Happy, Caring, Healthy and Sharing
by Graham BURNETT
Green vegans believe in living compassionately, that is to say in living a happy and caring life that does not cause suffering to animals or the world around us.
Green vegans believe that such a way of life is also of direct benefit to our fellow human beings, for land that is at the moment used for animal farming or to grow cattle feed could be turned over to growing food suitable for humans. In countries found in Africa, Asia and Latin America especially, this would go a long way towards ending hunger and poverty.
As well as growing cattle feed, much of the land in ‘Third World’ countries is given over to growing ‘cash crops’, such as coffee, tea or sugar which are sent to Western countries. If demand from the West for meat and cash crops was to end, how do you think that land might be used? What crops do you think the people of these countries might grow to feed themselves?
The animals should be our friends, and free to live their own lives in peace. Vegans believe we should strive to live in harmony with the animals, and not simply use them for our own ends. There is no product that comes from animals that we cannot either do without completely or use a cruelty-free alternative to.
In the drawings you can see animals that are all used for our end in one way or another, but in this case they are living free in an animal sanctuary. Can you think in which way each animal is used by humans? Which of the products from each creature do you think we could do without altogether, and which could be replaced by products that do not come from animals?
Putting animals into zoos and circuses are two more unnecessary and unnatural ways in which we treat animals just for our pleasure- much more enjoyable and respectful is to have a nature walk. Why not go out into the countryside- maybe the woods or marshes- whatever is nearest to you- and see what animals you can observe in their natural habitat. Keep still and quiet and watch their behavior. Wild animals may be difficult to spot, but it’s much more fun when you do!
Cow’s milk is meant for the calf, not for human babies. In fact many children find it too rich, and in some cases even harmful. Human breast milk contains all the goodness that babies need for a healthy start in life. When we are older, the goodness and vitamins that we received in mother’s milk can be found in other foods, including some Soya milks, bread, nuts, seeds, fruit and green vegetables.
Alternatives to many dairy products can be made at home in the kitchen using vegan ingredients. Vegan ‘cheese’ can be made quickly and easily by mixing Soya flour, sunflower margarine and yeast extract. Soya milk by pressing cooked Soya beans.
Many green vegans prefer not to use Soya products, as these can be seen as a ‘cash crop’, using land overseas that should feed people there. They are not really necessary -‘milk’ can be made from nuts, and well cooked split peas can add a creamy texture to many dishes. Even ‘yoghurt’ can be made from porridge or sunflower seeds. Why not experiment and see what other dairy alternatives you can discover?
Green vegans believe that the food we eat is best grown locally, for this means it is fresher, and fuel and energy has not been wasted in bringing it long distances from where it was produced.
It is better still if we can grow our own food, or at least some of it, in our gardens or on an allotment, using vegan-organic methods, that is to say, not using harmful chemicals, and replacing animal manures with fertilizers like seaweed, compost or ‘green manure’.
Even if you don’t have any land for growing vegetables, there is much that can be grown indoors, just on a window ledge; herbs such as parsley or basil; mustard and cress grown on blotting paper; or beans, chick peas, field beans, alfalfa, fenugreek or barley. put them in a jam jar, and soak in water, which should be changed daily by draining through a piece of material. Within a few days edible shoots will appear. See how you get along with these, then why not try some others- you could even start you own indoor miniature farm!
If land was not wasted for animal farming, but grew only the crops we could eat directly, and if we all made an effort to grow some of our own food, far more land could be given over to tree planting (re-afforestation). As well as being a source of wonder and beauty in their own right, trees have many important uses and functions.
Their leaves give out oxygen, which keeps the air fresh and clean for us to breath. They also take in carbon dioxide, and store the carbon in their wood. We have put too much carbon dioxide into the air by burning coal (the trees that grew millions of years ago) and oil, which could have bad results on the climate.
Their roots reach down deep into the soil, and draw up water otherwise far beyond our reach.
Tree cover is a vital part of keeping soil fertile, and preventing erosion and the spread of deserts.
When sensibly managed, trees are also important as crops, giving us many different products such as timber for building and furniture, fibres, dyes, paper, medicines and fuel, as well as providing bountiful food for humans and animals in the form of beans, nuts and fruit.
Trees are also vital in supporting animal and plant communities (ecosystems)- how many animals can you spot living in or near the oak tree opposite? How many more animals can you think of that depend upon the oak tree, and would die if it were cut down? Find out and make a list.
Preparing a meal from home grown or locally produced ingredients is very rewarding, and also lots of fun. There are so many ingredients to try, and so many ways to cook them- using leeks, courgettes, oats, broccoli, hazelnuts, carrots, garlic, barley, pasta, cauliflower, tomatoes, onions, beans, walnuts, spinach, peas, artichokes, turnips, peppers, mushrooms, marrows, aubergines, sunflower seeds, parsnips, asparagus, rocket, cabbage, radishes, kale, sweet corn, lettuce, quinoa, almonds, chives, potatoes, chestnuts, cucumber, celery, endive, pumpkin, mustard, parsley, gooseberries, apples, plums, blackberries, raisins, cherries, rhubarb, peaches, figs, pears, strawberries, apricots, raspberries, red currants, you could make pies, stews, curries, soups, stir-frys, roasts, flans, dips, soufflés, casseroles, loaves, tarts, crumbles, cakes or biscuits….and how many more can you think of?
Sharing a meal with people you care about, like your family of friends is also great fun. Why don’t you prepare some foods, say vegetable pasties, a salad or sandwiches, and organise a picnic with people you know at one of your favourite outdoor spots? Or if the weather isn’t so nice, you could always prepare a special meal indoors-get your friends to bring something nice to eat as well, then you could share out the food between you.
The good, wholesome foods that make up a balanced vegan diet, together with the active, creative and aware way of life that a person with a ‘green’ outlook leads, tends to promote fitness and health in both mind and body. Green vegans tend to take part in outdoor activities, such as walking, cycling, camping, gardening, or maybe conservation work, or exploring the countryside.
There are many vegans doing well in sporting activities- some who have been vegan all their lives have gained notable achievements in various fields of athletics. In fast there is a yearly marathon held by and for vegetarians and vegans which is always well attended. Many experts on sporting activities recommend a diet which is high in fresh fruit and vegetables rather than one based on animal products.
Do you enjoy sport and outdoor activities? What are you best at? Is it the one that you enjoy the most, maybe swimming or running? Or hockey or football? Or perhaps cycling or rambling? An important thing that is worth remembering is that being Number One isn’t really what matters, the main thing is to know inside that YOU have done your best, and that you’ve had a lot of fun too!