Updated: Apr 5
The vegan movement is a big one. And I’ve been wanting to write this article for a while, compelled by taking a stance against an angry, hateful section of a movement that has a scientific, environmental background of trying to make some POSITIVE change. I have waited, afraid of the back lash I would receive, and also not wanting to gatekeep, or to rise to the hate. But this issue has been niggling at me for a long time.
So, I’m really fed up of the VEGAN HATE. If you find yourself telling someone they don’t love animals, or they aren’t an environmentalist because they eat meat- you might need to take a step back from your own self absorption. Heres why.
Eating less dairy and meat is undoubtedly better for the environment than a Western diet that has become typically extremely meat heavy. There is an absolute stack of scientific papers, that have conducted in-depth research into different agriculture and food production. I conducted a research paper, investigating environmental impacts of food production at University- I have read a LOT of those papers. I cannot recommend enough, going to google scholar and searching for environmental impacts of food, or LCA (life cycle analysis- the scientific study of the impact) of agriculture.
It becomes obvious, to myself, having seen the scientific research with my own eyes, that a diet with LESS dairy and meat will benefit me and my planet. So I have taken the step to reduce how much I eat, and since have saved a lot of money and I feel a lot healthier (see my blog post). It works for me, and I believe that for lots of people similar to myself, thinking about food production AS A WHOLE UNIT- including reducing (not necessarily eliminating) meat and dairy would benefit them and our environment. So based on the science, I am pretty pro- eating less dairy and meat.
However, there is a section of veganism, both on social media and in the public of what I am coming to refer to as “extreme vegan propoganda”. This is the behaviour that is shaming non-vegans. It is not celebrating success of veganism, or educating, but simply bullying. I am the choir, you do not need to preach to me. But, even so this angry hateful side of veganism, puts me off! I do not want any kind of association with it. I do not want to categorise myself as vegan, as I will proudly eat meat, or cheese or milk that is otherwise going to be wasted. I also accept that there are A LOT of different sustainable diets around the world.
There are 5000 shades of sustainability, and environmentalism, and by claiming that your way is the only way that is right, is fundamentally wrong and f*cked up. For example, there are plenty of issues surrounding food sustainability, (or lack of) including food waste, seasonality, where food is grown and it's food miles, farmers rights, storage and processing requirements and how it's "wrapped"- i.e. plastic. To me, wasting food is far more potent problem than eating a vegan diet, hence eating wasted meat.
Some sustainable diets are based on sustainable fishing (of which otherwise growing huge crops of soy to fulfil protein would mean deforesting huge tracts of pristine tropical rainforest and huge amounts of fertiliser to be able to grow on low fertility tropical soil). Note: soy is often grown in huge tracts of monocultures, requiring fertilisers and pesticides. Soy production may have a "leakage" into neighbouring rivers and feminizing fish. There is also evidence to suggest a diet heavy in soy, may be causing some feminization in human males. I don't enjoy soy milk and I am worried about the intensive agriculture required to grow it, so I don't eat much, but I do love soy sauce. Similarly to my stance on meat.
In Balinese culture, and in lots of developing countries that rely on subsistence farming, they eat meat rarely, and when they do, it’s their own chicken, that has been eating their food scraps and eating the bugs in their garden. They celebrate the life of the chicken, and make that meal last all week. Ultimate nutrition, utilisation of food waste.
If we are to continue making sweeping statements, Inner city dwellers eating habits could be called unsustainable, because of the huge energy, transport and storage required to transport their food into the city where they live, instead of growing it themselves, on their own land and eating fresh from the bush. Complicated sources of protein, and specialised vegan foods can be grown all over the planet- to be transported in plastic, into inner cities to fulfil specialist diets. This is "unsustainable"
So, the more we delve into the world of sustainable diets, depending on where we live can completely change what is sustainable. Things are never so clear cut. And it's important to remember, as with everything, your own opinion, is not necessarily the right one. We’re all different, and although we thoroughly recommend adapting your diet to become more sustainable- it’s also SO important to remember to be flexible, accepting and to celebrate our successes in our culturally, environmentally and personally diverse ways.
Myself and my partner are both conservationists, dedicating our lives to conserving the planet's beautiful inhabitats, and living thought out, holistic & healthy lives. We do not need to be told that because we're not vegan we are not environmentalists.
Lets start thinking with an open mind and holistically about sustainable food systems. Making Roots accepts everyone trying to improve, or already has a diet that benefits them and our planet.
Although disheartened by the negativity, we are also excited by the amazing work we have seen already, thinking similarly. The big players in eco-blogging are making good progress. We've been chatting to a few of you, including The Green Hub, who is making very practical progress and There Aint No Planet B who we absolutely ADORE and love her practical sustainability thinking. Sarah Wilson makes some AMAZING points about fully utilising meat in her book, I Quit Sugar. The minimalist baker also makes bloody brilliant, non-judgey veggie foods.
I think the only way we can make positive, SUSTAINABLE change is by working together, thinking scientifically, intelligently and holistically. So quit the vegan extremism, because it might work for you but it's not necessarily right.