Press headlines rang out around the world this week of a proposal in Italy to jail parents raising vegan children. There’s two levels to this. One is utter bunk. Conversely there’s some simple and highly effective work at play.
1) Why it’s bunk:-
a) There are thousands of child neglect cases every year. Barely a handful of those involve vegan parents. The vast majority of cases involve non vegan parents but don’t attract the same kind of headlines. Cases where omnivorous parents malnourish their children doesn’t suit a particular press agenda.
b) Like it or not (and most people prefer to look away or deny the evidence supporting this), a vegan diet is the only healthy human diet. This applies to people of any age including children. To quote PCRM:-
Children raised on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes grow up to be slimmer and healthier and even live longer than their meat-eating friends. It is much easier to build a nutritious diet from plant foods than from animal products, which contain saturated fat, cholesterol, and other substances that growing children can do without. As for essential nutrients, plant foods are the preferred source because they provide sufficient energy and protein packaged with other health-promoting nutrients such as fiber, antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
c) People eating animal derived foods are slowly poisoning themselves. The most common chronic illnesses of the western world are inevitable consequences of eating animal derived foods. People can deny this as much as they like. The risk factors from poor diet though will not defy the inevitable laws of statistical probability over time. Just as with gambling in a casino, the losers far outnumber those who come out OK. This doesn’t just mean red meat. Animal derived foods includes fish & other sea food, milk products, eggs etc. As T Colin Campbell said of dairy milk, “We learned that we could turn on and turn off cancer growth just by adjusting the level of intake of that protein.”
d) Feeding people healthy food also stacks up to long term reduction in the cost of healthcare. Thus veganism isn’t just a threat for the meat & dairy corporations. This is also bad news for the healthcare industry. Big pharma’s sales drop off a cliff if people eat healthy food. As T Colin Campbell says, if everyone were to adopt a plant based diet “we could cut healthcare costs by 70 – 80%” It’s profitable practice for the meat & dairy industry and the private medical industry to hook their victims in early. Getting people established in life habits at an early age makes it more difficult for people to change later (see 2b below).
e) Only population explosion presents a greater environmental threat than the animal industry. Greenhouse gas emission and global warming, ocean acidification, pollution from animal waste, deforestation and habit destruction, inefficient water and food usage, antibiotic resistance. Animal industry is as guilty as guilty can be.
f) The multi trillion dollar economic abuse of resources from the two points above is one of greatest scandals in the history of man kind. Vegan is the way to go. This is before even considering the ethics of the animal holocaust – the commoditising, enslavement, abuse, torture and slaughter of billions of animals each year.
2) Why it’s not bunk:-
a) Three weeks ago Chiara Appendino as the mayor of the Italian city of Turin announced the following priority:-
- “The promotion of vegetarian and vegan diets throughout the municipality as a fundamental act that will protect the environment, health, and animals through awareness-building actions on the ground.”
Appendino is part of a new populist party named Five Star. Making such a bold political statement inline with the views of such a small minority of the electorate; It seemed an open goal for her opponents. Sure enough we’ve now seen what has happened. It’s their opponents in the Forza Italia party proposing the vegan criminalisation. Forza Italia are no doubt supported by the meat and dairy lobby.
It seems a smart move by the ambitious Elvira Savino acting as the mouth piece for this criminalisation. There’s nothing like uniting the populous against a common enemy to boost a politician’s standing and popularity. Throw in the usual words like ‘radical’ or ‘extremist’ that the establishment use to demonise threats to the status quo. Vegans are such an easy target:-
- Despite veganism’s increasing popularity vegans are such a very small percentage of the population. Any riposte from the vegan side could be easily overwhelmed by the propaganda tsunami from the meat lobby. It’s like a corporation against a corner shop
- As mentioned above people already demonise veganism as a self affirmation that their current eating habits are correct. A politician looking to mud sling at vegans will easily gather popular support
Gordon Ramsay has been verbally veggie bashing for years. If he were to treat another philosophical group with such disrespect (e.g. followers of a religion), he’d not get away with it without risking a big drop in his popularity. Vegans as a subset of vegetarians make a smaller and therefore prospectively weaker target. Savino is succeeding in making a name for herself with her part in this. The proposed legislation is being referred to as the “Savino Law”. Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports the objective of the legislation is to:-
- “stigmatise the reckless and dangerous eating behaviour imposed by parents … to the detriment of minors”
Stigmatising veganism is bad news for the world and its population (see section 1 again). The proposed Forza Italia legislation is obviously a counter attack to the comments of the Turin mayor. This kind of stigmatising tub thumping by Forza Italia will though gather them the attention they desire.
b) The vast majority of the world are non vegan. They don’t want to change. To change away from eating animal products feels like accepting having been doing something wrong. Making the conversion takes courage (sometimes immensely so). Especially when surrounded with omnipresent pressures to conform to a non vegan world. Hence why so many people feel threatened by veganism and are hostile to it.
Despite all the reasons in the first section above, the vegan criminalisation story is great point scoring for the meat and dairy lobby. The headline alone does immense damage. People just read the headline and zealously use that as affirmation to demonise diets that are free from animal derived produce. People do so without genuinely considering with an open mind the reasons justifying veganism. Getting that story out is excellent work for the pro animal industry side to protect their profitability.
c) The additional impact of the story comes from the person acting as the mouth piece not appearing an obvious member of the meat lobby. Don’t be surprised if the people proposing vegan criminalisation are on the meat lobby payroll somewhere. That they appear independent though from a particular lobby is an old technique creating the appearance of added credibility to their cause.
The bottom line(s) from all the above is as follows:-
- Veganism is one of the best things happening to the world
- There’s plenty people though with a vested political and financial interest in attacking veganism to protect the status quo
- Political, verbal and physical attacks on vegans or other vegetarians are nothing new
- Expect plenty more of this to come along