It’s that time of the year again. According to the Guardian, a record 500,000 people in the UK have signed up to the challenge to eat only plant-based foods for a month. It’s double what it was last year with Tesco and other supermarkets running ad-campaigns on tv to promote the event. Veganuary coincides with World Carnivore Month, which both take eating to an extreme.
This idea that we should all eat plant-based food has been kicking around for a while. Last year the menu at the Oscars was largely vegan with the stated goal of reducing our carbon footprint. Call me a cynic, but surely a group of people who fly into dinner on their private jets is not saving the planet because they munch down a few vegetables? It’s Hollywood hypocrisy at its best. I find it disturbing that a lot of celebrities-turned-environmentalists, with larger carbon footprints than 99,9999 percent of us, think that I should feel guilty when having an omelette for breakfast.
Take David Attenborough as an example. The other day I was watching a documentary about his life on Netflix. It’s an emotional affair with dramatic music that promotes the notion that the environment is being destroyed by us humans and the planet will split in half if we don’t do something now. This is hardly surprising as Attenborough made headlines already in 2013 when he called humanity ‘a plague on the planet’. In the documentary, he goes on to recommend that we eat more plant-based foods. I hit google straight away to find out if he was himself a vegetarian or, even better, vegan. You can probably guess what the answer to my question was.
I’m not saying we should all turn on Attenborough, but maybe you should be a bit careful with what you preach when you’ve lived your life in a way that stands in direct contrast to your teachings. Flying around in helicopters accompanied by a massive camera team doesn’t strike me as environmentally friendly. There is an elitist ring to it, this idea that it’s ok for me to do it, but not for you.
Humans are omnivores by nature, and we’ve been eating meat for thousands of years. To make such a radical change to the diet you’ve evolved to eat by excluding meat could prove to be a bad idea. Diet is a confusing topic with contradicting information and this stubborn idea that it’s healthy to be vegetarian is not backed by data. It’s very difficult to link specific diets with longevity when there are so many variables, such as toxins and stress levels, that play into the equation. We’re fairly sure that eating a lot of plants is good for you. This is not the same thing as being a vegan though.
Rant over. I’m off to fry some pork chops.