Tuesday, June 25, 2024

This is Vegan Propaganda – book by Earthling Ed

Ed Winters, widely known in the vegan community as “Earthling Ed”, is a vegan educator and public speaker based in the UK. He is popular on social media and has appeared a number of times on UK television. He went from a self professed KFC addict to a vegetarian after seeing pictures of a crashed truck carrying chickens to a slaughterhouse. Even then he thought that vegans were extreme until he saw the film Earthlings. Having become a committed and passionate vegan, Ed now lectures all over the world, has set up an animal advocacy organisation called Surge, and published his first book ‘This is Vegan Propaganda’ in January, 2022.

The book is thoroughly researched, well written and is an easily accessible starting point for anyone curious about the vegan lifestyle and looking for reasons to go vegan.  Winters has left no stone unturned when it comes to making arguments in favour of veganism.   The book covers (in detail) the various moral and ethical questions surrounding the eating of meat and our use of animals for food and for other reasons.  The cruel treatment of animals on farms, factory farms and slaughterhouses is described in graphic detail.  Environmental reasons for veganism are also comprehensively covered, including topics such as biodiversity loss, land use and climate change.  There are also chapters on health, and chapters on the media and the various psycho-social factors which maintain our continued use and consumption of animals.

Ed Winters with his book

Parts of the book are very difficult to read, especially the sections on animal farming which describe the pain and torture that animals have to go through during their short lives and at the end of their lives in slaughterhouses.  Nonetheless, this should be required reading for anyone who currently consumes animal products or who is looking for the motivation to go vegan.

The author goes through a number of different arguments to show that our attitudes to animals are wrong.  For example, as children we were conditioned to eat animals, and were taught that protein only comes from animals.  The fact that we eat some animals and not others highlights our moral inconsistencies.  We have different standards for pets than we do for farmed animals.  Stories of cruelty to cats and dogs get people outraged, yet farmed animals who have the same capacity to feel pain are not considered at all. 

Winters cites an excellent example of this double standard or ‘cognitive dissonance’.  A man in Florida was charged with running over 9 ducklings with a lawnmower and macerating them.  Yet billions of newborn male chicks are killed every day by being placed in a macerator and no-one takes any notice.

He points out that many of the things that were legal in the past are now illegal, and vice versa.  We have a huge number of plant based products and we simply don’t need animal products to survive.  Sensory pleasure is therefore the only reason we eat animals.

He goes through the history of agriculture and the first domestication of animals up to the present day.  Chickens, for example have now been bred to lay 300 eggs per year, whereas their red jungle fowl ancestors only lay 10-15 eggs a year.  Broilers now weigh four times what they did in the 1950s.  Their legs can barely stand the weight.  The rise of factory farming has increased the suffering of animals.  It has also created the need for huge amounts of antibiotics to be given to animals to prevent diseases and viruses being spread in the crowded and cramped conditions of intensive farms.

The section on the environmental harms of animal agriculture is excellent and touches on all the issues that we’ve been covering in detail here at Vegan Sustainability Magazine over the years.

The section on health is also worth a read.  We are taught almost nothing about nutrition, and are constantly bombarded by advertising that tells us what to eat.  No wonder we think we need cow’s milk to be healthy and that we’ll die from lack of protein if we don’t eat meat.  Winters points out that this is simply untrue, listing the various plant based sources of all the nutrients we need.  He also goes through numerous clinical studies showing that a plant based diet can help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes and other illnesses.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is thinking about going vegan or who is new to veganism and wants to increase their knowledge.  Seasoned vegans probably will not learn much from the book, as they tend to be walking encyclopedias for all the arguments in favour of vegnism.  In any case, this is a good read and a valuable book.


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