’s sad that I had to scroll down so far to find this excellent critique…

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack K

Phew! – am suitably impressed. The present rate of loss of agricultural and pasture land for housing will ensure that intensive farming methods and/or reliance on imports are here to stay.

Sylar Petrelli
Sylar Petrelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack K

Yup another “Vegan” expert is here…

D M
D M
2 years ago

I know veganism is ‘laudable’ but no major civilisation has actually survived on pure veganism. Pure vegans are taking a big risk.

Last edited 2 years ago by D M
Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
2 years ago
Reply to  D M

The rises of Vegetarians and Vegans simply means more meat for the rest of us 🙂

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

Bit stringy, though …

David B
David B
2 years ago
Reply to  Kerie Receveur

Waste of a good chest freezer.

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
2 years ago

I had pork belly ribs as a starter a couple of nights ago, and then a bone-in prime rib steak, and enjoyed every mouthful – it was glorious.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Kerie Receveur

I had a chateaubriand the other day – gawd I feel sorry for the V/Vs.

Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
2 years ago

“Ah, climate change. Will Veganism save the planet by killing off methane-emitting farm animals? Ruminants do indeed produce methane, but then so does rice; methane from rice farming causes 3% of anthropogenic global warming. Ruminant methane from grazing cows, however, is virtuously recycled into the soil by being broken down into CO2 and absorbed by new grass. Unlike the methane produced by water-logged paddies. If the Vegan dire prophecies scare you, it’s worth mentioning that seaweed additives for cattle may reduce emissions by 82%.”
Well, the 100,000,000 Bison that roamed North America in the 17th century sure makes the climate killing methane claim by the 15,000,000 beef and dairy cows that live there now look fantastically ridiculous.
Also, seriously. Read up in non-propaganda literature regarding Methane, the composition of the atmosphere and the mechanism by which, so-called, ‘GHG’s make the planet livable. Trust me. It is not what the activists say.

Last edited 2 years ago by Antony Hirst
Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago
Reply to  Antony Hirst

I’ve had the very same thought about wild ruminants existing in great numbers before humans domesticated so many. We could euthanize various species of grazing farm animals, and their wild cousins will soon make a comeback

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Antony Hirst

The dinosaurs must have had a pretty big contribution too. Good job that climate changing meteorite turned up.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago

If human stop eating animals, there soon won’t be enough room on Earth for all the animals as they multiply, unless there is a mass culling.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Broadly speaking, animals are allowed to survive if they are edible, useful or otherwise appealing to humans. There are no wild sheep or cattle anywhere in the world as far as I know, and very few wild pigs or horses. This is not a coincidence. As the article points out, if animals weren’t farmed, there’d be none outside zoos.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

fully agree – respect for the animal and giving them as good a life as practical seems to be the right balance. ultra alternative could be to go towards cannibalism, as the vegan herd increase.

Last edited 2 years ago by Justin Clark
Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago

In regards to wild animals, has that ever happened? In regards to farm animals, how about just stopping the artificial breeding of farm animals (at a rate which leaves sows and cows totally spent after a fraction of their natural lifespan) and allowing the populations to die out?

Sylar Petrelli
Sylar Petrelli
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack K

Where do you get this sick view of the information ?

Hugh Eveleigh
Hugh Eveleigh
2 years ago

A most refreshing article on matters vegan. I believe myself to be sane and caring but I don’t worry one hoot about cows and sheep doing what we humans do quietly and when we think we’re alone. Since early times farm animals have ruminated, copulated and f****d their way to the dinner table and I do wonder at times whether there may have been more of them a few hundred years ago. No talk of them affecting the climate at the time of course. Climates always change and humans throughout the millennia have adapted as best they can. Listening to fringe-dwelling zealots and allowing them control of the conversation is a doom-laden scenario.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Nothing wrong with eating less meat and reducing animal suffering. The sheer volume of animal products consumed and the way the animals are treated sickens me to the core. When humans had to hunt for their own food little was wasted and at Ieast there was a duel of sorts between man and beast. This mechanised, industrialised, wholesale slaughter is not just revolting it’s surely unsustainable, especially with population growth of 3 to 7 billion in just 50 years. I’m not a vegan – I think eating animals is part of the human condition – it’s the scale and the methods I object to. We don’t need to eat meat every day. And we don’t need to treat animals like sh*t. There is a sensible middle ground to be found between raging carnivore on one side and only vegetables, with a side of pious, on the other.

M Poulton
M Poulton
2 years ago

It’s a shame to see such a poorly argued and vilifying article from UnHerd. The author attacks a straw-man vegan position; for example, that it proposes a mass culling of existing farm animals, (rather than simply stopping artificial insemination and phasing out), that it has no negative impact on the economy or environment (authors fails to entertain possible solutions to these problems, such as vertical farming and alternative fertilisers). But the biggest issue is that this article does not engage with the ethical debate at hand. He commits the naturalistic fallacy on multiple occasions and fails to justify why any of the ‘pleasures’ that are acquired from exploiting animals excuse the torture and slaughter of trillions of sentient creatures every year (also, taking a photo of a cow is not exploitation… unsurprisingly, this farmer’s definition of exploitation is perhaps confused).

Sarah Atkin
Sarah Atkin
2 years ago

The uncritical promotion of veganism in the media and within our culture is yet another example of the ‘closing down’ of proper discussion about the pros and cons of a issue. The binary nature of the argument is infuriating. Meat bad. Lentils good. No room for reasoned discussion. Red meat is all but removed from school lunch menus now, likely viewed ‘unhealthy’. Even locally reared, grass fed Scotch beef. Seriously? The ‘closing down’ of the debate on this is as unhealthy for our democracy as thinking children don’t need to drink milk is for the future of public health. Osteoporosis is going to be a ‘thing’ in the young middle classes within a decade isn’t it? Am I the only one seeing this obvious consequence? So, thank you for writing this. One would hope our national broadcaster would air some alternative views around this and other dietary myths. Impartiality etc.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

Vegans despise humanity. They are part of the there are too mamy humans cult. They are perfectly fine killing us.

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago

I’ve spent the past few days challenging the claims of the article and some of the posts below, so I should explain what my own position is. I went vegan about 6 years ago, and if I’m honest I did that due to the indirect influence of my ex-girlfriend and another friend (neither of whom forced me or morally blackmailed me to do it) and at the point of doing so, I treated that as a practical ethical-nutritional-culinary experiment. Well, the experiment has continued ever since, and is going pretty well, I’ve lost weight and stayed slim, am very physically active and generally don’t get sick more often than once a year. My main reason at the time was the ethical regard for the animals, and now it’s a combination of the former, as well as concern for feeding the people with the current unsustainable model of land use, concern for the environment, and concern for my own health. For clarity, I’m not religious about it and I do make exceptions in situations such as when there are no other viable vegan food options (e.g. travelling in France) or when offered. I basically believe that if it is practically and nutritionally possible to live on a diet which does not involve deliberate killing or infliction of pain on animals, it is better to do so. If it isn’t, which may not be for some people in certain geographical regions or times of history, I regard eating animal products as ethically acceptable. However, in contemporary times the number of people who genuinely could not sustain a plant-based diet is, I would wager, low and decreasing. Conversely, eating a diet high in animal products purely for enjoyment, considering its deleterious impact not only on animals, but other people, environment and your health, is an ethically dubious choice. And you can hold that basic position regardless of your political orientation, religion etc. I don’t need to state them here because I because I regard them to irrelevant to this argument.

Cameron Clark
Cameron Clark
1 year ago

Why is it that some people, such as the author and many commenters, are so triggered and threatened by veganism? Why all the vitriol and venom? How is a decision by some people to eat plants such a moral affront to you, Mr. Lewis-Stempel, that you have undertaken a personal quest to undermine and demonize these folks? Did you sustain some deep trauma at the hands of a vegan once? If so, I am sorry.
I appreciate that you spent at least the first few paragraphs tacitly admitting that “lower case veganism” is “sensible, and sensitive” and that “no sane or caring human could disagree”—before launching into your assault. In your other articles, you have not been so generous.
To hear you tell it, there is an army of rabid, shrill, self-righteous Vegans infiltrating our society, seeking to heckle and shame every omnivore into joining their religion. Yes, PETA and their kind exist. But in my nearly five decades on this planet, I have yet to actually meet one of these vegan militants, and I live in coastal California. So where are they? Perhaps all in Britain? Or Facebook?
Or is it just that the very existence of vegans anywhere, no matter what they do or say, is somehow irksome and threatening to you? I suppose I can understand. 25 years ago, I felt the need to start an argument with a girl I was dating about her decision to be vegetarian. I wanted to poke holes in her moral arguments, point out all the inconsistencies. She was taken aback. She acknowledged all the inconsistencies. She wasn’t trying to be morally superior or solve the world’s problems. Her defense was simply: It’s one thing I can do that I hope causes a little less harm and suffering in the world.
And what are you doing, she asked. I was speechless. I wasn’t doing anything. I decided on the spot to adopt a vegetarian diet too, as a feeble (if uncreative) attempt to do something. A few months later, I decided to go further and try to be vegan. 25 years later, I still am (though not always perfectly, especially when I travel). It’s one small thing I can do.
I do not evangelize about veganism. My wife is an omnivore, and my 7 year-old son has chosen to be a lacto-ovo vegetarian. My insidious methods for spreading veganism are limited to doing a lot of cooking for my friends and family. I am happy to acknowledge to anyone who asks that we humans are omnivores, albeit descended from a long line of vegan primates, and that it was by hunting and eating animals that (for better or for worse) we got where we are today as a species. I do not claim that a vegan diet is nutritionally optimal for everyone; eating limited amounts of high-quality animal proteins can have significant benefits, for some people more than others. I for one am deficient in iron and the omegas that you get from eating fish. I take supplements for both. It’s not ideal. But neither is it a proof that veganism is irredeemably flawed.
I simply do not believe that our planet can sustain 8 billion people on a diet rich in animal products. I also do not believe that 8 billion people must go vegan to save the planet. As always, the answer is not absolutism, but incremental efforts to reduce one’s impact and be more conscientious. I know plenty of conscientious omnivores, and I respect them for their efforts to cause less harm. Veganism is not the solution; it’s a contribution. Much more is needed on all fronts.
It is ridiculous to even suggest that raising animals is inherently sustainable but growing plant proteins is inherently not. Industrial farming of both animals and plants causes significant damage to our environment, though most data agree that industrial livestock operations generally cause the greater damage. It is also ridiculous to suggest that a vegan diet must necessarily rely upon highly processed, nutritionally-deficient, imitation foods. Though I sometimes indulge in the guilty pleasure of vegan fast food, the bulk of my diet is home-cooked, organic vegetables, grains, nuts & legumes. I choose to live in a place where a good portion of this can be grown locally. Most people are not so lucky. Most people opt to eat things that taste good and are convenient, without any thought to where they come from.
Mr. Lewis-Stempel, I have to assume that you’re the sort of hard-working, small-scale farmer that tries to treat his animals humanely and run a sustainable operation. Respect. The world needs a lot more of that. Meanwhile, I welcome your well-researched take-downs of the industrial food system and factory farming. But why keep lashing out at vegans? Why the chip on your shoulder? Can you not respect somebody else’s attempts, however imperfect, to do less harm? And maybe make a good faith attempt to help vegans be better vegans, rather than just trashing them? It’s a bit embarrassing.
Thank you, Jack K, for patiently trying to reply to and debunk so many of the straw men erected here.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cameron Clark
George Wells
George Wells
2 years ago

January is World Carnivore Month.
If you’ve read about side effects from going carnivore, it ain’t necessarily so.
I’ve felt strong from day one.
Look up Dr Shawn Baker and/or try it yourself.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

“A man who believes in nothing falls for everything.”
With God no longer at the center, the West is disintegrating into pagan ways: witchcraft, abortion (child sacrifice), transsexualism (self-idolatry) and, as mentioned above, veganism (zoolatry).

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Not convinced going back to that absurdity is the cure of the current plethora of absurdities.

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Well, curiously enough, if you read Genesis, shortly after the the famous 1:28 verse speaking about people have ‘dominion’ over the earth, comes 1:29, which stipulates a plant based diet for them.

andrea milbourne
andrea milbourne
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack K

Depends on your translation of the original hebrew word, maybe it wasn‘t „dominion“ but „stewardship“…..maybe we should think of taking care of out world instead of dominating it..

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

You say:when did the West start getting ill? In the Seventies, when Western governments issued nutritional advice that demonised the saturated fats in meat, dairy and eggs and promoted carbohydrates as healthy food. The consequence is an epidemic of obesity.”
Oh, please! Do look at some facts. Obesity is caused by over-eating. This is far more linked to fast and processed food rather than the things you state. Look at the obese people you know – are they following that government advice or stuffing their faces with burgers and ice-cream?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Ah Mike the writer is referring to recent nutritional theory that says the saturated fat versus processed food thing is a major contributor to poor health and obesity, not just over eating. I laughed at my nutritionist son who quoted this stuff at me before it became accepted – then said sorry and stuffed my face with the saturated fats I’d been missing all these years.

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I would suggest you hold on with your saturated fat Ian until you watch those videos and examine the evidence there (all come with a full list of references to academic research). They explain how the dairy industry basically commissioned studies designed to confound the link between saturated fat consumption and cholesterol levels (and in turn cardiovascular diseases)
https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-saturated-fat-studies-buttering-up-the-public/
https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-the-dairy-industry-designs-misleading-studies/
https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-saturated-fat-studies-set-up-to-fail/
And because meat and dairy contain certain amounts of trans fat, for which the safe limit of consumption is basically zero, you get a lot of that with your delicious bacon, steak or cheese.
https://nutritionfacts.org/video/banning-trans-fat-in-processed-foods-but-not-animal-fat/

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago

This article is so peppered with dubious and poorly founded claims that I’m at a loss where to start. There is pitifully little to back up the claim in the sub-title (‘Cutting out animal products will kill us, not save us’). It makes you wonder if it’s due to intellectual and ethical dishonesty, personal bias, or vested interests (or the mix of all of them). Bear with me while I point out some of its inaccuracies.
For Vegans the omnivorism of early humans is an inconvenient truth… 
Well, actually, for most of our history not just as a species, but as a genus (primates), we’ve been by and large plant-eating. Majority of contemporary apes and monkeys are plant-eaters, and if they consume animals, it is mostly invertebrates (e.g. snails or insects), mostly to supplement their diets. The only other primate which hunts is a chimpanzee, and that again provides only a small portion of its diet.
We still have canine teeth, and a stomach more resembling that of a dog than a sheep.
 As for canine teeth, you’ll find much more impressive canine teeth in plant-eating gorillas or orang-utans. Also, no wonder that our digestive system is not very similar of the sheep, because sheep is a grass-eater, a ruminant, so not the best reference point. 
Meat-eating is natural. It’s why you salivate over a plate of bacon.
I don’t. After 6 years of not eating meat, smell and sight of bacon makes me disgusted, rather than making me salivate.

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago

Not all the soya for which Brazilian rainforest is felled goes into cattle feed, it goes into “meat free” burgers too.
How much of it, have a guess? The author again makes big claims with no data to back them up. Globally, 75% of soya is used as feed and only 20% as food for people. In the UK, it’s 90% and 10%, respectively (https://www.tabledebates.org/blog/soy-uk-what-are-its-uses)
 Consider this: when did the West start getting ill? In the Seventies, when Western governments issued nutritional advice that demonised the saturated fats in meat, dairy and eggs and promoted carbohydrates as healthy food. The consequence is an epidemic of obesity.
Probably, it’s people giving up on the sausage and steak and having too much of vegetables. Again, the author does not state what the actual patterns of consumption have been. And consumption of animals products has skyrocketed over the past 50 years (https://www.fao.org/3/y4252e/y4252e07.htm), while barely above a half of Britons eat their measly 5 portions of fruit and veg a day – which from a health-point of view, should be set as more 9-10 portions a day, kind of what I usually eat in a day. (http://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/health/diet-and-exercise/healthy-eating-of-5-a-day-among-adults)
Later, the author creates a vision of a nefarious ‘Big Vegan’ which wants to flood the humanity with its plant-based ‘chicken’ or ‘burgers’ as opposed to their ‘natural’ animal version (never mind these animals are kept in unnatural conditions, fed unnatural diets and bred to the point of practically becoming mutants). If you ask me, I very rarely eat vegan ‘pseudo-meat’ or cheese, instead basing my diet on whole grains, pulses, nuts, vegetables and fruit. But how does the supposed ‘Big Vegan’ compare to the size of meat industry? What’s the proportion of meat eaters vs. vegans in the society? Again, don’t expect the author to quote any data. For most vegans, the ‘vegan industry’ it’s simply synonymous with the omnipotent broccoli industry or lentil industry.  

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago

Synthetic trainers cause 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Again, a solution would be to buy fewer trainers. And the author won’t tell you how much it costs to produce similar leather shoes, or mention the 14% of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to animal agriculture by GRAIN and IAT report from 2018. 
…. nylon manufacture creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Again, even if it was so bad, how does it compare to the animal farming (particularly poultry) producing 65% of NO2 emissions?
…methane from rice farming causes 3% of anthropogenic global warming.
A sloppy use of language or deliberate manipulation of words? How would it be possible to calculate the exact percentage of causation of global warming? Did he mean 3% of greenhouse gases? And how does it compare to the emissions produced by animal products? Let me quote some date to illustrate it. Rice produces 21.16 g of CO2 equivalent for g of protein, and 0.45 g for 1 kcal. Compare it to 221.63 g of CO2 equivalent for g of protein from beef, and 22.01 g for 1 kcal. For pulses, it’s 0.58 g CO2e for g of protein, and 0.05 g for 1 kcal.  (Clark and Tilman, 2017, Environmental footprint by food type).
The author previously made a case against factory farming and for ‘ethical carnivorism’. He does not seem to realise that contemporary animal agriculture doesn’t match the idyllic picture of a little family farm with a few cows, pigs and chickens grazing in peace at the back (a picture which never involves a slaughterhouse and a butcher’s knife). If meat was to be produced like this, the supply of meat would shrink to maybe a few percent of its current value, and it would become exorbitantly expensive. If our nutritional needs can be met, all while using less land and with less impact on the environment, to the benefit of our health, why defend the cruel, environmentally harmful and economically wasteful practice of animal farming?

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
2 years ago

A lot of vegans are doing all of the things you suggest. A good deal less meat (not no meat) is better for us healthwise and better for the planet too. I don’t know any vegan who thinks veganism alone is enough to save the planet. No one action on its own will do that – it requires fundamental lifestyle changes by everyone.

George Knight
George Knight
2 years ago

This was an interesting article. I do however believe meat eating versus non meat eating is missing the point. What is really important is the quality of the food a person consumes. In the UK much of our food is adulterated with chemicals and ultra processing methods that render it harmful.
The consequences are apparent in the declining health of a significant proportion of the population which, in turn, adversely impacts our health systems

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago

A traditional hay meadow can boast 40 different plant species per square metre — one of the most botanically rich habitats you are ever likely to find. Grazing by livestock is essential to their biodiversity;
Well, how much of the pastures in the modern agriculture meets these criteria? Does the author suggest that prior to the arrival of large scale cattle- and sheep-rearing, Britain’s wildland was an arid, bio-undiverse land? 
On the altar of Veganism, the meadow pipit, the meadow brown butterfly, and meadowsweet will be sacrificed.
How many millions of cows, sheep, pigs etc. would have to be sacrificed every year to satisfy this quaint notion of a ‘natural’ ‘biodiversity’ of pastureland?  As pointed out above, is hardly the most ‘natural’ habitat (was it there a 1000, 5000 or 10 000 years ago?). It’s a particular habitat, developed in adaptation to human use. Does the author mention how much biodiversity has been lost as a result of deforestation, intensive grazing, expansion of agriculture? 
For all of their fine talk against exploitation, vegans are no friend to the animal.
Unfounded ‘tu quoque’ and ‘ad hominem’ argument.
Because, if we all go Vegan, there will be no farm beasts outside specimens in unsustainable populations in zoos.
One hypothetical solution would be keeping a significantly reduced number of semi-domesticated cattle or sheep which would graze former pastureland. If someone objects on the grounds of costs, the main reason cattle or sheep farm still exist and we can tuck into cheap meat are huge direct and indirect government subsidies. 
And this extermination would have a calamitous effect on ecology. 
Again, what was our environment like before the arrival of large-scale grazing of farm animals? A desert? As I will demonstrate with some data below, in a hpothetical scenario of the world going vegan or near-vegan, we could fully satisfy our needs whiyle using far less of our agricultural land, which means that the rest could be repurposed as wild grasslands or forests. 
Also, the author conveniently neglects to mention (not for the first and for not the last time) the other, less beneficial impact of animal manure, such as methane emission, soil acidification, pollution of groundwater and rivers (FAO, Water pollution from agriculture: a global review, 2017; Poore, J. and Nemecek, T., 2018. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers.)
Why the decline in swallows in arable East Anglia where bovines are a rare sight? Not enough cow shit, in all likelihood.
More than a half of Britain’s arable land is devoted to crops used as animal feed. How much of the problem described above is due to intensive growing of animal feed?

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago

Cows don’t belch methane. It comes from the other end.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

There is a theory that meat enabled our brains to grow beyond ape size”
Interesting: so how do ‘vegan’ elephants get such a large brain?

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Relative to body size, humans have much bigger brains. Also, a far larger proportion of the elephant’s neurons are used for motor functions rather than higher cognitive functions. Human brains have a higher proportion and absolute number of neurons used for cognitive abilities – about three times as many in a brain that is a third of the size.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

He gotcha!

D M
D M
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

The smaller the body size the more calorie dense the food requirement. Basic physics

Last edited 2 years ago by D M
Valerie Taplin
Valerie Taplin
2 years ago

Eat a varied diet, produced locally wherever possible, and in moderate amounts – this is simple, healthy, usually reasonably priced, and environmentally least impactful

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago

What you can expect from a Vegan is the catechism that meat and dairy take up 83% of global agricultural land and provide only 18% of global calories.About two thirds of farmland is “marginal,” meaning little apart from grass and scrub will grow there because it is too dry, too steep, too rocky, too wet, too wind-blown.
Again, even if that was the case, it’s still widely inefficient use of land. To produce 1000 kcal from beef takes 119 m2, and to produce 100 g of protein – 163.6 m2. Compare it with 1.3 m2 for 1000 kcal and 2.2 mg for 100 g of protein from soybeans. Plant sources of calories generally beat animal sources, even those requiring least land, and most animal sources of protein require more land than most plant sources.  (https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food). Furthermore, the author again forgets to mention that to make those ‘marginal’ lands economically viable, you have to use other, non-marginal arable land to produce animal feed. Worldwide, 36% of calories and 53% of protein from crops is fed to animals, and only 55% and 40%, respectively, directly to humans, while the rest is used for industrial purposes. In countries such as US, this rises to 67% of calories and 80% of protein being used as animal feed. (Cassidy et al 2013, Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare). In Britan, arable land constitutes about 37% of agricultural land, but only 15.5% of it is used for crops for human consumption (while delivering 68% of calories and 52% of protein), while 21.8% is used to grow animal feed  (De Ruitera et al. 2011, Total global agricultural land footprint associated with UK food supply 1986–2011). 
And before you say that the animals then turn it into usable food for people, barely 40% of calories and 43% of protein fed to dairy cows is turned into calories and protein we can consume. If you think it’s not too bad, for every 100 calories fed to beef cattle, you get 3 back, and for every 100 units of protein, 5 (Smil V 2000 Feeding the World: A Challenge for the 21st Century)
The bottom line is that while only some of the pastureland can be converted to arable land (I’m admittedly unaware of how much of it could be repurposed, though I would guess that at least a significant part of lowland pastures), but practically all of the land currently used to produce to animal feed can be used for crops for human consumption, which by some estimates could feed some 10 billion people, without even increasing our production capacity. The remainder of agricultural land can be returned to nature or used as fallow land, reducing the problem of soil erosion.  In the world where over 800 million people are hungry or undernourished, devoting so much of our land and crops to satisfy our palates and the notion of using ‘marginal’ land and protecting its ‘biodiversity’ is criminally wasteful. 

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
2 years ago

It intrigues me that vegetarians apparently are not troubled by mass cultivation and killing of plants to eat, process, etc.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Pellatt

You’re just being silly. Plants lack a central nervous system. Something you might be able to identify with.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Pellatt

I am sure one day we will discover plants have some sort of sentience and the Vegans will disappear! They certainly seem sure that plants have no nervous system and so cannot feel pain without any evidence.

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Pellatt

How many times have I heard that argument being pulled out? To defend inflicting pain and death on creatures which are definitely sentient, because of imaginary possibility of plants being sentient, in an attempt to create the ‘tu quoque’ case. Never mind that something approaching a half of our crops is fed to animals, with most of the protein and energy lost in the process. And even if that was the case, as I demonstrate in my longer comment below, we could satisfy our nutritional needs with using far less land on a plant-based diet, allowing to return the remained to nature. So, all you defenders off plant sentience should actually go vegan but that is the only way we can at least reduce their suffering.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
1 year ago

If we replace all the hedged and fenced pastures with connected woodland, we can all feast on venison, wild boar, hare, partridge, wood pigeon .. I expect the list goes on. As things stand, I do wonder what happens to all those bullocks, cows and sheep that grace the green fields of Sussex where I live. I’m no vegetarian but seldom eat lamb or beef, and never darken the doors of McDonalds and their ilk.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Just amazing that Orwell identified these types so long ago (prewar) and could already see so clearly what bampots they were.
And equally amazing that their stereotypical behaviour hasn’t changed after nearly a hundred years – and that they are seen by the young as radical.

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
2 years ago

The overemphasis on meat is a problem. Simply too much consumption. I’m vegetarian, not vegan. I consume many eggs and wear leather.

Jack K
Jack K
2 years ago

Any evidence to support it?

Irina Bondariuk
Irina Bondariuk
1 year ago

There is plenty of evidence!

A lot of people choosing carnivore due to health(malnutrition caused by years of vegan/vegetarian/omnivorous diets) with greatest unrefutable results ~ tons and tons of testimonials from lots of people.

Autoimmune disease , obesity, allergies,diabetes,fatty liver,depression, anxiety ,hdhd etc. , all heals incredibly by eliminating plant based foods. Meat is nutritional, bio-available and saturated fats are essential, none of carbohydrates are essential,consuming sugar and carbs changes state of consciousness and ketosis is best/most natural state of the body/mind and breastfed babies are so.

BIGGEST societal problems are alcohol, sugar, wheat, seed oils cultivation,production and consumption. Big pharma corp conspiracy. It’s not valuable to let people be healthy for them. Ill are best clients and it’s so easy to fix just going carnivore rather then pharmaceuticals it’s so sad seeing people perish and not be reconvinced to change their ways. Nutritional science and studies are constantly highjacked/perverted depending who funds them. Looking out for real evidence making sound judgments isn’t easy. Going keto or vegetarian is acceptable but people should be made aware that they risk their lives and health for replacing animal based nutrition for hardly edible things. Vegans are straight stubborn bonkers and veganism will fail (unless humans evolute in a few generations to suffer less on plant based+supplements.) Fact: chickens couldn’t live indoors till artificial vit.D discovery/application,true.

Animal husbandry/farming is sustainable.
Agriculture on a global scale-not. Permaculture is great but it will never gonna be done on a right scale. And as much as I love wholesome fruit/veg ,they are also selectively bred to become what they are nowadays and I cannot eat them anymore as it makes my body sick especially nightshades.

It’s nice thought to not kill sentient beings for food but it’s just not reality of the world and it cannot be changed no matter how vegans persevere. It is more of a false belief and rebellion then anything but sadly it’s harming people big time.

So much evidence and testimonials from malnourished ex-vegans. Look it up. Honestly. It’s genuine.
And so many people’s healing stories.

Thing is veganism is new. We can make conclusions after awhile. There just won’t be vegans to tell the tale. Honestly. Some young generation rebels going strong for 10years or so untill they left wrecked and infertile and mental. It’s upsetting me. I’ve had vegan friends.

C60 Buckyballs oil, Vitamins D3+K2 and meat improved my health and conditions I’ve had like nothing else. Highly recommend.

Brooke Walford
Brooke Walford
2 years ago

Hear, hear! Reminds me of the classic 2003 Merton Rule.The local council of Merton required that all new large scale buildings had to generate 10% of its energy requirements.It sounded great and took off in multiple councils. The trouble was the edict took no notice of site specificity. A large office block in central London could only hope to meet the energy production requirements via biomass such as wood chips. Had this gone ahead it would have necessitated two 30-40-ton lorries a week delivering into heart of congested London a week. Point of the story as it relates to Veganism is the unintended negative consequences for the environment.

rob monks
rob monks
1 year ago

a refreshing approach to vegenism. As a son of a farmer I have my own unconscious biases I discover. As you mention it’s not veganism which is bad but a fananticism. Also a sense of moral superiority and a missionarsy zeal: Monboit declaring his veganism ecstatically like a teenage boy who just had his first bonk.
However, I think you need to make a distinction between being critical of China and paranoia. For instance in Australia there is racism connected to a fear of China expansionism despite the fact we always blindly follow the US into wars. Being critical of China is okay but paranoia and racism has lead to more cases of abuse against Chinese in Australia. incidentally Chinese can be nuanced in their views on China, that includes people who live in manland China.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

Barmstormingly brilliant article for which the author deserves an OBE.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

They call themselves ‘woke’.

Jeffrey Chongsathien
Jeffrey Chongsathien
2 years ago

Stop being so damn rational!

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago

Great article. Loved it, esp the last sentence.

P.S. can anyone tell me why I see comments that are 10 hours old when the article wasn’t even showing up earlier today?

Last edited 2 years ago by Dermot O'Sullivan
David Smith
David Smith
2 years ago

Love it

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Veganism is just another sad new quasi religion like global warming, coronaphobia, LGBT and “Islamophobia”…..new on-line soshul meeja worship cum membership for the legions of inadequate, inferior, inconsequentialn lemming like brainless human detritus that undortunately pollute our polling booths…. Away with The Great Reform Acts of the late 19th Century!

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I take it you’ll be joining up for all of them.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago

Terrible, one sided article.

Question- looking beyond the UK, how is it possible to feed 7 b (& counting) people with meat? Could it be that is why animal farming has morphed into this ugly mega industry producing unsustainable unhealthy products that you would not touch with a barge pole.

What could have been said is that eating LESS meat is better and being more aware of why we farm animals in the first place is preferable. Going back to the first principles of why we farm animals at all to get our meat. Early human did indeed eat meat but they hunted and it was rare and precious.

Today farming animals includes the use of antibiotics & a myriad of medicines and techniques that convert it into a machine.

Yes – extreme veganism is also not sustainable especially in the short run. Veganism is still in its infancy. We are learning more about the limits and possibilities. And change is hard to accept. So soft veganism needs more airtime.

Your point about pasture land and its biodiversity is well made. In the absence of natural large herbivores it would make sense for us to retain some farm animals. But it is all about balance.

People have to eat. If you are choosing only bread against only beef, you would be wise to choose bread. Imagine the damage only beef would do to your gut, the planet, etc

There WILL be some impact on the environment producing vegan foods but certainly not as large as continued meat production

Organic farming to produce a much lower quantity of meat to meet our limited omnivorous requirements is fine. But let’s not lose the key point – less meat is better for the environment and your health, less abuse of animals is better.

Your article veers towards the traditional defence of the indefensible through the use of selective, misleading or inaccurate data.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

Humans have a deep symbiotic relationship with animals – not just for meat, but for milk, wool, eggs, bones, fur, fuel, transport and protection. And herding, much more important than hunting, contains the ying-and-yang of both caring for the livestock, but also slaughter for food. A pride in the animals – with shows and prizes – but ultimately one which ends with death of one creature to nourish another.
This relationship is widespread and deep – from alpine transhumance to the Masai Mara to sheep and goats in the Middle East. In places, a crop-based diet is difficult to sustain and animal products are central to survival, for instance winter diets in the mountains based on dairy and cheese and preserved meats, or on fish and blubber in the arctic.
Modern life has detached us from our relationship with animals – the rituals of slaughter still commanded in some religions for instance is now done out of sight. We don’t tend animals, so have less reverence for the meat or for the effort needed for husbandry. But the faux philosophy of ‘abuse’ – a thought chain over-extrapolation – is undone by the empirical observation that we are all food for something else. If we choose not to eat meat, the animal is not saved, it isn’t born. Life is denied, not protected.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

“ If we choose not to eat meat, the animal is not saved, it isn’t born. Life is denied, not protected.“ Hmm …. I never thought of that!!!

Lucky lucky animals ! Born to live in servitude to humans, to experience life through our breeding and farming & to be eaten at our will. To be removed as calves from their mothers, howling due to the separation only to be fattened and killed for food. Living amidst farms and farm animals, as I do, I know that it is a miserable life. Not a life we should present as worthy. Animals, as much as humans, deserve a decent life.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Are you OK with eating meat from animals that aren’t cute? I mean veal calves – aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! ‘Ook at their wuvwy big eyes!
But what about, say, rats? How about if we crossbred rats to the size of pigs, and ate those, instead of doe-eyed Bambi-like deer? Rats are disgusting-looking things. Townies are against fox hunting because they think foxes are cute. If the Berkeley Hunt chased rats the size of foxes I doubt anyone would care. How about a nice rat steak?

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Nothing to do with” cute”. It’s to do with modern farming .

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

So when you wrote “removed as calves from their mothers, howling due to the separation only to be fattened and killed for food”, that was nothing to do with calves and lambs being really adorable? Nothing at all? When animal rights nutters released mink from fur factories, that wasn’t because mink look cute – they’d have released rats or bats too, right?
Pull the other one, really. Do you feel sorry for big stinking brown-grey rats, when Rentokil comes and poisons the nest of them living under your house? I bet you don’t. So surely the moderate, split-the-difference course between veganism and a natural human diet is to eat only animals vegans don’t go all misty-eyed about? Do vegans really love rats as much as they love veal calves and little woolly lambkins?

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Jon – you’re projecting views that you hold onto a comment that gives no evidence of holding those views. You’re arguing with a figment of your own imagination. Hope you win!

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I should imagine that rats are very unpleasant to eat, given their diet and lifestyle. I’m also reluctant to eat them, even if genetically engineered to porcine dimensions and farmed, due to having them as pets when I was younger; reading James Herbert as a teenager might be in there also.

This said, I did make the acquaintance of a game dealer who sold grey squirrel, which, along with rabbit, makes a most delicious pasta sauce. Woodland Friends Ragu, if you will. And you’re eating animals that compete for the veg crop. Win-win!

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

…to be eaten at our will. To be removed as calves from their mothers, howling due to the separation only to be fattened and killed for food.
Could be worse, stuck out in nature, constantly struggling to find food and water, forever watching out for predators, battling the cold or heat, unsure if you or your offspring would make it through the next day, running scared at the merest sound. But that’s mother nature. ‘Nice’ wasn’t a feature of the design.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago

Saul D didn’t say that the animals’ lives would be on the highest level if we continue eating meat, just that they won’t be born in the first place if veganism takes over our lives. It was a criticism of a major vegan talking point. Your sarcasm is based on a serious misinterpretation of his remark, perhaps willfully so.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Krehbiel

See my comment elsewhere. Who do you think will miss out if these animals aren’t born? Animals aren’t sitting around in some sort of antechamber to reality waiting to be born – and getting upset if they miss out!

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Alka – good balanced comment, which has earned you almost as many down votes as me. I’m not vegan by the way.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Haha David,
We have indeed ruffled some feathers . Nor am I vegan, I occasionally eat culled venison and some cheese.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I actually think it’s a good thing. On some subjects Unherd commenters are a bit complacent. A bit too convinced of their own rightness. No more than others, perhaps, but then not everyone claims to be “Unherd”.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I must say, it is rather fun!
I actually think there are some good arguments against veganism – and especially against its holier than thou attitude. But nobody is making them.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
2 years ago

I read the piece as an argument against ‘religious’ veganism. I didn’t read it as an attack on balanced diet, or as a plea for us all to eat more meat. Nor was the author defending industrial livestock farming. ‘Terrible’ article and ‘defence of the indefensible’ seem to me to be unreasonable criticisms. I don’t like aggressive veganism promoters. I don’t like aggressive climate campaigners. I don’t like biology deniers. They are all too damn certain that they are right, that everyone else is wrong, and that being wrong is the same as being evil. Bring back the Enlightenment.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Graeme Laws

The enlightenment was based on reason. I’m afraid this piece isn’t.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Some things I agree with here, such as Vegan religiosity but:

Meat-eating is natural. It’s why you salivate over a plate of bacon.

is simply the naturalistic fallacy – the move from an is to an ought.
Much of the rest is fallacious reasoning which an educated vegan would tear apart with ease.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

The only observable principle in the universe is that we are all food for something else…

William Cable
William Cable
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Go on then, tell us

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

OK – I’ll pick a few for your enlightenment. But you really should be able to spot fallacious reasoning when you see it – and that’s particularly important when the dodgy reasoning supports your own position.
wifi dodgy too. So will comment individually.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

Veganism, in rejecting our animal essential, elevates us above the creatures of the earth. It is speciesism disguised as correct-thinking.

On the basis of which, any “animalistic” action could be justified.
Are we to argue that our moral capacity justifies us in ignoring that very capacity?
Would we similarly argue, for example, that non slave owning societies are superior to those which own slaves – on the basis of which, they are allowed to take slaves from those societies?
The philosophical argument against “speciesism” is not that all animals have the same rights, but that they should be accorded rights according to their nature. See Singer

William Cable
William Cable
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

We don’t need slaves, we do need to eat, we do from time to time have to kill other animals even in vegan systems. There for pursuing a more efficient and balanced diet using as animals as we evolved to do makes sense

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

Wasn’t my point. My point is about the logic of the argument.