Reasons to be Vegan..
I've been vegetarian now for over 25 years and vegan for the past two. During that time I've lost count of the number of occasions when I've been asked "why don't you eat meat then?" I'm increasingly reluctant to enter a debate about it now because I get so frustrated at the ignorance and stupidly I often encounter. There are the usual challenges about a balanced diet and comments about being "soppy about animals". I suppose my lack of enthusiasm might be seen as a lack of conviction but it's really that I can't believe more people haven't cottoned on to why a switch to a plant based diet isn't absolutely vital now.
Now that I follow a vegan diet I find that even long term vegetarians think I've gone too far! But my reasons are perfectly straightforward. There are three basic strands to my argument - all have fairly equal weighting. First is a compassion for fellow non-human animals. The industrialisation of farming has created some of the most appalling "techniques" for bringing food onto people's plates and I really don't want any part of it. My eyes have been opened to the enormous cruelty involved in dairy farming and it strikes me that it is almost worse than raising animals for meat - their suffering is thankfully relatively short compared to dairy cows.
Second is the need to completely review our energy demands. The growing chaos of climate change, water shortages and famine mean that we have to start to do things differently. The facts are clear. The energy going into the production of meat is totally disproportionate to its nutritional benefits. Alongside that is the need to revert to local food production and organic methods of growing.
Third there are the health benefits of a vegan diet. Take a look at any one of the numerous publications on detox diets and see the link with veganism. What I don't understand is why people think that such healthy eating habits should only be a short term matter before plunging back into bad old habits.
A couple of years ago my wife and I set up our own veggie/vegan guest house (www.veggiebarn.net) so that we could in a small way help to foster a growth in provision for people who felt similarly to us. It's been a great couple of years with so many delightful guests. I wish we'd done it sooner. And there's one thing for certain - you won't get asked to explain your reasons for not eating meat!
Richard Barnett - The Barn Vegetarian Guest House
Posted: Mar 1st, 2006 12:09