Guy’s Newsletter: ruminating on protein

“Dad, how can you call yourself an environmentalist, and still sell meat?”. First one daughter, then the other, then even my previously carnivorous sons joined in. Their epiphany was brought on by the documentary Cowspiracy; it is smug, irritating and outrageously one-sided in its selection of evidence and ends with an unjustified and ill-considered swipe at Greenpeace. However, despite my irritation, I would agree (uncomfortably for someone selling meat) that no thinking person can reasonably claim to be an environmentalist, or even a humanist, while continuing to eat more than very small amounts of animal protein; most forms of animal agriculture are simply wrecking our planet.

Climate change-wise the arguments are complex, involving ruminant methane emissions, deforestation for grazing and soya production, methane and nitrous oxide emitting manure heaps and soil, intensive versus extensive farming methods and more. As our planet is so diverse in soils, topography, ecology, diet and agricultural methods, it’s unwise to be dogmatic anyway. However, after weeks scouring scientific papers, we have reached the following initial conclusions:

  • Livestock agriculture contributes 10-12% of manmade climate change; arguably as much as every car, plane, truck and ship on the planet.
  • Livestock agriculture is grossly inefficient and requires 5-10 times more land to feed ourselves than a vegan diet; there just isn’t enough land to go round. OK it’s not that simple; there may well be a credible argument for animals grazing permanent pastures on land unsuited for growing crops for humans, to produce high quality, high welfare meat and dairy, as with most organic farming, but we will have to eat much less of it.

Alongside this are all the health, animal welfare, pollution and antibiotic resistance arguments against eating meat; hard to quantify, but very real. There will be exceptions, but the general conclusion is inescapable; for the good of us and our planet, we must collectively eat much less animal protein. Over the coming weeks we’ll be exploring the issue and suggesting ways to nudge any committed carnivores away from some of their meat. I hope you’ll feel compelled to join us.

Guy Watson

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72 responses to “Guy’s Newsletter: ruminating on protein

  1. Living with the abundant choices we have in the UK finding enough good quality vegetable based protein isn’t challenging – eating less/no meat and dairy is relatively easy. I would however like us to grow and produce our own local version of concentrated protein products -using natural renewable energy nitrogen sources as opposed to synthetic nitrogen/ammonia to grow the crop or bioculture. A European grown version of tofu or soya protein would help maintain our farming industry and reduce food miles – (I’m sure there are plenty of nitrogen rich ‘waste streams’ that could be used even if we reduce our livestock numbers) – maybe Riverford could lead the way?

  2. Vivien Cruickshank

    Considering the daily slaughter of millions of sentient animals globally, it is nothing short of catastrophic, and in the quest for ever cheaper food, but ever more profit, cruel practises in both farming and slaughter have become the norm. Meat sold in this country that isn’t organic is from animals fed on GM food, and that in itself should ring alarm bells.
    As a nearly vegan (ex-batt pet hens in garden), I know what a steep learning curve it was regarding learning about new foods and their protein values etc, but can honestly say that I now have a much more varied diet, of which Riverford vegetables form a very important part.

  3. I hope that you won’t cut out your meat products. I don’t eat a lot, butalways enjoy them. Moderation in all things!

    • I don’t understand moderation in something promoting misery and suffering. It’s like saying moderation in serial killing or moderation in abuse. Doesn’t make sense. Moderation in different nutrition certainly but not when it promotes cruelty?

  4. I have started to eat veg for lunch. I love the riverford portions. Abt 6 oz protein. If its organic. When it tastes as good as this. You don’t have to add lots of dressings or anything. I would order fish. Your produce has life force it is amazing thank you.

  5. I suppose it depends on the kind of meat you eat. I eat locally reared, organic, grass fed meat every day. Healthy and more environmentally friendly that most of the fruit and veg that is flown in from all over the world on a daily basis.

    • So why buy meat from local sources but veg from all over the world? There is local veg, it just has to be bought in season. And how could meat be more environmentally friendly when the meat and dairy industry is generally more responsible – as in the article – for environmental issues than anything else?

  6. I’m Going home by train atm and very very interested in this thread (but I’m 1/3 the way through a bottle of Chardonnay and need to be on the ball before sense is emitted 😉
    Much praise for putting this out there especially when meat is one of your products. It’s refreshing to me that you’re brave enough to put this out there for discussion and I appreciate the way you’ve done that.
    I’m Thinking only on the past few years that consuming less is kinder to ourselves AND the planet. I cannot believe I’m only just making this realisation and that before I was ok with filling my face and exercising it off. If I had to kill an animal or even select one for my own consumption, I would live off mushrooms and spinach for life so I’m not proud of that and I now dislike the way that animal products have been ‘de-animalised’ by supermarkets.
    (Train’s in so I’ll resume another time) thanks for the thought fodder

  7. Heather Passmore

    Well as a farmers daughter this I fear may well stop me buying from you. Just buy British meat that you know has been reared properly and to all the standards now in place, but looks to me like you are encouraging everyone to be vegetarian. One customer less for you I think!!!

    • (to Heather) And as a farmer’s son that’s nonsense. I grew up to realise that farming practices whether from British farms or otherwise did not reach any kind of ethical standards and were generally governed by profit over welfare. And the article does not encourage vegetarianism, it actually presents a balanced view from somebody that clearly does eat meat. One more customer and many more associated other customers to follow.

      • Heather Passmore

        if people bought locally and all the rules from EU hadn’t closed all the small abattoirs then wouldn’t be polluting the country with all the miles the meat has to cover now either, and importing so much. Sorry agree to disagree just think there are far worse pollutants than livestock, and as long as you do a fair days work eating meat isn’t so bad for you, all my family have lived long healthy lives eating meat most days, all be it home produced.

    • Hi Heather, thanks for your message. As meat sellers, it would be hypocritical for us to tell people to go vegetarian, and we never want to tell our customers what they should and shouldn’t do. We would however, like to encourage people who eat a lot of meat, to consider the amount and quality of meat they eat, inspire them to reduce it if necessary, and where they do eat it, encourage them to choose high welfare, quality meat, like ours, and your family’s. We’re really interested to hear different peoples opinions and positions on this, so thank you for getting in touch.

    • Planet needs to start coming before profit. It is about time humans (particularly the more privileged amongst us) got over ourselves and became less precious and needy of the things we like rather than things we actually need. We consume far too much of everything, share very little and the world cannot support this forever. As a reluctant vegan (100% for environmental reasons) I must admit that I feel great and have never been healthier according to a recent health check up. I loved meat, cheese,fish etc, and I really really miss it, but I do not need it and as a father who wants his children and their fellow inhabitants to inherit a world with at least some sort of resemblance to our beautiful earth, it seems like a compromise I can live with. I love and support Riverford even more now following this brave stance by Guy and I can only hope it will encourage more and more people to buy from them. I will certainly be bigging them up even more now!

  8. It’s not so healthy for the animal though is it?

  9. I also don’t understand any of your point – ‘as long as you do a fair day’s work eating meat isn’t so bad for you’. Is there any kind of sense in any of that? So if you work hard it’s ok? And doesn’t ‘isn’t so bad for you’ sound like it’s not very good for you either?

    • Heather Passmore

      So I worded it wrong apologies, if you exercise and don’t sit about eating meat isn’t bad for you, like any other food that we are told we shouldn’t eat. Eat everything but sensibly, having meat each day in my book is fine. each to their own.

      • Each to their own. Including serial killers, bullies, rapists etc. They felt it was ok so we just allow it? So no, I guess I just don’t get that. Each to their own is just an excuse.

        • I’ve found this blog very interesting and thought provoking and the fact that it drives a discussion amongst people is really positive. But, Jonny, whilst you may have a different view to Heather, I don’t really applaud your last statement and tone. I think you’re ruining a good, lively debate with someone that has a different opinion to you and perhaps didn’t express their point overly clearly. Don’t try and put people’s views down by playing rapist and serial killer cards on on an agriculture discussion! Just an opinion, don’t shoot me down!

          • Jonny Sparkles

            Hi Karl, yes good point – wasn’t trying to be aggressive but I guess it’s a subject that raises emotions! From my perspective, I’m actually defending not attacking, and I guess I feel that the beings I look to defend have no voice of their own. But yes it does sometimes come across as rude, for which I apologise. It’s not intended to be abusive and I try try to refrain from that kind of conversation mostly – it is actually though a question of life and death, and that’s why debates become heated. Point taken, and will try debate without such venom next time.

        • Jonny Sparkles I agree with you 100%. Heather Passmore – if you can live with your beliefs then you’ll carry on thinking as you do and no evidence will make you change your mind – sad. The facts are that in the UK, livestock (especially cows) can be and are, routinely injected with antibiotics whether needed or not and fed GM fodder etc; which ultimately ends up in those humans that are foolish enough to eat it. Not the case with organically raised livestock fed on grass pastures and winter haylage. Well done Riverford for this article – this has encouraged many more of my friends to buy from you.

  10. I entirely agree with Guy. It’s not necessary to eat a lot of meat – eating more vegetables is better for us and for the planet, and avoids keeping animals in captivity and raising them using often dubious practices.

  11. I’ve been a vegetarian since 2007. I call myself a forced vegetarian really as I’ve horrible blistering/bubbling eczema for most of my life that left me scarred. In 2007 after visiting an allergist, I decided on my own to stop eating meat. My hands thankfully cleared up, along with following the other advice from the allergist on how I should eat.

    This saying, my grandfather was a butcher. And I’m no stranger to how animals end up on the table. Growing up we never ate meat each night. Only a couple times a week. I still serve meat in the house…a couple times a week. Mixed with lovely vegetarian dinners other nights.

    Surprisingly I’ve never missed not eating meat. Even though I’ve spent months at a time in countries that offered Devine smelling bbq items, kabobs, etc.

    I do think factory killed animals, is perhaps not the way forward though. The animals I seen butchered only experienced a moments terror. Not the terror of a strange truck ride, blood scents, and terror scents from other livestock.

  12. Interesting to see your children mentioned in a view to this. Seems to me that the younger generation are realising easier, quicker & more naturally than ours that meat is not essential to us and actually if anything destructive. I am filled with hope by a generation that welcomes change, and looks for benefit of all not just self. I feel my generation – middle aged and loving it – was conditioned to certain practices, most of them promoting cruelty – that are now being re-thought and re-considered. Health-wise a plant-based diet seems to be completely accepted now as a healthy one. Morally and ethically, the idea of killing to eat something we don’t actually need seems to be losing it’s pull.

  13. Dear Guy

    Its always refreshing to hear this kind of info. coming from a farmer.! Totally agree that cutting Meat consumption in half at least should be easy for most peeps as there is such a plethora of other protein based plant foods. If you could consider growing buckwheat, and industrial hemp those are valuable crops that I would add to my order in a heartbeat. Soya/tofu products maybe those too but not as much as the first 2 mentioned.

    Cheers to you Guy

  14. I’ve been vegetarian for nearly 34 years now and there is nothing in the world that would make me go back to eating meat again. As the years go by and more information comes to light about the way animals are farmed and eventually killed I hope that more people will take some notice and realise that not eating meat isn’t a ‘faddy’ thing for weirdos but in millions of cases is about being compassionate and caring about animals. PLUS – Vegetarian or ‘meatless’ food is LOVELY!!

  15. I think the proteins in meat and fish are good for brain development. Carnivores tend to have bigger brains. To be successful hunters, they need to be clever. That’s not to say some herbivores aren’t also highly intelligent. I hate cruelty in farming, so I buy organic/free-range meats. I think we need balance. What would happen to all the livestock if it became unprofitable? I tried vegetarianism, but after a few days I started to crave meat, probably because I was brought up with it. I think it was consumption of meat that enabled humans to survive during the ice age. The planet needs carnivores as well as herbivores, but we humans need more care and less greed.

    • Vivien Cruickshank

      Dawn, we are not carnivores. We do not have the teeth for ripping raw meat from bones. Our jaw moves sideways and out teeth are designed for chewing and grinding. Our intestines are long, in order to process fibre. Meat remains in our intestines too long, unlike carnivores which have short intestines, where meat is processed quickly. As for the livestock, they could live out their lives, but not be bred anymore. Most farm animals are bred to be very different from their original wild counterparts.

      • Well said Vivien – my sentiments exactly.

      • “Meat remains in our intestines too long…” – Sorry, but this is simply not true. Humans have evolved to be generalist omnivores. A healthy human digestive system actually digests meat extremely well (and very quickly), whilst often struggling to break down a variety of raw vegetables (due to the fact we – like most other non-ruminant mammals – cannot naturally digest cellulose). I completely agree that people with meat-heavy diets should cut down, for all the reasonable arguments put forward here. But I do wish people would stop spreading this particular misinformation that humans do not have a suitable digestive system to handle meat. People need to be better informed in order to make wise choices, and sharing falsehoods is not helpful in that regard.

      • Good point Viv,

        Our intestines are far too long for lots of meat and it does not get digested well either especially when you get to middle age where meat bits can still be hanging around in your colon!. Good breeding grounds for cancer/other major illnesses. Our history if you take the ape route meant we were eating green leaves.berries etc,.. and our guts were a lot larger as well, as was shown in one of those documentaries on BBC 2 ? when they reconstructed how the human skeleton/body evolved over the last 300,000 yrs or so. Only when the environment changed did our diet changed hence our brains grew more so. I like some of the old native American ways and that is meat is consumed occasionally.

  16. I think culturally we depend on meat far too much and I would like to see people as a whole increase their quota of vegetable based meals. However, as a species we are omnivores, we eat meat, that’s perfectly normal and I don’t think it’s cruel, but I think the life the animal leads beforehand can be cruel and that needs to change along with the amount of meat we consume. I would love some ideas to incorporate more veg and less meat into my family’s diet.

    Soya is a very common food intolerance, along with wheat and gluten. I find them in foods that shouldn’t even contain them! I’d hate to see a dependency on wheat replaced with one on soya.

    There are many issues around the modern diet and how we should change it, but we have to remember that for some people, there is very little choice. It’s a case of feeding their families and being grateful there’s food on the table, no matter where it came from. We need to change a world that makes that happen because, until we do, we will never be free of factory farming and processed foods.

  17. Brave words and true, Guy. Congratulations for posting this. The figures you quote are correct and have been known for a few years now. Please go on farming those lovely flavoursome vegetables! Phase out the livestock and help the planet and human health.
    Heather, there are none so deaf as those who won’t hear!

  18. Ok lets put a cat among the pigeons – as printed this week in the news the mp who is now giving the go ahead for pesticides which will kill our bees who are in decline already, how are we going to be able to grow plant food without bees. Then what do we do.

  19. I am a meat eater who is increasingly preferring a vegetarian diet. I don’t think in a hundred years the world’s population can be persuaded to give up meat, but I think Guy is right in that we can gradually change the way meat is produced, and that people can be educated into eating less of it. Look how far we have come in the last 50 years! It will be a long slow process, but change does happen, and we are all much more compassionate than we were then. Well done Guy, you are at the forefront of this change!

  20. Vivien Cruickshank

    Unfortunately, people are not prepared to pay for higher animal welfare. There was an abattoir near Basingstoke called Laverstoke Park. If there could ever be a role model for abattoirs, this was probably it. Unfortunately it had to close as farmers were not prepared to pay the extra. There is much talk about improving standards, but the truth is the situation regarding animal welfare gets worse year on year.

  21. I am making the grand effort of eating much less meat, but I just love dairy products. This must also impact on animal wellbeing, for instance, what about bull calves that are surplus to requirement, but much needed to make cows lactate. I think I can’t win. And these enormous dairy herds that are kept inside. There seems to be no easy answer, I suppose we just have to do our best.

  22. Are Riverford’s organic vegetables grown using animal manure as fertiliser?

  23. Are the organic vegetables sold by Riverford Organics grown using animal waste as fertiliser?

    • From Guy: Manure; yes we do use animal manure from our own dairy, stables and extensive beef producers. Our land is good but not hugely fertile like the fens, where so many vegetables are grown. We currently grow a vegetable crop about 2 years in 5 as part of our rotation. My best guess is that without access to manures we would drop to 1 to 1.5 years in 5 and yields might reduce as well. Of course, like so many things, if we were forced to farm without manures, we would probably get better at it, so the reduction might not be so drastic. In an ideal world, more human waste would find its way back to the land thus closing the loop; I am convinced this could be done without health risks with appropriate research and procedures in place.

  24. Thanks Guy, this seems to a hot topic of our times!

    My wife and I moved to a Monday-Friday vegetarian (not vegan) diet 3 months ago, in part following cowspiracy. I also felt it was a very one sided film, but it felt impossible to deny the overall impact of livestock farming at current scales.

    The Monday-Friday change has been far easier than we expected, and I think in part it is due to educating ourselves on the facts (education is often the fundamental answer to life’s problems) and using riverford for a rich and varied vegetable diet.

    We still enjoy eating meat on the weekends (British free range etc only) – it now feels like a real treat. I won’t be going vegetarian completely anytime soon – but this has been a very positive change for us (health, weight and morally) and with education (not bullying) we could improve other people’s lives as well I’m sure.


  25. I agree with less meat consumption. Humans have become omnivorous which means a wide and varied diet. Our diet in the UK contains too much animal protein. I’ve returned to being a vegetarian because I find reports of animal treatment at abattoirs too distressing to reconcile with eating meat. During my short time eating meat I did not eat much because I still gravitated towards vegetarian food. I support efforts by any farmers to reduce animal farming whether for environmental or ethical reasons.

  26. I spent over 40 years eating and enjoying meat until I listened to the Food Revolution Summit and learned about the intolerable cruelty to animals, the devastating impact on the environment from animal agriculture, and the harm that eating animal products does to our own health. After that it was a no-brainer for both myself and my husband to become vegan. We don’t miss meat at all, eating far more vegetables than ever before (hence our large weekly organic veg box!) and we feel much better for it, physically and conscience-wise. I watched Conspiracy, too, and felt a glimmer of hope that if more people could be persuaded to at least vastly reduce their meat consumption if not give it up entirely, there might be some hope for our fragile planet xx

  27. It is fantastic that you are taking a stand Guy for the planet and animal welfare. Farmageddon is another interesting video.
    Eating lots of veg is also so nutritionally sound too as consumption of animal based foods is now linked to so many of our western diseases, especially when it is non organic. A great website is as it shares worldwide research about the links between diet and health.
    I would love to see more focus on superfood / supplements in your shops too. I buy your turmeric for it’s many health benefits. I have recently moved from being a vegetarian to mainly vegan to eliminate dairy too, after seeing how we treat dairy cattle in most farms. I am so glad you are opening the debate and encouraging people question the level of meat they eat and the impact it has on our health, animal welfare and the planet.

  28. Blimey, hasn’t it sparked a tetchy debate?! (Though I can’t find the original page of comments I was responding to)
    Surely, if intensive agriculture is responsible for the majority of emissions and poorer quality meat, the idea would be to rear stock less intensively in a humane way, producing better quality meat in smaller quantities to address the issues of concern, while encouraging us to eat less meat personally so supply meets demand more equally.
    On the issue of male chicks, I naively thought that they were grown on to be the birds we ate,while the hens went on to lay. Why are we wasting resources in such a profligate way? If they are gassing/crushing chicks instead of growing them on for consumption, it underscores how skewed the intensive system is toward overproduction, and we need a mandate to reduce the quantity of what is produced, prioritise welfare to address Vegan concerns of cruelty, and reduce waste of precious resources.
    On the subject of the carnivore/herbivore debate, yes, we can survive and thrive on a plant-based diet. I have experience of both, and can wish each camp well and applaud their freedom to choose. But there is undeniable archaeological evidence that humans, since early hominid times have butchered animals and consumed flesh. It is reasonable to conclude that since the evidence of meat-eating hominids is so far back in our history, we have evolved to eat occasional meat in addition to plant-based and other foraged animal protein foods. The paleo diet makes a case for eating like our ancestors because our bodies have changed so little in evolutionary terms since the paleolithic era, when meat was consumed. Be Vegan if you choose to, source meat and other animal products from suppliers with high welfare and production standards if you are an omnivore, and as both groups can be equally passionate about their viewpoints, perhaps we can unite our focus to educate those who dont yet question whether production is sustainable, humane or natural, and put pressure on policy makers to de-intensify agriculture, and outlaw both waste and cruel practise to the betterment of all?

  29. This is a great discussion and the evidence is clear about the need for us to limit consumption of meat both from a health and environmental perspective. The key, I believe, lies less in trying to change habits amongst those where diet habits are largely embedded (although everyone can always change) and view points are fairly difficult to change, despite the clear evidence. We need to make sure that our children are knowledgable about the issue at a young age, where they can effect large scale change because they’ve grown up reading, talking and learning about this subject. To do that, we need to do much more at the school level. And not just the odd ‘guess what veg this is on the table’ day that schools run from time to time. Would love to talk to Riverford about what they are already doing or could start doing to build something really exciting and sustainable with primary schools by leveraging their expertise, knowledge and reach (would also like to get involved!). Perhaps we could even start to talk about (on here) what we could do as a group? Just putting it out there….!

  30. Barbara Etherington

    Aren’t we missing the milk and butter connection? I always understood that you only get milk from pregnant cows. Please correct me if I’m wrong (of course you will!) Pregnant cows equals more calves. I can’t bear to think about how many animals go through the terrors of slaughter all over the planet on a daily basis. I am a vegetarian and have been since a teenager but I drink milk and use butter, both a source of vit D and protein which can be in short supply for vegetarians. How do we deal with milk? Sheep do not need to be slaughtered for meat, they provide wool and if we moved back to using wool instead of man made fibres, which are nowhere near as warm, then sheep could do a great job providing an environmentally friendly fibre and keeping large areas of grassland in good fettle, besides providing a natural waste product to fertilise the soil. They had good reasons for sheep folding and fallow fields in the old days. So, where is the milk coming from?

    • What about about the horses that are continually in foal and kept tied up in stalls with NO freedom whatsoever. This is so that the hormone premarin, produced in pregnant mares urine, can be used in some menopausal womens HRT therapy. If you are using Prempak-C, Prempro, Premique, Premarin or the combined menopausal-osteoporosis drug Duavee (formerly known as Aprela), then this is how it is produced. Not only are the mares treated so inhumanely but the resulting foals are slaughtered as surplus to requirements – BARBARIC!

  31. It would be good to hear the occasional comment from Guy at the bottom of some emails, regarding some of the things raised.

  32. I am vegetarian – have been for 40 years so do not eat meat.

  33. Wow. A great debate. I am so glad that it is so thoughtful rather than consisting of warring camps (which is what puts me off social media; sorry to comment so infrequently Kathy). The issues are so complex and interrelated that it is unwise to be dogmatic; already I would like to revise the 10-12% figure of anthropogenic climate change being attributed to livestock upwards to 10-20%, to account for a share of deforestation resulting from increased pressure for land.
    A couple of specific points: Manure; yes we do use animal manure from our own dairy, stables and extensive beef producers. Our land is good but not hugely fertile like the fens, where so many vegetables are grown. We currently grow a vegetable crop about 2 years in 5 as part of our rotation. My best guess is that without access to manures we would drop to 1 to 1.5 years in 5 and yields might reduce as well. Of course, like so many things, if we were forced to farm without manures, we would probably get better at it, so the reduction might not be so drastic. In an ideal world, more human waste would find its way back to the land thus closing the loop; I am convinced this could be done without health risks with appropriate research and procedures in place.

    I am currently researching next week’s newsletter and hope to be able to compare the impact of different proteins; another complex issue.

    Guy Watson

  34. Wow! What a lot of comments and info to ‘ruminate’ on!
    I have been a Vegetarian for many, many years, and my husband also (but he more from financial reasons than any, when at college). However, since married (38 yrs) we have maintained a ‘veggie’ diet and enjoyed experimenting with so many vegetable variations of local, national and international food – both at home and in restaurants (including Riverford Kitchen)! Never missed meat. Although never insisted on three sons following us, and was prepared to cook ‘meaty things’ for them, they were mostly happy with quite a lot of what I cooked Recently, because of husbands medical reasons, we have had to also reconsider ‘dairy free’ and have found cocoanut milk, soya cheese, butter and yoghurt perfectly acceptable – although admittedly I do sometimes do two versions of a meal – one with ‘real’ dairy and one with not. Well done Guy for instigating this discussion – it well needs airing!!!

  35. A yogi from India, Swami Sri Yukteswar has written a brilliant analysis of the most natural diet for humans in his book ‘The Holy Science’, he concludes that we are most probably frugivores rather than omnivores:

    “To understand what natural living is, it will be necessary to distinguish it from what is unnatural. Living naturally depends upon the selection of (1) food, (2) dwelling, and (3) company. To live naturally, the lower animals can select these for themselves by the help of their instincts and the natural sentinels placed at the sensory entrances… the organs of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.”

    “With men in general, however, these organs are so much perverted by unnatural living from very infancy that little reliance can be place on their judgments. To understand, therefore, what our natural needs are, we ought to depend upon observation, experiment, and reason.”

    “First, to select our natural food, our observation should be directed to the formation of the organs that aid in digestion and nutrition, the teeth and digestive canal, to the natural tendency of the organs of sense which guide animals to their food; and to the nourishment of the young.”

    “By observation of the teeth we can find that in carnivorous animals the incisors are little developed, but the canines are of striking length, smooth and pointed, to seize the prey. The molars also are pointed; these points, however, do not meet, but fit closely side by side to separate the muscular fibers.”

    “In the herbivorous animals the incisors are strikingly developed, the canines are stunted (though occasionally developed into weapons, as in elephants), the molars are broad-topped and furnished with enamel on the sides only.”

    “In the frugivorous animals all the teeth are nearly the same height; the canines are little projected, conical, and blunt (obviously not intended for seizing prey but for exertion of strength). The molars are broad-topped and furnished at the top with enamel folds to prevent waste caused by their side motion, but not pointed for chewing flesh.”

    “In omnivorous animals such as bears, on the other hand, the incisors resemble those of the herbivorous, the canines are like those of the carnivorous, and molars are both pointed and broad topped to serve a twofold purpose.”

    “Now if we observe the formation of the teeth in man we find that they do not resemble those of the carnivorous, neither do they resemble the teeth of the herbivorous or the omnivorous. They do resemble, exactly, those of the frugivorous animals. The reasonable inference, therefore, is that man is a frugivorous or fruit-eating animal.”

    “By observation of the digestive canal we find that the bowels of carnivorous animals are 3 to 5 times the length of their body, measuring from the mouth to the anus; and their stomach is almost spherical. The bowels of the herbivorous are 20 to 28 times the length of their body and their stomach is more extended and of compound build. But the bowels of the frugivorous animals are 10 to 12 times the length of their body; their stomach is somewhat broader than that of the carnivorous and has a continuation in the duodenum serving the purpose of a second stomach.”

    “This is exactly the formation we find in human beings, though Anatomy says that the human bowels are 3 to 5 times the length of man’s body… making the mistake by measuring the body from crown to the soles, instead of from the mouth to anus. Thus we can again draw the inference that man is, in all probability, a frugivorous animal.”

    “By observation of the natural tendency of the organs of sense… the guideposts for determining what is nutritious… by which all animals are directed to their food, we find that when the carnivorous animal finds prey, he becomes so much delighted that his eyes begin to sparkle; he boldly seizes the prey and greedily laps the jetting blood.”

    “On the contrary, the herbivorous animal refuses even his natural food, leaving it untouched, if it is sprinkled with a little blood. His senses of smell and sight lead him to select grasses and other herbs for his food, which he tastes with delight. Similarly with the frugivorous animals, we find that their senses always direct them to fruits of the trees and fields.”

    Victoria Boutenko observed that the diet of our close genetic cousins the chimpanzees consists of about 50% fruit and just under 50% greens, the rest of their diet consists of pith, bark, seeds and insects etc. She developed the green smoothie from her observations of the diet of wild chimpanzees. This is very similar to the above description of the natural human diet by Swami Sri Yukteswar.

    Millions of people all over the world have been able to live healthily on long term vegetarian or vegan diets, I think it must be a healthier way to live which is more suited to the way our bodies have been designed, and the environmental benefits speak for themselves. Also, most human beings have a natural aversion to the killing of animals, including those people who eat meat, and eating meat is actually completely unnecessary. Some people eat meat because that’s what they’ve always done, and all or most of their family and friends think it’s the done thing, so culturally they find it difficult to change. If you can change though you do feel more liberated as a result.

  36. I find it depressing (and I’m using the correct term to describe my feelings here) that when meat eaters debate the issue of eating less or no meat that animal welfare considerations take second place, if they’re mentioned at all, to other reasons why we should or shouldn’t eat meat. They’re an afterthought in this article and in some of the comments. Yet, animals, sentient creatures that feel fear and pain, are slaughtered every day to feed a desire for meat, After all, we eat meat by choice not out of necessity. The distinction between cows, pigs, sheep and cats, dogs, lions, whales, orangutans is man-made one. A convenient one. A too convenient one. Another convenient idea is that the regulations and processes we use here in the UK are OK, because, hey, bad things don’t happen here; we’re the good guys. We’re complacent about the lot of farm animals because it suits us to be. We have double standards about animals in general. I’m almost vegan now. I can’t justify to myself any other kind of diet.

    • Totally agree. The point of suffering, misery and abuse is completely lost amongst the points about health, taste, habit, environment, sustainability etc etc. The fact that an animal is treated merely as a product and not considered as a living being is so normalised in most of society’s minds, that they are unable to consider this part of the discussion. A society totally happy to consider a dog or cat as a member of the family but not a cow/pig/chicken. Weird huh? But hopefully changing, as this article and it’s responses demonstrates.

  37. If nobody ate lamb then Wales would eventually become a desert. Animals and grass have evolved to feed each other. Cows and lambs eat grass, their excrement fertilises the grass.

    • I may need some scientific fact to back this theory up. In such a situation, it seems to me that Wales would become a forest not a desert.

  38. this might be interesting to those that want to eat meat but not pollute so much. It was posted by sarah benyon on facebook recently. She also advocates farming insects as a less polluting protein source, and runs a cafe in wales that does just that.

  39. this might be interesting to those that want to eat meat but not pollute so much. It was posted by Dr Sarah Beynon on facebook recently. She also advocates farming insects as a less polluting protein source, and runs a cafe in wales that does just that.
    (got name wrong last time..!)

  40. Frances Flanagan

    Animals also live wild on land and the interplay between animals and grass can still take place without the necessity to eat the animals. The permaculture/ forest garden model can be applied on land that is not normally used to grow crops and in that system there is no need for ploughing, the yields from that system are very high. Even if people don’t care about the health issues around eating meat, and think it’s ok to kill animals for food, the spotlight nowadays is all on the environmental question, so that has forced people to look at other alternatives such as adopting a vegan diet. The main issue that is compelling people to reconsider this is that soon there won’t be enough land to produce enough meat and dairy to feed the world’s population if we keep going at the rate we are going now.

  41. Frances Flanagan

    I meant to add, with reference to Guy’s post that in the permaculture/ forest garden system you don’t need to bring in manure from elsewhere because everything goes back in and humanure is also part of it. The system is based on what forests do naturally ie regenerate themselves.

  42. Frances Flanagan – Well said again – so true.

  43. My family are also omnivores who are increasingly moving towards more and more vegetables. It is unlikely we will go off animal protein completely, but we definitely are moving down the evolutionary chain in our consumption habits (from mammal meat to poultry, fish and seafood). I am definitely prepared to pay premium price for the welfare of animals I eat.
    What I would like to see and would be most willing to buy when it comes to cruelty reduction, are cruelty-free dairy products. It is possible to replicate the calving process by a one-off hormone injection, kicking off the usual prolactin loop. Women who adopt newborn babies often do it and breastfeed successfully. Male and female bovine embryos can be karyotyped with a very high precision since mid 90’s, so no extra males are produced. I wonder whether anyone has looked into this niche before. My naive estimate suggests that the raw milk price would be between 2 and 3 times the current say dairy crest price (plus the welfare premium), but then you have the whole affluent vegetarian population to buy this product.

  44. I think some people starts confusing environmental issues and animal cruelty.
    I agree, factory farming is horrible, the way animal are treated is awful.
    I agree, that people are overeating on meat because it’s available so cheaply.
    We are built to eat meat and there are people who eat raw meat.
    I agree people should be aware of how much meat they eat, where it came from and definitely not eat much of it.
    I agree that overproduction, overconsumption, factory farming and animal fed on GMO is harmful to the environment and health.
    But correct animal raising is good for the environment.
    Now those above are all environmental question.
    Whether it is correct to kill or not kill an animal for food is more of a matter of opinions.
    And therefore I find bit too harsh to say to someone that they are not environmentally friendly if they eat meat.
    Not everyone eats meat everyday, they choose where it comes from and choose free range/organics (why in the end of the day they would be chatting in here). Plus there is more to looking after our environment, like the billions of plastics that is filling our oceans, lands, air and even bodies.
    Guess that’s my opinion.
    But that’s just my opinion

  45. This site – – is a good source of discussion are the same topic and an enjoyable read too.

  46. that should read ‘around’ the same topic

  47. Mr. Benjamin Frost

    Colour me contented, but I love to eat meat, whether it’s the great chicken from Riverford (even the skin is delicious!) or a juicy double cheeseburger from McDonalds.

    If meat were not supposed to be eaten, it would not be so tasty.

    I love vegetables, too, but will never give up meat.

  48. Are the organic vegetables sold by Riverford Organics grown using animal waste as fertiliser?

  49. Manure is not needed to fertiize the land there are vast amount of green waste, ex parks and fardens and municipal waste which is sitting around in massive sheds and windrows which make beautiful soil improver. And sjoild be put back into the ground. As a veganic grower we use green waste instead if manure, but we also follow forest garden principles where we emulate nature using the 7 layers of a woodlabd to ptoduce a wide array of crops whilst inviting and welcoming wildlife rather than excluding them. It is wonderfully low impact, low input and high yield.
    As a vegan for 20 years stidied plants fir health and nutri and helped many others with health problems with significant improvements from.a plant based diet, also having worked in the field of sustainable land use for many years I have seen the benefits of vegan permaculture over the detrimental effects of animal agriculture on the land, and even forest gardening over monoculture systems, so am vegan for animals, for environment, for health, for humaity, for all life on Earth, for loves sake.
    I don’t buy from Riverfood anymore because they enslave and slaughter animals which not only harms the animals but is unethical because it negatively affects al life on Earth. I would be more interested in buyinh from them having read this.

    A few links for anyone interested
    Forks Over Knives
    The Ghosts In Our Machine
    Farm to Fridge
    Food Inc.
    Food Matters Veganic Growers forest gardening and 7000 edible and otherwise useful plants suitable for growing in the UK
    Tolhurst Organics – commercial vegan organic growers
    Spiralseed – vegan permaculture teachers
    Graham Bell 30 year old forest garden
    Agroforestry Research Trust

  50. sounds like brainwashing propaganda to me. humans need meat, without it we would never have evolved from homo habilis to erectus, and then without COOKED meat we wouldn’t have evolved from erectus to sapien.

    the bilderberg group wants people to eat less meat because less meat = less brain power, less brain power = easier to control. not only that, less meat = less muscles. less people to fight for freedom.

  51. Pingback: Carrot Chinese Five Spice Cake with Orange Icing | Veggie Desserts

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