All about vegans, sustainable farming and the corporate enemy

Are you trying to be a vegan? A vegetarian? Or like myself, trying to do better for the planet by reducing how much meat you eat? 

As a society, well-in-tune with social media, we’re still so disconnected from the truth; settling to believe the first biased viewpoint our eyes scroll across.

As you probably already know, food is the fifth biggest contributor to CO2 emissions, but who, and what, is really causing this?

Vegans seem to know what’s right. Saving the animals, our environments, preaching their views; hating on the people who don’t follow in their holy footsteps, and like a religion, ignorant to other people’s perspectives. 

However, it’s carnivores that remain in control, since meat plays such a significant role in our agriculture and history. Frustration towards people who tell them what they should be eating is understandable; stuck in a selfish way and showing no signs of remorse to the greater good is not.

People turn vegan or vegetarian due to the mistreatment of animals. 

If they were to argue it’s for climate reasons, they’ve likely been mis-led or informed.  They have bad stigmas attached to them because of a lack of understanding, in the production, of their plant based diets; they’ll go to the shops and buy avocados, kill a spider that’s stepped into their house, or order a glass of wine without enquiring where it’s been sourced. 

If everybody were to turn vegan, clearing ground would stand in need of more chemicals, gases and transportation. More land would be required in order to source a variety of nutrients; demand for plant based foods would increase drastically, and additional bees would be necessary to un-naturally help harvest vegetables such as, avocado’s, broccoli, butternut squash… All of which are not vegan. 

Furthermore, Brazil, who we currently source our corn and livestock off, would just move onto a bigger Country for trade.

To make it clearer… Being a vegan will not solve our climate problems. 

Devoted vegans believe farmers are murderers, and they’re quite right, unfortunately this is life; the food chain, and the reason human beings have kept alive for so many centuries.

It should be an intellectual understanding that meat is never disappearing entirely, but starting a conversation could help steer a compromise.

Unfortunately it seems you can’t tell a Christian that their God doesn’t exist, and so the message is hard to get through. 

Virtuous vegans don’t take into consideration how the crops would grow without animals-How chemically fertilising would become a long term, bigger issue- How damaging it would be to our land overtime- How many bees are un-naturally helping harvest their diets; how more would be needed to keep up with higher demands. 

We won’t ever stop killing animals for food, we can however, reduce the negligence of them, along with CO2 emissions! 

The main goal is finding a happy medium, which will benefit our environment and harm fewer animals!This is the important aspect right now, the thing we seem to be forgetting and the reason why both parties shouldn’t be turning their noses up at opposing opinions.

Farmers in the UK are more switched onto the climate than you may think…

I sat down recently with Ross Geach, to get a deeper knowledge and understanding of how he tackles climate issues on his own farm, Padstow Kitchen Garden.

Ross’s family farm is over 100 acres of land, with 30 cows, 20 black pedigree pigs, and a load of chickens. He, like many others farmers, is motivated towards environmentally friendly farming. 

Independent, un-intensive, organic farms like Ross’s, not only support the welfare of their animals, but produce spray free veg, and evidently take carbon out of the atmosphere.

At the beginning of 2018 Ross made the switch from grow-bag to beddings, and all the resources he uses for crops and livestock are recycled, and sustained from his farm.  

Did you know that tops of corn heads could be re re-used as straw for bedding and mulch, because I didn’t!

Manure has been highlighted as a high nitrogen problem in farming. However, when using the right methods, manure can be recycled safely through agricultural systems.

One example of how Ross tackles this is by caging his chickens in a large area and feeding them with his own grown corn and grass, before moving the cage into another region of land.

The process helps clear land without overusing machinery, and the manure is organic compost, making it more sustainable for use of fertilizing back into the soil.

In the holy-bible of the vegans, you could argue that by putting a, ‘load of chickens into a large area,’ is inhumane, but Ross makes the fair fight to say, “fine, don’t put them in a cage! Then they’ll be eaten by a fox.” 

His next sustainable mission will be buying a compost machine, in admiration of his most recent visit to Nancarrow farm. This machine can collect ALL WASTE; crush and compress it down to compost, and then be used again as a fertiliser.

What I learnt from our conversation was the money, time, and dedication to the cause that went into developing his farm to a sustainable standard, as well as a lack of greed in profit margin. 

Ross is an honest farmer, who admitted at times when his cauliflower wasn’t growing he’d have to buy-in the produce from another local farm. -Something, which most farmers have had to do from time-to-time so it may seem!

“If every time people were to come into my shop, and there was no cauliflower, they’d stop coming in due to inconvenience. If my veg doesn’t harvest I do in fact always support local farmers, by buying from them… However, this isn’t the case for everyone.” 

Ross explained that the effort it takes to grow certain veg, such as cauliflower, only to sell it so cheap means it’s easy for local veg shops, who convey ‘local farming,’ can be easily persuaded into buying from corporate companies as a way of making more substantial profit margins. 

Shockingly, this seems to be the same with meat. 

Ross once tried selling his livestock to the local butchers, but due to the price he had to ask for to get profit, the butcher wouldn’t buy. 

So what does that mean?

Well essentially, just because we are buying meat from our local butchers, or veg from local grocery markets, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been sourced from our Town’s, County’s or even Country!

Farms like Ross’s, which independently sell their produce and host their own food events are in control of how their animals and land is used. 

Whereas farmers who rely on cost by supermarkets, are up against other competitors such as Brazil, therefore are nailed down to breed more rapidly, even if it isn’t what they want to be doing.

A farmer’s biggest competitor seems to be from these big corporate companies, who are able to stock the shelves with cheap chicken breasts, paltry pork sausages and bargain bits of beef.  

You have to consider why these meats are so cheap!

Ross says, “because of pricing and profit, animals that make it onto supermarket shelves are locked indoors to be fattened up, instead of being allowed to exercise and eat grass before going to the slaughter.”

Big supermarket companies will sell a pack of six sausages for £1.20, but in order for Ross to make profit on his pigs, a customer would have to pay £3.75, which is the extra price for allowing them a happy, normal life that we expect all our animals to be living. 

If Ross were to sell his £3.75 sausages to a supermarket, a 50% profit margin would be added, so by the time his six sausages made it onto the shelf, they would be sold at $6.00.

Who would be stupid enough to pay that price when £1.20 sausages are right next door?

If he wanted the price of his sausages to go down, sell to supermarkets and entice in more buyers, “intensive farming is the only way.” 

Poorly mistreated animals are due to intensive farming, and this should be a vegan’s issue. Similarly, how much CO2 being emitted is also down to these intensive farming methods, and this should be everybody else’s issue! 

Do you care enough to make a change? 

Reaching a sensible, satisfying solution when every religion has a different opinion seems way beyond my arm length. And unfortunately, my conversation with Ross didn’t settle this feeling, instead it led me to a burden of acknowledging the deeper-rooted problem sewn into the soil. 

Reducing my meat count seemed to feel satisfactory for sustainable reasons, and yet I was still buying into this cooperate company cow-crap, every time I went to the supermarket and put poor produce into my basket!

The scale of intensive farming for all produce seems to be what’s damaging our society the most, and yet both oppositions are blindly cooperating in the destruction. 

We are selfish, consumptive; demanding more need for produce and lower prices, but giving little consideration to how, or who. We complain about over-eating, still wasting a third of it all; stubborn, set-in our ways and will carelessly continue to do what we want to do. 

Vegans are determined to believe they’re what’s right for our planet, and everyone else wants to continue over-indulging in meat- “a packaged product, rather than an animal that had to be killed for you to eat.” 

Does anyone really want it to change?

Whilst I felt disheartened by the impossibility of change, Ross said the only way you can stop supporting these corporate companies is by, “just asking the questions… Where does the meat I’m about to buy come from?

“A restaurant should have to be able to find out for you, and if you are asking the butcher, they would probably already know.”

He says…   

“Don’t just accept their answer, ask what proof they’ve got.”

In order to begin making a difference we must be aware of where all of our produce is coming from.

We must not be naïve to believe what we read on the front of packaging, or on the sign of a restaurant.

We must think twice before buying the cheaper alternative meat products, and if we can’t afford as much meat, then we should think twice before eating so much!  

“People need to be asking why”.

Ross Geach

If you care; you’ll ask. 

If you care about why no one wants to hire you for a job…You ask.

If you care about how your friend is really feeling… You ask.

If you care about the beliefs of a sustainable diet and the welfare of the food on your plate…

Guess what?

You’ll ask.

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