Tag Archives: vegan protein

Never let a good crisis go to waste

Harvesting chickpeas in Myanmar

Apparently it was Machiavelli who said (almost certainly in Italian) “Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.” Churchill followed him by saying “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Obviously their advice is being followed.

I just read that the government will unveil a new food strategy ‘and tell farmers to produce more fruit and vegetables in the wake of record inflation.’

Not only that but government is going to call for changes to make it easier to turn land into farms, make poultry workers eligible for seasonal migrant jobs and propose that schools, prisons and hospitals offer vegan options.

Some people haven’t got a clue. If UK farmers could make money out of producing fruit and vegetables, they’d already be producing fruit and vegetables. But now, in the wake of record inflation, they’re not only expected to produce them, but produce them cheaply to keep prices down. Answers on a postcard please, why is this not going to happen?

But given that only weeks ago the policy was to turn farmland into forestry, perhaps the ‘oil tanker’ of government policy, which has regarded farming as expendable since the 1980s, is at last turning round?
But I do love the way the whole vegan experience has leapt onto the bandwagon.
I went on the BBC website for some vegan recipes for people in schools, prisons and hospitals.
Falafel burgers; – basic ingredients chickpeas, not grown in this country but most come from India, Australia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Turkey. Strikes me as some of these countries would be better off eating their own produce rather than producing cash crops to export of the wealthy west.

Vegan chili; – containing sweet potatoes, (somebody did manage to produce a crop commercially in the UK, but effectively they’re all imported from the US, Egypt, Vietnam and Spain) a can of black beans (There are trials going on to see if there are varieties that can be grown in the UK but they’re largely exported by India, Myanmar, Brazil and the USA) and a can of red kidney beans. (Again the main exporters are Thailand, Brazil, South Africa, Ukraine, and Papua New Guinea. These beans probably like a warmer climate than we can manage.)

Finally (because I’m just doing the first three) Spiced aubergine bake.

Of course the aubergines are largely imported as commercial production in the UK is under plastic and may involve some heat, (so don’t look for an expansion of UK production any time soon) whilst I suspect that you will search for a long time to find the UK coconut plantations to provide you with the coconut milk.

So we have a war, a food and an energy crisis, and a vocal minority have convinced government this can be tackled by importing expensive food from abroad.

But to be fair they’re not the only ones taking advantage of a good crisis. I know somebody who had to take a family member to hospital. Of course they were not allowed in A&E with them. So an elderly, injured and vulnerable person was separated from anybody they knew. The person they most wanted with them was left outside in the carpark. At night. In the dark. But this lady left on her own in the carpark couldn’t just go home, she had to wait there so the hospital could tell her to come and take the elderly person home. Perhaps. In their own sweet time.

And at 3am, after six or seven hours, alone in her car on a dark carpark, she could finally take the person home.
Come on, why?
What on earth is the epidemiological reasoning behind this? I could see it if hospital staff led closeted lives, not mixing with anybody and keeping themselves in a bubble. But I know hospital staff. They go home to their families, they kiss their children good night even through the children mix with everybody else at school. For all I know they might even condescend to kiss their partners. They go into shops (unmasked and with no PPE) and they are even seen in public houses and other places of entertainment. So if doing these things is so dangerous, why on earth are they allowed into hospital? They’ve every bit as potentially infectious as the rest of us.
The sneaking suspicion is that it’s no longer epidemiological, it’s just we’re a damned nuisance and if they can discourage us from going in, it makes life easier for them. Especially if there’s nobody with sharp elbows asking why they haven’t done their job properly.

And we’ve seen other people using the crisis. I think that government has had a lot less trouble pushing forward nuclear than it would have had. In this case events have concentrated minds. Similarly others have grasped the opportunity to push forward with electric cars, which are starting to look more economic.

But I confess I do wonder. Electric cars will not work for a lot of people who currently run a car. They are fine if you have a nice house with a drive and even a garage. You can back your car into the garage overnight and charge it at the cheapest times in perfect security. If you live in a flat are you going to have to dangle your expensive and anonymous copper cable out of the window and across the carpark to your car?

Or perhaps that brief window of human existence when perfectly ordinary people had the opportunity to just go anywhere they wanted, at a whim, without worrying about timetables and suchlike, is drawing to a close?

And a final thought, people are trapped between high energy prices, high food prices and high housing costs. In all candour, government can do very little about food costs. They could cut fuel duty, but again, most of our energy is imported to they can do very little about energy costs. But housing costs is something they might be able to tackle. After all, we don’t ‘import it’.
There’s already talk about increasing taxes on second homes. I suspect that will go down well enough with voters.

But what about capping rents. Limiting them to a maximum of £x per square meter (or yard or whatever) so that, for example, a three bedroomed house was no more than £650 a month. Combined with regular inspections to make sure they were fit for habitation. Yes there would be howls from buy to let landlords but the answer to them need only be, “Well you can always sell up.” I suspect the releasing of housing onto the market would bring prices down with a bang. Electorally this could play well for the government that brought it in. Far too much money in this country goes into housing as it is. It’s warping the economy. Perhaps we shouldn’t let a good crisis go to waste?


There again, what do I know. Ask an expert.


As a reviewer commented, “This book charts a year in the life of a Cumbrian sheep farmer. It’s sprinkled with anecdotes and memories of other years. Some parts (especially when featuring Sal, the Border Collie) were so funny as to cause me to have to read them out loud to my husband. It’s very interesting to read these things from the pen of the man who is actually out there doing it – usually in the rain! A very good read.

Goldsmiths saves the world with virtue signalling.

Yes, you can all relax. Goldsmiths, the university college which flies in 36.8% of its students from around the world, is preventing global warming by banning beef burgers.

As exercises in applied hypocrisy go, you have to admit this one is impressive. But it does raise a point. In the church there is a phrase, somebody can be described as “Too heavenly minded to be any earthly use.”
Perhaps academia has an equivalent, I would suggest it was along the lines of, “So well educated they’re utterly ignorant.”

What brought this on, other than Goldsmith’s being ridiculous, was going for a walk yesterday. It was fine. The first fine day we’ve had for a while. I noticed as I walked round the back of one village that the barley that had not been combined was looking awfully grey and sorry for itself. Combining that isn’t going to be a harvest, it’s going to be a salvage operation. Any wheat that is still waiting harvest is assured of one thing. It’s never going to end up on your table.

Now listening to some, you’d think that farmers were either utterly stupid or utterly evil, rearing animals and growing grass. No, we just know the world, our climate, and our land and we know what will grow. In rough terms 60% of the UK is grassland. The amount of CO2 trapped by permanent grassland is huge and somebody wanting to plough to grow buckwheat for vegan protein is going to release far more CO2 than they can offset in a lifetime.

But the other thing people obvious don’t realise is just what livestock eat. They don’t merely turn grass into high quality protein a human can digest.

How about a glass of natural vegetarian orange juice, no added sugar, perfectly healthy. Have you ever wondered what happens to the rest of the orange? It’s there on the left of the photos. Citrus pulp, in this case, orange citrus pulp. You can either get it delivered ‘wet’ as it comes from the factory, or they’ll dry it a bit and put it through dies to make pellets. I’ve fed orange citrus pellets. Cows love them. You can get Lemon and Grapefruit citrus pulp as well. After all, the discerning consumer buys lemon and grapefruit juice. Somebody has to do something with the pulp. To be fair, they’re a bit sour for cattle to eat straight, but mixed in with other feeds cows enjoy them.

Now think of the sugar you eat. Most UK sugar is ‘beet sugar’ and is produced by extracting it from sugar beet, leaving sugar beet pulp. Again you can buy it wet by the artic tipper lorry load, or dried and pelleted. Again cows love it. Be wary feeding it to horses as it absorbs water and swells in the stomach. Cows being ruminants can cope with this, horses cannot. But again, a great food that is an unwanted by-product we get when producing food for humans.

The third picture in the line always amuses me. That’s soya hulls. When you’ve extracted the soya oil and soya meal which go for human nutrition, you’re left with the soya hulls that even the most enthusiastic vegan wanting roughage in their diet, doesn’t want. So they go to livestock feed. They’re rich in protein and minerals and balance a diet out nicely.

The last picture in the line is Brewers grains, normally delivered by artic tipper lorry, and fed to livestock wet. The product of our fine brewing industry, in theory they should be entirely barley, but it’s surprising how much maize you can find from some breweries. I’ve been told that’s a sign of a lager brewery but I don’t know if that’s true.

Obviously that isn’t the end of the list. There’s maize gluten, which is what’s left of the maize when you’ve extracted the Corn starch, Corn oil, and Corn syrup. An excellent cattle feed, I’ve fed tons of it over the years. Actually this product pushes the frontiers of hypocrisy even further than usual. A lot of the maize grown which ends up producing the products above is GM. But because Corn starch, oil and syrup don’t actually contain DNA, the supermarkets which have imported them, or the products produced from them, claim they’re not actually GM. But at one time they wanted to stop farmers feeding cattle maize gluten, because they decided it was GM, (and they were saying they wouldn’t sell anything that was GM) whilst still selling the oil, starch and syrup produced from the same maize as non-GM.
Can anybody explain to me how, when you take maize, produce corn syrup and make Coca-Cola from the corn syrup, that is GM free.
But if you take maize, produce maize gluten, feed that to an animal, how the meat from the animal isn’t GM free.
I think that’s one the major retailers backed away from on the grounds that even they struggled with that level of hypocrisy.
Obviously I haven’t finished with the list, but it’s not a bad one to be going on with. But I don’t actually expect anybody to take any notice.


There again, what do I know, you’d better listen to the expert!


As one reviewer commented, “Another excellent compendium of observations from the back of Mr. Webster’s quad bike in which we learn a lot more about sheep, border collies and people. On the whole, I think the collies come out of it best. If you fancy being educated on the ways of the world, with a gentle humour and a nice line in well observed philosophy, you could do a lot worse than this.”