Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Prince Charles is vegetarian… well, almost

Uh oh, a ubiquitous post about the Royal Family coming up. Fortunately it’s not about the wedding…

For a long time, Prince Charles has been the posh champion of environmentalism. Now, I’m no supporter of Prince Charles, or indeed the monarchy, but his activism on behalf of traditional farming methods and organic produce has always been pleasing. Whilst he’s not exactly been my inspiration for looking into environmental issues, nor any of the people I know, it’s still definitely a good thing to have a royal supporting the cause.

A few days ago, Prince Charles went one step further. At Georgetown University in the USA, he gave a speech at the Future of Food conference, which featured a variety of prominent figures in the field of environmental food production including Eric Schlosser (the author of Fast Food Nation), and current generation farmers including author/farmer Wendell Berry. At this speech, Prince Charles reiterated issues he’s spoken about before – sustainability in food production primarily, whilst also mentioning the need to maintain affordability of food.

However, instead of sticking to the familiar adage “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” (or in this case, Georgetown, USA) he instead decided to attack American food production techniques, highlighting how irresponsibility and failure to create sustainable food sources has led to significant problems. He also mentioned how rapidly development is occurring in the US, stating that an area the size of Indiana has been built over since 1982.

Most interestingly though, Prince Charles seems to have recognised the value that a vegetarian/vegan diet can have on the environment. He covered various facts on the resources used in meat production, including “for every pound of beef produced in the industrial system, it takes two thousand gallons of water.” Whilst he is not promoting the cessation of meat production (hence he only mentioned industrial systems) he did call for people to lower their intake of meat, particularly beef, and to only buy meat from organic and sustainable sources.

He won't be eating Tofurkey anytime soon, but Prince Charles is doing these old chaps a favour

Some people in the US are somewhat outraged at his stabs at the American farming system, but it is undeniable that he is right. Why is this important to the vegan cause though? Prince Charles is far from a vegan. I mean, he spends most weekends out in fields shooting stuff. But I feel this is a significant step because it’s the closest thing we will ever get to an upper class, traditional, and posh person promoting the vegetarian cause. There are powerful people promoting veganism, but none of them are from the British aristocracy.

Prince Charles is a member of the Royal Family. This is probably the last group of people I’d ever expect to give awareness to vegan issues, and here he is promoting the reduction of meat in the diet. If you have a spokesperson like that for an issue, then it can go a long way. Already this has been covered in The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper traditionally read by the middle to upper classes on the right wing. Think about all the stereotypical and smug Tory voters reading over that article and thinking, even just for a second, about lowering the meat in their diet.

For that, one puts one’s thumb up at you Prince Charles.

Vegfam

Aiiiight fellow Vegangstaz!

Time to do a post on one of my favourite charities, who are sadly largely unheard of.

 

 

Vegfam was formed in 1963 by Chris and Janet Aldous, and the premise is simple. I’m sure most people reading this will have heard of Oxfam – a charity that deals primarily with poverty and the host of problems that it brings with it in the Third World, and are particularly noted for their work in famine relief. Now, Vegfam, as the name may suggest to you, works in very similar fields. However, Chris and Janet Aldous supported Oxfam‘s ideas but found the use of animal food sources to clash with their vegan ethics. So, upon this basis, they formed Vegfam and collected their first donations, which were used to finance vegetable food production in areas of the Middle East.

The organisation works by using funding to either follow its own projects or support collaboration projects between various charities (ensuring that the collaboration projects suit the standards of being vegan-based, or ensuring that Vegfam‘s portion of the funding for such a project is used exclusively in vegan-based food production). Vegfam has also been heavily involved in water aid, and to a small extent in providing clean fuel and efficient energy utilisation (such as efficient cooking apparatus). Their projects rest on a basis of practicality combined with sustainability. As the Vegfam website states, they provide and “fund ethically sound plant-food projects, which do not exploit animals or the environment: seeds and tools for vegetable growing, fruit and nut tree planting, irrigation and water wells. Also, emergency feeding in times of crisis.”

Their work also extends to trying to persuade other well-meaning charities that animal food production is not necessarily the most efficient way forward when it comes to solving the hunger issues of the Third World, and allegedly more and more charities are beginning to realise this and are moving onto more vegan-based projects.

It’s tempting to look at the ideas of Vegfam and view them negatively as our own Western ethics of veganism interfering with famine relief, but this is not what Vegfam is about. There is no denying that the Western diet has proven to be a disaster ecologically. Vegfam‘s intention (and they are one of only a few charities doing this) is to prevent the Third World from slipping into the same traps that our modern diet has, creating a whirlwind of unsustainability. So, if you are even remotely interested in environmentaism and sustainability then Vegfam‘s ideas should be of interest, regardless of whether you follow veganism/vegetarianism.

It is also important to note that Vegfam ensures that an exceptional amount of a donation goes to actually funding relief projects. They are proud that 90% of a donation will go directly to funding relief, which is very high for the charity industry. Oxfam, the organisation Vegfam is obviously based on, send just under 80% to relief projects, whilst some charities are even less efficient, wasting up to 25% of their money on admin costs, rewarding their CEOs, and other unnecessary pay outs.

Have a look at Vegfam‘s website – http://www.vegfamcharity.org.uk. They aren’t shy of highlighting exactly what they’ve spent and where, listing all their projects over the past few years. And perhaps if you’re feeling generous, you may feel like sending them a donation whilst you’re at it.

For a little more insight into Vegfam also check out this interview with one of the trustees – it’s pretty old but useful nonetheless – http://www.veganviews.org.uk/vv67/vv67vegfam.html

 

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