Vegan line is unconvincing

your say January 29, 2018 01:00

Re: Facts go missing in the great food debate (Have Your Say, January 28)

First, Eric Bahrt wrongly accused me of hypocrisy, and now, equally wrongly, of gluttony. Refer to a dictionary, Eric. Putting one’s head above the parapet in the great food debate certainly provokes incoming, if inaccurate, fire from the vegan/vegetarian brigade, who are mobilised by what they see as the righteousness of their cause. However, the arguments they deploy on health and environmental grounds are unconvincing, to put it mildly.

Britain’s National Health Service advises that meat and dairy products eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet provide us with the nutrients we need to stay strong and healthy. The minor risks with such a diet are highlighted in a commonsensical and balanced way. Risk is part of everyday life. Activities such as sports involving physical contact, hiking and climbing in mountains entail an element of risk, but they are enjoyable and add to the quality of life. People seeking to ban these activities simply because of the risks involved would quite rightly be seen as killjoys. The same applies with one’s choice of diet.

Livestock farming can have a detrimental effect on the environment, but so does the growing of cereal crops, fruit and vegetables, where pesticides and chemical fertilisers are often used in abundance. Other activities essential to our modern lives are also responsible for massive pollution: factories, mining operations, oil refineries, cars and other forms of transport, air conditioning units, power generation, tourism, the list goes on and on. The way forward is to rely on science and technology to find less harmful ways of producing the things and services we need, not to ban them. The ethical arguments put forward against the raising of livestock are based on people’s views of what constitutes morality. This is for each of us to decide. Eric Bahrt, Jenny Moxham and the rest have no right or authority to dictate what is or is not ethical. I do not seek to persuade others to conform to my lifestyle, and would appreciate the same courtesy in return.

Robin Grant