Thank you for debunking so many ludicrous yet oft-repeated myths surrounding vegetarianism and veganism (Why you should go animal-free: 18 arguments for eating meat debunked, 19 June). No doubt the powerful meat and dairy industries will continue to pump out their poisonous methane on the matter – but the more truth on meat-free lifestyles available in the public domain, the better.
People deserve to be educated, and not met with a wall of well-funded propaganda. I’m glad the Guardian is seeking to promote facts and, by extension, rubbish untruths.
• The picture is far more complex than Damian Carrington states in his article, and I would like to make three points. First, we need to address how crops are grown and the heavy use of pesticides and fertilisers as huge contributors to the loss of species and degradation of soil and sea due to run off. Simply growing more crops by intensive methods will only add to environmental damage. Bayer/Monsanto and similar are supported by governments worldwide, and are responsible for huge amounts of damage, and for reducing the choice of seed and farming practice available to farmers.
There also needs to be a massive cultural shift away from mass-produced meat and dairy, so people value the taste and nutritional value of these products and eat less of them. The nutritional value of cow’s milk is far greater than oat milk and perhaps the best policy is not either/or but a variety of “milk” from both plants and animals.
Moreover, I have yet to see an article addressing feeding pets. The UK is home to some 20 million cats and dogs who are fed meat products, many marketed as luxury animal food. How can we, as a nation, continue to feed meat to domestic pets on such a scale? Saying we are a nation of dog lovers does not absolve us from the fact we are killing animals to feed our animals!
Beverley, East Yorkshire
• While this article examining in some detail various arguments about the environmental and health issues connected with this issue was interesting and useful, it left out the heart of the matter. The reason for being vegan is animal wellbeing. First of all, killing animals, depriving them of their ability to live and fulfil their potential as sentient beings in order to give a little extra pleasure to humans is selfish. Second, the practice of animal husbandry subjects them to terrible cruelty even if you take the tiny fraction of them reared in the best conditions, while the vast majority are in fact intensively reared, often never seeing the light of day, with scarcely enough space to move. Third, there is the practice of breeding animals to maximise production for human consumption, so that many of them can barely move since the flesh and the rate of growth is more important than the legs on which they walk.
How can you evaluate the practice of eating meat (and fish) without mentioning these issues? It is nice to know that not eating meat may be good for the environment and my health but that is not the reason for doing so. Eating meat inevitably involves cruelty – that is why it must stop.
• Many thanks for an interesting and enlightening article. Would it be possible to produce an equally interesting and enlightening article on the issues regarding pesticide use, energy consumption and food security in relation to a vegetarian or vegan diet?
East Chinnock, Somerset