Meat eating and the flexitarianism

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This topic contains 157 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  alanjjohnstone 5 days, 11 hours ago.

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    The more we look in into food production, the greyer rather black and white the debate becomes.

    Canadian researchers compared global agricultural production with the sort of diet backed by nutritionists – and favoured by environmentalists – and said they found a “fundamental mismatch” between what is being produced and what the world’s population would actually need.

    “We simply can’t all adopt a healthy diet under the current global agriculture system,” the study’s co-author Evan Fraser said in a statement. “Results show that the global system currently overproduces grains, fats and sugars,” added Fraser, director of Arrell Food Institute at University of Guelph in Ontario. But it is short of fruit and veg, he said.

    Harvard University’s “Healthy Eating Plate” guide recommends fruits and vegetables should form half of any diet, whole grains 25 percent and protein, fat and dairy make up the rest.

    It broke down food groups into portions and found the world currently produces 12 servings of grains per person instead of the recommended eight; five servings of fruits and vegetables instead of 15; and four servings of sugar instead of none.

    Nearly all of agriculture research and development is focused on cereals, explained Lawrence Hadad, executive director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and co-winner of this year’s World Food Prize, founded in 1986 by Nobel laureate Norman Bourlag and dubbed the Nobel for agriculture.  “Fruits and vegetable consumption would have to be given a high priority by governments in nutrition and health plans,” he added

    If neither diet nor farming practices change, the world would need 12 million more hectares of arable land and some 1.3 billion more hectares of pasture land by 2050 to feed a projected population of 9.8 billion, the study added.



    21% claim to be flexitarian, where a largely vegetable-based diet is supplemented occasionally with meat.

    One in eight Britons is now vegetarian or vegan.

    This means a third of UK consumers have deliberately reduced the amount of meat they eat or removed it from their diet entirely.

    Waitrose executive chef, Jonathan Moore, said: “Vegetarianism has grown and evolved. More people dip in and out of it. There was a time when choosing a plant-based diet was about taking an ethical stand based on unwavering principles. For many, this distinction between vegetarians and meat-eaters still exists but for others the lines have blurred.”

    The number of vegans in the UK, who shun all animal products including dairy and eggs, has grown fourfold in the past four years from 150,000 to 600,000, according to the Vegan Society.

    “This year, we’ve seen vegan food go mainstream” said Natalie Mitchell, Waitrose’s head of brand development.

    Waitrose’s managing director, Rob Collins, said: “Being mindful of how we live and eat has become a priority in today’s world. As we become increasingly mindful of our own health, the wellbeing of our family and that of the planet, we’re reshaping how we shop, cook and eat.”

    About 60% of vegans and 40% of vegetarians surveyed said they had adopted the lifestyle over the past five years, with 55% citing animal welfare concerns, 45% health reasons and 38% environmental issues. People in the 18-to-34 age group were more likely to switch to veganism, with much less enthusiasm among the over-55s.

    So by the time we do build socialism, this debate might well be over if the trend continues and conversions snow-ball.

    BTW, is meat off the menu for Summer School after ADM?


    Dave Chesham

    “BTW, is meat off the menu for Summer School after ADM?”



    Matthew Culbert

    “BTW, is meat off the menu for Summer School after ADM?”


    He is just stirring the vege hotpot.



    Editorial from yesterday’s Times:

    The editor of Waitrose’s Food magazine is not a fan of vegans. When a freelance journalist suggested to William Sitwell,that he feature some vegan recipes, he emailed back his idea for “a series on killing vegans, one by one”. This exchange, for which Mr Sitwell has since apologised, encapsu­lated how many people feel about vegans and veganism. They regard it as an irritating and dis­ruptive fad promulgated by zealots and eccentrics.

    You can say that again.

    The combination of arguments in favour of at least a reduction in eating meat is too compelling to be dismissed. It should remain a choice, and campaigners should be aware of the line between argument and hectoring, but at least we can acknowledge that vegans have a point.

    Yes, ok. Even I eat less meat than before (not even once a day) but not because of vegetarian and vegan hectoring.

    p.s. The unfortunate Sitwell has since been hounded out of his job by a twitter campaign against him.



    There’s another vegan joke in today’s Sun

    How do you know if someone if a vegan. Don’t worry. They’ll tell you.

    It would be nice to think that people tell the same joke about Socialists.



    I have tried in my posts to not designate the arguments as life-style choices but relate the issue to the wider concerns of global warming and climate change, according to evidence presented by scientists

    Also to what is described as food sovereignty, the conflict between small-holders and the agri-industry in the developing and undeveloped countries, according to the evidence presented by NGOs such as GRAIN

    There are other arguments, the speciesist aspect about animal welfare under industrialised livestock farming.

    And the worries of the medical sector about the health effects of too much red meat-eating in our diet.

    It is not as the food critic tries to say whether a vegan meal is appetising or not.

    There are social questions to be answered. While the Party can generalise and suggest that throwaway built-in obsolescence products will disappear with socialist production, i think we can also infer that the diet we will consume shall also be rationally decided upon. We can leave the specifics to future generations of socialists but we do need to say so.

    But i feel it is fair to say that with present trends, and without system change, capitalism is endangering the existence of civilisation as never before.

    I think it may well time for the Party to share my doom and gloom about the prospects of the planet and its people and to bring a much-needed urgency to our arguments and highlight the imminent threats we face, which although are already impacting upon us,  the real dire consequences can now be reliably forecast to be a mere decade away when nothing we do, even with socialism,  will stop the runaway physics of the crisis.

    I don’t think we can frighten fellow-workers into socialism but not laying out the reality of the choice, “socialism or barbarism”, which is no longer some 19thC speculation but scientifically supported, is an abrogation of our duty as a socialist party.

    Or do some Party members believe capitalism can win through this climate crisis? Let me hear from you on how.





    Alanj wrote:

    I don’t think we can frighten fellow-workers into socialism.

    Excactly. We can’t and we shouldn’t try to. That would be counter-productive as fear makes people open to authoritariansm.

    What we have got to offer in hope. We need to be technological optimists and point to what kind of different world is possible given the degree of technological development that has been reached and is still to come.

    But there are people around, many concerned about climate change, who criticise technology, who even blame technology. They don’t like genetic engineering (which can increase food yields). They don’t like nuclear energy (which is an obvious alternative source of energy to burning fossils fuels). And now they have turned their guns on plastics (the obvious alternative use for fossil fuels instead of burning them).

    Yes, capitalism misuses technology like everything else, but technology is the hope of the future. We should defend it, not join the anti-progress brigade who criticise it.



    I have not advocated what was one called deep-green primitivism and ably exposed by Murray Bookchin.

    But i do question the capitalist optimists who place their hope and trust in the technology of geo-engineering as a solution rather than system change. They hold a faith that capitalism can cope.

    The most popular is the unproven and untested and poorly understood proposals to extract CO2 from the atmosphere (as promoted by the fossil fuel deniers such as the Koch Bros) and/or block the sun with reflective seeding of the upper atmosphere.

    There are those who are more modest and promote green capitalism and state capitalism with various tax reforms and regulatory legislations to restrict capitalism’s pollutions. Can capitalism include all the externalities costs in their prices?

    Can capitalism even afford such preventions, are the costs acceptable or prohibitive to capital accumulation? One quote i have read has been $570 TRILLION for CCS and not to mention the physical resources required

    Making War on the Planet: Geoengineering and Capitalism’s Creative Destruction of the Earth

    At the moment the only projects have been designed by the polluting industries themselves such as carbon cap and capture and storage. Experts in the IPCC have yet to give a neutral appraisal of the evidence and effectiveness.

    Can capitalism succeed with techno-fixes?

    Will capitalists all share in the costs and cut their profits to pay the increased share of taxation from surplus value.

    Can it pay for the solution without the burden of the costs being placed upon our backs and making us pay.

    But most important …is there time enough …and the evidence in mounting that there is now an extreme urgency, they the threat is more imminent than people assume.

    Well, you know my pessimistic answer, ALB.

    Only socialism can solve the coming crises caused by climate change. No point in hiding that fact.








    I am a vegan. There I said it. But I say it now to clarify this:

    I DO NOT force it on anyone, in fact I don’t even mention it in normal conversation. What often happens though is others do. They’ll offer me a tea. Yes, I say, black please. Oh, no milk? No I don’t take dairy, thank you. Oh, why’s that?

    And so the interrogation begins. For some it is sheer curiosity – perhaps meeting a real live vegan is akin to meeting someone from the North Pole or Mars. For other it seems to be a green light to ask me my views and then vehemently argue against them. It is this sneering latter attitude I dislike the most.

    At what point in any social conversation is it okay to ask someone why they do or do not eat something and think that equates to a carte blanch to argue, attack and generally deride that person’s views? It is not acceptable to do it to religious or ethnic minorities, it is not acceptable to ask someone how they lost they’re leg and then blame them for such a loss. It is not acceptable to ask someone why they wear the clothes they choose or the way they style their hair and then mock them for it, so whats the deal with food?

    What I choose to eat and what I don’t are my ethics, my health and my choice. It is nice to have vegan/vegetarian options at events, but I don’t expect meat eaters to go without as that is they’re choice also. I don’t expect special treatment and offering vegan/vegetarian options isn’t really difficult nor is it putting meat eaters out to do so. In fact, meat or no meat, veg and grains etc are just FOOD after all and we are all just people and we all have the right of choice as to what we eat, so can we all get along and enjoy mealtimes without argument, debate or derision of one choice or another? Pass the salt…….


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    I also agree with AJ’s posts above. I agree wholeheartedly that the socialism the SPGB stands for is the way forward and the solution to the worlds ills, especially environmental issues. However, the biggest single change in my lifetime is now the matter of time – the recent IPCC report confirms that the egg timer is nearly up. A decade, maybe a little more and we will be seeing catastrophic changes that could be the beginning of the end of humanity. Whilst I think that technology can and does have a role to play I think blind faith in the status quo way of life being able to find and implement the changes required without wholesale changes to the way we live are just not going to happen. Or at least happen fast enough to matter.

    Many think we are in the beginning of a mass extinction event – 60% wildlife has disappeared since 1970, insects (the bottom of the food change) are disappearing at an alarming rate. We have had over 100 years to convince people of the benefits that socialism can offer – and ALB is correct here, we need to continue to be a beacon of hope amongst the doom. Maybe people will find our ideas as things get hotter. Personally, I think it is too late barring some techno miracle……




    I forgot to add I disagree with ALB on the Waitrose issue. Substitute the word vegan for the word Jew or Muslim or lesbian – does it still read like a joke? End of the day it was utterly unprofessional and for someone in such a position, utterly unforgivable. They get the big jobs, take the big bucks and yet think they can still behave like the lads in the warehouse (who would also be sacked for saying such things), so it’s only right they lose their (overpaid) jobs when caught spouting such nonsense……



    I wasn’t defending the editor’s “joke” but merely pointing out that he lost his job as a result of a twitter campaign against him. He was bound to lose it anyway as he had damaged his employer’s commercial interest by alienating existing and potential customers. It’s since come out that he is an Old Etonian so he’s likely to land on his feet.

    The lesson of this incident is that you need to be careful what you say on social media and emails, even private ones.



    Maybe I misread the intention on your post then, apologies. However, its not that we need to be careful on social media or online, but the days of making jokes at work at the expense of anyone else are long over. However, his comments went far beyond a joke and that kind of ‘banter’ has no place in the modern world. Sadly though it is rife in corporate, male dominated workplaces even today and the more high fliers that get caught and fired, the better IMO. It also demonstrates the power of social media and the populous as a whole in that this kind of thing won’t be tolerated. Of course that power can equally be misused…..



    Sausages, bacon and other staples of the full English breakfast should have their prices raised by up to 80 per cent to prevent nearly 6,000 deaths a year and save the NHS more than £734m, according to a new study.

    Raising taxes on red and processed meats enough to offset their cost to the health service could prevent hundreds of thousands of cancers, heart attacks and strokes, University of Oxford researchers said.

    Globally this would mean 220,000 fewer deaths a year and savings of $40bn (£30.6bn) if every country adopted a tailored levy based on their current levels of meat eating, they added.

    The World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that cured, smoked and other processed meats cause cancer, and the same was “probably” true for red meat – which has also been linked with cardiovascular disease.

    This has led to calls for meat to be taxed in a similar way to cigarettes, alcohol.

    The consumption of red and processed meat exceeds recommended levels in most high and middle-income countries,” said lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University.

    “This is having significant impacts not only on personal health, but also on healthcare systems, which are taxpayer-funded in many countries, and on the economy, which is losing its labour force due to ill health and care for family members who fall ill.”



    BBC report on taxing red meat. Said a pack of sausages costing £1.50 would rise to  £2.69. Yikes. 🙄

    Saying the ‘tax’ would save 5,000 lives a year?

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  james19.
    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  james19.
    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  james19.
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