The Austerity Pantry Revisited

About a year and a half ago, I posted on an an experimental approach to food in Austerity Measures and the Simplified Pantry.

I had challenged myself to pare the contents of our pantry down to 35 items including herbs, spices and beverages. It still seemed extravagant in the face of this family’s meagre week’s worth of groceries.  Having switched to a vegan diet for ethical reasons with comparative ease and a minimum of fuss 20 months earlier, I was keen to see what other possibilities opened up:

  • To eat a nutritionally sufficient, wholesome diet at a much lower cost
  • To eat a delicious diet without recourse to rare and exotic ingredients
  • To align our diet to global norms rather than those determined by our gluttonous society
  • To prove it possible to eat well on £15 per head per week
  • To save money by buying ingredients in bulk that would definitely be used
  • To cultivate an enjoyment of a simpler palette of tastes
  • To remove fatty and processed foods from the menu altogether
  • To flirt with the tantalising possibility of going fridge-free
  • To minimise trips to the supermarket

Well …

I have to admit a number of additional ingredients and indulgences have crept back onto the shopping list in the intervening months due to bad habits and convenience,  but not due to necessity. I also discovered a couple of new delicious dishes that didn’t fit the restricted pantry. Nevertheless, there seemed to be something attainable here that just slipped away.

Three particular areas were especially challenging:

Bread – I wanted to commit to only consuming bread that I had baked myself. The plan was to get a sourdough going that would not require yeast to be replenished as one of the 35 items. In reality, sadly my life is too hectic for sourdough and bread products on supermarket shelves proved irresistible.

Spices – These are relatively cheap and add instant variety, and 25g of most things lasts a good while, so the spice rack was never really reduced.

Staples – Under the heading of  “rice”, I managed to sneak in four different varieties (that’s cheating), and I  started exploring quinoa. I have since decided that quinoa is a “no-no” because it has become stupidly expensive and the poor Bolivians who grow it can’t even afford it.

However …

 

Bean Slop and Polenta

Bean Slop and Baked Polenta

I was recently summoned to view the multicoloured spreadsheet of household finances that my wife painstakingly keeps in order. It was there in black and white (or rather pink, green and blue) that I have failed on numerous promises to bring the wayward grocery bill under control. A few hours later, my reflection in a shop window provided an unwelcome reminder that the mirror on our landing is unreliable and distorts my wayward girth in a flattering way, too.

It is time to recommit to “The Austerity Pantry”.

This time, I am anchoring it to a rolling menu of eight or nine basic evening meals with porridge for breakfast and  soup or jacket potatoes for lunch. For the curious, this is how it looks at the moment:

  1. Lentil hotpot
  2. Pasta and sauce (generally prepared with leftovers)
  3. Chilli beans with rice
  4. Savoury rice (pilau)
  5. Chick pea curry (type and strength varies)
  6. Roast vegetables with polenta or couscous
  7. Bean slop (this is somewhere between a soup and a casserole and goes well with leftover polenta)
  8. Lentil dal
  9. Risotto (with mushrooms or whatever vegetables are to hand)

In theory, this regime can be sustained on a monthly bulk-buy of pulses, staples and spices, supplemented with a weekly selection of local organic veg … and a fridge is not really needed …

WIN!

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Barefoot Colleges

In spite of the fact that we risk information fatigue as we are overloaded with data from the web and other media, I can’t help noticing that sometimes something I see among the hundreds of pages and pictures and clips that I view every week “sticks” and begins to embed itself on another level. This TED talk from Bunker Roy is one such sticky thing. It fed my soul, reawakened something, pulled some threads together. I’ll let it speak for itself for this is one of the most inspiring and heartening things I have seen for a long time:

 

Milk Monday: Thoughts on a Calf Killing, Carbon Footprints and Consumerism

Calf roping

Not to mislead you, this is a calf being roped at a rodeo, not shot at a dairy. (Image via Wikipedia)

Last week was interesting …

For a start, the Daily Mail published a story about a deformed calf being taken from its mother and shot on a farm in the Bristol area that supplies milk to Cadbury’s. It was just one of the many cruel details uncovered by a Viva! investigation. This was “shocking” enough to make national news, heart-rending pictures of a helpless baby animal being dragged away from its mother and killed. However, as many commenters on the article pointed out, this sort of thing happens every single day and it is an unavoidable practice, necessary to the continuing production of milk, cheese, yoghurt, and chocolate that our nation is so addicted to.

Implicit in the practice of taking milk from cows for human consumption is the need to remove their calves. The fate of these calves depends on their sex. If they are males, they will be slaughtered in one way or another. If they are females, they can look forward to a fraction of their natural lifespan which will consist of 4-5 pregnancies before they are exhausted and only good for pet food – either way, it’s “shocking”.

Comments on the original article in the Mail have been locked, as I imagine it quite quickly descended into a shouting match. I got to read a few on the day it was published and they certainly seemed to be going in that direction with the same tired views being wheeled out. It is certain that issues such as this have an extraordinary potential to bring out very strong feelings. people commenting on the article seemed to fall into one of three categories:

The Compassionist

This is a meat and dairy consumer who is outraged, “I think it is awful, how could they do that to the poor calf, this has to be stopped“. This person may or may not change their buying habits and seek out “ethical” sources and they may or may not seek to apply pressure on producers and retailers by political methods. They hope that things might change so they can continue to consume with a clear conscience.

The Farmer

These are the people who I have personally had the most anger from, “you have no idea how hard it is to make a living out here, you city people are so soft and sentimental, we love our animals, you have no right to comment.” This is like a shop keeper shouting at a customer, “you have no right to ask stupid questions about my wares, just shut up and buy them and leave the selling to me!” At the end of the day I know farming is a hard way to make a living and our farmers are like public servants, working against the odds to keep the country fed, but I’m the customer. In some ways it doesn’t matter if the producer agrees with what I do or don’t want, nobody is obligated to buy the product if it disgusts them, and everyone has a right to know about and hold an opinion on where something they are going to eat or drink comes from.

The Vegan

Smug sometimes but generally exasperated in tone, “yeah, this is the exact reason why I don’t consume animal flesh or secretions, there is no way round this except to stop consuming as I did 20 years ago.” This person is likely to believe that putting pressure on suppliers through various means is a waste of time and that the real power lies in reducing demand through abstension and educating others so they can make reasoned choices.

I’m sorry, it’s obvious that I am biased here. I love vegans, I admire them and I feel at home with them. They frequently strike me as people who don’t have time for excuses and who are prepared to change themselves before they try to change others. They come from all faiths and no faiths and all walks of life, they are (in my experience) generally pretty unsentimental about animals, too, believing that non humans don’t need our pity, they just need their dignity.

In Other News

The Environmental Working Group  published analysis of the “food footprint” of the western diet, based mainly on US data, revealing (not unexpectedly) that lamb, beef, cheese, and pork have the most extreme carbon footprints per kg produced. The analysis included production and processing costs for these foods. Dried beans, milk, tomatoes, and lentils found their tiny way into the bottom of the graph.

The report states:

By eating and wasting less meat (especially red and processed meat) and cheese, you can simultaneously improve your health and reduce the climate and environmental impact of food production. And when you do choose to eat meat and cheese, go greener. There are many environmental, health and animal welfare reasons to choose meat and dairy products that come from organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed animals. It may cost more, but when you buy less meat overall, you can afford to go healthier and greener. (A Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health: by Kari Hamerschlag, EWG Senior Analyst)

It’s a shame that this report was very much aimed at promoting the “go on consuming, folks, just make sure you do it greenly” approach. It makes me aware of a growing discomfort I sense in myself over the whole “ethical consumer” thing; and I am just about to unfashionably question everything in this area from “happy” eggs to Fair-Trade, so cover your ears now …

The Jugular

What if the answer is not to try to swing the whole consumer paradigm around to something that is more “ethical” but to actually boycott the game and find something that goes a lot deeper. When I “went vegan” I suddenly found that I had not escaped this, I had just transferred myself into another niche market and suddenly I was the recipient of, “BUY this, it’s vegan.” As a Christian, I am likewise a nice little category of consumer, “BUY this it’s Christian, it will change your forever and revolutionise your spiritual life.” As someone who wants to be ethical, I haven’t bucked the system at all I’ve just made myself open to “BUY this, it will enable you to continue to live as you always have but with a clearer conscience.”

BUY fair trade coffee and bananas? Shouldn’t I be asking, “do I really need coffee and bananas in my life” and “do the people who grow them need my nice money so that they can become consumers like me?”

I’m thinking out loud, here, so please don’t shoot me down. Constructive engagement is appreciated if it will help me (or us) to work these things through.

Personal Experiment: Going Soap Free (it’s the new “clean”)

Soap

Soap? N.I.M.B. (Not In My Bathroom).

I’m trying this as an experiment. I am on day 5 of using no soap or shampoo, just water, to wash and shave with. This may come as a surprise to anyone who knows how fond I am of natural plant based and home-made soaps.

Why give up soap?

From the top of my head, I think people might want to give up soap for two reasons, which they might place in a different order of importance. For me it is primarily the first reason and the second reason is like the icing on the cake.

Firstly, people give up soap because it might not be necessary and, therefore it is one less thing to consume. It is like another area of my life that I can take back from the powers of consumerism that want to convince me that “you have to buy this” otherwise you are going to stink and have no friends. It never occurred to me that soap might not be absolutely necessary, although I discarded shaving foam and shampoo a couple of years ago when I figured out that they are basically soap that is given a fancy name so you think you need to buy it to do a job that soap does very well. But does it really …

The second reason is that it is probably much better for your skin. The bare naked truth is that soap dries out your skin. We all know this. This gives the cosmetics companies the chance to sell us moisturisers to undo the damage that their soap did. Some soap bars and products now have moisturiser added in to counteract the effect. But what if our skin is never getting the chance to establish its own balance and all the time we are rushing to buy another product to try and replace the natural functions and qualities of our skin that took millions of years to evolve. Cosmetic products create a need for themselves when they interfere with the body’s normal way of providing for itself.

But don’t you stink and have no friends?

No … and nor do the numerous other people who have also gone soap free, including:

Paleoblogger, Richard Nikoley of Free theAnimal, all-round-lifehacker, Sean Bonner from BoingBoing, and the two vegan tweeple who woke me up to this in the first place, Ronda Vanderzanden (@funerealwaif303030) and Kristiina Stromness (@MsKristiina282828).

How do you get clean?

With water, the most glorious element on the planet, also known by chemists as “The Universal Solvent”. I get clean using water and scrubbing.

Scrubbing brush and flannel have made a triumphant return to me cleansing arsenal. Finally the annual flannel, that appears half way down the Christmas stocking, is getting a regular outing.

One of the ways soap functions is by leaving a dirt repellent layer on the skin that supposedly means you stay cleaner for longer. This may mean that being soap free requires that washing/bathing is more frequent.  I can easily get away with missing a wash for a day or two when I have a layer of soap on my skin and I can use various other products to smell sweet – but being soap free does give an excuse to indulge in getting wet more often (that being once a day).

Basically, to get clean, I have found I have developed almost a ritual that makes sure all of me is scrubbed in a certain order starting with a clean flannel on the face, and ending with the … ahem … areas.

Actually I was shocked, when I took my first “soap-free” bath, how much gunk was left in the water. It was as if I had had a proper wash for the first time although this may have been more to do with the very thorough scrubbing that the lack of soap.

What about hair?

Yep, hair can do fine without keratin enhancing super shining shampoos with “advanced molecular science” (oh, may we be delivered from shampoos with “science” in them). I guess I can’t speak for people with long hair but I have it on good authority that it is a bit odd to start with until everything settles down.

Received wisdom from those who have gone before also advises that it may take a couple of weeks for the body to balance out generally. So a little perseverance is required.

Complimentary practices for soap-free hygiene.

I think that going soap-free is not just a case of giving up soap. There is a more conscious approach to hygiene that can be explored here as to give up soap is to give up one of the crutches that has helped us to “feel” clean for years.

Firstly, diet plays a massive part in what is secreted on the surface of our skin and how we smell. I am not a physiologist but anyone can wake up to how true this is with the help of their own nose. We all know garlic comes out in the sweat but since giving up dairy products I have become sensitised to the fact that everyone else smells of cheese – literally – because of the dairy they consume. However, raw vegans (people who only eat uncooked plant matter) consistently report that they can discard with deodorants because their sweat is virtually odourless. I am monitoring this at the moment, subsisting on a plant diet as I do, I have almost entirely discarded deodorant products although I do occasionally use an essential oil.

Drinking lots of water also becomes much more important, the idea being that a well hydrated body will be better at eliminating toxins and sweat will be less concentrated.

Secondly … re-think clothing. Feet are not smelly, it’s socks and shoes that are the problem. Some of the clothing we wear, shoes being the best example, provide a close moist environment for bacteria to grow so it is little wonder that feet smell. Going barefoot as much as possible will actually lead to hygienically cleaner feet. Wearing looser clothing made from natural, breathable fabric also makes hygienic sense.

Other plus points to giving up soap

Apart from sticking up two fingers to The Man and making a bid for healthier skin and hair, there are a few other advantages to giving up soap:

  • No more “soap scum” on the side of the bath or shower
  • Saves a few quid a year
  • Contributes to a reduced demand for wierd toxic chemicals and the industrial processes that make them
  • Burn more calories washing/scrubbing
  • Declutter your bathroom from a whole lot of junk

Milk Monday: Why Aren’t You Vegan?

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes I get asked why I am vegan. This was more common when I first transitioned into abstaining from animal products. Nowadays I am more likely to get what seems like polite and accommodating indifference. I sit at tables longing for someone to pop the question and give me permission to discuss something that is very close to my heart. I don’t know why the opportunity is so rare, I get the impression that veganism is still considered to be a bit extreme and I also live in fear of putting people off by claiming a moral high ground – which it is hard not to do.

If I’m feeling belligerent I want to throw back the question, “why aren’t you vegan?” It seems odd to me that I should justify choosing not to consume certain things rather than asking others to justify why they do consume certain things.

On the rare occasions when I do get asked, I feel as if I have just a sentence or two to summarise a multi-faceted and very profound lifestyle choice and hook people into the fascinating conversation that may follow. The door is open for a moment to talk about non-violence as a way of life, about the glory and riches of a vegetable-based diet, to uncover the moral contradictions that appear on our plates and, hopefully, help that person to come a step closer to deciding to change one thing that will change a thousand other things for the better.

However, since that door opens very rarely I have to store all my openers somewhere, so please forgive me, dear reader, if I dump a few of them here. In all this I need to remember that I was once a fully signed up carnivore and a practitioner of polite indifference myself:

Actually, I’m not “a vegan” and I don’t consider that I belong to a certain category. I am simply someone who chooses as a matter of preference on a moment by moment basis not to participate in all that consuming animal products entails – for all sorts of reasons that I’d be happy to discuss.

Because I am an incurable epicurean hedonist and I have to confess that living animals give me a lot more joy than dead ones, and no amount of mint sauce is going to change that.

Because I am morally opposed to violence and the exploitation of all sentient creatures for the transparently frivolous ends of my own personal gratification.

Because I ran out of reasons not to be.

Because my body can get all it needs from delicious fruit and vegetables and no-one gets hurt.

Because I was vegetarian for a few weeks before I discovered that it was a meaningless gesture.

I don’t like violence in my food-chain or anywhere.

Because being vegan is probably the biggest single thing I can do to reduce my carbon footprint.

Because I can’t morally justify our use of animals.

Because if everyone isn’t vegan in ten years time then the world food crisis will be much worse and society will be sicker than ever.

Because meat is dead flesh, milk is for baby cows, eggs are a chicken’s menstruation and leather is somebody else’s skin.

Because I think consuming animals and animal secretions is wrong.

Because I wouldn’t eat or milk my dog or wear her skin, why should I do that to any other creature that has an equal interest in living and thriving.

Because I live in anticipation of a day when God says “nothing will hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 11:9)

Because I think scripture teaches that the shedding of all blood is an extremely serious matter.

Because I think it is self evident that it is the duty of the strong to protect the weak whoever they are.

Because being vegan helps me to integrate my beliefs with my actions in a concrete way.

I think most people would be vegan if they really thought through what our use of animals involves.

Because it is about a lot more than what we eat or wear. Veganism implies an integral commitment to non-violence and fighting all forms of oppression.

Because the only argument I can find in favour of continuing to consume animal products is that they taste nice and as an anthropologist I am convinced that taste is cultural and not chemical.

For people, for animals, for the planet and for my own health.

Because it is fun.

I guess that’s my starter for ten. Being vegan is very easy and simple, talking about it is difficult and complex. What would be your answer in a nutshell as to why you are or are not vegan?

Here are a couple of good websites about veganism that have some great resources:

Vegan Means

Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach

Milk Monday: Dairy in the Days Before Pasteurisation and Refrigeration

In Biblical times, what was a land “flowing with milk and honey” given that that land was very hot and they had no fridges to store the milk? It sounds pretty smelly to me.

For thousands of years before the invention of pasteurisation and refrigeration, nomadic peoples had found ways of storing dairy in a hot climate and while moving from place to place. Among cultures such as the Masai and the sheperds of the Caucasus, these techniques are still the only way to keep milk. For such people, the word “milk” never means the homogenised cold white stuff we love to quaff by the glass and pour on our cornflakes. Rather, it is some sort of sour, fermented derivative that is nutritionally enhanced and partially digested by the bacteria it contains.

Lacto-fermentation and Kefir

Culture complexes of yeasts and bacteria are used the world over to create kefir, yoghurts, and cottage cheeses – each region historically developed their own unique cultures. When added to the milk, these cultures go to work, in some ways speeding up the decaying process of milk but keeping it safe to drink. The growth of the “good” microorganisms is vigorous enough to repress the development of other harmful ones and often renders the environment too acidic and hostile for the “bad” bacteria. Many products now available in western supermarkets and marketed as health drinks with “friendly bacteria” or “probiotics” are simply derived from these traditional cultures and can easily be made at home.

Photograph - 90 grams of kefir grains in a dis...

Kefir Grains (via Wikipedia)

Kefir is a “grain” treasured by shepherds in the caucasus region and enjoying a resurgence among health food enthusiasts. The culture itself can be divided and passed on from one person to another, often taking on unique regional characteristics. Added to milk, kefir grains cause fermentation, acting on the sugars to produce acidic by products and alcohol. Kefir drinks can be made and kept at room temperature, varying in thickness and alcoholic content according to the specific culture and how it is treated. It is often mixed with salt or sugar to make a refreshing drink.

Lacto-fermentation is also the process that results in yoghurt which can also be made on the windowsill in a warm climate but using a different starter culture that usually includes Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

Lacto-fermentation has been described as “the poor man’s refrigerator.”

Raw and Curdled Milk

The Maasai people of Africa are one of the oldest pastoral cutures on the planet and their entire life revolves around their cattle who provide milk and blood and, only very occasiaonally, meat. In spite of consuming more fat than would be healthy for a westerner, cardiovascular disorders are virtually unheard of.

For the Maasai, the primary way of storing milk is in the cow. A Maasai is never far from the source so can just squeeze out some raw milk and drink it on the spot, sometimes mixed with blood. To preserve it, milk is kept in hollowed out gourds that are blackened inside with smoke that may go some way to keeping the contents. The milk is then allowed to curdle and is still different to the foul smelling lumpy stuff we get if we leave the milk bottle out, by virtue of it having a rich complex of microorganisms in it to begin with. I have spoken to people who have had the dubious pleasure of drinking this stuff and by all accounts it is not to everyone’s taste, although highly nutritious and prized by the people themselves.

Slate and Teracotta Fridges

In the pantries of old victorian houses it is still possible to find a huge slab of slate on which dairy would have been stored. In temperate climates, the cooling properties of slate were sufficient to keep cheeses and milk at a low temperature for every bit as long as in our modern refrigerators. The victorians also made use of terracotta pots that had been soaked in water. As the water evaporated off from the porous material it would carry heat away, keeping the contents cool.

A “pot-in-a-pot” fridge is simple to construct using unglazed terracotta pots and sand, and this technique has been used in arabic countries for hundreds of years to preserve vegetables and dairy products. The Arabs call this type of refrigerator a “Zeer” pot.

Given that the refrigerator is only an invention of the last sixty years in human history and that it consumes up to 20% of our household’s energy, we could do well to learn how to live without it for the sake of the planet and discover a range of new tastes and techniques in the process.

Should I live Without a Fridge?

The Pot-In-A-Pot Fridge: Zeer from goselfsufficient.co.uk

Milk Monday: Meat, Milk and Feeding the World

I have been asked a few times recently to explain the link between our western meat (and by extension, dairy) habit and the problems of poverty and starvation on a global scale. Generally, I tie myself in knots because of the complexity of the connections. Any explanation is going to be an over simplification but I think this video animation by Denis van Waerebeke, aimed at 9-14 year olds is a good starting point. It is just under 10 minutes long but worth a watch.

Also this week I have been digging into some of the abolitionist/vegan points of view over at Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach . Abolitionists appear to take an ethical stance based on the personhood of animals and come out on the extreme end where the arguments for veganism from an environmental point of view are very much secondary to the ethical untenability of a speciesist approach. They are highly critical of the concept of “happy” meat and dairy products that just make the consumer feel better about themselves without addressing the core moral issue of exploiting animals in any way whatsoever.

I have not aligned myself anywhere yet, I’m just feeling my way. Animal rights carries more weight with me than I usually let on in conversation because most people I know find the environmental arguments more accessible.

I find the abolitionist’s biting tone a bit offputting but I can understand how when something is a clear cut matter of right and wrong to you it can make you feel very cross and upset. For me, abstaining from meat and dairy is a “no-brainer” ethical matter and I find it very frustrating when others can’t see my point of view but I think it is really important to be engaged in conversation and trying to present viable alternatives. I would like to know the overall plan for an abolitonist planet. If we shut down all the meat and dairy farms tomorrow, what would happen to the animals? What is the vision for the future of those milk and beef monsters we have created and made dependent on our systems, for instance? How would they fare in the wild?

I am increasingly convinced that we need to move in a direction of people producing food on a local basis all over the world and for that food to be exclusively plants – but how do we get there? As a Christian I am transfixed by the vision of Isaiah 11:9 and 65:25:

They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. (NASB)

“The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD. (NASB)

and seeing this as God’s ultimate desire, I believe working towards this is part of bringing his kingdom here.

There are a huge variety of reasons, religious and otherwise, why people are choosing to abstain, where are you on this scale?

Ethical Omnivore – I am concerned about the environmental and economic effects of modern agriculture and about animal welfare so I therefore continue to eat meat, eggs and dairy but only from “happy” ethical sources. I like to be sure that my meat and dairy comes from animals that have enjoyed their lives and have been sustainably farmed but I can’t see any reason to abstain completely.

Wild Caught Pescetarian – My main objection is with farming higher level mammals that have more capacity to suffer and also with farming fish that is damaging to the environment. However, if something is basically fishy and hunted and caught in the wild, having a fighting chance of escaping in the process, then it is fair game. I have also been known to consume roadkill.

Environmental Vegetarian – I don’t eat meat, mainly because of what it does to the planet and the effect it has on our fellow humans. I don’t believe that most of the arguments in favour of vegetarianism should also mean that I don’t eat dairy either (or I just can’t give up cheese). If more ethical farming practices were widespread, I could be persuaded to eat meat again in the future.

Straight-up-veggie – I wouldn’t eat my dog so why would I eat a pig that has just as much intelligence and personality in spite of the opening scene of “Pulp Fiction”? Meat and all that goes with it is repulsive to me. I don’t like biting into flesh, it feels like eating my own arm, it’s wierd. I do like cheese though even though I wouldn’t suckle a cow. I don’t think it is wierd to eat curdled cow juice but on some fundamental level it just doesn’t feel right to eat animals.

Ovo-Vegetarian – Milk and meat are no-nos for all sorts of reasons but I have not found a good reason not to eat free range eggs, especially when they come from my own hens or a local farm where they really are genuinely free range. Don’t talk to me about what happens to male chickens please. Animal rights arguments weigh in about 50/50 with environmental ones when I am making my food choices.

Raw Vegan – Meat and dairy are off the menu mainly for health reasons. Humans are not really designed to eat either of these and the optimum diet is a raw fruit and vegetable one. Animal rights and environmental considerations may form part of my persuasion but principally I am in it for the sake of my health.

Vegan on the fence – Animal rights are my main consideration in my choice of diet. It is safer to abstain from animal products than to make some ethical faux-pas in the minefield of choices. I am aware that the vegetables I eat may have had insecticide used on them so I am wondering about “insect rights” too and it is all very confusing.

Vegan – There is no such thing as humane slaughter and non humans animals are entitled to the same rights of personhood as human animals. As far as possible I avoid all animal products. This is a very hard path to follow but I take comfort in our growing numbers and I have a dream that one day the whole world will be vegan, too. My commitment to veganism is indistinguishable from an overarching philosophy of non-violence and equal rights for all creatures.

Thank you for listening. Feedback is appreciated and the offer stands if someone from any of the above persuasions or with a particular insight on dairy, for or against, would like to do a guest post – please comment or email me.