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Before you get angry please read on. I was at a sustainable farming conference recently where many of the organic, mixed, farmers were nodding their agreement when a speaker made the the statement above.
The farmers believe that many people are becoming vegans due to lack of knowledge and their friends, or peers, persuading them that consuming animal products is bad, cruel and unsustainable. Like a disease veganism seems to be spreading, especially in urban areas where there is no connection with farming.
In a way we should all applaud vegans for making the sacrifice of no meat, milk, cheese, and eggs. Especially when we read about global warming and the enormous quantities of grain fed to animals to produce meat, instead of feeding the grain to the billion people close to starving.
But is veganism really more sustainable?
The organic mixed farmers would say NO. They argue that to grow fruit and vegetables you need animals to provide manure fertiliser, and that pasture should be in a crop rotation to improve the land before the next crop. This pasture needs eating hence the need for animals. The animals also provide much needed income to make the farm profitable and the fruit and vegetables cheaper.
The farmers get very frustrated when vegans become aggressive about farming animals. Especially if the animals are free range and experience welfare standards infinitely better than intensive beef, milk, pork, chicken or egg production.
The farmers can see that the media and lobby groups have used stories about climate change and factory farming to make some people make ill informed choices that may actually be unhealthy.
Yes, to completely put a stop to low animal welfare, veganism is a solution. But what about a balanced diet and the cost of ‘quality’ sustainably farmed food?
Studies have proved that organic mixed farming is the most viable, and sustainable, way of producing food and rebuilding soils that have been degrading over the last 50 years of intensive agriculture. Organic means no chemicals or artificial fertilisers, high animal welfare, farming with nature, and even carbon capture.
Some say we should continue the way we are? With a focus on high yield, cheap food production through subsidised, intensive farming, and low animal welfare in the UK, (and even lower welfare from imported meat).
Is organic farming the way forward? But will food prices rise? Or should we all be much better informed and educated about food, farming, diet and veganism through school curriculum and reconnection with local farms? Instead of separated from where our food comes from by the supermarkets and marketeers?
BigBarn exist to reconnect consumers with producers and encourage trade and communication through our Local Food Map. Trade to give both consumer and producer a better deal by cutting out middle men and supermarkets. And communication to provide knowledge about the food produced as well as get consumers to influence and encourage farmers to grow food for local people instead of commodities for world markets.
We also desperately need food growing and education in schools and food growing, farming, cooking and nutrition as part of every academic subject in the curriculum.
I welcome your thoughts below.