Plant-based diets are no cure

May 29th, 2021 3:10 PM

By Southern Star Team

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EDITOR  – I would like to take an opportunity to proffer some food for thought to the increasing number of your readers who are advocating a plant-based diet as a way of ameliorating the effects of climate change.

Ploughing a pasture to grow food crops will release as much as 20 tonnes of carbon per hectare into the already carbon-rich atmosphere, and any carbon sequestration that may occur through food crops will be lost when the soil is ploughed again for the following year’s crop.

Arable farming requires more diesel-powered tractor use than pasture-based farming, which will result in ever more noxious emissions.

Ploughing a pasture will also result in soil erosion and loss of nutrients once food crops have been harvested, and as Ireland’s rainfall has doubled in the last 10 years, this will become a growing problem (pun intended!).

Anyone doubting this threat should read up on the great American dust bowl of the 1930s, where once 60 million buffalo roamed (without causing climate change) before they ploughed up the prairies to grow food crops.

And while the overweight or obese 50% of the population may well benefit from a fat and sugar-free diet, plant-based food products are not necessarily healthy.

Does anyone remember ‘margarine’ and how that disappeared from the chill cabinets almost overnight when it was discovered that there was no such thing as heart disease before the introduction of this ‘healthy’ alternative to butter?

I hear all too often that cattle and sheep produce a lot of carbon and use too much water, and that a reduction of the national herd will help with the problem.

Well, humans make even more carbon and waste huge quantities of water, but I don’t hear anyone advocating a reduction in the seven billion people currently destroying our environment. And the animals that we eat have been around a lot longer than we have!

Ian Camfield,

Caheragh, Drimoleague.


Why are we removing love from sex ed?

EDITOR – Recent statements by politicians regarding Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) are very revealing.

In effect, they are demanding that the government devise a RSE programme which would be imposed on all schools, irrespective of the school’s values and ethos.

I wonder how they would feel if the same logic were applied to politics, ie, that all but one party would be banned, thus eliminating voter choice, after all, what need has the public for political alternatives! Over the years parents have ‘voted with their feet’ to support their parish schools.

Indeed, secondary schools founded by religious, are typically greatly oversubscribed.  Parents of all backgrounds really appreciate the values that these schools offer.

Given their record on so many matters, parents would be wise to be sceptical of politicians setting themselves up as the arbiters of what is good for our kids.

Both government and opposition politicians have abjectly failed to shut down porn sites, while advocating abstract ‘objective’ sex-ed programmes, deprived of a value system, which objectivise women, emphasise consent in a legalistic way over commitment to a caring personal relationship, and may even consider the unborn child to be a disposable inconvenience.

In short, they promote the consumerisation of our sexuality, relationships, and even our lives.

In the scripture readings at a recent Sunday’s mass, there were 20 references to ‘love’.  This is what makes Christianity distinctive; that we believe that God is always loving us, and that our happiness comes from being enabled to see this, and to allow this love to flow and flourish in our lives.

Removing love and hope from our relationships and our sexuality education, can only make it harder for our young people, to embrace the life of meaning and personal responsibility our very humanity yearns for.

Gearóid Duffy,

Lee Road, Cork.


Basking sharks are not protected under law

EDITOR – Irish people have a special attraction to sea creatures. There was almost a national day of mourning when Funghi the Dolphin took his leave, and whale watching has become a fashionable marine activity off our coasts.

An exotic addition to the list of must-see mammals around our island has been the basking shark, the world’s second largest fish. At any given time an estimated 10-20% of the world’s basking sharks can be found in Irish waters, especially in the North East Atlantic. Spotting them has become an obsession with thousands of amateur seafarers.

Unfortunately, this creature is not protected under Irish law, despite the fact that it is now an endangered species. This is a major oversight in our wildlife legislation because it enables unscrupulous hunters to catch them, whether for ‘sport,’ or for their fins, which can fetch up to $57,000 apiece on the black market in China.

The failure of our legislators to safeguard the basking shark from exploitation is a shameful anomaly, on a par with the special exemption in the Wildlife Act that allows hare coursing.

Thankfully, Social Democrat TD Jennifer Whitmore has introduced a Bill to the Dáil that, if passed, would offer full protection to this treasured mammal.

I hope TDs of all parties will put political differences aside and give their full backing to this measure. Apart from a striking a blow for marine biodiversity, they’ll be acting in the best interests of our Covid-ravaged tourist industry.  We’ll do better economically from keeping the bask sharks alive than by allowing a heartless minority to kill them.

John Fitzgerald,

Callan, Co Kilkenny.

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