Final year Agriculture student – Emma McCormack – shares her thoughts on veganism.
Since the reaction to last week’s article sparked such interest, there’s a sequel. I wrote generically last week, giving a vague overview of my opinion towards the extremists of the vegan community and their new phenomenon that is Veganuary - January’s trendier cousin.
Today, I’d like to set the record straight with a few well-overdue home truths. Ireland is a country of choice - in recent years alone, we voted for people to make their own decisions on important matters such as same-sex marriage, and abortion. These are controversial topics and although we may not agree with the actions of others, we voted as a nation to allow Irish citizens to decide for themselves what’s better for them.
Food is no different. We may not all agree with what others choose to eat, but it is not our decision. It is a matter of choice. Vegans will argue that it is wrong to eat animals. That’s their choice.
However, the reality of the situation is that the food chain is natural and if veganism really and truly was the way forward, there would be more than just 5% of our global population on the bandwagon.
Vegans don’t care about the 570 million global farms they are jeopardizing when they put their scare-tactics into action, in an attempt to pull people on board. Nor do they stop to think about the careers, jobs, livelihoods and dreams they are crushing.
Dairy and beef farming
If veganism took off, my future agricultural career would be void. My family farm would be out of business; over four generations of honest hard work would be wiped away.
One girl argued towards veganism with me, and when I spoke of all of the livestock farmers that would be affected by veganism if it grew to become more popular, her reply was; “Well, isn’t the beef sector in Ireland already in a crisis, anyway?”
Well, that’s true, but it sure would be more of a crisis if nobody ate beef anymore. Our market would disintegrate to nothing at all.
Vegans place billboards before our eyes claiming that dairy takes babies from their mothers, yet most of them own dogs. Is it not wrong to separate a young pup from its mother too? Yet, they have no issue with this, when picking up a new puppy from its original home, taking it away from its siblings and parents.
The main thing a lot of people need to grasp, is that we are just one cog in the most natural wheel of all time - the food chain. It has been in place for millions of years. Specifically, over the past 2.6 million years, 110 billion humans have been consuming meat and animal by-products. It has allowed us to evolve into the superior, highly educated race we have become. This wouldn’t have happened by sipping nut milk or eating kale.
It has happened by doing what professionals advise us - which is to consume everything, in moderation. Today, society could do with a reminder to eat more fruit and vegetables, but it hasn’t been advised to eliminate meat totally. Extremely biased articles have been published, for example, the recent Lancet report which promotes the reduction of meat consumption by up to 90%. This is drastic, unrealistic and unsustainable.
As a consumer, you have to ask yourself, who is behind such campaigns? What are their motives?
Keeping things simple, let’s think back to when you were first born. Milk kept you alive. Real milk. Natural, right from the source. It never occurred to your mother to give you any other sort of “milk” because common sense prevailed and it goes without saying that real is better.
Cow’s milk is the one food which humans can survive wholly on. It contains every vitamin and mineral we need to survive. Nothing added, nothing is taken away. It is natural and wholesome. Veganism denies us of that.
Many vegans promote the consumption of things like avocados, yet the average single avocado uses 320-litres of water before its produced, and then it must travel up to 10,000 km’s to reach your local supermarket shelf.
This is okay to include in our diet in moderation, but to eliminate the fresh, Irish produce from our doorsteps is ridiculous. It will mean the destruction of Irish businesses. Importation of food will skyrocket.
The food chain is natural
Vegans have more blood on their hands than they care to admit. In 2016 alone, Irish agriculture was worth €14 billion to our economy. We cannot grow the foods vegans wish to survive on. They don’t think about where their rice comes from, or how cows are exploited in paddy fields for the production of it.
There’s no debate needed here, we just need to educate those who are so misinformed. No matter what food is produced - the earth is impacted.
30% of the greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil alone are caused by the production of soya. I understand that some of this goes for animal consumption, but should we all go vegan, it’ll all be for humans and a lot more will need to be sown, causing horrific deforestation. By next year, 2020 it is expected that 30 million ha of Brazilian land will be occupied by the growth of soya bean. This will need a staggering 1.5 billion-litres of water to be produced.
The bottom line is folks, the food chain is natural. We have been following it for a long time now, and our life expectancy is higher than ever before. If a person chooses to abstain from consuming animal produce, that’s fine. Can they not do it quietly? Must they shove their opinions down our throats?
Becoming a trend
A lot of the problem is that veganism has become a trend. Reading online, you’ll see claims “you’ll lose weight if you follow this vegan diet” or “as a vegan, your skin will be so much healthier”.
Vulnerable consumers get sucked into it. Recently, celebrity TV chef Gordon Ramsey announces that he would “give this vegan thing a try”. Clearly, the production or consumption of animal produce has never bothered him and still doesn’t as he continues in his role as a chef. He has been handling, cooking with, slicing and serving raw meat for decades now and hasn’t been upset by it.
Yet now, he’s just another guy jumping on the bandwagon so that he can talk about it. Don’t be fooled ladies and gentlemen, a balanced and healthy diet is right at our doorstep - sustainably produced by small, honest farmers just like you or me. Veganism destroys people’s jobs, careers and hopes. This is why I ask you to open your eyes. Portion control is what’s needed to combat the potential epidemic of obesity in Ireland, not veganism.
Don’t allow anyone to take away our choices. We are humans, independent, intelligent and fair. We are not murderers, we are following in the natural footsteps of our ancestors. If they hadn’t elevated themselves somewhat on the food chain, we may not be here at all.