Many NBW participants are vegetarians (or vegans) and in general NBW does encourage the giving-up of meat because of its commitment to non-harm and compassion. However, we emphasize that you do not have to be a vegetarian to participate in NBW activities or events. In fact, the majority of participants are not vegetarians. If you’d like to consider the vegetarian option, here are some good reasons:
- It’s diverse and delicious
- It’s better for your health and weight
- It’s less cruel to other animals
- It’s better for the environment and climate
The majority of our meat and dairy products come from factory farms – industrialised systems where sentient animals become units of production. Over 45 billion farm animals raised intensively worldwide endure untold suffering during their short lives. They are denied fresh air and sunshine, the freedom to move around and to carry out natural behaviours such as hens stretching their wings or pigs rooting in the earth. The animal welfare issues for farm animals are numerous: often subjected to painful mutilations without anaesthetic, like tooth clipping or tail docking for pigs, they are routinely fed antibiotics without being ill. Bred to be production machines, animals will often suffer the cost of their genetics – dairy cows producing enormous quantities of milk will endure painful mastitis and lameness, or meat chickens growing many times faster than is natural will suffer broken bones as their legs simply can’t carry the weight of their bodies. Whilst we can choose higher welfare alternatives such as meat and dairy from organic systems, reducing or excluding these foods from our diet is a path we can take to opt out. For more information there are a number of organisations you can get in touch with:
- Compassion in World Farming – the leading farm animal welfare charity – ciwf.org
- Animal Aid – campaigns against animal abuse and promotes a cruelty free lifestyle – animalaid.co.uk
- The Vegetarian Society – vegsoc.org
NBW Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes
NBW has compiled its own small vegetarian recipe book from recipes around the world contributed by NBW friends and supporters. It’s available at any community session or email firstname.lastname@example.org to order one.
By Lynne McNeil
Demand for meat is expected to more than double by 2050. Within this timescale livestock production is expected to rise from 60 billion farm animals to 120 billion. In order to meet this ever increasing demand animals will no doubt be raised intensively and cheaply with factory farming, fish farming causing further pollution, water and land usage.
The most important greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). The atmospheric concentrations of all three have increased phenomenally in modern times. Comparing figures from 2005 with pre-industrial levels (measured in 1750), carbon dioxide has increased from around 280 parts per million (ppm) to 379ppm, methane has increased from 715 parts per billion (ppb) to 1774ppb and nitrous oxide has increased from 270ppb to 319ppb. The increase in carbon dioxide is due mostly to the use of fossil fuels and the changes in the way we use land. Increases in methane and nitrous oxide, however are primarily caused by agriculture.
Emissions from livestock are due to a number of factors including the digestive processes of ruminants such as cattle and sheep, manure, deforestation and desertification. The farming of animals also generates gaseous emissions through the manufacture of fertilisers to grow feed crops; industrial feed production and the transportation of both live animals and their carcasses across the globe.
Livestock farming is essentially inefficient as mammals in particular are poor converters of feed to meat. Cattle require approximately 7kg of grain in order to generate 1kg of beef and pigs require 4kg grain for 1kg of pork.
A typical non-vegetarian diet requires up to 2.5 times the amount of land compared to a vegetarian diet and 5 times that of a vegan diet. For example, a farmer can feed up to 30 people throughout the year with vegetables, fruit, cereals and vegetable fats on one hectare of land. If the same area is used for the production of eggs, milk and/or meat the number of people fed would be between 5 -10.
By becoming vegetarian, we can help lower our own environmental impact and help secure worldwide food resources.
Vitamin B12 can be obtained by including some dairy products and eggs in a vegetarian diet.
Protein is made up of eight amino acids that can be found in many vegetarian sources. Although many vegetarian sources of protein are not in themselves a complete protein, by combining foods throughout the day all protein needs are easily met. Good sources can be found in beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, grains, soya products, dairy products and eggs.
Take a look at the abundance of fruit and vegetables on offer (its great to choose local and seasonal, if possible). A box scheme is a good way to ensure local seasonal produce (riverford.co.uk or www.ableandcole.co.uk). Find a recipe and get cooking!
There are many good vegetarian cookbooks available. Local libraries are a good place to start or download a recipe from the Vegetarian Society. Go to: vegsoc.org or ivu.org
- Good Housekeeping, Step by Step Vegetarian Cookbook, Ebury Press
- Rose Elliot’s, Vegetarian Cookery, Harper Collins
- Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Cookbook
- Laurel’s Kitchen, A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition, Routledge & Kegan Paul
- Tassajara Cooking, Edward Espe Brown, Shambhala
- Delia’s Vegetarian Collection, BBC Books
- Terre a Terre, Brighton
- The Riverside Vegetaria, Kingston upon Thames (order the masala dosa!)