Be a vegan, they said. They said, "Save the world." But is a plant-based diet really as eco-friendly as it has been made out to be?
The effects of globalisation
A social, cultural, political, and legal phenomenon, globalisation. Social interaction between distinct populations increases as a result. Cultural interchange across the world is exemplified by globalisation in terms of ideas, values, and artistic expression- but in our case the transport of vegan food!.
Deciding to become vegan is not just about the health benefits. For many, one of the driving forces behind deciding to cut out meat and dairy products is to reduce the impact on the environment. Or at least, I thought it was.
People should be asking "where has this food come from" as they fill their shopping baskets with the fruits of the world, including pomegranates and mangos from India, lentils from Canada, beans from Brazil, blueberries from the US, and goji berries from China. The number of vegans has increased by 160% over the past ten years. Eating lamb chops from a farm a few miles away is considerably more environmentally friendly than consuming an avocado that has travelled across the globe.
The consumer gains while we rapaciously exploit the world's breadbasket, while others at the source may be left high and dry. Consider avocados and quinoa, whose costs have increased so much in response to Western demand that individuals who depend on them in their native countries are no longer able to buy them.
We need to limit food miles
Food miles refer to the geographic distance food travels before it reaches you. From farm to fork, the shorter the distance involved, generally speaking, the better the food will be for your health and the environment – both local and global. We talk about the concept of food miles when we want to consider the carbon costs to the environment of moving food from place to place. Superficially, many people don't think much beyond the journey food takes from the stores to their homes. But much of the food we consume daily has come a lot further.
One way to mitigate against large food miles is by sourcing food locally. Last year saw plenty of new restaurants open with their own kitchen gardens, growing seasonally and cutting out the carbon footprint of long distance transportation. Seasonality along with plant-based diets.
But, sticking to only British-grown food can occasionally be very difficult, especially during the winter. I've found January veganism to be quite a stretch given the variety of local and seasonal cuisine. I have occasionally used melon and avocado for variation, which may be because I don't have much experience with vegan-friendly ingredients at this time of year that aren't from manufactured foods.
Producing locally isn't limited to sourcing food from a specific area because it can be restrictive. It could be extended to domestic production. The UK has favourable conditions for growing plant proteins for direct human consumption, such as fava beans, peas, hemp seed, and sweet lupin, according to the Vegan Society. However, only 16% of the UK's agricultural land is currently designated for the production of protein crops, most of which are used to feed farmed animals. At the moment, the majority of protein crops, including lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa, which are suitable for human consumption, are imported from Brazil, Canada, and the US.
More ways to help climate change from home
One of the easiest ways homeowners and renters can make the switch is to change your electricity to a renewable source. Reducing your food waste or composting, Food scraps can generate methane if they’re sent to landfill, but when composted properly offer a range of benefits. Composting can help cut emissions associated with waste removal and build up healthier soil. Another change that has both a big impact and involves a big commitment is installing rooftop solar panel. These are all starting points for a wide range of processes that you can use in your home to help the threat of climate change, along with diet which can be a big part of our carbon footprint, and cows are one of the biggest contributors to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.