I watched a YouTube video about I can't remember what vegan topic (possibly of the athletic variety) and I was struck by the fact that almost all of the experts interviewed referred to how long they had been vegan and in most cases, how long they had been vegetarian before that. Most started as vegetarians and later became vegan. What is that about?
It makes sense that many people become vegetarians because they object to killing animals. Of course, many had become vegetarian for their health, their pocketbook, or the planet as well (the most significant thing that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to become vegetarian or better, vegan), but often it is the killing of animals that is the great motivation. Paul McCartney said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian. Or maybe if we had to kill our own dinner, we would move along from eating animals.
Gradually people realize that vegetarianism is just a first step. As I learned more and more about factory farming which produces more than 95% of our dairy and eggs, I realized that I could not support it anymore. The cruelty in those places is in many cases but not all, shocking and disgusting. I realized that no animals should have to suffer and die so that I could eat my grilled cheese sandwiches. So I am forgoing my beloved Taleggio and Manchego so that cows don't have to be made pregnant just so they will produce milk. I am not eating any more fried eggs so that no chickens have to spend their lives in cages and then be ground up into mink feed when they are past their egg-laying prime (No kidding. My first chicken-catching job as a teenager, involved old hens, an industrial grinder and a dumpster). You can certainly learn the details yourself and have no need to accept my dronings on. Look for Earthling Ed on YouTube to start with. Of course, there are farmers who care very much for their animals, but in the end, they kill them long before their natural lives would normally end. They have to do this to make the economics work!
In another direction, the number of vegans is slowly climbing year by year (you can add me in 2022 for example!). We are still not enough to be held responsible for the environmental damage caused in the name of avocados and almonds. Amazingly, many non-vegan people (more than 90% of the population) eat these things! If anything, vegans, who are typically more environmentally conscious than most, are more likely to avoid them ( Personally, I prefer oat milk to almond!). Piers Morgan, a well-known anti-vegan, is an idiot about this. But I digress...
I would like to make a fuss about restaurant menus for a moment. I see that more and more restaurants are including and identifying vegan items on their menus, which is great. I love that! My list of places to visit and blog about grows longer every day! However, consider that less than 1 % of the world's population has celiac disease and another half to 1% have gluten intolerance. Meanwhile, a minimum of 6% of all people are lactose intolerant and in some populations such as South East Asians, it is close to 100%. About 5% of the world's population is vegan but the number is growing. Yet, what dietary restriction gets the most attention on restaurant menus? It is certainly the gluten-free thing. This is not because we are so considerate of people with Celiac disease (although we certainly should be) but because such a large percentage of people think that a gluten-free diet is good for them and will help them lose weight. It certainly is not good for them! Ask your doctor! We are so stupid for fad diets when we think they will help us look like movie stars! Restaurants, pay attention here! Emphasize your vegan options for the sake of the planet and the world in which your children and grandchildren will have to live! Don't be swayed by pseudo-scientific fad diets.
Another menu problem I see is that many places don't seem to understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian. Vegans do not consume any animal products including dairy and eggs, while vegetarians often will eat these things. Menus can get very confusing. A Chinese restaurant may label a noodle dish with no meat as vegetarian but it may actually be vegan! Rest assured that vegetarians will not avoid a vegan dish but vegans will avoid a vegetarian dish! Besides, most vegetarians are thinking about becoming vegan, aren't they? In reality, making vegetarian choices is a good start...but its just a start!
Restaurants need to recognize that veganism will continue to be a more and more important part of their business. By the way, the best thing that you, as an individual, can do for the environment and to mitigate climate change is to eat more plants and fewer animal products. I know, I know! I already mentioned that, but it is important! It stands to reason that this would include restaurant owners and what they chose to serve! In the foodie community (I am specifically talking about bloggers now), I don't see much of a shift away from meat (and frankly, it took me a long time but now I am all self-righteous AF about it!) and certain kinds of cuisine are more meat-centric than others (and I don't just mean steak houses). Again, give some thought to the kind of world your children and grandchildren will have to live in! Have you noticed how fucked up the weather is? Scroll forward 20 years and imagine what we are looking at!
I know that I kind of swerved all over the place about this but my point is: Try to move to a more plant-based and cruelty-free life and you food bloggers and restauranteurs, do the same because you have some influence! Check out YouTubes Vegan Twosome (of metro Vancouver) if you need an example of how it can be fun and fulfilling it can be!! I hope your consciences move you to do at least a little (to start with)!
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