In Eating for the Planet (two years ago) I argued that the ideal diet is “one which minimises harm to the environment and to animals while maximising benefits to our health. There is no logically necessary connection between the three objectives but there is a ‘sweet spot’ where all three happen to coincide: a plant-based diet emphasising fresh, local, seasonal food.”
Since then, calls for all of us to adopt a plant-based diet for the sake of the environment have become ever more frequent and more urgent. Not entirely coincidentally, I have been moving towards such a diet myself, and thinking about how to do so as easily as possible. After all, if a change seems worthwhile and isn’t too hard, then more of us will try it.
Our dietary choices affect our lives on several levels. The question which arises most often is probably, “What is best for our health?” After that, many of us want to minimise the pain and suffering we cause, to follow the dictates of our religion and to minimise our negative impact on the environment. Are these goals compatible? If so, to what extent? And what is the optimum diet for ourselves, for other living creatures, and for the planet?
To answer these questions, we might begin by defining the four broad categories of diet which most of us recognise, and mentioning some of their variants.
Veganism is often considered a lifestyle strongly anchored in animal rights, rather than just a diet.The Vegan Society defines it as, “A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose … In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.” Continue reading “Eating for the planet”