Ten reasons to go vegetarian

Not that I had any idea it was ‘world vegetarian week’… Top Ten Reasons to Go Veggie During World Vegetarian Week includes:

“While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat.”
” A recent United Nations report entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow concludes that eating meat is “one of the … most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.””

I never thought I’d quote Paul McCartney, but there you go:

Sir Paul McCartney sums it all up, “If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”

Why do I live in the UK? ‘The vendetta waged against vegetarians’

From the Independent in December last year: Raw deal! The vendetta waged against vegetarians

A new survey reveals that diners who don’t eat meat are dished up a poor choice by high street restaurants. But it’s all too true, says Martin Hickman, our consumer affairs correspondent, who became a vegetarian 18 years ago and is fed up with being offered boring cheese bakes…
A lack of effort and imagination characterises the failing of vegetarian food in Britain.
It isn’t a problem of availability, generally. Apart from the countryside, pubs, or an Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse, you can almost always find something a vegetarian can eat.
No, the problem is that the lone, sad “vegetarian option” is there because the restaurant is expecting to serve a lone, sad vegetarian. It is not meant to be delicious; it is perfunctory it ticks the box.

But, as Ethical Consumer magazine has found in a new survey, most high street restaurants are emphatically unimpressive when it comes to vegetarian food. The author, Sarah Irving, writes in the January edition: “Vegetarianism is a fairly mainstream dietary choice nowadays… so it is surprising and depressing how poorly vegetarians and especially vegans are served in chain restaurants.”

My emphasis above. I guess I’ll never really understand it – it’s as if chefs in the UK have a huge blind spot when it comes to vegetarian food. So many places don’t go beyond ‘take the meat out and serve what’s left, which is a real shame because other countries manage to produce amazing vegetarian food. If Montreal can combine a French and English heritage with an open imagination to come up with tasty veggie meals, why can’t they manage it here?
Anyway. It’s not like food is generally amazing here anyway, though it gets better all the time, and in the meantime, check out The New Vegetarian column in the Guardian (and go to Ottolenghi’s for properly amazing salads when you’re in London).

The visible effect of trawling

The difference a photo makes is interesting.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Loving Our Oceans to Death has a Landsat satellite image of the Gulf of Mexico

The cloudy water that you see is the direct result of commercial bottom trawlers dragging large, heavy nets across the seafloor, denuding it of all life in their quest for a few marketable fish and shrimps. Unfortunately, most bottom trawlers destroy as much as 20 pounds of “bycatch” — unmarketable corals, sponges, fishes and other animals — for every pound of commerically valuable “seafood” that they retrieve, while they leave behind huge, choking clouds of mud and sediment that take weeks or longer to settle.

“Until recently, the impact was basically hidden from view,” he continued. “But new tools — especially Internet-based image sites, like Google Earth — allow everyone to see for themselves what’s happening. In shallow waters with muddy bottoms, trawlers leave long, persistent trails of sediment in their wake.”

What can you do to reduce this enviromental destruction? Until the industrial fishing industry proves that they are acting in a more environmentally responsible manner, you can boycott eating orange roughy, Chilean sea bass (Patagonian toothfish), and all shrimps. (Keep in mind that those shrimp species that are not caught by trawling are usually farmed in shallow coastal mangroves, which also leads to tremendous, and possibly irreversible, environmental damages).

But don’t just stop buying trawler-caught seafood – tell your supermarket or fishmonger why you’ve stopped buying it. Your consumer action can make a huge difference.