An Ethical Diet is Not just a Matter of Going Vegan says Australian farmer and author

Matthew Evans sparks Debate about Australian Food Production Methods

You want to eat ethically. But the answer is not as simple as just turning vegan according to Matthew Evans speaking to ABC News Breakfast in Australia.

Evans’ uncomfortable conclusion is that billions of animals are killed just to produce our fruits and vegetables. One example he cites is that in Western Australia alone the farming industry on average poisons one billion rates every year to protect the wheat crop which is grown to provide pasta and bread. A rat plague takes place there roughly every five years. 

The food critic turned pig farmer referred to a friend of his who has to shoot 120 possums a year to protect his apple orchards. 

Evans also quoted the statistic that 40,000 ducks are killed annually to protect the Australian rice industry. He does not see a great deal of difference between this and a cow being killed to provide a human with a piece of steak. Both are animal deaths that enable humans to eat. 

The question is for society to decide in an informed way which animals will die and which crops should be grown in our name. 

CCTV cameras should be mandatory on Australian animal farms

Certainly, Evans is scathing in his assessment of terms such as “free-range”. Overcrowded farms and industrial battery operations were “absolutely abhorrent” in his belief. He would mandate CCTV cameras to be placed in all Australian farms where there are animals. This would bring about greater transparency and would drive change because consumers do by and large care. The reason for these awful practices is he believes down to our apparent desire for cheap meat. 

Mandatory CCTV cameras on animal farms is a policy supported by the Australian Animal Justice Party to bring greater transparency.

We are gullibly fooled into believing such marketing terms that the industry foists upon us. It is a big con that leads to consumers blindly acquiescing in the disgraceful treatment of animals. Evans claims that most people do care and they do want to know what is going on inside farms, and if they did their disgust would force change upon farming practices.  

Australians are big meat eaters, eating on average 110 kgs of flesh annually. Evans believes a daily meat eater would be better off eating meat only five days a week but spending the same amount to source better quality meat. 

Vegan Australia’s spokesman Andy Faulkner fully accepts that animals do die in the production of plant food. He says that is a question of scale and of minimising the impact as opposed to maximising harm. 

Matthew Evans brings the perspective of a hands-on farmer who is passionately concerned about industrialised farming. He deeply understands the farming practices that go on and which we unknowingly accept. 

But going vegan is not necessarily the answer for him. In a country rocked by the debate over industrialised animal farming, Evans is refusing to tell people what they should or should not eat in the vegan debate. But he is calling on “ethical omnivores” to stand up for farmers as well as for the welfare of animals. 

As Evans states in the preface to his new book, On Eating Meat, when he visits a chicken farmer he smells an extraordinary amount of manure rotting – “a smell so toxic that the locals forbid the workers from entering the local cafe after work until they’ve changed their clothes.” But the chicken farmer simply smells money. 

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Nicholas Orosz

Nicholas is a former City solicitor and Cambridge graduate. He has a long-standing interest in health & nutrition, the environmental movement, green politics & digital publishing. He has always loved crafting words. His transition to a vegan perspective has been gradual and an ongoing process of self-discovery. Contact:

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