Today’s Backchat show on RTHK Radio 3 had Vegetarianism as the primary discussion topic. A delegated media request from the Hong Kong Vegan Association was received and fulfilled. A podcast of the show is now available here. With numerous other people on the show and limited time frame it’s unrealistic to expect the chance to personally reply to most points made in the broadcast. Thus here’s a further very short response to three of the points raised in the show.
a) Nutritional effects of a vegan diet
In April last year I signed up for a health screening (something I do periodically). At the end of the assorted tests a report is produced and de-briefing arranged with a doctor. That doctor verbally summed up the report in four words; “very healthy, everything fantastic”. So if the doc says “very healthy, everything fantastic” to a vegan of 15+ years how can the assertion made on the show be true that it’s impossible to have a balanced vegan diet? If someone on a non-vegan diet wishes to sign up for a health screenings I am happy to submit my report for comparison.
b) Health effect of soy phyto-estrogens
Health concerns regarding phyto-estrogens in soy is a regularly rolled out scare story myth. This is attributed at least in part to a determined smear campaign against soy by the Weston A Price Foundation. In today’s show the gentleman who made this assertion admitted his family raise cattle. Thus he seems to have a vested financial interest in demonising popularly used alternatives to meat such as soy.
The soy scares have long been de-bunked. e.g. This Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine article on soy is well worth reading. If though you are still scared of soy, remember soy is by no means essential in a plant based diet. The genuinely worrying source of phyto-estrogens consumed by humans is beer. Thus if the scare stories regarding soy frighten you so much then no doubt you do not consume beer either. This is of course all your choice as the consumer.
(Presenters Hugh Chiverton and Danny Gittings are on the left. Fellow guests Tse Yip Fai and Simon Chau are on the right).
c) Ethics and morality (partly responded to in the show)
As mentioned in the broadcast let’s take the principle of humane and / or ethical to be that as suggested by esteemed ethicist, Peter Singer; namely that:
- humane is something you are happy to have done to you and those you care about most
Animals that end up packaged for human consumption have been slaughtered. They don’t die of old age. Slaughter is of course a violent act. It is extinguishing of life for an animal that 100% wants to continue living. If slaughter can be done so humanely then why don’t people volunteer for it in droves? Similarly other animal industry marketing gimmicks and euphemisms are intended as an emollient to nullify consumer feelings of guilt. The systematic commoditisation, enslavement, abuse, violence, torture and slaughter of animals in reality is a horror story.
Communal meal time such as family dining is the most basic ritual in society. This is used as a mechanism to condition children from all but their breast feeding years to accept it is normal to consume animal products. This produces a culture where slavery, cruelty and violence against non-human animals is conditioned and supported by daily food rituals. This ritually sanctioned cruelty then re-appears in other parts of society such as violence against women. In an FBI study of mass murderers, 46% of respondents admitted that during adolescence they had harmed animals. The connection is there.
Thanks to Hugh Chiverton and Danny Gittings for hosting the show and Queenie Man for similarly professional production. Worthwhile contributions were made by fellow guests, Simon Chau (Greenwoods Cafe) and Tse Yip Fai (HK Vegetarian Society). Both Simon and Yip Fai like this website advocate wider vegetarianism as only a step in the right direction towards veganism.