Al Gore has become the latest celebrity to jump on the vegan bandwagon. The An Inconvenient Truth creator has been a vegetarian since the making of his documentary in 2006 and now he’s gone the whole hog (definitely not literally) and committed to veganism.

Farming didn't use to be all that bad. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library

Farming didn’t use to be all that bad. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library

Being a climate change fanatic, Gore’s reasons for his dietary change are probably environmental, which is admirable and honestly the only reason I would ever contemplate giving up meat (but not eggs, never eggs). Other celebrities on the vegan list cite different reasons for taking the step.

Russell Brand, one of my favourite people, was pushed over the vegetarian/vegan border by Forks Over Knives, a documentary exploring the negative impact meat has on our health.

But that’s not really fair is it, no offense Rusty but surely being sensible about the amount of meat you eat as well as the type of meat would be enough to keep yourself healthy (quality over quantity eh?). I’ve eaten meat my whole life and I don’t have diabetes.

The top reason for the move seems to be animal rights. Natalie Portman, formerly a vegetarian because she believes “animals have personalities” was turned onto the vegan view by Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals (read an excerpt here). The book does make some good points about animal cruelty in farming:

“I felt shame for living in a nation of unprecedented prosperity — a nation that spends a smaller percentage of income on food than any other civilization has in human history — but in the name of affordability treats the animals it eats with cruelty so extreme it would be illegal if inflicted on a dog.”

But again, that’s not really fair is it. What about organic farming? Livestock that are treated, I won’t say lovingly, but with respect. Foer calls free-range food labels “bullshit”, accusing the guidelines of not being strict enough. This may be true in some circumstances, but surely that means farming welfare restrictions should be more highly controlled rather than cutting out meat from our diet altogether.

To each their own…personally I like a bit of beef tartare on a Tuesday afternoon.

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The big V

Aside

2 thoughts on “The big V

  1. Our family had been weaning off of meat and dairy for two years: first it was beef then all red meat, all poultry, followed by fish. We clutched to our eggs, cheese, and milk to the end which for us was watching Forks Over Knives. Our main reasons to go vegan was for health, longevity, and to hedge our bets of living to see 100 years. As a farmer, I do not agree with any reasoning for eating meat, but I understand also that people are slow to change and I’m willing to let people change at their own pace. Between the economics of escalating meat prices, the constant barrage of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses via contaminated meat, and overwhelming medical evidence that meat consumption, in the quantities and manners that most people consume meat, the evidence is clear; eating meat is simply not healthy nor sustainable. Our family is not pure vegan by any stretch meaning in that we occasionally fall the seductive power of the pizza and being a beekeeper, I will never accept the fallacy that somehow keeping honeybees and eating honey is somehow cruel. Lastly, I guess you could call us Beegans.

    • I completely agree with you about the honey thing, I have always thought keeping bees was a positive thing especially now as they are having such a difficult time surviving! I am definitely having the most trouble with giving up eggs, surprisingly leaving meat out of my meals hasn’t been so difficult, but eggs are just such an essential part of my day! Maybe another watch of Forks and Knives will do the trick for me eventually

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