Tag Archives: Veganism

Out & Into The World

bicycle reduced

I don’t really have the time to maintain a blog, or the inclination to spend so much of my own time sat in front of a screen, when I do more than enough of it for a living.   I’ve been wondering whether to do a summary, to tie up some loose ends, for this blog.  I’ve tried to keep political, with a capital ‘P’, stuff elsewhere, so it can be found on links in the sidebar on a couple of separate blogs; politics will intrude onto this post, including via links to the more recent of those blogs.

Backtracking, the first post on this blog summarised how the vegan and ecology movements do not necessarily have the same goals.  The ‘small is beautiful’ world-view of the ecology movement ought to be compatible with veganism, if we can overcome the use of animals, as well as humans, as production units; ie expendable ‘resources’.  Where I do agree with the ecology movement and the now defunct Ecology Party (the origin of which is mentioned in the previous blog post) is that of society being structured from the bottom-up, not the top-down; of democracy existing at the lowest level.

The Green Party, which succeeded the Ecology Party, has betrayed this democratic principle, through its support of political decisions being made by an unaccountable supranational bureaucracy.  Until about a decade ago, the Green Party was at most ambivalent about the European Union, but under the influence of its leadership, the ‘Greens’ have become fully-fledged Euro-whores.  It is difficult to know what the Green Party stands for nowadays other then idiotic ‘intersectional’ identity politics, which includes certain people who identify as ‘vegan’ solely because they like to be part of as many ‘oppressed’ groups as possible; such people are as shallow as slebs.

Why the Green Party has changed is not that difficult to ascertain, as it has become part of the political establishment and in doing so ditched its principles in favour of a focus-group driven approach; its target demographic being those who cling to a contrived ‘European’ identity which has been forged by large-scale international human migration.  This is environmentally unsustainable, all the more so given that it has been significantly facilitated by budget air travel.  To put it bluntly, the ‘Greens’ look to attract the votes of those who are too young to remember the world as it was before Easyjet and Ryanair; and who take for granted being able to use these to travel to and from Continental Europe, treating them a bus service.

By contrast, the Trumpkins and their hero jumped on the ‘Brexit’ bandwagon, in order to present themselves as ‘anti-establishment’; fairly ludicrous given the political party he represents and now that he has shown himself to be just as much a warmonger as his presidential predecessors, Republican and Democrat alike.  The reason for ‘Brexit’ has nothing to do with Trump, though he wants to take the credit for it.  ‘Brexit’ is based on there never having been a vote for ‘Brentry’, with the consequence that the longer a vote on the issue was deferred the more likely a ‘Leave’ outcome would become, summarised here.  I’m not going to condemn the ‘millennials’ who sulked at the result, but nor do I empathise with those among them who genuinely and arrogantly believe that their votes should be more heavily weighted than those of us who are older.

However the root cause of ‘Brexit’ dates right back to the 1960’s when our French neighbours twice vetoed British membership of what was then the European Economic Community, because they considered that we Britons were not fully European as we tend to look beyond Europe to the outside world.  The vegan movement is strongest in the Anglosphere but that doesn’t mean that we should abandon it in those countries where it faces stronger challenges, France most obviously – with the exception of Brigitte Bardot as a role model – where adherence to animal welfare, let alone animal rights, has never been as strong as here in Britain.  I met some animal rights activists in Toulouse fifteen years ago; they have to change their country from within and hopefully they are succeeding, but we can’t change it for them; the French tend to be protectionist against the English-speaking world, something which I have summarised in a link to the right, which shows a photo of French farmer José Bové.

In dietary terms, veganism is still viewed in an eccentric light by most people, which is hardly surpising when a well-known vlogger advocates shoving thirty bananas down her cakehole every day.  There’s nothing wrong with emphasising physical fitness as a benefit of a vegan diet, but that certainly isn’t it!  Probably the world’s best known ‘bikini body’ belongs to her fellow Aussie, a vegan fashion and fitness model, whose ads for dietary supplements of dubious benefit, have now been banned in London by the mayor, though not because said adverts are misleading; for cultural reasons he wants a cover-up and has succeeded where feminists failed.  Ironic that said feminists complained about ‘body shaming’ whilst practicing it, as well as being bitchy towards a career woman making her own choices in life, including her own branded swimwear.

Anyway, on other matters totally unrelated, since I last updated this blog my fiftieth birthday has been and gone; I could have called it a ‘veganniversary’, but it wasn’t, though I did celebrate with a week of abstinence: no e-mails, phone calls, meetings or driving to and from meetings.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time in and around Manchester and visited the Unicorn Vegan Grocery Co-op in Chorlton for the first time, the nearest thing to an entirely vegan supermarket that I have been to, though I think it has too much emphasis on ‘organic’ (ie expensive) which restricts its demographic catchment.  I tend to think of South Manchester as Morrisseyland, which inspired me to type this:  The World Won’t Listen.  Thanks for reading.

Vegan Origins

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This ‘festive’ edition of the Vegan Society’s quarterly magazine was published in December 1989.  I am guessing that this edition is now long since out of print, so to summarise what was in it, the 1989 AGM Report; an article entitled ‘Animals-in-law’ summarising their legal status; a ‘Cookless Cuisine’ article on ‘raw foods’; several recipes on the centre pages; a couple of articles on pregnancy and one on acupuncture; two travel articles on visiting Egypt (though why I don’t know as it would have been way beyond the budget of most of the readership); a noticeboard with events and local groups; book reviews; classifieds, as you’d expect; news featuring various snippets from the mainstream media submitted by readers; and the feature below written by Vegan Society founder Donald Watson on the society’s origins.  I don’t have a pdf writer so I’ve photographed it and had to shrink it to such a size that WordPress would upload it.  So I hope that it is legible enough to read (note that it is better viewed using WordPress Reader as the image reproduces bigger).

donald-watson-article

I cannot recall seeing any previous editions on sale, which is why I do not have earlier parts of this column on the Vegan Society’s origins in order to post on here.  There are different reasons why different people may adopt a vegan diet and broaden into non-dietary issues: the most common is usually a combination of ethics and health, for some people ecology is a reason, for others there may also be esoteric reasons.  When the article was published, obesity was not as common as it is now and when the Vegan Society was founded 45 years previously, it would have been rare given the food rationing that existed during the 1940’s.  The article does raise the issue of whether it is fair to propose a diet which could be restrictive at a time when the population was already experiencing a restrictive diet, or would a vegan diet have been easier then for people to adapt to?  Reading the article it would be nice to travel back in time and meet not just Donald Watson, but the people that he mentions (and to get a train from Leicester to London and back for five bob).

This article forms part of my hypothesis that the vegan movement is sociologically a development of English non-conformism (as was the vegetarian movement before it), though in a secular, rather than a religious, sense.   From the article, the first public vegan meal was held in Coventry, a city with a dissenting tradition and which later (in 1973) gave birth to the Ecology Party.

At the time of this edition’s publication during the Winter of 1989/90, Generation Snowflake had yet to be conceived, so in no part of the magazine was there any of the Newspeak nonsense of ‘intersectionality’ or ‘safe spaces’ peddled by some idiots who have tried attaching them to veganism in recent years.

Of the news articles, here’s one that shows how times have changed:

As predicted in the Spring 1989 Vegan, gelatine-free photography is now a reality.  The Canon Ion Camera is in the shops for about £500.  Instead of using film it uses a two-inch floppy disk similar to those used in computers.  Immediately after pictures are taken, the camera is plugged into the aerial socket of a TV and the pictures appear on the screen.  No processing is required and the 50-image capacity £5 floppies can be erased and re-used an almost indefinite number of times.  Although not intended to produce prints, this is now possible using desktop publishing systems.  Meanwhile, Toshiba and Fuji have joined forces to produce the IC Memory Card which uses a card containing 18 individual 1-megabit chips.  Its makers claim that the resulting pictures are superior to those produced by the Canon Ion.  Retailing at around £2,000, the IC Memory Card will be available by Christmas.

Sources: Daily Telegraph 29.9.89 and New Scientist 11.11.89

Oh and if you are curious, I bought this magazine when visiting Durham from a shop called Earthcare, which was located in Saddler Street, but which has long since closed down.  It was a non-food shop, which sold various ‘green’ and esoteric ‘new age’ type publications; postcards, stationery and possibly a small range of household ‘green’ stuff.  I recall buying one of those big cubes of olive oil soap, which were too big to use and difficult to cut even with a bread knife.  Back then, a few minutes walk away in New Elvet, there was a wholefood shop, also run as a workers’ co-op, called Maggie’s Farm (named after the Bob Dylan song presumably).  The North East of England was pretty good back then as there were four vegetarian restaurants (including The Red Herring) in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as well as the Beanpot wholefood shop at the bottom of Westgate Hill.

Veganism and Ecology

ecology

Unless you were born into the landed gentry (and I certainly wasn’t) then the chances are that a great many of your forebears were tenant farmers or agricultural labourers, who would have depended on animals to carry out manually intensive tasks, tasks which have now been mechanised by technological advances.  Similarly, previous generations would have depended on animal skins to provide them with clothing and footwear, but the availability of good quality synthetic materials means this is no longer necessary; although leather is still widely worn, there is no need for it to be.

Being vegan in more than just a dietary sense is now easier than it ever has been and this is due to technological progress.  The petrol-driven internal combustion engine replaced the horse-drawn stagecoach, though one could put up a reasonable argument that the latter is actually more environmentally-friendly in cities suffering the effects of traffic pollution.  Nylon was developed as a replacement for silk, acrylic fibres were developed as replacements for wool (as I type this I am wearing an acrylic jumper) and PVC is sometimes used in clothing as an alternative for leather.

However vegans who consider themselves to be ecologists might face a certain dilemma in using modern materials which are by-products of industrial processes.  By the same token, some ecologists (including possibly some dietary vegetarians) might argue that animals and their products are natural renewable resources which humans have exploited since the year dot and should continue to do so.  The fur industry has been using this argument, particularly in relation to the lifestyles of the indigenous (First Nations) peoples of Canada, with whom the first European colonists traded.

Although there is a very good ecological argument for a vegan diet in terms of the volume of food that can be sourced from the same area of land, one needs to be wary that there are also ecological arguments that can be used against veganism (ie in favour of exploiting animals for their skins and/or their labour).  I am not going to back up the latter arguments, but I think that it is important that vegans do not succumb to the backward-looking world view held by most in the ‘green’ movement, who are possessed of a ridiculously romanticised vision of pre-industrial society.

To me the vegan ethos, veganism, the vegan movement, as it were, is a forward-looking world view.  We don’t need to exploit animals as our forebears would have needed to, so there is no excuse for doing so.  There are environmental compromises in every form of clothing or transport in terms of the source materials and production and we just have to live with them.  It doesn’t trouble my conscience wearing a material which is a by-product of the petrochemical industry or my driving a petrol-fuelled car. I am comfortable with technological advance and I don’t want a pre-industrial standard of living.