Food for thought: Is going vegan really sustainable?

"In fact, some people can even raise chickens in their backyards. Not only do you know where the eggs are coming from, but you would also burn a lot less fuel to bring them to your fridge." Photo used under creative commons.

"In fact, some people can even raise chickens in their backyards. Not only do you know where the eggs are coming from, but you would also burn a lot less fuel to bring them to your fridge." Photo used under creative commons.

As a vegetarian, I can sympathize with why someone would choose to “go vegan.” By avoiding animal products, one can say that he or she eats “cruelty-free”  and that makes the world we live in a better place However, this is not necessarily true. One could make the argument that ecological rights are equally as important as animal rights. 

You can have a conscience just as morally clear as if you were a vegan by being a vegetarian who is conscious of where your food comes from.  Consider the common alternatives to animal products, such as tofu.  Where it comes from?  Often somewhere in Eastern Asia. Now consider all the energy it takes to package and ship that tofu to where you live--that's a huge toll on the environment.

Instead of tofu, you could eat some locally sourced eggs. In fact, some people can even raise chickens in their backyards. Not only do you know where the eggs are coming from, but you would also burn a lot less fuel to bring them to your fridge. Choices such as the 100 mile diet are good to consider instead of going vegan because not only do you help support your local economy, you are reducing the amount of fuel and the need for chemical preserves to keep the food fresh longer.

Aside from the toll on the environment that comes from shipping tofu across the world, there's also the fact that a wheat farm is not superior to a cow farm. Agriculture takes a toll on the land, especially when there is a lot of pressure placed on it to grow food for mass commercial consumption. As the demand for food increases, the land is given less time to rest and become fertile again. Land that has been exhausted will not be able to sustain plant life. There are also other consequences of intense agricultural practices, such as erosion and contamination of water due to the use of pesticides and other chemicals on the plants.

I’m not saying that becoming a vegetarian is the superior option; in fact, this article presents many similar arguments to what I suggest, but for vegetarians and vegans. As Sami Grover from treehugger says, “some studies even argue that diets that include small amounts of sustainably raised meat may be greener than eating no animal products at all.”  There is no universal diet that works for everyone because we all have bodies and lifestyles with different needs. It’s just that veganism is not the most superior diet.

Just think about it: is anything truly a non-animal based product? Where does the fertilizer for plants come from? That's right--animals. And if you say to me that there are chemical fertilizers, well, that's really much worse for the world than taking the cow’s poo, isn't it?