For quite some time, those who are on a vegan diet have publicly expressed that their lifestyle promotes not only physical health but also the health of the planet.
While veganism can be an optimal choice for people to live a healthy lifestyle, it isn’t always the best option, especially for the environment.
Mike Archer, a professor at the University of New South Wales, said vegans tend to do more harm to animals by taking away the one thing they survive on — plants. Growing a plantation takes more time and labor than animal farming.
In Australia, producing wheat and other grains results in 25 times more sentient animals being killed per kilogram of useable protein, more environmental damage and animal cruelty than farming red meat. The agriculture to produce these grains requires clear-cutting native vegetation which kills thousands of Australian animals and plants since they’ve lost more than half of their native vegetation.
While people on a vegan diet may claim they’re saving animals, they’re not saving themselves. According to an article on WebMD, some risks of veganism include strokes, brain health, hair loss and depression. These symptoms are often due to a lack of protein, iron, vitamin B and zinc when one strips meat from their diet.
Not only do vegan meals lack proteins, vitamins and nutrients, but they can contain harmful substances like sugar and oil. There are many brands that are advertised as vegan but are detrimental to a person’s health.
Veganaise, vegan mayonnaise, contains safflower oil and brown rice syrup, which is sugar. Too much sugar for the body can lead to diabetes or other health risks. Meatless meat patties often contain unhealthy sodium ranges . Other dangerous added ingredients could be put into the patties to make them taste like real meat.
There will always be new diets that will be labeled as “healthier” than others, but while a vegan diet strives to keep people healthy and save the animals, it doesn’t help the green side of the planet.
While it could be argued that consuming meat is worse for the planet because they create more greenhouse gas emissions it doesn’t make up for the fact that abiding to a vegan diet wastes available land that could be used to feed more people. The livestock sector that raises cows, pigs and chickens are used in grazing land, where it’s unsuitable for growing crops. Perennial cropland, supports crops that need to be alive year-round and are used to feed livestock. And last but not least, a cultivated cropland is normally used for vegetables, fruit and nuts. Vegan diets don’t resort to a perennial land which is bad for the environment because they miss out on using reusable soil to grow crops that are regularly consumed year-round.
Reducing meat consumption and increasing grain products not only harms more animals, but they degrade the environment as well. Protein obtained from livestock costs far fewer lives per kilogram. It is a more humane, ethical and environmentally-friendly dietary option, according to Archer.
Farmers would have to start using more perennial croplands in order to aid the environment and stabilize food security, but even then growing vegetables alone consumes a tons of water which harms countries with water shortages.
There are many ways to help save the animals and the planet where people can make a genuine change and safeguard their health. Reducing waste and making donations to animal-oriented organizations have a much more positive impact than the vegan diet.
Donating a few dollars to organizations such as the Wild Animal Initiative helps those animals who are facing challenges such as disease, hunger or natural disaster can make a difference in their lives. Shopping at your local farmer’s market is more environmentally-friendly because family farmers grow their fruits and vegetables organically instead of spraying them with fertilizer, their meats and cheese come from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics and you’re able to support a small business.
Instead of shaming those who eat meat and forcing them to change their diet, be open to the idea that there are many ways to protect the animals and the environment that can make real changes.
In a previous version of this story, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s registered dietician, Liz Weinandy, was cited out of context. The Daily Titan apologizes for our error.