Veganism, ethics and health-everything you need to know about your healtheverything you need to know about your health

If we compare the greenhouse gases released due to livestock and traffic, which are more?

Livestock production causes 15% of greenhouse gases, which cause global warming. They therefore cause more damage to the environment than the entire transport infrastructure, which includes cars, freight, rail and air transport. Protecting the environment comes with energy-saving light bulbs and plastic bags, which is great, but if we want a bigger change, we need to start solving bigger problems first.

What resources would you save if you ate a vegan diet?

The most important are drinking water, surface and fossil fuels. The problem is that the calories and protein that you could eat yourself are grown for animal feed. The protein and calorie efficiency is thus 1: 6, which means that a large part of the food is thrown away. Livestock production produces carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, which are produced by ejaculation, farting and vapors from faeces. Huge areas of the Earth, as much as 30%, are also intended for livestock farming. If you drive around Slovenia, you see that we grow a lot of corn, but people don’t eat it. If we grew food for people on these areas, we would be much closer to self-sufficiency. Rainforests that consume CO2 and are therefore invaluable to humanity are also being cut down for animal feed.

Should the state help with a cleaner environment?

We recently made a request to the Ministry of Agriculture to grow food for people, not animals, in the fields. They replied that it was not in their power and that they were following the wishes of the people. Although subsidies should be for the benefit of all citizens. Of course, it is difficult because so many farmers are engaged in animal husbandry. The transition to crop farming would require state assistance.

What about the carbon footprint tax?

We suggested that too. The food tax should be based on their environmental footprint. This would also mean that plant foods would become much more affordable. Today, some vegan products are expensive, while eggs, meat and milk are ridiculously cheap. And if you know what resource consumption is on farms, you become in a bad mood. Slovenia is waiting for guidelines from Europe, which is already leaning towards this.

Why do you think we should be eating plant foods in the future if man is an evolutionary omnivore?

Man is an omnivore, which means he can be anything he has to choose from. In the past, man needed more caloric-dense foods, but today we have problems with obesity. But evolution and the science of nutrition are not necessarily the same thing. Evolution means that it leads man to reproduce, that is, that genes are passed on, which has nothing to do with being healthy and long-lived. Life used to be shorter, but with advances in science, medicine, and the science of nutrition and quality of life, life expectancy is increasing. In different periods man ate less meat, but today meat is on a plate several times a day.

What would happen to the planet if they were all carnivores?

If the whole world were to eat the same way as the developed world, we would need a few planets to feed them all. Self-sufficiency in European countries is already impossible today. In Slovenia, we produce more grain than people consume, but we import grain because we have to feed livestock with it. We would be threatened by droughts, fires, lack of drinking water. Diseases of the modern world, such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and many types of cancer, would also escalate.

Probably there is research that can confirm your health claims?

Of course, there are a lot of them. For example, a Harvard study of 22,698 men and 83,644 women, respectively, found that eating red meat increased overall mortality and cancer mortality. * A vegan diet is good for everyone groups, including infants and nursing mothers, as confirmed by recognized global organizations such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics *, Dietetitians of Canada * and others. It is therefore recommended to eat as little meat as possible. So ideally no meat.

Doctors would disagree with you.

The Healthy Eating Guidelines do not recognize the fact that veganism is healthy for all stages of development, not even for adults, let alone children. Do you know the myth of iron? Anemia is equally present in vegetarians, vegans and omnivores. But it is claimed that iron deficiency is greater in vegans. The difference is in the absorption of heme or non-heme iron. It is non-heme in plants, and heme is the bound iron that causes the risk of cancer and is in foods of animal origin. Ten years ago, they did a study comparing people who ate meat and meatless foods. Those who ate meat had elevated levels of iron in their blood, while others did not. But non-heme iron is absorbed according to needs and heme iron regardless. Excess iron in the body causes excessive oxidation, which leads to cell damage and an increased risk of developing cancer.

Doctors will still recommend eating meat in case of anemia.

They allow themselves to do that, but it’s basically discrimination. It is necessary to eat varied and healthy. Even vegans can eat unhealthily because pizzas or chips are also vegan. However, a vegan diet is much healthier than an omnivorous diet where the risks are innumerable. With vegan food, you should especially look to consume B12 and get enough calories, which is easy to achieve.

If, say, I became a vegan tomorrow, would I go to the pharmacy and buy B12?

You could also go to a nutritional supplement store. Available in sprays, capsules or tablets, the recommended value is 2,500 μg per week. We call vitamin B12 a food, not a supplement, because a supplement could be called meat. We cannot do without B12 because it is very important for our nervous system and functioning. It’s a very similar thing to iodine. Due to iodine deficiency, humanity has had major problems with goiter. They solved this very elegantly by adding salt to it. Vitamin B12 is not produced by animals, but by bacteria, so it can be obtained very cheaply, similar to fermentation, which means that it is a “natural” thing. It is also mostly added to animal feed, which binds to protein and is then eaten. It is a very long chain. However, it could also be consumed directly, which would also be more effective in terms of absorption. You could add it e.g. herbal drinks and the matter would be resolved.

What is a balanced vegan plate?

It consists of legumes, cereals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, water and B12. That’s it. Compared to the food we are used to from before, we will not lack anything – not even protein, much less taste.

How much more time a day would you need to meet all your nutritional needs with vegan food?

Nothing. Instead of one shelf, you take food from the other shelf in the store. The process is the same and it doesn’t take us any longer. As far as the financial side is concerned, we can live on the same costs as before or even reduce them. It is a food eaten in third world countries and is based on vegetables and grains.

What do you replace eggs and milk with?

In sweet dishes I replace eggs with mashed bananas, and in salty ones I use flax or chia seeds. I prefer flax seeds because they are cheaper. Veganism should not be elitism. Vegan salamis and cheeses come at a high price. I prefer to make my own milk, because that’s how I save. I make milk from cashews by soaking a cup of nuts in boiling water, then draining them and mixing them with one liter of water and a pinch of salt and sugar. I strain through cheesecloth and have milk that lasts up to three days in the fridge. From legume water we can make egg whites, from which we make Spanish windmills and cream cheese… We make cottage cheese cakes from almond cottage cheese…

The suffering of animals for mass human consumption is something we would rather not see at all.

This is the main reason for most vegans not to eat products of animal origin. Veganism is a philosophy that does not cause suffering to others unnecessarily. It is a very simple, ethical and rational choice. Of course, people do not want to watch the suffering of animals, even if it is the production of their food. Basically, we humans love animals and we are compassionate. But the steak doesn’t come to the plate in some fairy-tale way, so cognitive dissonance emerges here. It is psychological stress when our values and actions do not match. That’s why most people are so bothered by veganism. Because it points to this discrepancy.

Why is it so hard to give up eating meat?

Because of upbringing, parents, schools, doctors say you will die without meat. It is even harder for men as their society is even more cruel. They can only be convinced by the good results of the athletes. Fortunately, today there are many top athletes and even world record holders who attribute their results to plant-based diets. This was also recently presented in the documentary Game Changers.

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