Planting Seeds of Discontent in a Non-Vegan World

Sandra Higgins, Go Vegan World, was interviewed by Declan Meehan on East Coast FM Radio on World Vegan Day

Declan Meehan, East Coast FM radio, chatted with Sandra Higgins, Go Vegan World on World Vegan Day 2023.

Veganism is a way of living that avoids exploiting other animals. It is the manifestation of the belief that other animals are feeling beings, as we are. Therefore, we do not have the right to own, exploit, harm or kill them. They are our moral equals, not our resources.

It is important to understand the underlying beliefs before we try to change our behaviour. Successful behavioural change depends on having concrete values (such as valuing a non-violent world) and goals (e.g. avoiding animal exploitation).

It is important to distinguish between veganism and a plant-based diet, and between the ethical rationale of veganism and its environmental and health benefits. Vegans avoid using other animals for food, clothing, labour, entertainment or research. A plant-based diet is an important aspect of veganism, but it is not the only aspect. There are many benefits of veganism such as a lower risk of certain diseases, lower GHG emissions, less destruction of wildlife, water pollution etc. But the essence of veganism is the idea that our human lives are not worth more than the lives of other animals. Indeed, the lives of those of us in the Western World are not worth more than the lives of those in the countries that suffer the worst impact of our consumption patterns on climate change and environmental destruction.

Declan pointed out that most people are content with how they live and eat. They are content because we have been reared in a speciesist culture that makes animal exploitation and mindless consumption the norm. The industries that will suffer in a vegan world (principally the animal agriculture industry) go to enormous lengths to keep society content to be non-vegan. The recent publication of the links between the animal agriculture industry and the scientists who promote the consumption of animal products, shows an unacceptable lack of scientific integrity by those who claim to have the health interests of the public at heart. It shows very clearly that the interest is in promoting an industry that profits from catastrophic climate change, environmental destruction, antibiotic resistance, zoonotic disease, and the misery of the billions of animals we breed for slaughter, and the trillions we kill in the fishing industry.

The influence of the EU School Milk Scheme and its associated propaganda that masquerades as educational material, ensures that young children will grow into adults who think that dairy products are essential for their health, whilst remaining completely ignorant of the harm the dairy industry inflicts on other animals and the environment. Despite the promotion of products that the industry regards as essential for human health, studies show that young Irish people’s intake of essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D are significantly lower than the recommended daily intake (Cashman KD, Kehoe L, Kearney J, McNulty B, Walton J, Flynn A. Adequacy of calcium and vitamin D nutritional status in a nationally representative sample of Irish teenagers aged 13-18 years. Eur J Nutr. 2022 Dec;61(8):4001-4014. doi: 10.1007/s00394-022-02939-3. Epub 2022 Jul 3. PMID: 35780425; PMCID: PMC9598778).

Calcium, Vitamin D, and other nutrients such as B12, zinc, selenium etc are vital for our health. We often don’t recognise the significance of a deficiency until significant harm has been done to our health, or until we are older. But animal products are not the only source of these nutrients. In fact, their presence in animal products is frequently due to the diets of animals being supplemented. Check out an accurate vegan meal planner and learn about how you can get an adequate amount of the important nutrients from plant foods.

A vegan diet can be healthy, nutritious, and delicious. Like any diet, it just requires a little thought. There are substitutes on the market that may the transition easier for some people. Many of them are fortified with essential nutrients and form an important part of a healthy vegan diet. It behoves the media to promote these alternatives for the wellbeing of their viewers and listeners. Remember that the healthiest foods to include in any diet are fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.

Our work at Go Vegan World encourages people to be aware of tragedy of environmental destruction that is unfolding much more rapidly than anticipated, not because we want anyone to be mired in ecoanxiety but to help you take personal action to avoid participating in it. The next news bulletin will describe more floods and destruction of businesses in Ireland. In summer we hear of unthinkable destruction caused by wildfires. Other humans, across the earth, feel the impact of our changing environment much more than we do. One of the most significant contributors to ecological devastation is the production and consumption of animal products. In Ireland the GHG emissions from agriculture are 38.4% of total Irish emissions, most of that coming from animal agriculture. Emissions are not the only problem with animal agriculture. It also affects water and air quality, and uses vast amounts of land that could be used in environmentally friendly ways.

The most effective way for individuals to reduce their ecological imprint is to consume a vegan diet. This is much more effective than reducing the number of flights you take or driving an electric car. Recent research shows that vegan diets result in 75% less climate-heating emissions, water pollution and land use than diets in which more than 100g of meat a day was eaten. Vegan diets also cut the destruction of wildlife by 66% and water use by 54%, the study found.

The aim of Go Vegan World is to plant seeds of discontent in a non-vegan world. Our ads and information challenge the speciesist view that other animals do not matter as much as human lives. We ask people to consider if taste and convenience justify harming and killing other animals.