Veganism's increasing popularity has been in the news recently, so, predictably, some aspects of the media have attempted to attack the diet.
A few hours after the morning articles on the rise in veganism the Telegraph published the first backlash story.
Of course, a paper that traditionally pro-hunting and cynical of any conservation moves is going to attempt to discredit the movement. And we should expect more of the same.
Our government is hugely influenced by both the NFU and Countryside alliance, both groups which have a lot to lose from people dropping animal products from their diets. Indeed, David Cameron used it as a term to attack Kerry McCarthy – the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affair – who is also a vegan.
Of course, people who have become vegan for health reasons are an easier target than animal rights advocates when it comes to try to persuade people back to meat and dairy. Dismiss the health and their lifestyle is discredited – simple.
However, this ignores the fact that once health-conscious vegans have made the switch, then they are likely to explore the animal welfare aspects and also, if they are eating correctly, feel fitter and healthier. The problem the farming industry has, is it has become such an intensive production line that it’s hard to view it as anything other than cruel. There has also been huge concerns over the use of anti-biotics finding their way into the human foodchain through animal agriculture. A point ignored by Catherine Collins of the British Association of Dieticians – the main source for the Telegraph piece.
The basis of her criticism is that many new vegans do not explore the nutritional implications of their “new diet” as so put their health at risk. This presumes that as meat eaters said vegans were taking a huge interest in the nutritional “benefits” of Sunday roasts, burgers and bacon in the first place. This is about as likely as Nigel Farage defecting to Corbyn’s Labour, it’s utter nonsense.
There isn’t a vegan on the planet that hasn’t been questioned about their protein intake – well apart from non-human vegans that is. And the answer is always (through a stifled yawn) “yes we get enough protein, yes we eat a balanced diet”.
Plus, this view conveniently ignores the fact that vegans, on the whole benefit from a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes – that is if they don’t live on vegan cakes, chips and vegan squirty cream.
It’s actually very patronising to suggest that because you choose a vegan diet you are less likely to be nutritionally aware. It’s ironic that it’s the vegans that change diet for “health reasons” that are being attacks for this reason. Isn’t the problem with this argument blindingly obvious?
There are hints that people are changing their diet due to celebrity endorsements. This is another view I’m very cynical about. Half a million people haven’t suddenly started having threesomes because they read about a celebrity doing it have they? I think we need to credit consumers with a bit more intelligence – especially when there is so much information available at our fingertips – Google knows all don’t forget.
A more laughable attack comes from Rod Liddel in the Sun. He brands vegans as “nut-munching weirdos with bad breath”. A similar stereotype to those which the original articles said had been banished to history. You can rely on The Sun to keep up with the times can’t you? He brands veganism as a “fad for the affluent”, totally ignoring the fact that meat is more expensive than vegetables and that veganism is also popular in many less affluent countries.
Overall, my response to the half-baked criticism is, in general, must do better – D minus.