In my in-box just now:
My microwave finally gave up the ghost a few days ago. There had been one or two earlier occasions when it was using energy but not heating food, so it was no big surprise.
The first thing I did was go online and look for a new one. Old habits die hard. It is very tempting to run out and get for example a new shiny red one right away as I rely pretty heavily on my microwave (and a red or black microwave is prettier than a white one). I very rarely use a stove or oven.
But this one had come from someone else’s kitchen remodelling project, and served me well for years. I’d bought the one before that new, and it did not last long at all.
So, operating from a non-consumerist point of view, I was hoping to find another one that was getting tossed out or already got tossed out during a kitchen renovation. Those microwaves often still work fine but as they usually have no legs and their looks may be a bit less appealing, most people probably don’t want them. They’d look a bit odd in a shiny new kitchen, granted.
So I went on freecycle, posted my request and crossed my fingers. I received three offers! I only needed one – which was very kindly dropped off, too – so that means that two other local people whose microwaves are about to break down will be in luck.
There is still so much stuff sitting around unused in people’s sheds, basements and attics. It means that something else does not actually have to be bought yet, with the various environmental burdens that purchase would entail.
So, I am stuck in a country that is preparing for riots over food shortages and medicine shortages and intends to bring the country under martial law when the government-imposed shit hits the lives of normal Brits a.k.a. the fan.
Is there anything positive in the foreseeable future, in Britain?
Well, they say that times like these, in which a society is in deep shit, offer the greatest opportunities.
Other than smuggling food and medications in with boats across the Channel and the North Sea, I am not seeing any yet.
Unless you are able to speculate big time every time the pound takes a hit and then moves up again.
Does this mean that people in Britain should pool their spare pounds? But with a couple of pounds, you can only make a couple of pounds, unless maybe if the pound drops to, say, one dollar cent eventually.
Britain already was so steeped in deep poverty and so much misery. Which idiots thought that making this much worse would benefit Britain? Who exactly in Britain does it benefit to have more poverty and misery in Britain? What are those people doing, the people who benefit from more misery?
That must be where the opportunities are.
Let’s face it, all the stories about the wonderful deals Britain will be able to make with countries and communities that are not the EU are utter bullshit. The whole world is aware of how desperate Britain is and the dire straits it is in. So, yeah, people like Trump will be jumping to sell Britain what it needs at extortionate prices (sometimes also known as a weak pound).
But let’s look at it practically. Food. Britain imports a lot of its food. So Brits have to learn how to become good at growing anything that is not kale and root vegetables and onions or apples and pears. That is one area in which there must be opportunities for some people.
If you look at global trends, it is very clear that eating meat is becoming less and less popular. So there are opportunities in growing more and more fruits and vegetables and nuts etc and start producing delicious foods that it can not only sell nationally but also export. (Global warming may actually be a plus within this context, as would a weak pound be.)
And focus much less on cattle, chickens and other forms of livestock farming.
So who is doing that? Who is working on growing more fruits and vegetables, pulses, mushrooms and nuts etc in a sustainable manner and offering it as or turning it onto delicious foods?
Want an example of how others do it? Look at Amy’s Kitchen. Does a British equivalent exist? (https://www.amyskitchen.co.uk/) Are Linda McCartney’s food products equally inspiring? Not quite in the same league, but interesting enough. Who else does this kind of thing in Britain? I have no idea. You?
And who is getting rid of the plastic and making sure these products are also as sustainable as possible? I don’t know. You?
Okay, we do have Jack Monroe too.
(Side note: I find that people who focus on ingredient costs often overlook energy costs related to storing and preparing the food in your home. An hour in the oven adds quite a bit to the costs of a dish and if you can leave your refrigerator off, you can keep your costs and environmental footprint down.)
And who is working on turning British cities into urban gardens for its citizens? This would keep them active without the need for gym memberships, hence keep them healthy (reducing some of the need for some of those medications in the future).
Does Britain have good fruit and vegetable seed vendors or do those seeds and plants have to be imported too?
There could also be opportunities in growing bamboo in the UK, which yields fibers for fabrics, wood for kitchen products and many other items.
Also, in economically hard times, people tend to seek more solace from time to time in things that cheer them up. (An example? Carnival glass a little under a century ago, during the Great Depression.)
So anything that makes people happier or more at peace, more content could also be good to undertake. Including mindfulness events and certain YouTube channels (such as ASMR) or podcasts as well as music and theatre.
So, who is going from door to door, shop to shop, business to business in Portsmouth, in person and asking people what their biggest challenges are and what their biggest Brexit concerns are? Who is bringing these people together, organizing meetings and putting taskforces together to address the issues that come up?
When we hear about the horrors of industrial livestock farming – the pollution, the waste, the miserable lives of billions of animals – it is hard not to feel a twinge of guilt and conclude that we should eat less meat.
Yet most of us probably won’t. Instead, we will mumble something about meat being tasty, that “everyone” eats it, and that we only buy “grass fed” beef.
Over the next year, more than 50 billion land animals will be raised and slaughtered for food around the world. Most of them will be reared in conditions that cause them to suffer unnecessarily while also harming people and the environment in significant ways.
This raises serious ethical problems. We’ve compiled a list of arguments against eating meat to help you decide for yourself what to put on your plate.
1. The environmental impact is huge
Livestock farming has a vast environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation.
Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together.
Climate change alone poses multiple risks to health and well-being through increased risk of extreme weather events – such as floods, droughts and heatwaves – and has been described as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.
2. It requires masses of grain, water and land
Meat production is highly inefficient – this is particularly true when it comes to red meat. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain – to feed the animal – and roughly 15,000 litres of water. Pork is a little less intensive and chicken less still.
The scale of the problem can also be seen in land use: around 30% of the earth’s land surface is currently used for livestock farming. Since food, water and land are scarce in many parts of the world, this represents an inefficient use of resources.
3. It hurts the global poor
Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand and drives up grain prices, making it harder for the world’s poor to feed themselves. Grain could instead be used to feed people, and water used to irrigate crops.
If all grain were fed to humans instead of animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. In short, industrial livestock farming is not only inefficient but also not equitable.
4. It causes unnecessary animal suffering
If we accept, as many people do, that animals are sentient creatures whose needs and interests matter, then we should ensure these needs and interests are at least minimally met and that we do not cause them to suffer unnecessarily.
Industrial livestock farming falls well short of this minimal standard. Most meat, dairy and eggs are produced in ways that largely or completely ignore animal welfare – failing to provide sufficient space to move around, contact with other animals, and access to the outdoors.
In short, industrial farming causes animals to suffer without good justification.
5. It is making us ill
At the production level, industrial livestock farming relies heavily on antibiotic use to accelerate weight gain and control infection – in the US, 80% of all antibiotics are consumed by the livestock industry.
This contributes to the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance. Already, more than 23,000 people are estimated to die every year in the US alone from resistant bacteria. As this figure continues to rise, it becomes hard to overstate the threat of this emerging crisis.
High meat consumption – especially of red and processed meat – typical of most rich industrialised countries is linked with poor health outcomes, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and various cancers.
These diseases represent a major portion of the global disease burden so reducing consumption could offer substantial public health benefits.
Currently, the average meat intake for someone living in a high-income country is 200-250g a day, far higher than the 80-90g recommended by the United Nations. Switching to a more plant-based diet could save up to 8m lives a year worldwide by 2050 and lead to healthcare related savings and avoided climate change damages of up to $1.5 trillion.
Ultimately, it’s unethical
Most people agree that as a basic rule an action that promotes the overall happiness of others is morally good, while an action that causes harm or suffering without good justification is morally wrong.
Meat eating is wrong not because there is something special about pigs or chickens or dogs or cats, but because of the harm it causes, whether that harm is caused to animals, humans, or the wider environment.
Most people living in industrialised countries have historically unprecedented dietary choice. And if our nutritional needs can now be met by consuming foods that are less harmful, then we ought to choose these over foods that are known to cause more harm.
Eating less meat and animal products is one of the easiest things we can do to live more ethically.
Francis Vergunst, Postdoctoral researcher, Université de Montréal and Julian Savulescu, Sir Louis Matheson Distinguishing Visiting Professor at Monash University, Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics, University of Oxford
Like just about everybody else, I use too much plastic and have started to take small steps toward reducing my plastic footprint. Plastic not only ends up everywhere, including our own bodies and the food we eat, it also greatly impacts wildlife.
Instead of toothpaste, I use baking soda that comes packaged in paper and cardboard. Using baking soda is cheaper than using toothpaste.
Instead of buying containers of liquid hand soap, I make my own from a quarter bar of soap and refill the containers I already have. This too is much cheaper than purchasing ready-made liquid hand soap and the effort involved in making my own is negligible.
I try to keep plastic food containers and reuse them at least once for seedlings on my window sill. It’s nowhere near enough. I would like to see a system geared toward collecting and reusing the plastic used to package food. Maybe I’ll start one myself one day.