Where can I find good info on reasons to be vegan?

(11 Posts)
shirleycat1 Sat 17-Aug-13 17:48:48

I have been a vegetarian for years, although occasionally eat fish and seafood. I'm not really strict with stuff like Haribo at the moment.

But, I am becoming increasing interested in veganism and really feel ethically that it's something that I want to do. I vaguely know animals are treated terribly but apart from chickens I don't know specifics. Even with chickens I kind of kid myself that "free range" is OK, but when I really think about it, I know that that's bollocks. And I'm really starting to worry about what I don't know about dairy milk production and what that involves.

I've been doing some internet research and have found quite a bit of US info, but not much from the UK. I'm not going to make such a huge decision without being completely informed so I was hoping that someone might be able to direct me to some good hard factual stuff that's not preachy.

I'm wondering if I could do 5 days on 2 days off initially. I know there's no rules and it's up to me, so I'm not asking anyone's permission, just saying what I'm thinking. I'm pregnant and couldn't contemplate life without cheese right now.

So where's a good source of info please?

Thanks in advance...

tribpot Sat 17-Aug-13 18:01:59

I take it you've looked at the Vegan Society and NHS Choices on the vegan diet? (They have a page for pregnant women as well).

Do you have anywhere where you can buy locally-sourced dairy produce? Just thought it might be a good compromise if you do want to continue to eat dairy - and to be honest I think you should given your pregnancy, but I'm not a vegan so don't take my word for it smile

shirleycat1 Sat 17-Aug-13 19:10:56

I know the health benefits and I know lots of things that I could eat. What I am looking for is the ethical argument. How exactly are animals treated? What does the mass production of cheap meat and animal products involve? How common are really horrible conditions? I don't eat meat currently, but I think I'm not stupid enoguh to think that producing milk and eggs is all done with animals wondering freely in the fields. And what about the environmental impact?

Thank you...

this is a gelatine factory. You really are not a vegetarian if you eat that.

LordEmsworth Sat 17-Aug-13 19:26:20

I would really recommend Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. He is American but a lot of what he says applies to the UK farming industry (and it is an industry...). Pigs have it a bit better over here, but chickens... (Planet Chicken by Hattie Ellis confirms it if you need it).

I am not vegan but am now as careful as I can be about the provenance of my food.

E.g. battery eggs are banned in this country, but laying chickens can still be kept in a really tiny space; and eggs in products (e.g. shop bought cakes / quiches etc) can be imported so may well be battery eggs. So I try to buy rare-breed eggs in farm shops as they are very unlikely to have been mistreated. Costs a lot more but I would rather do that than have some of the images from this books on my conscience...

Basically, as a society we have been taught not to value food, so now we don't put a high price on it; but it costs money to take proper care of animals!

Surely, one should also look at the ethical and environmental impacts on the human work force that grows, picks, and packs the food for a vegan diet as well, if ethics is your main concern?

The current vegan trend for Quinoa has caused the Bolivian work force to not be able to eat their own food due to being forced to sell it at ridiculous prices. People are dying. The United Nations have gotten involved with it it has gotten so bad. And that's just one crop, there are so many other ethical problems - the importing of grain from Ethiopia, the global issues of exploitation and unfair trade pricing, migrant worker's lack of rights and recognition, forced movement of indigenous populations and wildlife for mass farming for the West (soy growing is a major cause of this, as is palm oil), famine in world where we make enough food for 11 billion people and on and on. It's violence, pure and simple, our food systems are built on exploitation and greed and need to be dismantled and reformed, the animal welfare is important but is only one small piece of the puzzle of an ethical food system and diet, veganism isn't enough alone to create an ethical food system or diet.

The Vegan Society and the Vegetarian Society are brilliant for facts and guidance.

Personally I would address strictness of vegetarianism before one can really think about being totally vegan. And definitely do your homework as you're pregnant too.

Try out some cheese substitutes, you may find you like them, or if not you'll know it's something you'll have to give up and potentially really miss.

Part time is a good idea if you're OK with it mentally. As long as you're not gorging on eggs, cheese and sweets on your days off! Cholesterol binge!

Good luck, I hope you enjoy some new foods and recipes.

BaldricksTurnip Sat 17-Aug-13 21:46:58

Agree with Littlesporks. There is no way to consume ethically, it's a sad fact of life. I think that by being on the planet you are going to destroy things and cause suffering, it's beyond your control really. You're better off concentrating on getting proper nutrition while pregnant and ensuring the welfare of those that you can control, like yourself and your baby.

forevergreek Sat 17-Aug-13 21:52:32

I think you can consume all foods ethically if you can source them.
For example my grandparents keep goats ( 6 I think), and from them get milk/ butter/ cheese. The goats live like family pets with the run of acres of land and sleep on sunbeds on the decking in the summer! My grandparents sell these products in a little farm shop.

I didn't say one can't consume ethically, just that the common rhetoric that a vegan diet automatically makes an ethical diet ignores a lot of problems - some actively caused by popular types of vegan diets. The systems need challenged on a local, national, and international level, global worker's rights and indigenous land rights being prioritized will result in a more ethical food chain. Giving up and focusing on ourselves isn't the answer, neither is looking solely at animal rights, but viewing sources and pushing for changes on multiple scales will.

shirleycat1 Sun 18-Aug-13 13:19:24

Thanks a lot for all your replies. I do try to be conscious of what I'm eating and where it's come from and I totally understand eating vegan isn't going to make me Miss Ethical UK. I also know there needs to be systematic change in mass food production on a global level, and not just animal welfare, to move towards fairness and equality.

I don't particularly have a problem with meat. If I had a small holding (wistful dream) then I'd most probably rear animals to eat and live off. But they'd have a pretty good life and I'd be self sufficient (ish). I just feel that right now I'm kidding myself and I want to arm myself with the facts so I can make an informed decision on what I do and don't think is acceptable and how I want to live.

For what it's worth, it's perfectly possible to have a very healthy pregnancy on a totally vegan diet and to raise kids from birth to be vegan. And I don't plan to go fully vegan initially anyway.

Thanks again everyone for your thought provoking responses...

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