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Currently showing: Food security > Diet/alternatives

25 Jun 13 14:24

My primary reason for becoming vegan in January 2012 was the ethics of the consumption and exploitation of animals. The secondary driver for my lifestyle change was the (lack of) sustainability of meat production. It takes thousands of gallons of water to produce just one pound of steak - much less water is needed to grow vegetables and grain. We feed grain to cattle when this grain could be used to feed people. Most of the deforestation of the rain forests has been to feed cattle. Meat consumption is continually linked with the rising cancer rates. By not consuming animals I am greatly reducing my carbon footprint and I'm a great deal healthier too! The animals win, I win and the planet wins.

Category: Food security: Diet/alternatives

Tags: #Vegan.


Alicia Montoya - 26 Jun 2013, 5:36 p.m.

Way to go, Jonathan! I was vegan for 9 months last year. My key take-aways were:
- OMG, meals can exist without meat? Who would have thought! (I'm Spanish, it's virtually unheard of...)
- Wow, there's so much you can do with pulses and veggies after you stop designing meals around a big chunk of meat!
- Eastern and Middle Eastern food are an amazing addition to my culinary skills :D

Now I'm no longer vegan because I found eating out, eating while traveling and eating at friends' difficult, especially if you're very strict about it. However, I have kept all the things I like and many of my meals are still vegan.

The point I'm trying to make is: Vegan food is delicious, varied, nutritious AND you don't need to make it your every meal, just try it! You ma yfind you like it a lot too and the more vegan meals you choose to have, the better you'll feel about your health and the environment!

My big issue, and one I'm vocal about at restaurants, is the very limited choice for non meat eaters in most restaurants. While this is changing in big first world cities, try going into the countryside. But I tell the restaurant owners every time. If we all do, and we all start picking more diverse food, restaurant owners will change their menus.

So, come one, give it a shot! Here's where I started: Show me the curry!

Jonathan Hughes - 27 Jun 2013, 10:53 a.m.

That's a real shame you didn't stick with it Alicia. I do agree, eating out is hard, but then I figure if somewhere can't cater for a cruelty-free meal they are not worth visiting. As I said, my primary reason was ethics - I'm vegan for life - not just dietary - so I won't wear any animal products, nor use anything tested on animals. Plant-based is the only sustainable and ethical way forward.

Rashunda Tramble - 27 Jun 2013, 12:19 p.m.

I think Alicia deserves kudos for even trying the vegan lifestyle, if *only* for nine months (which is a long time in my opinion). I've been a vegetarian for a while, but I applaud the vegan lifestyle and honor those who follow it for whatever reason.

Jonathan Hughes - 27 Jun 2013, 1:42 p.m.

Of course, Rashunda, I'm just quite precious about the term vegan - it isn't a diet as it encompasses so much more. Plant-based diet is a more accurate description. Veganism extends so much further then merely not eating meat, eggs and dairy. From a food security perspective, I think it is important to foster a lifelong change in people's habits - ultimately away from any form of animal exploitation which is so bad for the environment (let alone animal welfare). I'm wary of messages that suggest being vegan is somehow hard and can't be maintained - my original post was intended as a positive thumbs up to show how concerns about food security can be greatly lessened by a change in lifestyle. May I ask, what are your reasons for being vegetarian? Would you consider switching to veganism?

Rashunda Tramble - 27 Jun 2013, 2:02 p.m.

Hi Jonathan. I've been a vegetarian off and on for most of my adult life. The main reason being I'm just freaking squeamish about putting dead animal carcass in my mouth. Point blank. The thought of pulling stringy pieces of a cow's muscle out of my teeth gives me the willies. I didn't become vegetarian for political reasons, but now that I've learned more about the relationship to food security, I'm happy that I'm squeamish.:-) As of right now I haven't had meat or seafood for about 4 years. I don't even have the taste for it anymore. Would I consider switching to veganism? I try to follow the lead of my body and soul: if something moves me to become vegan, then I'll do it.

Paritosh - 28 Jun 2013, 9:06 p.m.

I love my meat and I love my vegetables.

My only question, would you quit eating vegetables as well if more reports came on how plants could feel and still you harvest them just like animals?

Rashunda Tramble - 1 Jul 2013, 8:08 a.m.

I get this question once every six months. To feel pain, something must have a brain and a functioning nervous system. If a plant has a brain and a functioning nervous system,'s not a plant.

Jonathan Hughes - 1 Jul 2013, 8:43 a.m.

I agree with Rashunda. For me the dividing line (logically) is sentience. A carrot is not sentient. Also, it's not 'your' meat. It belongs to the animal. It's one of my core belief on animal rights - that they have the right not to be treated as property.

Rashunda Tramble - 1 Jul 2013, 10:28 a.m.

@Jonathan: I do have a question though about your transition: did you have leather goods (belts, shoes, etc) and other animal products in your pre-vegan life? If so, how did you handle them? Did you keep them?

Jonathan Hughes - 1 Jul 2013, 10:43 a.m.

Hi Rashunda, I was fortunate that I only had one leather belt, so that went to charity as did the pair of leather shoes I had. We (my wife and I) didn't have leather sofas etc so didn't have to worry about those. As I lost a lot of weight (as did my partner) most of out clothes that may have contained wool all went to charity so as we have bought new we make sure they are all non-animal based. Similarly with personal items (deodorant, toothpaste) - as they ran out we replaced with non-animal tested, vegan versions - we are lucky in the UK that Superdug store do a great range (and clearly mark the items are vegan-friendly, plus we get some items online. I'd say we are about as vegan now as we can be living in a modern society - we are learning all the time and if we find something that isn't vegan, either replacing it when it runs out or giving it away :-) I know some vegans that still have leather sofas for example, purchased pre-transition - they will replace when they are no longer useable - I think that sort of thing comes down to the individual. All things considered we didn't have to make as big a change as we thought we might, and now it has become very easy to get most things we need. We even managed to cater for 170 people at our vegan wedding! (There were only about 5 vegan guests! including us). We got so many positive comments about the food - it was great :-)

Alicia Montoya - 2 Jul 2013, 11:10 a.m.

Frankly, aside from eating out (which does limit your choices), I deserve no kudos at all. It was easy peasy and a total joy (as I explain above). Really. Try it.

But let me throw some wood on the fire, what if meat was actually the solution to the food security problem? Come discuss on

Daniel Martin Eckhart - 4 Jul 2013, 6:41 a.m.

I love the conversation going on here - it reflects very much where we are with it in this world in terms of scale. While the Vegan and Vegetarian ways are well recognized today - they're still entirely niche compared to the rest of the world. Frankly, simply because there's not a hint of a lobby compared to the monumental and constant efforts of the meat and dairy industries. For the scale to tip even a little more in favor of Vegan and Vegetarian - we (I get to that part later) need more lobbying power, we need to get into politics and into laws and into marketing. Currently every second commercial seems either meat or dairy industry related. And sometimes it's a beer commercial with a bunch of guys looking at a sizzling chunk of meat on the grill.

Well, I can only say I switched two months ago - like Jon, first and foremost for ethical reasons. A lecture had pushed me over the top, had brought me where I always knew I'd be someday anyway. That day I showed the lecture to my wife and told her about my thoughts - she was right with me. Like me, she had only waited for that right moment to make the switch. So my wife's Vegan now (she'll always be my hero), I'm Veggie. Can't call myself Vegan yet as I haven't made the final dairy switch yet. I still have a bit of mozzarella on veggie pizza and I still snarf down the occasional cookie.

Regarding the eating as such - I love it! Haven't missed meat at all. Love all the alternatives. Personally, two more positive side effects: 1) when I go to restaurants, I don't have to kill myself trying to select from fifty different menu options - I just select veggie option (where there's usually just one). 2) On airplanes special meals get delivered ahead of the crowd servings - no waits! ... in the end I just have to say that I'm downright happy - may sound silly - but I love the fact that I do no longer participate, that I do my little bit, it soothes my soul... and that's just the beginning. There's no doubt on my mind that I'll go Vegan next ... and that I'll want to do more than just my own little bit.

Jonathan Hughes - 4 Jul 2013, 8:28 a.m.

Great news Daniel! I think I knew from day one of being veggie that I would go vegan too. Out of interest, what lecture was it? I stumbled across a speech by Gary Yourofsky labeled as 'The Best Speech Ever' on YouTube... for me it certainly was! As a son of a retired butcher for a speech to flip the switch in my head it must be good :-) Best of luck with the cheese and dairy, though I'm confident you will get there very soon from the sounds of it - it sure helps having a vegan wife - mine switched just after me so that makes things very easy at home. If I can help/advise anytime, drop me a line.

Paritosh - 5 Jul 2013, 4:24 p.m.

Interesting definition of a sentient being and trust me either Mr. Spock of Star Trek won't be happy with this :)

The problem is with not many research or know about plant science , this might not interest you, but nevertheless: for more you could check why Dr. JC bose was awarded Nobel Prize.

To add on to your view and if you come up again against such a line as mine, you could always say: If we cannot care for old definition of sentient being, we could never for the new or yet to be discovered sentient being (plants or any other non-carbon based life form). There are few religions like Jainism in India, who would eat only fruits fallen on the ground.

My belief is that animal and plants have been part of food for humans throughout the history. In many Asian countries, including India, in olden days, meat was offered only on rare occasion like festivals or in honor of visitors.... No wonder why cow is sacred in India and roam freely on the roads ;)

What I say is, eat food that you enjoy, but never underestimate the value of food that you don't enjoy.... :)

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