Misconceptions About Veganism

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Vegan tramping

‘Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,’ says John Muir, ‘places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.’

The beauty of the outdoors does indeed bring much sustenance, but one cannot live on beauty – or bread – alone.  In fact, one requires a balanced, calorie-rich diet if one hopes to venture out into the wilderness.  For most people this presents its challenges, but I will argue that eating vegan in the outdoors is a cinch.  As a case study, I will discuss my culinary selections from my recent 14-day, 200-kilometre circuit of Stewart Island.  I had to carry all of the food and gear I would need for 14 days, and so space and weight were at a premium.

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Misconceptions: Protein

Possibly one of the most common questions asked of a vegan is: ‘How do you get enough protein?’

My favourite (cheeky) answer is: ‘To which amino acid do you refer?’ (I must thank Isa Chandra Moskowitz in the magnificent Veganomicon for that one.)

Proteins are composed of amino acids; these are our cellular building blocks.  There are twenty standard amino acids taken up by the body through the food we eat. Nine of these cannot be synthesised by the body itself and must be obtained from food; these are known as the ‘essential’ amino acids.  Requirements are a little different for children, as a further five of the twenty standard amino acids are required for normal growth.  The main vegan sources of protein are nuts, grains, and legumes, although there are smaller proportions in many other plant foods. Continue reading

Your Views on the 51%

Two weeks ago, the Worldwatch Institute reported a study that showed livestock produce 51% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, not 18% as previously estimated. The report is, frankly, damning and the Institute’s summary concludes with a succinct suggestion that we abandon animal products:

Based on their research, Goodland and Anhang conclude that replacing livestock products with soy-based and other alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. “This approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations-and thus on the rate the climate is warming-than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”

This Monday, the New Zealand Herald caught up, in a beautifully-titled article: Meat Eating Worse Than Thought – Study.

Now, of course that’s fascinating – not to mention concerning – in itself.  I’m sure that the environmental side of veganism will become a recurring theme on this blog, and this new study adds new weight to the ecological case for eating less (or no!) animal products.

But what I find more interesting is the comments on the Herald’s Your Views page about this.  It’s a great vox populi sample of the New Zealand population, and, while I really do hope that it’s not representative, it’s definitely telling.  So let’s have a look at what people have to say.

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