Letters: securing our food supplies is more vital than diets
There are valid concerns about conventional livestock, but vegans also have blindspots (“No meat please, we’re British: now a third of us approve of vegan diet”, News). Stem-cell meat may feed richer countries some day and less conventional livestock such as snails, mussels and capybara may also help, but dramatic reductions in the impact per head of cattle, chickens, etc, are already possible via changes to feed and additives and regenerative methods.
Food security is also crucial. Crops can fail badly but free markets absurdly punish suppliers if surpluses are produced, land is used for short-term gain and there is still no defined responsibility for food security. Failure to restore fish stocks could prove suicidal if crops fail badly because of climate change, pests and diseases.
The whole “eat this, not that” approach is the wrong way round; naive idealism and factory farming apologists are opposite sides of the same counterfeit coin. Better supplies must be the priority, with future consumption based on this.
Going plant-based prevents animals from enduring miserable lives and violent, terrifying deaths. It’s better for the environment and slashes the risk of suffering from cancer, diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
Fortunately, ditching meat, eggs and dairy has never been easier. Vegan options are plentiful in supermarkets, restaurants and takeaways. From plant-based eggs to vegan meat, dairy-free cheese, and ice-cream, the choice is huge and growing by the day. Eating vegan is a compassionate choice that stops suffering and can boost your health.
Peta UK, London N1
Publicly fund political parties
Michael Savage’s piece about John Caudwell potentially withdrawing financial support for the Tories because he’s disappointed with Boris Johnson raises the question – should anyone be funding any political party? (“Top Tory donor slams Johnson as new poll shows strong Labour lead”, News) Surely the way to indicate our dislike of the direction a party is going is at the ballot box.
The idea that individuals or companies influence politics with money is distasteful. The main parties should receive funding solely from public funds so that they are beyond the influence of lobbyists and the wealthy. Should the wealthy have spare money they could over-pay their taxes, or contribute to deprived areas of society rather than trying to influence power. Government should be to the benefit of all members of society.
Do unto others…
If the individualists are incapable of collectivist engagement then those of us who view this pandemic as a public health issue first and foremost can adopt their libertarian philosophy (“Which philosophy helps us confront the crises that beset us… ‘we first’ or ‘me first’?”, Comment).
Therefore, I exercise my right to not teach you, your children or husband or wife or partner who refuses to wear a face mask in class, to not stack the supermarket shelves with the food you want to buy, to not spend my money in sectors you think vital to the economy and beneficial to your consulting role or pension plan or dividend, to not drive your train and any other myriad roles where I serve you. Good luck on your own.
Dr Michael Sheard
Ingleby Arncliffe, Northallerton
Put vouchers to good use
As two of the 500,000 participants in the Covid-19 infection survey, led by the Office for National Statistics and the Department of Health and Social Care, my wife and I have been receiving initially weekly, and now monthly, £50 of vouchers (“Infection survey hands out £210m in high street vouchers”, News).
By donating an equivalent gift aided amount to an aid agency we will, over the year of the survey, have recycled £1,000 of the government’s own money back into overseas aid and so done something to mitigate the effect of its cut in funding last year.
If all participants in the survey did the same thing the government would have repaid, through us, a quarter-of-a-billion pounds. Negative test results for us (so far) have turned into positive results for developing nations.
David Olusoga is quite right to say that Nigel Farage made himself look a complete idiot over his attack on the RNLI (“Culture warriors sallied forth, only to be defeated by their own ineptitude”, Comment), and not for the first time. But let’s not underestimate him. After all, the Conservative party has allowed his ideology to take it over without the need to fire a shot.
The decline of insects
In David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters’ column on whether to trust statistics (“What questions should you ask when you hear a claim based on data?”, Comment), they throw doubt on whether the number of insects are declining as the researcher only looked for articles about decline.
I am afraid I am even less reliable as my belief in their decline is based on the fact that when we started holidaying on the west coast of Scotland, we would return with the car plastered with dead insects. Now they are barely noticeable. Only one case, but if they are declining on the narrow strip between Oban and St Andrews, then they could be declining everywhere.
St Andrews, Fife
I’ve been reading William Keegan’s missives for many decades and this one trumps all of them for wit, intelligence and sheer mischief (“Johnson’s pig-headed reign nears a tragicomic climax”, Business). Who would have guessed how perfectly the Empress of Blandings could enlighten us upon the economic pickle we are currently wallowing in?