I love travelling the A9 – I call it my thinking journey. Many consider the A9 a ‘dangerous road’; in my view the road itself is not.
The road is well engineered and maintained but is currently unsuitable for the volume and nature of traffic that it is expected to carry noting it links the capital city of the Highlands & Islands with the Central Belt and our nation’s capital.
Irrespective, the scenery is stunning, and I find the ever-changing landscape inspiring and thought-provoking – Scotland at its best! Thankfully my FM radio signal faded as I hit the Drumochter Pass (my car is 11 years old!); a programme had just started whereby the opening words of the topic guest were: “…we are not designed to eat meat ….”.
Yet another item on veganism and more air time for what is becoming an ill-represented debate. But it is like most debates these days – imbalanced, hiding an agenda and pandering heavily to the protection of representing a minority position.
Let’s firstly deal with the statement: “we are not designed to eat meat”. Fanciful at best, and outrightly dishonest if genuinely believed! Human beings and other mammals are omnivores.
Indeed, the last time I looked, and having consulted my long-term friend and ‘fang-farrier’ Jonesie, our mouth contains four types of teeth including canines, incisors, pre-molars and molars; this combination of teeth-types is designed to allow us to hold and tear, cut and grind. Choice.
Further, it defines our position at the top of the evolutionary scale whereby we have the choice to eat what we need. Choice. For me veganism currently has a building momentum behind it like any new populist ‘ism’; but it isn’t new with the first vegan society established in the early 1940s.
Disappointingly, some representing veganism purport to offer a generic solution for the environment without the reality of acknowledging the consequence of such an evolutionary change for all.
When my radio re-tuned (albeit to a different station) just south of the House of Bruar, the next article was on the difficulties (note difficulties, and not impossibilities!) of land management if we were to abandon meat production and move to a plant-based food chain.
And bizarrely enough the culprit would appear to be the amount of carbon in the ground, or the lack of it! It would take years (tens of) to create the nature and scale of plant crop cycles that were sustainable without the need for man made fertilisers and earth stimulants.
Ironically, the consequence of removing the meat herd is also to remove a natural cycle of fertilisation and re-usable waste. I have no issues if an individual chooses to be vegan, or vegetarian, but it does seem that more and more people are finding “allergies” and “restrictions” as an easy excuse to avoid foods that don’t fit into their diet.
The higher-level reality is that the world population is now at the point of imbalance with the planet whereby the location and scale of food that humans produce is insufficient to meet what the world’s population need. And unless there is a dramatic reduction in the earth’s population, there is no going back on the catastrophe that we as a planet population are facing in future generations. Unfortunately, the real issues of an urgent need to reduce our global meat consumption and a better use of land and resource is masked in the noise of extreme campaigning.
My experience is that the solution requires collaboration and the achieving of a shared understanding, rather than entrenchment into extreme solutions and stove-piped behaviours.
As alluded to earlier, we appear to have created an intellectual environment whereby minority positions are supported at ‘all costs’ for the sake of inclusion rather than affording a matter to stand on its own merits. It certainly doesn’t feel like a ‘free-speech’ environment, and political correctness has an unhealthy character of constraining real discussion. Is it this lack of open and meaningful debate that is the real genesis of ‘fake news’?
More concerning is that the public majority have little or no representation/view on any topic; but well-funded minority lobbies have all the airtime and ministers’ attention. Again, we have lost the ‘balance’ in the way our country is informed, and parliament is influenced. It certainly doesn’t feel like we live in a meritocracy; and so the inevitable process of withdrawal and disengagement from the nation’s debates gains traction, the median view becomes muted and the outlying ‘isms’ take hold. We reap what we sow?
When I was seven I had a medical operation that necessitated that I go and live with monks at a monastery in Tai Shui Hang, in isolation, for two weeks. I was tended to by a monk called Henry. He was a kind and wise man who took time to help in my recuperation.
Henry would begin and end each day uttering to me: “your journey of life is a sequence, upon which cycles of adventure act; enjoy the journey by commanding the adventure”. At the time I had no idea what he meant – today it makes so much more sense.
James Johnston is chair of the Moray Strategic Business Forum and The Malt Whisky Trail and served as Station Commander for RAF Kinloss