"Man is facing the abyss today because at some point he took the wrong turn. The correction of that course is the challenge of the hour." Henry Bailey Stevens, "The Recovery of Culture", 1949.
The MCL philosophy has several strands which weave together to form an approach that our founder, Kathleen Jannaway, called "Ecological Veganism".
A Healthy Diet for Everyone
All animals (human and and non-human) depend either directly or indirectly on plants for their food. Since the 1940s a growing number of pioneers have turned away from using any animal products in their diet and for other commodities they use in their lives, preferring to use plant-based alternatives. As a result it is now accepted that humans can maintain excellent health without any products derived from animals. The belief that animal products form an essential component of the human diet is based on outdated views and contemporary, robust scientific research has now proven that a well-balanced and well-planned plant-based diet meets all human nutritional needs - at every stage of life.
The following is a statement by the American Dietetic Association which was published in their 2009 Position paper:
"It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence, and for athletes."
The following is a statement by the British Nutrition Foundation 2005 paper Vegetarian Nutrition:
"In terms of nutrition, vegan and vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate, provided they are carefully planned;"
We now have a gobal epidemic of obesity and diet-related illness. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), (Fact sheet No. 311, September 2006), in 2005:
- Approximately 1.6 billion adults (age 15+) were overweight.
- At least 400 million adults were obese.
- At least 20 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight.
In 2005 WHO projected that by 2015:
- Approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight.
- More than 700 million will be obese.
WHO states that overweight and obesity (increased BMI) is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as:
- Heart disease and stroke - already the world's number one cause of death, killing 17 million people each year.
- Diabetes – which has rapidly become a global epidemic.
- Musculoskeletal disorders – especially osteoarthritis.
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon).
WHO projects that diabetes deaths will increase by more than 50% worldwide in the next 10 years. WHO further state that childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of premature death and disability in adulthood.
The model of the modern western diet seems to be built on a double deathwish - that of fattening up both "food animals" and the humans that consume them.
In addition to advising an increase in physical activity and placing a limit on sugar consumption, WHO recommend that, in order to reverse and prevent this alarming global trend, individuals should:
- limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats.
- increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts.
A well-balanced wholefoods vegan diet, as endorsed by MCL, fully meets the WHO advice above with reduced saturated fat and harmful cholesterol, increased levels of fruit and vegetables and the higher levels of dietary fibre which protect against coronary heart disease and some cancers.
For further information please see our leaflet "Health, Diet and Nutrition" on our Publications page.
Feeding the World
At the World Food Summit in 1996 world leaders pledged that by 2015 the number of people in the world who do not have enough to eat would be reduced by half. Tragically, since then, the number of hungry people in the world has increased sharply.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and as published in their 2009 document The State of Food Insecurity in the World (Key Messages):
"Even before the food and economic crises, hunger was on the rise. The World Food Summit target of reducing the number of undernourished people by half to no more than 420 million by 2015 will not be reached if the trends that prevailed before those crises continue.
FAO estimates that 1.02 billion people are undernourished worldwide in 2009. This represents more hungry people than at any time since 1970 and a worsening of the unsatisfactory trends that were present even before the economic crisis."
Much of the food now sold in the UK, the rest of Europe and the USA comes from parts of the world where the people who grow the crops once depended upon them to meet their own nutritional needs. Now these people are likely to be exploited as workers in cash crop industries - driven off the land they have traditionally worked, they are often paid a pittance whilst exposed to dangerous conditions: working with unsafe machinery and suffering unregulated exposure to deadly chemicals.
"[Farmers] producing [fruit and vegetables] for export markets has recently become more common. TNCs are increasingly involved in the production of crops that have traditionally not been exported. But export crops are replacing staple foods in some areas, resulting in food scarcities and rising food prices that hit hard at the poorest.
… "Yet [the market success seen by this exporting policy] has frequently come at a cost in workers' health, inequitable distribution of economic benefits, and environmental degradation in many of the exporting countries.”
… "Small-scale farmers and consumers in Latin America are paying the price of this drastic shift to export agriculture. In towns and cities across the continent, beans are now frequently scarce as land which once grew beans now grows vegetables for export. Beans contribute around 30 per cent of the protein consumption by the continent’s 200 million low-income families. Most bean farmers are now trying to grow vegetables for export and devoting less of their land (often already small) to beans for their own use."
John Madeley, Big Business Poor Peoples; The Impact of Transnational Corporations on the World’s Poor, (Zed Books, 2008) pp. 64 - 66
Cash crop industries are destroying thousands of traditional rural agrarian communities, using agricultural methods which are not sustainable and lead to soil erosion and degradation. They are heavily dependent on chemical herbicides and pesticides and other undesirable biotechnologies and are increasingly including GM crops. Multi-national biotech companies are increasingly the controlling force behind agriculture in developing communities.
Two-thirds of the British cereal crop is fed to livestock annually: this could be used to feed 250 million people each year. Livestock consume half the grain produced on the planet. This is in a world where every three seconds a child dies of malnutrition and 24 million people starve to death every year. If everyone in the world ate a plant-based diet and food economies were organised more fairly there would be enough food produced for everyone.
For more information please see our leaflet "Feeding the World" on our Publications page.
Protecting the Planet
The lifestyles of people in the developed countries threatens the very future of life on this planet. We are endangering the life support systems of the air, soil, water and climate. Remedial action is needed in four main areas:
- The reduction of emissions and pollutants
- Energy and resource conservation and efficiency
- The protection and extension of forests and other natural habitats
- The promotion of alternatives to fossil fuels
The Reduction of Emissions and Pollutants
As stated in the Executive Summary of Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options,* a 2006 report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock farming is a major source of methane emissions, (livestock refers to all farmed animals, including pigs, birds raised for meat, egg-laying hens, and dairy cows), and responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent.
The report also states that livestock are also responsible for almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.
Each year British farmed animals produce 200 million tons of effluent, much of which finds its way into rivers and the sea. Residues from nitrate fertilisers, pesticides and weed killers and waste water from abattoirs contaminate water courses, as do animal wastes and the growth hormones and antibiotics they contain. According to Livestock's Long Shadow, animal agriculture is "probably the largest sectoral source of water pollution, contributing to eutrophication, "dead" zones in coastal areas, degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, emergence of antibiotic resistance and many others. The major sources of pollution in the planet's water ways are from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops, and sediments from eroded pastures."
Energy and Resource Conservation and Efficiency
Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources yet they are used in wasteful ways including the manufacture of non-essential consumer goods and intensive animal farming methods. In a world where millions of people go without the most basic necessities, MCL demonstrates how to simplify lifestyles and show that simpler lives do not lead to deprivation, but to creativity and fulfilling experiences.
The current and increasing crises in water supply across the planet are well documented and, according to Livestock's long shadow, "The world is moving towards increasing problems of freshwater shortage, scarcity and depletion, with 64 percent of the world's population expected to live in water-stressed basins by 2025." The report further states that "over 8 per cent of global human water use is used in animal agriculture, mostly for the irrigation of feed crops."
The protection and Extension of Forests and Other Natural Habitats
According to Livestock's Long Shadow "Expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring – 70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feed crops cover a large part of the remainder."
Further, according to the above report, animal agriculture "may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species."
Destroying forests in order to support animal farming is wasteful: for example, cattle only convert 6% of their energy intake into energy humans can digest from their consumption.
Instead of destroying our life-supporting forests for wasteful purposes we should be creating and maintaining forests which can supply nearly all human needs from food crops, construction timber, pulp, fibre, resins, and dyes to medicinal drugs and fuel.
Intensive farming has also had an enormous impact on other natural habitats. Since the second World War, Britain has lost 95% of it's flower meadows, 50% of its ancient woodlands and 50% of its fens and wet valleys and 224,000 kilometres of hedgerows. Much of this intensive farming is due to the meat, dairy and egg industries and much is the planting of monocultures which destroy natural biodiversity and require the intensive use of dangerous chemical pesticides.
The Promotion of Alternatives to fossil fuels
Local windmills can provide small-scale energy to communities and, when appropriately located, wind farms can provide a valuable contribution to the national electricity grid. Solar energy can provide heat and power to domestic dwellings and other forms of energy such as tidal, geothermal and biomass are also being explored. Wood, the main fuel for most of the world's people, must be burnt in efficient ways to avoid forest depletion and by using specially designed stoves,minimum pollution and maximum efficiency can be achieved.
For more information please see our leaflet "Protecting the Environment" on our Publications page.
A truly humane world would have no animal slaves, no slaughterhouses and no unspeakable crimes committed against fellow sentient creatures behind closed doors. Vegan-organic agriculture can easily provide enough food and other crops to globally meet all needs whilst leaving ample land for wildlife and wilderness to nurture the spirit.
MCL is opposed to all forms of animal abuse and maintains that the taking of life is unnecessary, undesirable and unsustainable. All the food we need for a healthy and nutritious diet can be obtained in a more viable and economical way from the plant world, which can also provide us with cruelty-free alternatives for the many other products and materials currently derived from animals.
We do not need to live in a way that is dependent on the destruction of other lives or that is harmful to the environment and our planet. MCL endeavours to show that there is a way forward that is truly compassionate, sustainable, healthy and economical.
For more information please see our leaflet "Animal Liberation" on our Publications page.
A New Agricultural Revolution
There is an urgent need for a radical overhaul of agricultural and horticultural systems. MCL promotes the production of food through sustainable methods of vegan-organic horticulture and agriculture (without the use of chemicals or animal products) using plant-based compost and liquid feeds and green manuring techniques. MCL promotes a healthy vegan diet based on crops that can be grown in a person's home climate where ever possible, using patterns of production such as forest farming and permaculture techniques, that mean food is grown for local communities, by local people, reducing the distance from field to fork. MCL encourages people to grow at least some of their own food and promotes the research into the range of food plants that can be grown in each climate zone.
The Role of Trees
Trees are one of the most important assets on the planet offering the means to meet the needs of an exploding global population for food, raw materials, clothing, shelter and energy. Trees help to maintain water supplies, check floods, prevent soil erosion and desertification and they help to cleanse the air.
For more detailed information please see our leaflet "Trees for a Future" on our Publications page.