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Sum Doood
Mar 12th, 2008, 01:13 AM
Sorry if you've covered this elsewhere, but I've looked and couldn't find it.

One of the criticisms that meat eating environmentalist types tend to level against vegetarians and vegans is that our dietary choices put more pressure onto the environment than their locally grown omnivorous choices. I'm a little anxious that in certain circumstances their point may be quite valid.

Are you aware of any reliably conclusive study on this issue, or of any person, could it be you!!?!!, who really manages to ensure that their vegan diet entails really minimal food miles, and really minimal energy use in terms of preserving and storing, and minimal waste?

Sum Doood
Mar 12th, 2008, 10:11 PM
I'm flummoxed. 20 views but no-one sufficiently interested to contribute to this important topic.

On this forum has the subject matter already been done to death?
Do you have nothing to contribute?
Are we full of despair?
Or are we apathetic?

Mr Flibble
Mar 12th, 2008, 10:26 PM
no, we just don't like you :p

(that's a joke)

Many views will be bots, many will be people who are just surfing and aren't members or aren't really interested in posting here right now.

We get local seasonal organic veg once a week and I tend to check origins of goods I buy in shops, but am not religious and there's also other factors involved. Such as: Israeli or South African? I'd choose SA, irrelavant of miles. Local wrapped in plastic or French loose? I'd choose French.

harpy
Mar 12th, 2008, 10:27 PM
There already are threads where people discuss growing their own food, composting, organic box schemes, rejecting packaging, and so on. I doubt if anyone is going to stick their neck out and claim to be greener than green though.

I'm not quite sure why you think vegan dietary choices may put more pressure on the environment than omnivorous ones? Yes, there are issues about air freighting and so on, but is there any reason to think that vegans are less conscientious about these matters than everyone else?

cobweb
Mar 12th, 2008, 10:38 PM
I don't understand the argument atall - do all meat-eaters only eat local produce?.

Sum Doood
Mar 12th, 2008, 11:16 PM
I'm not quite sure why you think vegan dietary choices may put more pressure on the environment than omnivorous ones? Yes, there are issues about air freighting and so on, but is there any reason to think that vegans are less conscientious about these matters than everyone else?

What some argumentative omnivores from UK latitudes who espouse a local-rural-organic-keep-a-few-livestock-and-shoot-a-few-pests lifestyle have said includes,

What about your soya milk (and distance travelled)?
Ditto lentils.
Ditto rice and the methane produced in stirring up the paddy fields.
And other salad-type foods only available (in winter months) from, say, Spain and further away.

In other words, they can get along right through our UK winters without any far-travelling foods certain of which are generally considered by vegans to be staples.

harpy
Mar 13th, 2008, 12:16 AM
Hmm, these don't sound like typical omnivores. I would have thought a typical omnivore's diet did a lot more environmental damage than a typical vegan's, especially as in addition to animal products most omnivores would sometimes consume the things you mention I imagine, apart from the soy milk.

A very conscientious vegan wouldn't have to eat any of the things that you mention I don't think - they could live mainly off brassicas and roots over the winter. For protein I suppose they could eat beans that they'd dried or bottled over the summer, or nuts that they'd gathered.

What's the objection to lentils? I doubt if they're air-freighted.

cobweb
Mar 13th, 2008, 12:30 AM
Yes, i agree, Harpy.
Personally i hate rice and don't enjoy eating lentils too often. At the moment I am mainly eating locally and/or U.K grown carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, oats, wheat and potatoes.
The soy and soy products i use aren't local of course, but there again it's perfectly possible to live without them.

Even if a meat-eater ate all local veg and local 'meat' they would still be causing environmental damage from eating animals, eg the feed for the animals, the energy to 'produce' the 'meat' (ack!), etc. They would also be eating dairy products which are pretty unfriendly to the environment what with all the processing required.

I think it's a really pathetic argument actually.

Sum Doood
Mar 13th, 2008, 12:42 AM
Hmm, these don't sound like typical omnivores. A very conscientious vegan ... could live mainly off brassicas and roots over the winter. For protein I suppose they could eat beans that they'd dried or bottled over the summer, or nuts that they'd gathered. What's the objection to lentils? I doubt if they're air-freighted.

Have I cast myself as devil's advocate?
No, they're not typical omnivores (nor did I suggest that they were).
Lentils? Whether freighted by air, sea or lorry they're still travelling to the UK.

Back to my original question, Are you aware of any reliably conclusive study on this issue?

If not, do you know of any individual, organisation or university department which might be prepared to carry out such a study?

cobweb
Mar 13th, 2008, 12:47 AM
you could contact the Vegan Society.

bryzee86
Mar 13th, 2008, 01:04 AM
I think it was the UN that produced "Livestock's Long Shadow" - google it.

Sum Doood
Mar 13th, 2008, 01:16 AM
you could contact the Vegan Society.

Surely. I'm doing that right now.

But if such a study were the first to be undertaken, then, as in any study, I suppose, a high degree of verifiable independence is necessary so as to avoid complaints of unfair bias. So, in theory, a university would be better.

As I recall, it was here http://forum.downsizer.net/ that some of these anti-veggie / vegan points were made. They're generally a very meaty lot at downsizer.

Another anti angle was that the farming of plants for human consumption is more harmful to wildlife than mixed farming.

Sum Doood
Mar 13th, 2008, 01:30 AM
I think it was the UN that produced "Livestock's Long Shadow" - google it.

Yeah, I'm fairly familiar with that one. My gainsayers said but, but, but and look at how useless, ineffective, biased, etc., the UN were at A, B & C, etc., moan, moan, ad inf., (as they do).

I'd like to be wrong about this, but I don't remember that there was anything within that study which showed that someone had got right down to an individual, or an individual family's level and proved it, not at UK latitudes anyway. Do you?

Betty.yellow
Mar 19th, 2008, 10:16 AM
Mmm I am quite interested to find this thread as it is something that I have been thinking about alot lately.

I was chatting to a very enviornmentally conscious friend who does eat meat at the weekend and she accused my vegan diet of being unethical- pointing out the air miles on my soya and tofu for instance.
She said that in her opinion (which I didn't agree with)that it was more ethical to eat locally sourced food, including meat that had been well reared and was free-range etc, local dairy from free range cows etc, seasonal fruit and veg, than it was to eat a vegan diet, which daily includes food that has to be flown over from the other side of the world.

I would never eat meat or dairy, the whole concept is strongly wrong and abhorrent to me but alot of what my friend said has got me thinking. I mean I don't eat a lot of tofu and soya, however I guess I do buy alot of fruit that is not produced in the UK.
What do other people reckon about this?

cedarblue
Mar 19th, 2008, 11:03 AM
perhaps you could switch to oat/rice/nut milks, are they uk produced? i don't know. what about having a go at making your own tofu with uk grown soy beans. or maybe you could cut out one of the soya products, say use the tofu to eat/cook with but phase out the soy milks, if you are concerned? just a couple of thoughts.


for me, seasonal and local vegan food is the ideal, it's not always the practical though. that's why i grow so much in my garden. i may eat some veg that clocks up some miles during the down/winter time but i do my best to offset that a little with my summer growing.

harpy
Mar 19th, 2008, 02:00 PM
I don't think you actually have to eat stuff flown from the other side of the world. I'd say it's a personal choice for vegans, the same as for everyone else.

If you decide to eat mainly local stuff, then farmers' markets, greengrocers' shops or organic veg delivery boxes are usually good sources, as well as growing your own. Some supermarkets also carry a reasonable amount of locally grown vegetables, and at least one (M&S) labels stuff that is airfreighted so you can avoid it.

Buying only local fruit would certainly limit your choice in winter (apples seem to keep well though!) and as has been pointed out it's not always a straightforward decision. For example, locally grown stuff requiring a heated greenhouse may consume more energy than an imported equivalent.

Sum Doood
Mar 19th, 2008, 02:13 PM
Certain veg, turnips, etc can overwinter in "clamps" for livestock feeding, so surely for us as well.

I'm glad to see some more folks here are interested in this topic. I received a very good reply from the Vegan Soc and with permission hope to reproduce it here soon.

Jiffy
Mar 19th, 2008, 02:17 PM
It's a red herring designed to assuage carnivore consciences. Isn't it funny how every carnivore professes to be Hugh Fearnley bloody whatsisname all of a sudden. Not everyone has the luxury of living in a rural area and is able to source food produced locally.

The amount of soy used for direct human consumption is minute compared to the tonnage used for winter animal feed.....and let's not forget about the 2500 litres of water it takes to produce a pound of beef.

harpy
Mar 19th, 2008, 02:25 PM
Isn't it funny how every carnivore professes to be Hugh Fearnley bloody whatsisname all of a sudden.


:D Well put.

Sum Doood
Mar 19th, 2008, 02:28 PM
Here's the reply:


Thank you for your e-mail.

Many meat eaters believe (or want to believe) that the vegetarian and vegan diet puts more pressure on the environment however studies show the opposite to be true, especially if you eat a vegan diet as cheese can have almost the same impact on the planet as beef, so if a vegetarian eats a lot of cheese their impact might not be much less than that of a meat eater!

Many meat eaters fail to see the indirect impacts of eating livestock, which are very, very significant. For example livestock animals are fed more protein than they can ever produce, it can take 10kg of good quality feed to produce 1kg of beef. This is simply not sustainable where as eating lower down the food chain is.

Although veggies and vegans do eat soya - 90% of all the worlds soya protein is fed to livestock animals and not humans so the biggest consumers of soya on the planet are actually meat eaters (eating it indirectly through livestock animals). Livestock also uses huge amount of water

A typical British diet uses roughly three times the resources of a balanced vegan diet (that is a typical diet that includes a mix of imported and non imported foods). In terms of land, water and (fossil fuel) energy, three vegans or two vegetarians can live on what one omnivore uses.

Livestock’s Long Shadow is a very good a thorough study that was very focused where as other stats are often dug out of studies whose focus was actually another subject but who found something vegan related on the way!

There is this study below that you might find interesting
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~choucc/environmental_impact_of_various_dietary_patterns.p df (http://www-personal.umich.edu/~choucc/environmental_impact_of_various_dietary_patterns.p df)

Meat eaters might think organic/locally grown/free range is the best. But if the UK was to switch just its chicken farming to a fully free range system we would need an extra 700 square miles of land!

Many vegan staples can be grown either in the UK or Europe, Plamil (who make soya milk) source all their beans from France , Yagga source all their veg protein from Italy . Considering that many of our foods come from outside of Europe this is not actually that far. Many beans pulses and even some nuts are grown in the UK

If you want minimal food miles the best people to contact would be the movement for Compassionate Living who are a vegan organisation who encourage their members to eat as locally as possible.
Their website is below
http://www.mcl.unisonplus.net/ (http://www.mcl.unisonplus.net/)


Verity Hunt-SheppardInformation Officer
The Vegan SocietyDonald Watson House21 Hylton StreetBirminghamB18 6HJ

cobweb
Mar 19th, 2008, 02:35 PM
there must be a hell of a lot of organic, local-produce eating, non-car driving environmentally friendly meat eaters out there!. thank god someone's looking after things for us, eh? :D

Jiffy
Mar 19th, 2008, 06:48 PM
Jiffy, are you mixing with posh-ish people? Me, I encounter too many fickos (people who are really fick), who still have no awareness of organic anything.

I wish!

I was merely using him as a classic example of a born again welfarist, many of whom seem to be coming out of their environmentally friendly woodwork of late.

It's OK to kill animals if you don't feed them chemicals and make sure they have a 'happy' life, including a couple of weeks in Eastbourne :rolleyes:

Betty.yellow
Mar 19th, 2008, 06:58 PM
Good replies everyone.
I have been looking into getting a fruit and veg box from a local farm, which sources locally grown produce and it seems like a good idea.
Also growing my own fruit and veg seems like a plan, however I may be moving inthe summer so can't really commit to any gardening plans yet.

But you are right, the amount of ethically conscious meat eaters who really care where their meat and dairy etc comes from, and who genuinely care about locally sourced food from must be the small minority. Most of the meat guzzlers I know really don't give a thought to their food, so I don't see how anyone can point the finger at vegans and say we're the unethical ones.

Roxy
Mar 19th, 2008, 07:12 PM
I would definately like to start eating more locally - especially as the warmer weather is now approaching.

I have a question though. I live in Canada - so what would you guys consider "local" food for me? Just Canadian grown food, or USA grown food too? We get a lot of produce from the USA here.

Of course we also get a lot of produce from within my province, during the spring and summer months, so that would always be first preference. But how "local", would you consider, local?

Sum Doood
Mar 19th, 2008, 10:22 PM
But how "local", would you consider, local?

I think that in the UK local means from no more than 5 to 10 miles away. Yes, that close. Here's another interpretation, it's only another one of mine - no further than you'd want to ride a bicycle twice a week for no other reason than to buy food and bring it home.