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What did you think of Andy Kenworthy's story about switching from vegan to omnivore in Good #23? We received a wide range of responses from people who wanted to share their thoughts. Read on for some of the letters we didn't have room to publish ... and tell us your own views!
Andy Kenworthy's story 'My Lunch and Other Animals' (Good #23) provoked a flurry of debate around which diets are the most ethical, environmentally friendly and healthy ... and if there is a single one that encompasses all three.
What did you think of Andy's story? Share your views in the comments below!
More science, please
I was disappointed when reading the article prepared by your correspondent Mr Kenworthy about meat consumption and the scientific and ethical considerations involved. While I think it's fine to hold a given view surrounding the issue whether one is vegan, vegetarian, or the various spectra of omnivore, I think the publication of such views needs to be based upon a reasoned and evidence-based line of inquiry. In this Mr Kenworthy's article, in my view, fails. It is unfortunate that Good magazine (who's articles are usually quite sound) has chosen to publish the internal thoughts of someone who appears, unfortunately, to be scientifically illiterate rather than seeking expert advice.
Specifically, the comment around iron levels was strange, given that this is a widespread (but also widely discredited) notion which is in reality complicated by the very factors Mr Kenworthy later cites for a different example (e.g. metabolism, life stage, lifestyle [and sex]). Related to this issue, perhaps rather than self-diagnosis and confusing causation with correlation, Mr Kenworthy might have looked a little more deeply into the matter with his dietician.
I also find the claim that meat eating can be justified by proximity with other very different unethical behaviours (e.g. computer use) a bizarre and troublesome logic.
The article contains other errors of either logic or evidence, but perhaps the most surprising to me was the claim that humans had 3.4 million years of meat eating evolution driving them. As an archaeologist I find such sweeping statements difficult to stomach (pun intended) considering that the genus homo (i.e. humans) did not emerge until much later, and considering the complexities and subtleties of human evolutionary history.
Finally, Mr Kenworthy's claims about organic farming as the sustainable way forward seems to ring hollow when one considers beef and dairy production. New Zealand beef is, technically, organically produced via free-ranging/grazing stock. Yet such heavy stock share a heavy portion of the responsibility for topsoil depletion around the globe (this was quite well publicised recently in an issue of the National Geographic but is also detailed in United Nations reports on agricultural sustainability), land instability, and nitrate run-off. The situation is even worse when considering some of the steeper geography currently farmed in New Zealand.
I hope in the future Good magazine might seek peer-review on the work of some of its contributors.
BA (hons), MA (anthropology), PgDip Forensic Science