My interview with the Vegetarian Society of Ireland

by Michael Nugent on April 24, 2015

I recently did an interview with the Vegetarian Society of Ireland about my transition to veganism, ethical atheism, and my favourite vegan recipes.

You can read it here.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Skep tickle April 24, 2015 at 5:18 am

Chips?! :)

I like your comments about eating out vegan: treating it as an adventure, allowing the chef to exercise creativity, and seeing these requests as small steps helping restaurants eventually recognize the market for vegan options.

And thank you again for your thoughtful description of the ethical treatment of animals, including its basis in atheism for you, its likely future inclusion in the moral arc of humans…and the recognition that some of the animals we love do themselves prefer to include meat in their diets.

2 Kevin Saldanha April 25, 2015 at 2:47 am

My journey to atheism was via a dietary change to vegetarianism.

My journey was chronicled in a short chapter in Margaret Johnson’s book Faith Beyond Belief which is online at http://www.tinyurl.com/vegvethics

3 Phil Giordana FCD April 25, 2015 at 9:04 am

I am not a big fan of vegan diets. I don’t really see the point (because I eat meat and other animal-derived products).

But as Michael explained to me, it’s more about having venues that will cater to a vegan diet. And, well, that’s pretty worthwhile. The more diversity, the better.

To be honest, I’ll never give up the steak. Or bacon. But kuddos to the dedicated ones.

4 Nialler April 25, 2015 at 2:45 pm

As someone who lives in France and has two vegetarians in the family I have to say that things have improved in that respect for them. Vegetarian food meals are far more available than they were in the time that a waiter would look puzzled at such a travesty.

One thing should be noted: the French tend to prefer that their evening meal be light. My in-laws would typically have a daily four or five course meal in the evening which is entirely meat-free although not dairy-free.

There’s a lot that you can do with carrotes rapées, tomatos, lettuce, asparagus, endives, cucumber, aubergines, cheese, eggs, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, bread, etc which doesn’t involve tossing them all in the same bowl. Then you get to eat fruit as a dessert.

Keep the cats fed, though? I know that one or other went missing on you. This may have been a result of absence of meat in their diet. They’re obligate carnivores. All that they want is meat. Respect that; it’s evolution doing its thing.

5 Phil Giordana FCD April 25, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Grated courgettes fried in olive oil. You can’t beat that.

6 Phil Giordana FCD April 26, 2015 at 10:23 am

Nialler: no, the diet was well balanced. Stupid cat fell off the balcony and scampered away, never to be seen again. I’m pretty sure that’s not a risk factor when it comes to Micheal 😀

7 Nialler April 26, 2015 at 12:31 pm

@Phil:

I thought that he mentioned retrieving a couple of cats who had gone missing.

It’s a tricky ethical dilemma to, on the one hand, want to nurture rescue cats while, on the other hand, feed the carnivores. Not tricky for me; I’m a meat-eater, but possibly for MN.

I’ve no solution to offer in that respect, but FWIW I wouldn’t think that MN would be compromising his ethics by feeding them products made from meat. Many animals survive by eating other animals. It’s precisely the arms race that exists between certain species which has “benefited” each species. Indeed, certain species wouldn’t exist without their predators. If left unchecked, some species would proliferate to the extent that they had obliterated their food sources and could no longer survive as a species.

BTW, the scare quotes are there because evolution isn’t a teleological process and because evolving as a species isn’t necessarily always in positive directions (other than survivability). One example: as humans we somewhere along the line lost the ability to autonomously generate vitamin C – a facility our predecessing species had.

8 Nialler April 26, 2015 at 12:32 pm

@MN: can you please spare my blushes and correct a couple typos in the previous post?

[done that – hope I caught them all – MN]

9 JetLagg May 5, 2015 at 12:51 am

I think the comparison to slavery is far too strong, and that, while we will certainly look back on our treatment of animals and realize we could have done better (and we should be campaigning to more ethical husbandry laws), a human’s capacity for suffering is orders of magnitude greater than that of the non-human animals we eat. I specify “the animals we eat” because certain animals’ brain functions imply, to me, they can suffer in ways that approach that of a human, but we don’t generally, and shouldn’t at all, eat those animals.

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