Vegan Rights in the UK (and what they have to do with plant-based nutrition…)


Well, a new year, and a new set of blogging resolutions! Time to dust off the old keyboard and resurrect KidsEatPlants from the ashes…

I am going to start with an apology. I am really very sorry that I let KidsEatPlants fall by the wayside. Yes, I finished an MA in creative writing. Yes, I started a new and very intensive full-time job. Yes, there have been big changes in my life recently on both the work and home fronts.

But mostly I am sorry because I believe that plant-based nutrition is such a very very important subject, with the potential to save literally millions of lives, and somewhere along the line I know that I allowed myself to be frightened into silence.

No, I’m not going to talk about that here. It’s enough for now to acknowledge that it happened. That it is still happening, to me and to other people who care about people and animals and the state of the planet, every day, all over the world.

Which is why coming across this article by Barbara Bolton, dispute resolution partner at Shepherd and Wedderburn solicitors and UK representative for the International Vegan Rights Alliance (IVRA) has been a bit of a turning point for me.

It’s about a case heard in early 2017 against a London NHS Trust that advertised for an occupational therapist in eating disorders, and made it clear that vegans should not apply. The ruling upheld IVRA’s assertion that this constituted unlawful discrimination against vegans.

Sometime around the same time as I came across this article, I also had to do a piece of online mandatory training in equality and diversity for work, and I learnt about the Equality Act 2010.

Barbara clarifies that veganism is the belief that it is wrong to exploit or kill other living beings unnecessarily. This belief has been upheld in the courts as cogent and serious, and as such it constitutes a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010.

So what do vegan rights have to do with plant-based nutrition? Well, in this country most people who follow an essentially plant-based diet identify as vegan. Some vegetarians and even some omnivores who only eat animal products very, very rarely could also qualify, depending on your definition, but most people these days seem to be using the terms vegan and plant-based fairly interchangeably.

In some ways this is a bit of a shame, because it does rather muddy the conceptual waters. Perhaps the key word here is “nutrition”, because it is quite possible for a vegan or plant-based diet to be very unhealthy. A predominantly whole plant food diet that includes a small amount of animal products is almost certainly healthier than a diet comprising of chip-butties and the ever more ubiquitous vegan junk food.

This website is about plant-based nutrition, and that means trying to understand what the healthiest plant-based diet might look like for those who choose to eat a plant-based diet for ethical reasons. However I am also interested in the related hypothesis that the healthiest diet for the human primate is a plant-based one, and that is a question of much broader significance: it is relevant to everyone on the planet… not just vegans.

So far I’ve tried to keep the focus of this site here, and not branch out into the related issues of veganism, animal rights, or the environment: very important topics though these might also be.

The problem here is that if I am not able to talk about plant-based nutrition because veganism is still widely viewed as a dangerous belief, many millions of people will continue to suffer from preventable dietary diseases while remaining completely ignorant of the fact that there is an incredibly simple, elegant solution to their problems.

The amount of smoke and spin there is in our world surrounding the subject of nutrition is terrifying when you begin to perceive the scale of it, and see the enormous amount of harm it is doing to ordinary people.

This site is dedicated to seeking the truth. Only that. And understanding and interpreting the science is the one thing I am good at, so that is what I will continue to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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