This week has been another knowledge intensive week for me. Balancing my normal knowledge intensive daily job with my interest in food can mean knowledge overload sometimes. But sometimes my thoughts on the two subjects actually intersect, even go parallell with each other. The more I think about it, the more they intersect. And this is what happened when I read this article on a new book on veganism for children: Are kids too young to understand veganism?.
I have had a couple of closer friends who have been vegans, and I totally respect their decision. I also understand that due to their conviction that it is wrong to use animals for our own purpose they would have a hard time bringing up children on anything else than vegetable-based foods. I am also fascinated by the fact that small children brought up on a vegetarian/vegan diet probably are better at eating leafy greens. Anyone with experience, is it so?
However, this article that I read stand in sharp, and I mean sharpísimo, contrast with what is being preeched in other food movements. I am now thinking about how the animals are treated, and that being the reason to why to turn vegan. I completely disagree on this issue. And I actually think it is wrong to write a children's book referring to ALL meat as being produced in such horrible circumstances and that is why its morally wrong for us humans to consume it.
This week the movie Food Inc was broadcasted on Finnish national television (proud of national broadcasting company). The message? Profit goes before any consideration of human health, wellbeing of animals, consideration of nature. The conditions for chicken and beef alike are so sick that they do not stand being shown in day light. But for those vegans about to claim victory over meat I have to say hold your horses. The way conventional vegetables and staple foods (i.e. corn, soy, wheat) are grown is just as bad and harmful for the nature. The message in the movie is not to ditch animal food all together. Its about caring for the animal, showing them respect, bringing back dignity to farming in general and returning to the organic roots of farming. This is something that is also preached by other food movements (paleo, weston price, gaps) who have adopted an omnivore lifestyle. Eating animal does not necessarily need to be about buying into the massprouction, massabuse of animals these days. Assuring that the animal on your plate has had a "happy life" and treated with respect, you can eat your dinner with dignity and even include respect for the whole ecosystem in they way you consume food. Humans have eaten animals for tens of thousands of years, it's only in the past 50 it turned controversial. Not because of us eating animal but because of the Food Industry's focus on large scale in the name of profit.
Why create an aversion in kids to perfectly good food before they can decide for themselves? Yes, I believe leafy greens to be healthy, as most fruits and other veggies. But I also think meet is an excellent source of protein, and bone broth the best medicine for delicate guts. Why spoil such food for the new generation? If we want a sustainable future, we have to restore local ecosystems. I would believe that up in the north, it is necessary to stay dependent on domesticated animal to stay local in our food supply. But by domesticated I do not say abused. I am a strong believer of the argument that animals treated with respect during their lifetime will also provide better sources of nutrients thourgh their by-products (dairy and eggs) and meat on our dinner table.
I am not saying that being vegan would be unhealthy. However, I think there are enough anecdotal evidence out there that going on a strict vegan diet might have longterm consequences for you health. I actually think that you can do it on two conditions: 1) you REALLY know what you are doing (not only substituting meat with wheat and soy but really getting informed on human nutrition) and 2) your body is apt for such a diet (which I would guess depend on a mixture of your genes and health history).
To sum up, I'd like to post a link which illustrates the opposite of the vegan diet: bone broth. I have been feeding my family bone broth from "ecological" chicken and beef bones in the past 6 months. It's amazing what this miracle medicine can do to the apetite and the gut!