By William J. Furney
A judge in England has ruled that veganism is “important” and deserving of respect, and that he was “satisfied overwhelmingly that ethical veganism does constitute a philosophical belief”.
It was Judge Robin Postle’s task to decide in a tribunal whether it was wrong or not for a vegan, Jordi Casamitjana (pictured, above), to be fired by an animal-welfare charity for his ethical vegan beliefs — and while his honour hasn’t yet made that decision, he has given his preliminary thoughts on the 55-year-old London man’s vegan way of life. (He claims his employment was terminated by the League Against Cruel Sports after he discovered it invested pension funds in companies that carried out animal testing, and when his bosses did nothing, he told his fellow workers about it.)
It was a huge moment not just for Casamitjana, who was reported to be “extremely happy” with the judge’s ruling, but for ethical vegans everywhere. Because it’s not just about what food you put into your body. It’s also about recognising that humans are not the only species to inhabit the Earth, and that respect is due to all creatures on the planet — which means allowing them to live out their lives without enslavement or murder and while strictly adhering to what’s now known to be the healthiest diet for people and one that’s highly beneficial for the planet.
Tragically, most people could not care less. Rather than having some thought for their own health, the welfare of animals and the increasingly imperiled situation our precious planet finds itself in, they are deathly fixated on the fleeting taste of animals, while looking you straight in the face and declaring they “love” them (yeah — in your gut).
Just look what Middle England thinks about Casamitjana and the judge’s ruling, in a sampling of Daily Mail comments on the story: “This guy’s a nut”, “entitled prat” and others saying all they wanted to do was tuck into sausages and as many other kinds of meat as possible. Most of the almost 2,000 comments I saw were negative about veganism and being compassionate about animals — but it’s a topic that’s clearly of interest to meat-eaters and certainly gets them riled up when a vegan triumphs at something. Perhaps they’re feeling a rising level of guilt over their destructive ways.
It’s all changing, though, and rapidly — and those who scoff at “salad-munching” vegans while stuffing their faces with bloody steaks and ribs and many other animal parts are being left behind, and increasingly derided, as the world moves on.
As I’ve written in these pages, I have been vegan for several years, and vegetarian for decades; I have never felt better, or performed so well at sports: during Christmas, I ran the equivalent of two marathons, and worked out almost daily. I am not a puny, anemic vegan: I am healthy, muscled and am able to run rings around people half my age, and under. I am never ill, and almost never even catch colds or flus. All this tells me that a vegan diet is the optimal one for me. At the very least, it doesn’t harm anyone or thing (plants don’t have a central nervous system, and therefore don’t feel pain).
As with anything, education is key. More people than ever — and especially now, during Veganuary — are realising the horrific tortures that are inflicted on cows, for instance, just so people can have milk — and when you think about it, why would you want to drink the milk of another species, particularly when nature designed milk to support newborns?
Researchers at Oxford University found a while back that ditching meat for plant-based dishes on a global scale would have the extraordinary effect of saving as many as 8 million lives by 2050, slashing carbon emissions by two-thirds and generating savings in the healthcare and climate-damages areas of $1.5 trillion.
Now there is talk of having reached “peak meat”, a point at which consumers are waking up to the hazards of consuming animals and increasingly turning to vegan products such as those offered by Impossible Foods and Beyond Meats instead — meat-like burgers (in look and, apparently, taste) and other carnivore-looking foods but made entirely from plants. They’re increasingly taking over more space on supermarket shelves as meat products go unsold.
“Veganism is the future,” chef Cristiano Vitelli told the Financial Times recently. “It’s like cigarettes: if you find a cigarette that is not going to harm you, you will definitely try it. So it is the same with meat and dairy.”
There’s little doubt that carnivores are being left behind as not only old-fashioned, cruel and uncaring but a collective relic of the barbaric past as the world evolves into a new way of eating and one that’s enormously beneficial to human health and that of our planet and our fellow sentient beings. Veganism is absolutely a philosophy, and the only way to live a full, ethical and compassionate life.