This blog article is a conversation about diet and lifestyle and may interest those of you –with Veganuary very much a January theme – who may be thinking of going vegan.
We have two members of the Green Farm family here with very different needs. One, Alex, was a vegan for 20 years, but now eats meat again, the other, Shelly, is a lifelong committed vegan who is happy to be working on a livestock farm. Here is a precis of their views.
First: Alex Hanly discussing Yoga, Ahimsa and the delicious food at Green Farm.
“Ahimsa, which is a Sanskrit term that means "non-violence" or "non-harming.", is about avoiding violence and harm to all living beings, including animals, plants, and even microorganisms. As a central tenet of many spiritual paths, it is often seen as the highest form of spiritual practice.
“Is being vegetarian or vegan truly less violent? While being vegetarian is often seen as aligning with the principle of Ahimsa, it also involves violence towards plants and ecosystems. Cultivating crops for vegetarian diets often requires clearing large areas of land, which can lead to habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, and harm to animals and insects that rely on those habitats. Additionally, the use of pesticides and herbicides in agriculture can have harmful effects on the environment and non-target species.
“Humans are omnivores by design and require certain nutrients for optimum nutritional health that can only be derived from animal foods. However, the consumption of animal products from factory farming and slaughterhouses has a devastating impact on the environment, animals, and consumers' health. She believes that the black and white thinking of switching to a vegan diet and implementing mass mono-cropping, further pesticide and herbicide spraying, and highly processed laboratory-made food that is nutritionally devoid and terrible for human health is utter madness.
“There are various ways to practice vegetarianism, and some choices may be more environmentally and ethically conscious than others. For example, choosing locally sourced, organic, and sustainably grown plant-based foods can minimize environmental impact. This is exactly what they do at Green Farm when serving vegetarian or vegan food. Finding a balance between ethical considerations, sustainability, and personal health is key. This may involve considering alternatives such as reducing meat consumption, choosing locally and sustainably sourced animal products, or exploring plant-based options that are environmentally and ethically conscious.
“I was a vegan for 20 years, adamant that it was the best thing I could be doing for my body and the environment. However, my and my daughter's ill health eventually changed my mind. We were struggling with skin issues, sleeping problems, candida issues, and constantly ill from the strain of pregnancy and breastfeeding. After researching, I found that bone broth, collagen, gelatin, omega3's, less fibre, and fewer carbohydrates were essential for our health, which was hard to attain on a vegan diet. It took me a lot to eat my first mouthful of animal flesh. Starting with eggs, yoghurt, and local raw milk, we moved to 100% grass-fed local ruminants. I still avoid most poultry as they are mainly grain-fed and therefore not great for the carbon footprint. If you want to learn more about my view on food systems and personal and environmental health, I recommend reading "The Plant-Based Con" by Jayne Buxton, a book that both Martin and I have read.”
Now let’s hear from Shelly, our Community Garden Manager.
“I am a passionate Community Garden Manager at Green Farm, where I have been working for the past couple of years. I have been a vegan for almost thirty years and have always aligned my work with my vegan way of life. I firmly believe that we should respect, care for, and take responsibility for all life, whether it's wild or farmed.
“At Green Farm, I work alongside Martin & MaryAnn, who share my passion for producing top-quality nutritious food in the gentlest way possible. They both believe in making sure that their impact on the environment is as small or as beneficial as possible. The animals at Green Farm are less intensively reared, producing high-welfare meat while creating an environment that is beneficial to the local wildlife.
“Over the years, my veganism has deepened, and I now believe that being vegan is not only an ethical and environmental choice but also a spiritual undertaking. I try to tread gently on this earth and to work with nature as much as possible. I am a big advocate of no-dig gardening, which is a method of gardening that involves disturbing the soil as little as possible. I believe that this method is excellent at capturing and keeping carbon in the soil, rather than losing it to our atmosphere and further increasing climate change.
“I encourage people to consider how their food choices impact the environment and animal welfare. I recommend supporting farmers who use sustainable, compassionate methods and choose to eat locally produced, seasonal food. I believe that people will always want to eat animals, but I will never eat them. I encourage people to think about how their animals have been treated during their life and their death, and how their life has impacted the earth's resources.
“I am a healthy vegan with two healthy teenagers, and have had to be thoughtful in my food choices to ensure I have had all my body needs over pregnancies, breastfeeding, a physical working and home life, and more recently going into the menopause. If you're interested in learning more about being vegan or no-dig gardening, I am happy to answer any questions. You can visit Green Farm's pop-up on a Thursday or in March at our no-dig morning to learn more.”
At Green Farm we are open to everyone's opinions and lifestyle choices. We cater for a wide variety of tastes, with each menu we service having nutrition and balance at its core. So whether you're thinking of going vegan, you're already a seasoned pro, or if in fact you're looking to source meat locally and are looking to buy Green Farm produce, we have something here for you.
If you would like to find out more about any of our farm produce, pop-up events, menus or retreat food options, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org