Be the Imperfect Vegan!
With the current environmental imbalances and heavy exploitation of resources, it is likely for an individual to worry about what our future may look like on this planet. It is also likely for anxiety to creep in. But I would say ‘Do not Panic’, in contradiction to what Greta Thunberg says ‘I want you to panic and act as if the house was on fire’.
It may sound crazy considering the damage that has already been done. There is an emergency, but that does not mean we get so caught up with that panic state of head, that we end up doing nothing useful.
When we talk about the environmental crisis, one thing that is off the radar is our diet and eating habits. Surprisingly, right? Lovers of butter, champions of cheese: Please, slow down!!
Does what I eat have an impact on the environment?
Yes, the modern agriculture system is responsible for about one-quarter of the greenhouse gases.
It includes all the raising and harvesting of all the plants, animals and animal products we eat. All the processing, packaging and shipping to markets all over the world. You are a part of that system.
Which food has the largest impact?
The dairy and meat industry contributes to around 14.5 of greenhouse gases each year.
- A single dairy cow can drink as much as 150 liters of water per day.
- It takes 15,415 liters of water to produce just 1kg of meet.
- Each cow produces on average 37 kilos of waste every single day.
- 1 scoop of ice cream requires 160 liters of water.
- 1 stick of butter requires 410 liters of water.
Our land and food resources are also depleting at a much faster rate to cater to the meat and dairy industry. Considering the high cost that the dairy industry has on precious water resources and greenhouse gas emissions, suddenly that bowl of ice cream might not seem so cool.
A vegan diet, where you exclude all sorts of animal products from your diet to clothes to lifestyle, in general, is probably the single biggest way to be easy on our planet. It means no milk, butter, cheese, honey, leather, wool, fur, make-up and all other products derived from animals.
Turning a vegan was a no brainer for me when I was exposed to the cruelty that the animals go through and that the main reason for global climate crisis is due to the number of toxic greenhouse gases released by the dairy herds.
Veganism is not a fad; it’s not about choosing fancy imported ingredients but about eating consciously, locally available food and eliminating all the animal products from your day-to-day routine. Designing my life around a plant-based diet has also helped me cut down a lot of plastic wastes and my dependency on processed food.
How can a single person make any difference?
Its true, one person can only make a small dent in the global climate problem. On the other hand, if people collectively made changes in their diets, it will start to add up.
While going vegan isn’t as easy for some as it is for others, it is becoming easier each passing day. More and more vegan products are hitting shelves as the demand is steadily going up and to the right. This makes the transition to veganism a lot more convenient than it used to be not too long ago.
Now it’s very important for us to realize where is our food coming from? And what impact does it have on our planet? As scary as being a vegan sounds, in my opinion, its not. It’s just a shift in our social conditioning, our lifestyle and the choices we make. It does require some efforts but that seems to be need for the hour.
It will also do wonders for the environment. And it will make you healthier. Some people might not be ready to dive into a dairy-free lifestyle head first, but there are many small steps you can take to lessen your impact on the planet. For example, if you chose to replace your two scoops of dairy ice cream for a dairy-free alternative, you could save 320 liters of water from that single choice.
Be that Imperfect vegan
Try as I might, I am not a perfect vegan. Walking on the ground, I’m sure I’ve stepped on bugs. I am certain that in restaurants I have unknowingly eaten non-vegan ingredients that have been mixed into dishes I’ve ordered, thinking they were vegan.
I have sat in cars with leather seats. Everything we do to exclude animal products from our lifestyles helps the animals and the environment. And the best I can do is to consciously exclude as many animal products from my life as is within my control.
Because many people mistakenly believe that being vegan is about being perfect, they often accuse vegans of being hypocrites. All we can do is the best we can with the information we have at the time and be conscious of the impact of our decisions. Keep in mind that being vegan is about
the intention, not perfection.
(After graduating as an architect, Ashumi started questioning the conventional architecture which led her to shift practice towards more traditional ways of construction with mud and lime. She starting adapting to a sustainable lifestyle where choosing a vegan diet, saying no to fast fashion and unnecessary plastic packaging made a lot of sense. Follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook)
(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Let Me Breathe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)