The adoption of a plant-based vegan diet has been increasing for the last two years, along with the increase in awareness of climate change. Veganism itself is defined as a practice in which the person excludes all animal products in their diet. There are several reasons someone chose to no longer consume meats, dairy, eggs, or other animal products, such as due to religious reasons, ethical reasons, or environmental reasons.
Adopting a plant-based diet is often chosen to help save the environment. While excluding the animal-based food due to religious and ethical reasons is indisputable, there is always the question of whether going vegan helps the environment.
The research conducted in the UK shows that on average, with the same nutritional and caloric intake a high-meat diet could have average greenhouse gas (GHG) emission 2.5 times higher than the vegan diet. While reducing meat will also reduce GHG emissions, going vegan is not the sole answer to being sustainable. As conscious consumers, we have to know how our food is being produced to be able to decide whether the production is sustainable or not.
For example, by choosing locally grown food straight from the local farmers rather than buying imported vegetables we would be able to cut the gas emission that is emitted by the transportation process. Eating food that are in season can also help increase the sustainability because it reduces the need of importing foods. Aside from eating locally grown food, cutting down the market chain can also help. By cutting down the number of intermediaries between our farmers to us, we can help the farmers gain more income.
Animals are also beneficial in processing resources that otherwise would be waste. While industrialized meat production is surely emits high amount of GHG, there are also sustainably produced animal-based food. For example, chicken can process the food waste and lay eggs that could be consumed. Livestock can also process straws or grasses and produces milk and meat. Animals can also be integrated to crop production, such as integrating ducks in rice production. By introducing ducks as pest control, the farmers can cut down pesticide use. The ducks can also produce eggs that could be consumed.
The main key in reducing the carbon footprint of our diet is to know which plant-based food and which animal-based food that causes environmental problems. As for now, I don’t think I could dedicate myself completely to consume plant-based food only, however I am trying to reduce my carbon footprint by reducing the animal-based food intake and supporting local farmers.
So, how about you, have you ever think to go vegan? I would like to know your story!
Scarborough, P., Appleby, P. N., Mizdrak, A., Briggs, A. D., Travis, R. C., Bradbury, K. E., & Key, T. J. (2014). Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Climatic change, 125(2), 179–192. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1