Believe it or not, veganism and environmental choices are still an issue in the UK. Why? Well, simply because they’re hardly present. It’s been hard to find vegan options in coffee shops or restaurants (unless a vegan restaurant, obviously) and often you have to go to a special grocery shop to find fully vegan meat substitutes (some quorn products still have egg in them). Here’s some UK consumption statistics for you:
• Over a billion farmed animals in Britain are killed each year in slaughterhouses: over 10 million pigs, over 15 million sheep, 16 million turkeys, 14 million ducks and geese, 975 million broiler chickens, 40 million so-called ‘spent’ hens and over 2.6 million cattle
• 2.2 million chickens are eaten a day
I’m not going to even bother about writing how they slaughter animals in the UK (10 million pigs were slaughtered in the UK in 2012 (9.8 million in 2011) Pigs are stunned and shackled before having the blood vessels in their throat cut (sticking). The animal dies by being bled to death. Pigs are usually stunned by an electric current applied by electrode tongs) but let me just focus on the environmental and health stress here.
Although the UK isn’t the biggest meat consumers in the world (like China), it still carries out a large environmental stress to the whole planet. In case you didn’t know, processing meat worldwide is the top cause for climate change; it’s worse than pollution caused by cars. Eating meat causes overweight and increases the risk of diabetes and several other diseases.
I think the longer you stick with it the easier it gets. I took my time transitioning because it is a big commitment and I knew it would be for life, which helped make it less daunting because I learned my options going along without too much pressure – as opposed to finding yourself in a supermarket one day with limited ideas/confidence in your options.
– Christina Summerfield, York Vegans UK
But, here’s the good news. According to Mintel.com Mintel’s Meat-Free Foods UK Market Report finds that over a quarter (28%) of meat eating Brits have reduced or limited their meat consumption in the last six months* (August 9th, 2017). One in seven (14%) adults say they are interested in limiting or reducing their consumption of meat or poultry in the future, “proving that the meat-free movement is no flash in the pan.”
The City of York is getting there. When I lived in both Birmingham and London, the struggle was real to find anything vegan or vegan but not over priced. In York, meat replacement products cost little less and more restaurants and coffee shops are taking veganism onboard. In a Facebook group of York Vegans UK 50 people out of 70 thought being vegan in the UK is easy, and the rest somewhat easy.
I would say it’s schools that need to progress more whether that’s in teachers attitudes towards veganism/vegans and their understanding of the reasons for going vegan or in their lack of lunch time options. – – Also colleagues constantly bring(ing) up meat, blood etc. when you are in the room to taunt you. It does seem that veganism is the one lifestyle that everyone is allowed to mock when they wouldn’t dream of mocking someone for their religion or a different culture. I would say it’s really great in York for vegans, much better than in some Europen capitals! We are very lucky.
– Michelle Vpw, admin of York Vegans UK
Bison Coffee House and Vintage Store on Heslington Road, York began to sell vegan bagels and toasties starting since New Year. Now they have brought vegan brownies on the menu as well as offer fully vegan samosas. On top of their option of soya milk in your coffee, Cadbury’s chocolate for hot chocolates and mochas is vegan too. Bison Coffee is also in the process of getting compostable take out cups and lids. Their customers are mainly students, but people of all ages have been trying out their vegan options, which is amazing news.
“Preventing catastrophic warming is dependent on tackling meat and dairy consumption, but the world is doing very little. A lot is being done on deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector. There is a deep reluctance to engage because of the received wisdom that it is not the place of governments or civil society to intrude into people’s lives and tell them what to eat.
– Rob Bailey, the leading author of meat consumerism reports