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My job is to look at the world and wonder... "How can we make things better?"
I’ve been pondering the ethics of meat, which inevitably involves taking life (unless we’re talking lab-slime, which we’re not).
If you have read my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I think the argument for/against any diet rests on three “legs”…
Note, I’ve focused the first question on the individual, because I realise that various diets suit each of us differently. Some people genuinely seem to thrive on plants alone (not many, long-term, from what I can see), whereas others are intolerant to plants’ defence mechanisms, most often grains and beans. (Yes, it seems plants don’t want to be eaten either.) It’s the responsibility of each person to figure out what diet works for YOUR body.
In this post, I want to focus on the third issue only: What’s good for animals? Can it be “good” to take another animal’s life just so we can eat? I’ll make the case for why I think it’s perfectly okay. More…
In a recent online discussion, someone claimed that “farms everywhere are turning veganic” (i.e. growing food without using any domesticated animals or animal products like manure, blood, or bonemeal.)
He directed me to this video by vlogger “Mic. the Vegan” as proof that veganic farming is both economically viable and sustainable. I agreed to check it out, because I’m interested to know how a veganic model can possibly compare to the best organic, no-till systems that incorporate animals. I’ll post my analysis below. More…
So-called “conventional” agriculture is literally destroying the basis of human life – which is the soil beneath our feet. I believe this constitutes the greatest single threat to the survival of today’s civilisations, and addressing it should be humanity’s #1 concern.
Look at the two photos I took today of a field near me. It is the 23rd of April, springtime in England, and everywhere life is literally bursting out… everywhere, that is, except for fields like this.
There are practically zero visible signs of life in this field! And this is the norm. This is what we call “conventional”. This is what we’re told will continue to feed 8+-billion people. It will not! More…
This piece of vegan propaganda came up on my Facebook feed today, via Moby, the awesome music producer and well-known advocate of veganism.
(Side note: I actually tried going vegan while working away in Sydney, Australia, after reading the sleeve notes on Moby’s CD “Play”. I lasted about 48 hours.)
The post immediately looked suspicious to me, so I thought I’d fact-check it, or at least offer some alternative information to help people make up their own minds.
I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you: You don’t eat enough!
This is totally an opinion piece. I’m no nutritionist, I’m just fascinated with food and thinking about how we can feed the world without further screwing everything up beyond all recognition.
We all know something’s terribly wrong with the Western diet. Most of us are overweight, many are obese. We have type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, lactose/gluten intolerance, addictions, behavioural problems… blah di blah di bloody blah.
All this creates a wonderful environment for nutritionists, dieticians, and healthy living writers to make a good living out of telling us what to eat next. One month it’s Atkins or keto, then it’s juicing, then it’s plant-based, vegan, raw-vegan, then paleo, then seaweed, then quinoa, and that’s not even mentioning the Harry Potter realm of “superfoods”.
Surely life isn’t meant to be so complicated. Our ancestors were fitter, stronger, and healthier than we are. Yes, they were. And before anyone starts arguing, “You know, people 500 years ago were lucky to live to 35!” let’s just say this:
We in the West are not living longer, we’re dying longer.
Who wants a life that’s mostly defined by stress? We worry about money, debt, bills, life, love, career, whether we’re living our potential, whether we’re being a good enough parent, whether our parents were good enough parents… all fuelled by endless advertisements showing us new ways that beautiful people are having a great time.
And, of course, on top of all that, we worry about our food. What food will give us vitality, what food won’t kill us, what food will make us better in bed, what food is carcinogenic, what food is killing the planet… AAAAAAGH!!!
If our hunter-gatherer ancestors were perfectly healthy (until they got killed by something with scary teeth), and we, with all our books and Internet and technology and labelling, can’t manage it, where did we go wrong and – more importantly – how can we put it right? More…
As part of my interest in ethical and sustainable food systems, I have spent a bit of time around animal rights groups on Facebook recently. Usually driven by the quite extreme vegan agenda, there are groups of people out there who genuinely believe that they need to “rescue” animals from human slavery (see e.g. Direct Action Everywhere).
I believe these are all nice, mainly middle class folk who are genuinely passionate and motivated to do what’s best for animals… but I’d like to explain why I also think they’re also misguided. There are several arguments, which I’ll address in turn.
Ultimately, I hope to show not only that the idea of “rescuing” large animals from the food chain has practically zero benefit, but also that it distracts us from a far more serious crime against the animal kingdom being perpetrated by humanity. If animal rights activists are genuinely concerned with protecting animal lives, I believe the meat industry is the wrong area to focus their efforts. More…
This is as much a bookmark page for my own reference as anything else. It will help to counter the frequent claim that “Everyone can thrive on a vegan diet.” My intention is not to bash anyone for their life choice, but to show up that universal claim as untrue.
I’m sure that some people do okay on a whole plant-based diet, at least for a while. Some may even thrive! But I’ve been coming across too many testimonies from people who’ve felt literally driven by their own bodies to go back to a more natural omnivore diet that they cannot all be dismissed as just being bad or failed vegans.
After all, if a vegan diet were natural for homo sapiens, it ought to be really difficult to mess it up, even in the long term! More…
Over the past few years since I got the food and soil bug, I guess I’ve been pondering one big, central, hairy-arsed question:
How can we feed 8 billion (or 10 billion, etc.) people in a way that’s sustainable, healthy, and ethical?
And it seems to keep coming back to one equally big, difficult, and hairy crux question…
Should we eat meat?
I thought I’d publish one post that summarises the arguments on all sides, and where I currently stand.
In an attempt to make the issue easier to tackle, we can probably agree it all comes down to three criteria:
I recently had an experience with a Groupon promotion run by a local hotel, which I think makes a great example of how NOT to do customer service.
Briefly, here’s how it went…
In May I signed up for a Groupon promotion by the Buxton Palace Hotel for “£59 for a leisure day with two treatments, cream tea and a glass of Prosecco for two”. I got a message saying they were already booked several weeks ahead, so I left it a while.
Yesterday (August 9), I looked up my Groupon account to check the promo was still valid. Yes, great!
So it’s still listed as “Available”, with “21 days left!”. I sent off an email to the hotel, excited to make my booking.
This morning, I was surprised to receive…
I enquired what they proposed to do next.
Only to be told…
I can accept that I missed the window and I can say goodbye to my £59. My issue here is that the Buxton Palace Hotel seem to have missed an opportunity.
Let’s start by examining the whole point of running group-buying promotions like Groupon. As I explain on this post in Open-Source Marketing, the single biggest reason for doing these promos is to build your customer base.
The legendary economist Peter Drucker wrote in his famous book “The Practice of Management” that…
…there is only one purpose of a business: to create a customer.
Businesses that don’t build a customer base don’t stay businesses for very long.
Now, I have to say that businesses can often lose money in the short-term with a Groupon campaign. That’s absolutely kosher marketing strategy (called a “loss-leader”): you sacrifice short-term revenues specifically in order to build your customer base.
It is worth noting that small businesses in particular should be aware there is a very real risk of bleeding themselves dry by running too successful a loss-leader campaign (so I hope that Groupon & Living Social etc. counsel their clients carefully before they let them take on too big a promotion).
(I’m sure I remember reading another quote by Drucker that most fundamental rule of business is, “Don’t run out of cash!”)
So, Buxton Palace ran this promo in order to build their local customer base. (Remember that, it comes up again.)
The model is straightforward:
Here, the hotel has managed to screw up that simple process in style. They fell at the first hurdle, because they failed to get me and my wife through the doors.
Even IF they had to lose a bit of money by honouring the offer, they would still have the chance of making a new regular customer. I am actually actively looking for a spa that we can visit regularly for a monthly wind-down!
Plus, by showing good grace, I would also feel an automatic sense of goodwill or indebtedness, making me actually more likely to become a frequent flier.
Tip: Always be the first to give, and the last to give.
So they missed out on the opportunity to delight me and Mrs Hunt, and they lost the chance to get our regular spend.
And to fall back on, “It says in the small-print that we don’t have to honour this” is basically giving your prospect the bird. Sure, it’s legally fine, but it’s a terrible way to do business!
First, never, ever, insult your potential customers! (Did I just have to say that?)
(Feel free to disappoint those who will never be your customers, but take care whom you insult, because the market is a fuzzy, rich soup and word gets around.)
Here’s what I would have preferred to see…
The point is not that they are obliged to give me £59 of value. I’m a reasonable person and understand how these deals work. I have missed the window on group buying deals before and was not 100% confident I would still be able to claim this one.
But manners cost nothing, and even a token offering of alternative compensation has significance, because it respects the business-customer relationship.
As things stand, Buxton Palace Hotel has lost any chance of this previous customer’s business, not just in 2017, but for ever, which is a great shame.
Peter Drucker would not be happy.