By Michael Edmonds 23/11/2015 5

Over the weekend (20-22nd November I attended (and MC’d) the 2015 NZ Skeptics Conference in Christchurch. The theme of the conference was Apocalypse How?

with many of the speakers talking about ways the world/humankind might end. Some talked about fictional/fantastical ways we might meet our demise while others provided scenarios much more possible. Given the topics and the great line up of speakers, I knew the conference would raise some interesting questions, but I was not expecting to end up asking myself “Should I become a vegan?” as the result of four speakers presentations.

The first speaker to make me consider this question was Professor Kim Socha from Normandale Community College in Minnesota who spoke about “Science, Religion and Speciesism”. Her advocacy of veganism fairly straightforward and was based around the ethical issues of mistreating animals and causing them pain.

The second speaker, Dr Mike Joy spoke passionately about “Apocalypse Cow: Science & Spin” which made me consider veganism as possible solution to a different problem – the fact that New Zealand’s meat and dairy industry has resulted in significant degradation and contamination of our land due to high intensity animal farming.

The third and fourth talks to make me consider veganism were slightly more tangential in nature. Siouxsie Wiles’ excellent talk on – the Microbial Apocalypse! mentioned how increased use of antibiotics in the treatment of food animals was contributing to the increase in antibiotic resistance now occurring with human diseases, while in Dr Douglas Campbell’s talk on “Skepticism and Pseudo-scepticism in the Climate Change Wars” reminded us that the farming of animals contributes to the levels of greenhouse gases.

Of course these talks also raised other questions, as did those from the other excellent conference speakers, however, I don’t have time to write about them at the moment.

And will I become vegan? Right now, I don’t think I am able to do it, though in the short term, I certainly intend to reduce my meat and dairy intake. And once I have had a chance to read and plan a bit more, perhaps it will happen. It certainly is a life change that seems to have multiple benefits.



5 Responses to “Skeptics Conference 2015 – Should I become a vegan?”

    • Hi Ewan

      Yes they will be made available on line at some stage. I’ll post here when they are released

  • I became a vegetarian many years ago. I think it’s accepted that it reduces your environmental footprint. Pretty much any diet that moves away from food produced higher up the foot chain, and from ruminants, has to be good.

    Nonetheless, I liked cheese, eggs and honey too much to go full vegan. I’ve had to lapse in recent years with the work in China. So I now eat sea food occasionally. Or a lot if I’m in China.

  • “I don’t think I’m able to do it” – exactly my thoughts when I first considered it. But the more I looked into it the more I discovered it’s not the restrictive, dull way of eating I’d imagined. Virtually every animal-based product has a tasty vegan alternative now. If you’re on Facebook, check out What Fat Vegans Eat for an idea of the culinary indulgences available to modern vegans.

  • Elizabeth,
    Thanks for the suggestion re “culinary indulgences”
    I am certainly going to look into it, but need a bit of mental space to do so, once work eases off for the year.
    Brendan, yes I think I might find it too challenging to give up dairy, I love my yoghurt in the morning, not to mention cheese.

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