Veganism isn’t as green as it is made out to be - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Neil J Bryce, Kelso.

I note that the UK Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Elisa Allan continues with her mission to popularise veganism (YP Letters, January 6).

Doubtless PETA does a lot of good things and vegans are motivated by dietary, lifestyle and/or environmental concerns but perhaps they should pause to reflect on the definition of 'ethical'.

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It means 'avoiding activities or organisations that do harm to people or the environment' but in spite of their best intentions, the modern world with burgeoning demands from an ever growing population render this a utopian dream.

A person eating a vegan diet. PIC: PA.A person eating a vegan diet. PIC: PA.
A person eating a vegan diet. PIC: PA.

Before demanding massive reductions in the number of traditionally farmed livestock, the vegan community should re-examine their consciences regarding the negative impacts of many of their dietary preferences. Market leaders with an eye on an increasingly lucrative vegan market may urge them to 'enjoy plant power' from a glass of almond milk but although almonds are indeed a very healthy option the main content of the 'milk' is water, diluting the almond content to just 2 per cent.

Add to this the fact that 80 per cent of almonds are grown in California (1.8 million tonnes), where water is already a scarce commodity. Abstraction from ancient, deep underground aquifers to grow the crop as well as a profusion of other vegan favoured horticultural crops are resulting in widespread land subsidence.

Demand for other crops favoured by vegans such as avocado and quinoa which are the staple diets of millions from Mexico to Brazil and China are driving up prices and causing serious local shortages.

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This increased demand is a prime driver of deforestation as it also is in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil to make way for soya and palm oil.

Neither should they forget to consider that just one kilogram of rice requires 5,000 litres of precious water or that the crop is responsible for 10 per cent of global methane emissions.

Mushroom derived meat alternatives produce 3kg of CO2 for every kilogram of produce. Add to this the food miles involved and it becomes clear that not everything in the vegan garden is as green or ethical as many imagine it to be.

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