Opinion

Meat-free Christmas dinners now threaten traditional turkey fare

Meat-free Christmas dinners now threaten traditional turkey fare
  • Veganism has seen an explosion in attention during the year, according to Ryan Whittaker, consumer analyst at GlobalData.

  • For example, Waterstones book chain currently has 3,545 volumes for sale with the word “vegan” in their titles, as opposed to 944 last year.

The turkey will soon lose its place of honour at Britons’ Christmas dinners if new statistics prove accurate.

Researchers claim that half the UK population is cutting back on meat and one in eight Britons is actually a practising vegetarian or vegan.

So supermarkets are responding by increasing their range of plant-based options.

CLIMATE CHANGE

According to market analysts Mintel, the Morrisons chain sold eight Christmas vegan items in 2018 but now offers 45. Waitrose has doubled its Christmas range from six to 12 products and Tesco sells six vegan centrepieces, up from four last year.

Indeed, 24 per cent of all food products launched in the UK in 2019 claim to be vegan, more than anywhere else in the world.

Vegetarians do not eat meat while vegans shun all animal products, including dairy and eggs. The Vegan Society says its membership has risen in four years from 150,000 to 600,000.

Reasons people give for turning their backs on meat are varied, but fears of climate change seem to be at least partly responsible. Farm animals are huge contributors to CO2 gases, which impact negatively on the climate and thus the planet.

Veganism has seen an explosion in attention during the year, according to Ryan Whittaker, consumer analyst at GlobalData. For example, Waterstones book chain currently has 3,545 volumes for sale with the word “vegan” in their titles, as opposed to 944 last year.

NON-MEAT ALTERNATIVES

So what are the non-meat alternatives on offer? How about vegan BBQ ribs made of peas? Or vegan smoked salmon made from algae? British diners can try vegan caviar made from kelp seaweed or vegan camembert-style cheese developed from cashew nuts.

Yes? No? Just try to remember that one man’s fish is another man’s poison.

* * *

A British woman’s heart stopped beating for six hours when she was caught in a snowstorm. But she lived to tell the tale.

Mrs Audrey Schoeman, aged 34, was hiking with her husband last month in the Pyrenees mountains in Spain. As the weather worsened, she had trouble speaking and moving, then fell unconscious.

Her husband, Rohan, believed she was dead. “I couldn’t feel a pulse, I couldn’t feel a breath, I couldn’t find a heartbeat,” he said.

A rescue team transported Mrs Schoeman to hospital where doctors removed her blood, infused it with oxygen and reintroduced it to her body. When her body temperature climbed from 18C to 30C, medics jump-started her heart with a defibrillator. She left hospital 12 days later.

Dr Eduard Argudo said hypothermia had protected Mrs Schoeman’s brain and body from deteriorating. “If she had been in cardiac arrest for this long at a normal body temperature, she would be dead,” he said.

* * *

I am required to write this before our general election takes place, so I have no idea who rules Britain this Sunday morning.

If Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are back with a working majority, then presumably the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with Europe by Mrs Teresa May will be ratified. But Brexiteers need not cheer.

There will then be a long transition period during which all aspects of our relationship with the European Union are reworked, plus negotiations with everyone else around the globe. We’re talking years.

If Labour have scraped through, they have promised new negotiations with Europe, then a Final Say vote by the nation on the deal agreed.

Either way, disruption, argumentation and frustration will be the norm for the foreseeable future.

* * *

A family dog started a house fire in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, by turning on the microwave. A packet of bread rolls had been stored inside the appliance and began to burn when the power came on.

Local fire chief Geoff Wheal said firefighters found the kitchen filled with smoke but stopped flames spreading to the rest of the house.

Describing it as “a very strange incident,” Mr Wheal said, “Microwaves should not be used to store food. Animals and children can turn them on more easily than you think.”

The dog was unhurt.

Nobody knows how exactly the family pet activated the microwave, but we can be pretty sure it was entirely accidental. However, there are attested accounts of animals acting in ways that point to a high intelligence.

One story I remember was of a man with a pet cat. One day, the cat walked up to him, miaowed and then walked away, stopping periodically to check that he was following. The cat led the way to the bathroom, jumped up onto the seat and urinated into the toilet. When the man moved to flush the toilet, he saw that the cat had peed blood. It had a kidney infection.

I have no way of knowing if this story is true, but I’d like to think it really happened. I’ve always said, cats are the smartest animals around.