To be or not to be: Vegan

By Jacqui McLean 

There are many reasons why people choose to eat vegan. Many vegans do not like the idea of eating animal products, some want to help the environment, others intend to improve their personal health by eating vegan. While there are undisputable benefits to veganism in certain aspects of life, the argument that a vegan lifestyle significantly helps the environment is simply flawed in its rationale. In fact, many elements of vegan eating actually produce more harm to the environment than the alternative. 

For starters, the belief that vegan eating does not negatively harm the environment is a belief rooted is naivety. It is commonly accepted that cows, or beef, produce a considerable amount of carbon emissions, however, it is not as common to hear the environmental impact of the alternative. Vegan products, many of which are not locally grown, must be shipped across the world to supply large quantities of fruit and vegetables. The greenhouse emissions from transportation are incredibly harmful, and rival that of the emissions from meat. In fact, Joseph Poore, a researcher at the University of Oxford who studies the environmental impacts of food says, “it’s essential to be mindful about everything we consume: air-transported fruit and veg can create more greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram than poultry meat.” 

Additionally, in order to grow such a high quantity of plant based products, many chemicals and harmful practices are utilized. For starters, stripping fields to prepare them for farming, not only destroys the ground and leads to erosion, but also releases a considerable amount of greenhouse emissions. In addition, “Artificial fertilizers account for at least 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions,” notes an expert BBC article, “the production of synthetic fertilizer emits carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane into the atmosphere, while their use on fields releases nitrous oxide, another potent greenhouse gas.” Unsustainable farming practices are destroying the environment, while no one holds the industry accountable, instead continuing to point the finger at the meat industry. 

Veganism has incredible benefits, but only when done right. Awareness of food sources and methodologies are incredibly important to creating a sustainable food industry. The healthiest way to eat, whether vegan or not, is to eat locally. Locally grown or raised food products significantly minimize the impact of carbon emissions.