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Is vegetarianism no longer enough?

Written by Editor's Picks, Food

Over recent years there has been an undeniable rocket in the number of vegetarians and vegans in the United Kingdom. Whether the choice is for ethical, environmental or for health reasons, it seems that vegetarianism and veganism are becoming a much desired lifestyle for many. In fact, researchers have predicted that by 2025, one in four of us will have made the switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

While vegetarianism has been on the rise for quite some time now, veganism is still relatively new in prominence to our society. However, the amount of people choosing to cut all animal products from their diets has peaked rather significantly in recent years. In 2018, there were 600,000 vegans living in Great Britain, making up 1.16 per cent of the country’s population. As a vegetarian myself, I often wonder whether I am going far enough. After all, the processes involved in the manufacture of dairy products are often inhumane and entail appalling treatment of farm animals.

Image: Simon Matzinger (Unsplash)

The treatment of cows on dairy farms has become a topic of great concern over recent years, spotlighted to many by the 2014 documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret and other such documentaries. A surprising amount of people appear to have been previously naïve to the barbaric nature of dairy production. In simple terms, cows need to have been pregnant in order to produce milk. Pregnancy is often achieved forcibly, through artificial insemination, and the consequential calves are often separated from their mothers within twenty-four hours. And since male calves are of no use to the dairy-industry, around 90,000 are murdered each year, shortly after birth.

However, ethics are not the only reason people are opting to cut meat and animal products from their diets. According to the research of Oxford University, a reduced consumption of meat worldwide could cut greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds by 2050, demonstrating the severe effect the manufacture and transportation of such products is currently having on the environment.

You can also avoid food-borne diseases such as e coli, salmonella and listeria by making the switch to a vegetarian

Reduced intake of meat and dairy is also proven to reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, assist in weight management or loss, and extend life-longevity. You can also avoid food-borne diseases such as e coli, salmonella and listeria by making the switch to a vegetarian or (especially) vegan diet. However, despite the many health benefits, it is important that you ensure that you are still consuming enough necessary nutrients, such as protein, iron and vitamin B12 when adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet. While supplement tablets are available for these nutrients, they can be obtained from foods such as nuts, beans, seeds and lentils also.

I urge every one of you to cut down on the amount of meat and animal products you consume. You do not need to go fully vegan or vegetarian to make a difference, just do what you can. If that means switching to just one vegetarian meal a week, then so be it. All contributions to the reduction of animal products are necessary to create a more ethical and sustainable world.

Visit www.vegansociety.com for more information.

Last modified: 27th October 2019

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