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Addressing the Vegan argument for better land use in a crowded planet.

1. Firstly, my own, personal point of view as a vegetarian
1.1 I would want an end to factory farming and to ensure that all animals kept for food production are treated decently. I will refer to this as ‘compassionate farming’.
1.2 For centuries, meat was considered a ‘luxury food’, eaten either occasionally (maybe once or twice a week, plus feast days), or in small quantities to give flavour to other protein
sources, by all those for whom ‘luxury foods’ were unaffordable, that is, the larger part of the population. The assumption that a meal is incomplete without inclusion of a large chunk of meat is something I object to – but I do not have any problem with people eating regular small amounts, or less regular large amounts of meat. I have less issues with dairy foods but it would be good to promote other protein sources in order to educe our (particularly my) usage to some extent.

2. Land used for farming which does not currently give rise to food production:
⦁ tea
⦁ coffee
⦁ tobacco
⦁ alcohol (largely grain)
⦁ And to some extent, sugar and cocoa

All of these (and I admit I use all of these extensively apart from tea) use land without providing any noticeable nutritional value. Although sugar (calories) and cocoa (iron) have some limited value, as a society we vastly over-use each of them to the detriment of our health.

We waste productive land on these items, not because of their nutritional value, but because we like them. In some cases, we are addicted to them (I am!). In fact we like them enough that any political party which wanted to ban them would be committing political suicide.

Meat and dairy products have high nutritional value. The problem is not that people eat them but that the wealth, and the nutritional values of these foods afforded by that wealth is inequitably distributed. If people who were better off ate a little less meat and dairy, and at the same time enabled those who are poor to eat a bit more of it, or to afford the compassionately farmed produce that they currently can’t afford, then there would result a more equitable share of nutrition across the world, and across each society.

Meat- and dairy-eating is not in itself the problem. The problem is inequality and a cultural assumption that meat is the only protein source of nutritive value. We should address those two issues and we would find that there is enough nutritive produce for everyone, in a fairer and kinder world. Leaving those of us who choose, as I do, not to eat meat, and those who choose not to eat dairy foods, to contribute personally to further reduce overall consumption of those items without any need to impose their views on anyone else.