Eve Jeffery (The Annoying Vegan)
Remember back in the bad old days when you used either a PC or Mac? Those were your choices, and never the twain could meat. They were so many miles apart in operations that they were like different countries with different languages and appearances, and if you were a person who could operate both it was as if you were a bilingual magician.
So it was too with vegan food – first of all, the ONLY vegan food you could get was something you prepared in your own kitchen or something you ate at an Indian restaurant.
Who loves tofu?
It used to be difficult to be a vegan, but now you can have your veganism and eat ‘meat’ too. Even for hardcore vegans who don’t like tofu or tempeh (yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but they do exist), these days the aisles and fridges of most supermarkets are as tantalising and tempting for vegans as they are for omnivores.
So what has this got to do with sustainability?
Many people who have exhausted their reasons why meat is a must (a healthy diet can be plant-based, and the dairy industry fallacy has been proven), fall back on the only argument left: but what about the poor farmers? And this is where things get very interesting.
‘Faux’ meat farmers
Many of the ‘faux’ meat options are made from pea protein derived and extracted in powder from the yellow and green split peas, and or mycoprotein, also known as fungal protein (people, it’s mushrooms), and funnily enough, peas and mushies are grown on farms.
And here’s where it gets even MORE interesting. You can still be a successful farmer and not deal in death, AND, you can save the planet at the same time.
The Our World in Data* website did a carbon footprint comparison for growing one kilo of beef, one kilo of chicken, and one kilo of some plant proteins. The greenhouse gas emissions per kilo of protein for beef: 498.9kg; chicken: 57kg; soy: 19.8kg; and peas: 4.4kg. Yes folks,to grow peas it costs only one per cent of the emissions of growing cows, and no-one gets to die!
If the greenhouse stats don’t curl your toes, maybe water is something you can understand a bit better. The water footprint per kilogram to grow similar food products are as follows: beef: 1,451 litres; chicken: 660 litres; peas: 397 litres; tofu: 149 litres; and potatoes: 59 litres. Gotta love them spuds!
But it’s the land use value that really brings home the tofu in the footprint stakes – it takes 369 square metres (sqm) to grow a kilo of lamb or mutton; beef: 326sqm; chocolate 68sqm; pork 17sqm (you have to feel sorry for pigs who get squashed into such small spaces); poultry 12.22sqm; fish farms: 8.41sqm; tofu 3.52sqm; and rice: a tiny 2.8sqm.
For many omnivores, these are hard starts to swallow, but I would challenge meat and dairy consumers to, just for a moment, put aside their often unreasonable annoyance at plant-based eaters, and take a minute to ponder the fact that you might not love vegans, but do you love the planet?
If, for no other reason, going vegan – even for a few days a week, even one day a week, would make a huge impact in the fight to save the planet. ‘Flesh’ foods made from pea, mushrooms and other plant protein ase on the pathway to a healthier Earth – so, you can have your meat (alive) and eat it too! Who knew?
* Our World in Data: www.ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food#carbon-footprint-of-food-products.