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Thread: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

  1. #1
    forge
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    Default Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    I am hoping that by joining this forum I can get some advise on a tricky question I have.
    It is claimed that a vegetarian or vegan diet is more environmentally friendly than a meat based diet. However, one of the primary principles of sustainability is producing goods and services as locally as possible, but a vegan diet is heavily dependent on imported foods. Many of the staples of a vegan diet cannot be grown in Britain (or anywhere with a similar climate) such as Soya beans, lentils and other legumes, rice and all but a few nuts and fruits. It is my understanding that a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet would be impossible to grow in Britain, making it un-sustainable due to its dependency on imported foods. By contrast a traditional diet, which includes meat and other animal products, can be grown on a local scale in Britain following tried and tested practises.
    Any comments, advice or opinions on what, to me, seems to be quite a complex subject would be welcome.

    forge.


  2. #2
    Abe Froman Risker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Anything that can be grown elsewhere can also be grown in Britain.
    "I don't want to live on this planet any more" - Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth

  3. #3
    mrknifey87
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    This really complicated a paper I did recently about veganism and sustainability. What the issue needs are just some good solid statistics (which I don't have). For the record I think that a free-range, organic meat diet is also unsustainable for economic (can you afford that $6-per-pound-goodness?) and ecological (it takes a hell of a lot of land) reasons, especially given the kind of population you would have to hypothetically feed in this manner if the idea took off. So for practical purposes I think you should look primarily at factory farming vs. imported vegan goods. According to Dr. David Pimentel, the energy input-to-output for an intensively reared cow is 54:1. That is super duper inefficient - BTW, I'm not even sure if this includes the amount of water and energy used to grow all the grain before it goes into its rumen to be grumbled about. On the other hand, for an import item you've got to remember that thousands of apples are coming in that one truck or boat from their point of origin. So it really may be that importing all those apples may consume *less* energy than that intensively reared cow, especially if they're organic because according to a paper (I can find it if you want it), organic farms use approximately 30% less fossil fuels than a conventional farm.

    Of course, this can also bode poorly for a farmer's market setup too. Having a hundred people drive ten miles to their farmer's market to buy veggies can be just as wasteful as having one truck haul produce several hundred miles to the supermarket. If you come across any good data comparisons for this, let us know!

    edit: And I'm pretty sure you could grow all the fundaments of a vegetarian diet in britain, just perhaps not vegan. A lot of the imported foods you could probably replace nutritionally with someone locally available. The question is: is this a variety in your diet you could stomach in your diet for a long time? Although I'm not for Britain - maybe it is a barren industrial wasteland like our government tells us.

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    ♥♥♥ Tigerlily's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote Risker View Post
    Anything that can be grown elsewhere can also be grown in Britain.
    Oranges? Mangos? Avocados? Kiwis?
    Peace, love, and happiness.

  5. #5
    mrknifey87
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote Risker View Post
    Anything that can be grown elsewhere can also be grown in Britain.
    I think the inability to grow healthy produce in many parts of the world is a good argument for why veganism isn't and shouldn't be a universal philosophy. I'll never put meat or dairy on my plate in America, but if I had to venture to some remote region in Africa I wouldn't have a problem with eating whatever was available. Although I wouldn't ever venture out of the vegan practicality zone without a very good reason for doing so.

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    Abe Froman Risker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote Tigerlily View Post
    Oranges? Mangos? Avocados? Kiwis?
    I'm sitting next to an avocado tree as I type this, there are 3 in this house. Of course they are in a heated house right now (They are outside 70% of the year) , however there are gardens in the UK growing all sorts of tropical fruit and veg without any artificial heat/lighting etc. It's entirely possible, just cheaper to import.
    "I don't want to live on this planet any more" - Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth

  7. #7

    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    There are actually quite a lot of foods native to Britain that are well suited to a vegan diet, and yet even more foods that whilst aren’t native to Britain will happily grow in our soil. If using a greenhouse then it gives you an even wider selection of foods you can grow, I have seen bananas been grown in a greenhouse in the North of Scotland, not the warmest or sunniest of places.

    Here is a short list of a few things I can think of.

    Vegetable: Leek, Carrot, Squash, Pumpkin, cucumber, lettuce, broccoli, Potato, onion, radish, turnip, sprouts, sweet corn, beetroot, cauliflower,

    Fruit: Strawberry, Tomato, Apple, Pear, Plum, Damson, Raspberry, Blackcurrant, Blackberry, Gooseberry, Cherry, grapes, rhubarb, peppers (I have heard of oranges, apricots, peaches, kiwi, figs, lemons, etc also been grown outdoors in the uk)

    Nut: Hazelnut, Walnut, sweet chestnut.

    Legumes: Broad bean, Runner bean, French beans, Soya bean, and various pea varieties.

    Grains and seeds: Wheat, Oats, Corn, Sunflower, Rape, Flax, pumpkin, hemp.

    A wide variety of mushrooms can also be grown in the UK.

    Everything that I eat regularly in my diet could be grown outdoors in the UK. Occasionally I do eat rice but this could be grown in a greenhouse in the UK

  8. #8
    Abe Froman Risker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    "I don't want to live on this planet any more" - Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth

  9. #9
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    What, no tea or coffee? I'd move. But here is a list of outdoor vegetables grown in the UK from my quick web search:
    » Asparagus
    » Bean - Broad
    » Bean - French
    » Bean - Runner
    » Beet (Leaf)
    » Beetroot
    » Broccoli
    » Brussels Sprouts
    » Cabbages
    » Carrot
    » Cauliflower
    » Courgette
    » Cucumber (outdoor)
    » Edible Flowers
    » Garlic
    » Herbs
    » Kale (Borecole)
    » Kohl Rabi
    » Leek
    » Lettuce
    » Marrow
    » Onion
    » Parsnip
    » Peas
    » Potato
    » Pumpkin
    » Radish
    » Rocket
    » Salsify
    » Scorzonera
    » Shallots
    » Spinach
    » Squash
    » Swede
    » Sweetcorn
    » Tomato (outdoor)
    » Turnip

    As mentioned earlier, the use of greenhouses would increase the list substantially. I've omitted nuts, seeds, berries, and fruits. Wheat, barley, oats and rye are the main cereals/grains.

  10. #10
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote forge View Post
    ...a vegan diet is heavily dependent on imported foods.
    Hi - it actually isn't, which you'll see from the lists above (and other, longer lists). Plus - what's the alternative? Start killing and animals - which we are against? No. If I would have been born and raised close to arctic areas where growing plants would have been a problem, the answer would have been to move to an area where food can be grown/collected, not to kill, harm or exploit for food.




    By contrast a traditional diet, which includes meat and other animal products, can be grown on a local scale in Britain following tried and tested practises.
    I don't know about UK, but I've heard similar 'arguments' in Norway, where I'm from. When people talk about the glory of the traditional diet, the imagine someone eating a peace of cows meat and some potatoes while listening to someone playing a fiddle. No other vegetables, except maybe a peace of tomato. They forget that both the the cows, the potatoes, the fiddle (and the tomato) are not part of our tradition, but have been imported to Norway at some point in history.

    I've seen questions similar to yours raised by people who seem to try to find arguments showing that being vegan isn't 'perfect' - mainly by people who seem to be OK with using imported goods like tea, coffee, sugar, tobacco, computers, cars, clothes, iPods, mobile phones - or vegetables and fruit during the cold season. They never discuss how we should try to make us independent of other imported goods, or seem to have any ethical problems with problems with killing animals ("they're local!"). They don't seem to be worried about all the environmental side effects of factory farming, or the extra land needed to grow all the food animals that are killed for food needs, or all the extra transport (= more environmental issues) that's needed when first growing a lot of livestock food, transporting it to where the animals are, then transport of animals to the slaughter houses, the transport of the meat (cooling is needed) to the shops, or all the electricity needed to keep the meat cold/frozen before it's sold/eaten. They seem to want to find an excuse to eat meat - period.

    (By the way, we already have a thread about Veganism In Cold Climates which discuss some of the same issues here.)

    Humans are not 'designed' to live anywhere on the planet: it would eg. be difficult to live on local food only in the Northern parts of Sweden, Norway and Finland, for example, because the winters are very long there. The closer to the North and South Pole you get, the more difficult it is to survive.

    Humans have been storing (drying, freezing etc) food for centuries, but life would have been a lot easier for these people if all the families took their belongings and moved to a warmer climate. Non-vegans in these climates tend to think that eating meat is the natural answer, but both forget that the animals most Scandinavian meat eaters eat aren't 'natural' elements in these climates: they wouldn't have survived a winter up there simply because they couldn't move around and find food in all that ice and snow. Human manipulation is needed: manipulation that involves a lot of environmental issues. And even if all these millions of people would give up the cold climates and move closer to Equator, they'd have to pollute the world to get there.

    Unless one lives in a relative warm climate and grow all the food locally, preferably in your own garden, you'll leave some ecological footprints on your way to fill up your belly. And even if you do that, you'll probably need/buy some spade or other equipment that has been brought to your village by some polluting truck. That's no excuse to ignore environmental issues, but starting to 'mass produce' animals or kill innocent wild animals isn't a solution for someone who respect them.

    With the population we have today, humans can't survive on wildlife. Veganism isn't about going back to the stone age or eating wild, 'free' animals anyway, which basically gives us two remaining options: Find the best ways to get the plant based food to your home while harming the environment as little as possible, or move to a warmer climate and more or less grow your own food. A combination of the two sounds quite tempting to me!
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  11. #11
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote mrknifey87 View Post
    I think the inability to grow healthy produce in many parts of the world is a good argument for why veganism isn't and shouldn't be a universal philosophy. I'll never put meat or dairy on my plate in America, but if I had to venture to some remote region in Africa I wouldn't have a problem with eating whatever was available.
    ...but veganism was never meant as a 'local' solution for people living in eg. America or areas with similar conditions only. Vegetarianism was born centuries before factory farming existed. Veganism goes a lot further than saying that eating meat/dairy/eggs is OK in some countries/regions, but not in others. It's not even about food only.

    Veganism IS a 'universal philosophy', to use your term - you won't find eggs, meat or dairy products on a vegan cafe anywhere in the world. That doesn't mean that you can put a million people on the North Pole and successfully convince them that's it's easy to find vegan food there! It means that vegans - like all other people - should try to stick to areas where they have access to food they're happy with eating.

    You mention that you wouldn't have a problem eating 'whatever was available' in Africa, but this just means that you're not a vegan - if 'whatever available' includes animal products, which it looks like it does...
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  12. #12
    Chris O's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    I think a key point is that while it may be true that animals can be reared locally, thus using less resources, I would guess that the majority of animal products consumed are imported. This leads to an even greater usage of fuel and other forms of energy and also has led, and is continuing to do so, to vast areas of South America being de-forested to grow fodder crops for cattle, and many other parts of the world being made barren through similar animal farming methods, which are then exported all over the Western world.

    I recall reading somewhere, many years ago, that it takes 8 acres of land to sustain 1 acre of cows. If this is still true, then maybe some one could work out the respective environmental costs in terms of energy and habitat for this and a vegan diet.

    Has anyone ever thought about the issue of vegan clothing? I've considered the merits of buying an old wool jumper form a charity shop (there are plenty that support animal shelters, so the money would be going towards hepling animals, not the me*t industry) against buying a new man-made fibre product.
    The main issue being the use of fresh resources against recycling old ones.
    The wool jumper could be said to good because it doesn't involve any new resources, whereas, the new product does. The obvious downside is that it originally came from an animal.
    This is even more pertinant when you realise that many things, such as goretex are made from plastics which come from petrochemicals-a whole industry that causes the pollution and/or destruction of vast amounts of habitat, therfore, animals, globally.
    Hemp fibres are better, but still involve monoculture stlye farming, which isn't great, habitat wise, whatever is being grown.
    I find this type of issue really difficult. I don't want to use animal products, but I don't know which would be better for the enviroment and the animals that live in it
    Twigs and Gravel (what do you eat?)

  13. #13
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Hi Chris, have you seen the thread about using old, non-vegan products?
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Here's a list of herbs and vegetables which can be grown in the North of England. Sorry about the formatting - or lack of - didn't have time to sort it out properly.

    HERBS
    Alexanders
    Balm
    Balm of Gilead
    Basil Bolloso Napoletano
    Basil Fine Nano Compatto a Palla
    Basil Lemon
    Basil Lettuce Leaved
    Basil Lime
    Basil Violetto Aromatico
    Bergamot Mixed
    Betony
    Blessed thistle
    Borage White
    Burning bush
    Burnet Salad
    Calamint Lesser
    Chamomile
    Clary Sage
    Dog Rose
    Evening Primrose
    Heartsease
    Hemp Agrimony
    Horehound
    Hyssop Blue
    Joe Pye Weed
    Lemon Grass
    Lady's Mantle
    Marjoram Pot
    Marjoram Sweet
    Motherwort
    Oregano Greek
    Oregano True Greek
    Rocket Skyrocket
    Rocket Wild
    Rue
    Sage English
    Savory Summer

    SALAD LEAVES
    American cress
    Asparagus Lettuce Cracoviensis
    Celtuce
    Chop Suey Greens
    Greek Cress
    Purslane Golden
    Purslane Green
    Salad All Season
    Salad Baby Leaf
    Salad Herb
    Salad Niche Oriental
    Winter Purslane

    ASTERACEAE
    Artichoke Purple Globe
    Artichoke Violetto Precoce
    Artichoke Violetto Precoce
    Burdock
    Cardoon Bianco Avorio
    Cardoon Gigante di Romangna
    Cardoon Gobbo di Nizzi
    Chicory Barba di Cappucino
    Chicory Bianca di Chioggia
    Chicory Bianca di Milano
    Chicory Catalgna Frastagliata
    Chicory Catalogna Gigante di Chioggia
    Chicory Catalogna Pugliese
    Chicory Catalogna Puntarelle a Foglia Stretta
    Chicory Catalogna Puntarelle Brindisina
    Chicory Catalogna Puntarelle di Galatina
    Chicory Dura Witloof
    Chicory Grumolo Nero
    Chicory Grumolo Rossa
    Chicory Grumolo Verde
    Chicory Intybus
    Chicory Orchidea Rossa
    Chicory Palla Rossa 'Agena'
    Chicory Palla Rossa 'Guisto'
    Chicory Palla Rossa 'Melot'
    Chicory Palla Rossa 'Pagoda'
    Chicory Palla Rossa 'Pagoda'
    Chicory Pan di Zucchero
    Chicory Red Rib
    Chicory Rossa di Treviso
    Chicory Rossa di Treviso 2
    Chicory Rossa di Treviso 'Svelta'
    Chicory Rossa Italiana
    Chicory Selvatica da Campo
    Chicory Soncino
    Chicory Spadona
    Chicory Sugar Loaf
    Chicory Taglio Bionda a Fofglie Larghe
    Chicory Variegata di Castel Franco
    Chicory Variegata di Chioggia 'Fladige'
    Chicory Witloof Zoom F1
    Chicory Yellora F1
    Chicory Zuccherina di Trieste
    Dandelion
    Endive Ascolana
    Endive Bionda a Foglia di Lattuga
    Endive Blond Full Heart
    Endive Bubikopf 2
    Endive Cornet de Bordeaux
    Endive di Bordeaux
    Endive Fine de Louvier
    Endive Gigante di Bergamot
    Endive Glory
    Endive Grobo
    Endive Jeti
    Endive Pancalieri
    Endive Riccia
    Endive Romanesca da Taglio
    Lettuce Amorina
    Lettuce Arctic King
    Lettuce Aruba RZ
    Lettuce Barba dei Frati
    Lettuce Belize
    Lettuce Chartwell
    Lettuce Corsair
    Lettuce La Brilliante
    Lettuce Lattughino
    Lettuce Lizzy
    Lettuce Lobjoits Green Cos
    Lettuce Maravilla de Verano Canasta
    Lettuce May King
    Lettuce Parella Rossa
    Lettuce Red Batavian
    Lettuce Red Wave
    Lettuce Romana Mortarella Verde d'Inverno
    Lettuce Rouge Grenobloise
    Lettuce Tonale Ice Queen
    Lettuce Winter Crop
    Lettuce Winter Density
    Lettuce Rouge d'Hiver
    Lettuce Salad Bowl
    Lettuce Sucrine
    Lettuce Ubriacona frastagliata
    Salsify
    Scorzonera

    OTHER
    Asparagus Jersey Knight F1
    Sweet Corn Baby Corn
    Sweet Corn Indian Summer
    Sweet Corn Jubilee
    Sweet Corn Lark F1
    Sweet Corn Sweet Nugget
    Sweet Corn Swift F1

    POLYGONACEAE
    Bistort
    Buckwheat
    Chinese Water Pepper
    Rhubarb
    Rhubarb Glaskins Perpetual
    Sorrel Blood Veined
    Sorrel Buckler Leaved

    LEGUMES
    Asparagus Pea
    Azuki Bean
    Climbing Bean Dolichos Lab Lab
    Broad Bean Aquadulce
    Broad Bean Bunyards Exhibition
    Broad Bean Express
    Broad Bean Fino
    Broad Bean Grand Violetto
    Broad Bean Green Windsor
    Broad Bean Hangdown Green
    Broad Bean Jubilee Hysor
    Broad Bean Martock
    Broad Bean Masterpiece Green Longpod
    Broad Bean Medes
    Broad Bean Red Flowered
    Broad Bean Stereo
    Broad Bean Supersimonia
    Broad Bean The Sutton
    Broad Bean White Windsor
    Broad Bean Witkiem
    Chick pea
    Climbing French Bean Barlotta Lingua di Fuoco
    Climbing French Bean Blauhilde
    Climbing French Bean Blue Lake (White Seeded)
    Climbing French Bean Borlotto Lamon
    Climbing French Bean Borlotto Rosso
    Climbing French Bean Cobra
    Climbing French Bean Eva
    Climbing French Bean Isabelle
    Climbing French Bean Meraviglia di Venezia
    Climbing French Bean Neckar Gold
    Climbing French Bean Yard Long
    Drying Bean Brown Dutch
    Drying Bean Horsehead
    Drying Bean Marie Louise
    Drying Bean Soissons
    Dwarf French Bean Berggold
    Dwarf French Bean Aiguillon
    Dwarf French Bean Borlotto di Vigevano
    Dwarf French Bean Canadian Wonder
    Dwarf French Bean Cannelino
    Dwarf French Bean Hildora
    Dwarf French Bean Purple Queen
    Dwarf French Bean Sonesta
    Dwarf French Bean Tendergreen
    Dwarf French Bean Triomphe de Farcy
    Pea Cavalier
    Pea Early Onward
    Pea Ezethas Krombek Blau
    Pea Fetham First
    Pea Meteor
    Pea Onward
    Pea Misty
    Runner Bean Achievement Merit
    Runner Bean Czar
    Runner Bean Enorma
    Runner Bean Hestia
    Runner Bean Mergoles
    Runner Bean Summer Medley
    Runner Bean Sun Bright

    SOLANUM
    Aubergine Black Beauty
    Aubergine Calliope F1
    Aubergine Fairy Tale
    Aubergine Farmers Long
    Aubergine Farmers Long F1
    Aubergine Gitana
    Aubergine Neon F1
    Aubergine Ping Tung
    Aubergine Prosperosa
    Aubergine Red Egg
    Aubergine Tonda Bianca Sfumatadi Rosa
    Aubergine Tres Hative de Brabantine
    Chilli Pepper Caribbean Blend
    Chilli Pepper De Bresse
    Chilli Pepper Piccante di Cayenna
    Chilli Pepper Pinochio's Nose
    Chilli Pepper Prairie Fire
    Chilli Pepper Red Cherry
    Pepper Antohi Romanian
    Pepper Baby Cheesebells
    Pepper Choco F1
    Pepper Dulce Italiano
    Pepper Fushimi
    Pepper Gourmet
    Pepper Lombardo
    Pepper Quadrato D'Asti Rosso
    Pepper Round of Hungary
    Pepper Shishitou
    Pepper Sweet Orange Baby
    Pepper Tepin
    Pepper Trinidad Seasoning
    Pepper Unicorn F1
    Tomato Alicante
    Tomato Buissonante
    Tomato Cuor di Bue
    Tomato Garden Pearl
    Tomato Marglobe
    Tomato Marmande
    Tomato Matina
    Tomato Money Maker
    Tomato Pannovy F1
    Tomato Red Alert
    Tomato Roma
    Tomato Rosada F1
    Tomato Rose de Berne
    Tomato San Marzano Nano
    Tomato Tiny Tim
    Tomato Tondino Maremmano
    Tomato Totem
    Tomato Tumbling Tom
    Tomato Yellow Pygmy

    AMARANTHACEAE
    Amaranth Tender Leaf
    Beetroot Detroit
    Beetroot Forono
    Beetroot Libero RZ
    Beetroot Wodan F1
    Chard Bright Lights
    Chard Lucullus
    Chard Verde da Taglio
    Goosefoot White
    Good King Henry
    Leaf Beet Erbette
    Mangel
    Orache Red
    Spinach Giant Winter
    Spinach Matador
    Spinach New Zealand
    Spinach Riccio d'Asti
    Spinach Scenic
    Tree Spinach
    Wormseed

    VALERIANACEAE
    Lambs Lettuce Cavallo
    Lambs Lettuce Louviers
    Lambs Lettuce Trophy
    Lambs Lettuce Verte de Cambrai

    BRASSICAS
    Brocolli 9 Star Perennial
    Brocolli Bordeaux
    Brocolli Early Purple Sprouting
    Brocolli Spike
    Brocolli Sprouting Early Purple Red Arrow
    Brocolli Summer Purple Sprouting (Wok Brok)
    Brocolli Tenderstem Green Inspiration F1
    Brocolli White Eye
    Brocolli White Sprouting
    Brussel Sprout Darkmar 2
    Brussel Sprout Oliver
    Brussel Sprout Rubine
    Brussel Sprout Seven Hills
    Brussel Sprout Wellington
    Cabbage Advantage
    Cabbage Caramba F1
    Cabbage Hispi
    Cabbage Hispi
    Cabbage Hispi
    Cabbage Marner Early Red
    Cabbage Offenham 2 Flower of Spring
    Cabbage Pixie
    Cabbage Pyramid
    Cabbage Pyramid
    Cabbage Tundra F1
    Cabbage Wintergreen
    Calabrese Belstar F1
    Calabrese Decathlon F1
    Calabrese Fiesta F1
    Calabrese Veronica F1
    Cauliflower Di Jesi
    Cauliflower Di Sicilia Violetto
    Cauliflower Violet Queen F1
    Cauliflower Winter Armado April
    Cauliiflower Mexico F1
    Cauliiflower Snow March
    Chinese Cabbage Green Lance F1
    Chinese Cabbage Tatsoi
    Chinese Cabbage Yukina Savoy
    Chinese Cabbage Wong Bok
    Chinese Cabbage (small) Fong San Improved
    Chinese Cabbage (small) Green Seoul
    Chinese Kale Kailaan
    Choy Sum Hon Tsai Tai
    Choy Sum Purple
    Choy Sum Tsai Hsin
    Cima di Rapa Maceratese
    Indian Mustard Amsoi
    Kale Cavalo Laciniato
    Kale Cottagers
    Kale Dwarf Green Curled
    Kale Galega de Folhas Lisas
    Kale Nero di Toscana
    Kale Portuguese Penca Pavoa Verde
    Kale Red Bor F1
    Kale Red Russian
    Kale Red Winter
    Kale Ripbor
    Kale Rubibor
    Kale Russian Red Ursa
    Kale Sutherland
    Kale Westland Winter
    Kale Pentland Brig
    Kale Thousandhead
    Kohl Rabi Olivia F1
    Kohl Rabi Purple Danube F1
    Komatsuna
    Mibuna Green Spray
    Misome
    Mispoona
    Mizuna
    Mustard Bau-Sin
    Mustard Big Stem
    Mustard Golden Streaks
    Mustard Green in snow
    Mustard Peacock Tail
    Mustard Red Giant
    Mustard San-Ho Giant
    Mustard Tai Ping Po
    Mustard White
    Mustard Zlata
    Mustard Southern Giant
    Namenia
    Oriental Mix
    Pak Choi Canton White
    Pak Choi Joy Choi
    Pak Choi Qin Tah Tsai
    Pak Choi Riko F1
    Pak Choi Tah Tsai
    Radish Big Ben
    Radish Black Spanish Round
    Radish Cherokee
    Radish Mooli
    Radish Munchen Bier
    Radish Scarlet Globe
    Radish Zlata
    Sessantina
    Swede Brora
    Swede Joan
    Swede Magres
    Swede Airlie
    Swede Willhemsburger
    Turnip Di Milano a Colletto Viola
    Turnip Noir d'Hiver
    Turnip Tokyo Cross F1
    Turnip Golden Ball
    Turnip Ivory
    Turnip Purple Top Milan
    Turnip Tops
    Yu Choy Chin Gu
    Yu Choy Leafy Yu Choy
    Yu Choy Yu Choy Tai

    ALLIUMS
    Bunching Onion Feast F1
    Bunching Onion Ishikura
    Bunching Onion Kuronobori
    Bunching Onion Shimonita
    Bunching Onion Summer Isle
    Chinese Chives New belt
    Chives
    Leek Blauwgroene Herfst Ardea
    Leek Natan
    Leek Oarsman F1
    Leek St Victor
    Leek Startrack
    Leek Autumn Giant
    Onion Ailsa Craig
    Onion Brunswick
    Onion Cipola
    Onion Giant Zitau
    Onion Hi Keeper F1
    Onion Hystar F1
    Onion Keepwell
    Onion Lunga di Firenze
    Onion Napoleon F1
    Onion Owa
    Onion Puplette
    Onion Red Baron
    Onion Tonda Musona
    Salad Onion North Holland Blood Red Redmate
    Salad Onion White Spear
    Salad Onion Winter White Bunching
    Salad Onion Ishikuro
    Salad Onion White Lisbon
    Salad Onion White Lisbon (Winter Hardy)
    Shallot Ambition F1
    Shallot Prisma F1
    Welsh Onion Red
    Welsh Onion

    UMBELLIFERAE
    Angelica Chinese
    Angelica Gigas
    Anise
    Bulbous Chervil
    Carrot Autumn King 2
    Carrot Cubic
    Carrot Early Nantes
    Carrot Flakkee
    Carrot Kingston F1
    Carrot Nantes Frubund
    Carrot Nantes Frubund (Fast Crop)
    Carrot Navarre F1
    Carrot Parmex
    Carrot Rainbow
    Carrot Rothild
    Celeriac Alabaster
    Celeriac Bianco del Veneto
    Celeriac Monarch
    Celery Imperial RZ
    Chervil
    Chinese Celery (HDRA)
    Chinese Celery Kintsai
    Chinese Celery White Stem
    Coriander Cilantro
    Coriander
    Cumin
    Edible Carrot Leaf
    Florence Fennel Amigo F1
    Florence Fennel Finale
    Florence Fennel Mantovano
    Florence Fennel Victoria F1
    Hamburg Parsley
    Lovage
    Mitsuba
    Parcel
    Parsley Italian Giant
    Parsley Plain Leaved 2
    Parsnip Avonresister
    Parsnip Excalibur F1

    CUCURBITS
    Courgette Black Forest F1
    Courgette Bolognese
    Courgette Cavili
    Courgette Custard White
    Courgette Defender F1
    Courgette Gold Bush
    Courgette Striato di Napoli
    Courgette Tempra
    Cucumber Alvin F1
    Cucumber Crystal Apple
    Cucumber Long Green Maraicher
    Cucumber Masterpiece
    Cucumber Vert Petit de Paris
    Cucumber White Wonder
    Gherkin Beth Alpha
    Gherkin Diamant
    Gourds Crown of Thorns
    Melon Ananas
    Melon Cantalupo di Charentais
    Melon Charleston Gray
    Melon Crimson Sweet
    Melon Retato Degli Ortolani
    Melon Tendral Valenciano
    Mixed Pumpkins & Squashes
    Squash Avalon F1
    Squash Barbara Butternut F1
    Squash Berrettina Piacentina
    Squash Burgess Buttercup
    Squash Butternut
    Squash Futsu
    Squash Galeuse d'Eysines
    Squash Gem Store
    Squash Gigante di Napoli
    Squash Golden Hubbard
    Squash Hokkaido Pumpkin
    Squash Lunga di Napoli
    Squash Marina di Chioggia
    Squash Quintale Seme Giallo
    Squash Serpente di Sicilia
    Squash Table Ace F1
    Squash Table Gold
    Squash Thelma Sanders
    Squash Tonda Padana
    Squash Tromba D'Albenga
    Squash Vegetable Spaghetti
    Squash Waltham Butternut
    Squash Winter Festival F1
    Squash Zephyr F1
    Pumpkin Rouge Vif d'Etampes


    There are lots more. There is a variety of soya bean for northern climes - called Ustie - but I don't bother growing it because all the other beans grow better. There are hundreds of potato varieties available too...

    Noone would starve without lentils in a vegan UK!
    We are saved in the end by the things that ignore us. Andrew Harvey

  15. #15
    peasant terrace max's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote Korn
    If I would have been born and raised close to arctic areas where growing plants would have been a problem, the answer would have been to move to an area where food can be grown/collected, not to kill, harm or exploit for food.
    I'm glad to see this stated so clearly. I think it betrays ecological ignorance to believe human beings are entitled to live somewhere, anywhere, where subsistence depends upon violence and/or ecological destruction. This misconception pervades much of the typical Western lifestyle. Our entitlement within this ecosystem is limited to what is sustainable.

    Quote forge
    It is my understanding that a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet would be impossible to grow in Britain, making it un-sustainable due to its dependency on imported foods. By contrast a traditional diet, which includes meat and other animal products, can be grown on a local scale in Britain following tried and tested practises.
    Your understanding is flawed. It is not just possible, but relatively easy, to thrive on an entirely locally-sourced vegan diet in the UK. No imports whatsoever. By contrast, it is the 'traditional' UK diet which makes no sense economically (think about subsidies), health-wise, ecologically or ethically.
    We are saved in the end by the things that ignore us. Andrew Harvey

  16. #16
    I eve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Just been reading an article in the Vegan Voice that points out quite clearly that even if you ate meat and dairy every day from local sources, you need 1.6 hectares, but if you are vegan, only 0.5. If the meat eater changes to a mainly imported and processed diet, the footprint climbs to 1.9 hectares, but if we change the vegan diet to a mainly imported and processed food, the land requirement stays at 0.5 hectares.

    In other words, the adoption of a vegan diet is far more beneficial for the environment than choosing a local, unprocessed, meat-based diet.

    At the Friends of the Earth (FoE) conference 2005, a motion was adopted to consider recognising the need to promote a plant-based diet, and reduce meat, fish, and dairy on environmental grounds. However, the FoE watered down to an "idea of less but better meat, plus information and advice". These environmental organisations make me puke.
    Eve

  17. #17
    peasant terrace max's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote Eve
    These environmental organisations make me puke.
    I agree it's frustrating when environmentalists aren't brave enough to reject cruelty to other species. I also find it difficult to understand a vegan who isn't 'green'...

    I think we're encouraged to think in factions, to ignore the interconnectedness of animal welfare, human health, environment. Probably divide and rule in action again?
    We are saved in the end by the things that ignore us. Andrew Harvey

  18. #18

    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    The presence of six billions humans, growing and consuming more all the time really isn't sustainable at all in terms of the Earth and it's ecosystems. So as it stands no even a vegan diet isn't sustainable even if it's better than other options.

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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    As with everything in life,
    where there is a will
    there is a way.

    It is funny how humans can do something when society/science says that it can't be done,
    and then a group of humans says that it can be done,
    and viola! somehow it gets done.

    Can't grow this plant here, or there. Yet there is a vast diversity of plants on that land that can be eaten. Just because nobody knows about it, it is still there. Just look for them.

    First you have to go looking. Not just justify your excuse with it can't be done. Ignorance.

    Try being a vegan, and organic. I put alot of work into my own garden this summer, so I can be local and organic. Now I am finding out that many farms are going organic around here (transistion stage, so they don't advertise being organic yet). Just start looking.

    What is wrong with buying produce that is being grown sustainable in another country? Citrus will never be grown where I am, but if some farmer is being organic and keeping sustainable practice in their produce, then I am all for supporting that farmer by buying their produce. Responsible consumerism.

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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote forge View Post
    I am hoping that by joining this forum I can get some advise on a tricky question I have.It is claimed that a vegetarian or vegan diet is more environmentally friendly than a meat based diet.
    Your sorce is misinformed.
    Try reading Planet on a Plate for starters.

    http://www.viva.org.uk/guides/planetonaplate.htm

    As for soya, most soya grown is fed to stock animals. Also soya can be grown in the UK. And soya is not the problem. As explained in
    http://www.viva.org.uk/guides/planetonaplate.htm
    See my local diary ... http://herbwormwood.blogspot.com/

  21. #21
    peasant terrace max's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote Dart
    What is wrong with buying produce that is being grown sustainable in another country? Citrus will never be grown where I am, but if some farmer is being organic and keeping sustainable practice in their produce, then I am all for supporting that farmer by buying their produce. Responsible consumerism.
    I guess it comes down to the damage done by shipping produce around the globe - which far outweighs the benefit of it being organically grown. Some organic apples have clocked up more air miles than a terrorist suspect in the custody of the CIA.

    Citrus isn't essential for a balanced diet. And I think consumerism and environmental responsibility are a contradiction in terms.
    We are saved in the end by the things that ignore us. Andrew Harvey

  22. #22
    satirecafe
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    A vegan diet may not have been ecologically sustainable thousands of years ago, but today an omnivorous diet is not ecologically sustainable.

    Also, we should bear in mind that all humans originate from southern Africa, so it is important to study African vegetation to evaluate the ecological sustainability of veganism.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Veganism IS a 'universal philosophy', to use your term - you won't find eggs, meat or dairy products on a vegan cafe anywhere in the world. That doesn't mean that you can put a million people on the North Pole and successfully convince them that's it's easy to find vegan food there! It means that vegans - like all other people - should try to stick to areas where they have access to food they're happy with eating.


    this assumes that everyone on earth is priveledged enough to have a choice in where they live and what they eat. we are fortunate and have to realize that our ability to choose veganism is directly connected to the fact that we are not starving, we can up and move to wherever suits our whims, and we have access to the education and resources that show us how to make the most of our dietary choices. a good many people do not have that luxury, and i think it's really ridiculous to assume that an impoverished family in ethiopia (or East Timor, or Uzbekistan, or inner city Chicago) should be expected to put what little money and energy they have into moving someplace vegan or purchasing vegan foods which, when even available, are far beyond affordable in most places. realistically, one only has the luxury of considering the ethics of their diet after their basic needs are being met. to say otherwise is to claim that humans are somehow separate from other animals and we lack any sort of survival instinct.

  24. #24
    satirecafe
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    agreed. i think it is our moral duty to help that impoverished family in Ethiopia or east timor or Uzbekistan or inner city Chicago. animal rights and human rights must go hand in hand.

  25. #25
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote karmadust View Post
    this assumes that everyone on earth is priveledged enough to have a choice in where they live and what they eat.
    Not really - a vegan tribe wouldn't have settled in an area where they couldn't live on vegan food, but of course, there may be individuals or groups of people who suddenly find themselves in a situation where they can't get enough food, and in cases like this, non-cannibals have even been known to eat humans. But that doesn't mean that eating humans is now included in their philosophy!

    If you are talking about individuals, like eg. a 12-year old child in poor village in Ethiopia - or in Beverly Hills - who want to live as a vegan but are not able to do it because of his parents, I'd say that he is a non-practicing vegan, because 'vegan' isn't only about what you think, but how you live. 'Vegan' describes both a way of thinking and a way of living, and just like there is a 'universal' definition of the color green, there is a universal definition of what the term vegan means. If there's a tribe somewhere that eats meat and use other animal products for one reason or another, well... then that's not a vegan tribe. IMO it isn't more difficult than that.

    There may be individuals or groups that want to live as vegans, but for one reason or another don't - maybe they are trying to save their life somewhere by eating eggs - but eggs are still not a part of the vegan diet, so if they eat eggs, they aren't eating vegan food. If they have eggs, meat or dairy on the menu in their local menu, that isn't a vegan menu.

    I'm not sure what you disagree in, but I guess it's not that vegans should try to stick to areas where they have access to food they're happy with eating. Again, there may be groups or individuals in certain situations that may not be capable of doing that, but that doesn't make their animal-product-including lifestyle vegan.


    i think it's really ridiculous to assume that an impoverished family in ethiopia (or East Timor, or Uzbekistan, or inner city Chicago) should be expected to put what little money and energy they have into moving someplace vegan or purchasing vegan foods which, when even available, are far beyond affordable in most places.
    I think you misunderstand what I wrote - I'm not talking about what I expect people to do anywhere, really, or what someone would do to save her life. Since producing meat and milk takes a lot more resources than if humans would get their nutrients directly from the plants (instead of letting an animal eat plants first, then kill the animal and eat it), producing meat and milk in normally a luxury that people in these areas wouldn't be able to afford. The may catch wild animals and kill them, but if there are wild animals there, there must be plants there too, since wild animals either eat plants or plant eating animals. If you would try to explain poor, starving people in East Timor or Ethiopia that vegan foods are 'far beyond affordable', they wouldn't even understand what you are talking about, because vegan food for them would be using the same plant ingredients that is used all over the world, and plants (spices, rice, beans and lentils, fruit) isn't more expensive than meat. Personally I haven't been eating any 'vegan speciality food' ever, even if I live in a country where this is available.


    The definition of vegan and most other similar words is based on 'normal' situations, not on what someone would do in a life/death situation. There are Christian humans that have been eating other humans in order to survive in special situations, but that doesn't make cannibalism part of the Christian philosophy, and the same goes for being vegan: if a person who wants to live as a vegan are not able to do so due to special conditions in his life situation, and eats meat or eggs or drink milk to survive, eating meat or milk or eggs are still not part of the vegan lifestyle/philosophy or within the 'universal' definition of vegan...

    animal rights and human rights must go hand in hand.
    I totally agree.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  26. #26
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    Cool Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote forge View Post
    However, one of the primary principles of sustainability is producing goods and services as locally as possible, but a vegan diet is heavily dependent on imported foods.

    A very wide variety of grains are available including millet and oats which are very frugal agriculturally, legumes.

    Considering fresh vegetable - Well, sea-weed? Does it grow near the North pole? Just theoritically of course

  27. #27
    satirecafe
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    In a way, a diet with meat also relies on imported food. sheep originated in south central and south west asia, pigs in eurasia, chickens in eastern asia, turkeys in america, cows in eurasia. in a "natural" world, a diet with all of these animals would be unrealistic. basically, humans are reliant on technology for their food and there is no reason to stop (other than the pollution produced importing the food, but i'm confident that one day in the future we will be using pollution free transportation)

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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    i do not believe for a second that my vegan diet depends heavily, or at all, on imported goods.

    i live on an island where the #1 consumed food is PORK. but we grow many vegetables locally, naturally. most in the local rainforest. anything else i need i can grow myself, even if it is just on my fire escape.

    i strongly believe every vegan should know how to make their own soy milk from soybeans, and to use to left over soybean 'curd' to make awesome soy patties.

    i have incorporated my veganism into my permaculture outlook, and have tried very hard to be self sustaining.

  29. #29

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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    (quote) a vegan diet is heavily dependent on imported foods (/quote)

    The big media story in the UK at the moment is the bird flu epidemic at a Bernard Matthews factory farm in Suffolk. The prime suspect for the cause of this outbreak appears to be the importation of turkey flesh from Hungary.

    Many tons of turkey meat are apparently transported every month in what must be several huge funereal processions across the entirety of Europe. So, I don’t see how vegans should be singled out for criticism about food miles.

    And by the way, two employees of Bernard Matthews were recently dismissed following a very public humiliation. An animal rights organization secretly filmed them making sport of kicking birds and hitting them with sticks.
    I may be ancient but I’m active, a bit like a volcano.

  30. #30

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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    To quote forge:
    one of the primary principles of sustainability is producing goods and services as locally as possible
    I don’t think I agree with that. Local production may (or may not) lead to less overall pollution. But surely the fundamental principle of sustainability must be putting back in as much as you take out. For me, this means vegan organic farming as the way ahead.

    But there are many other ethical issues to consider:
    My oranges come all the way from southern Europe. They are grown in countries that are poorer than mine and they provide employment for people poorer than I am. I buy the fruit out of self-interest but the result is a redistribution of wealth. The same is even more true for the North African dates I eat.

    And here is a more extreme example:
    The air freighting of flowers from Kenya to Europe has been very strongly attacked recently on climate change grounds. Yesterday I listened to an interview with Glenys Kinnock, MEP, in which she asked people not to boycott the flowers. She defended the trade by saying that it employed many Kenyan women at fair wages who would otherwise have no job.

    As the philosopher put it, “Ethics sure is complicated, ain’t it.”
    I may be ancient but I’m active, a bit like a volcano.

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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programme...ca/1260248.stm


    here is a link to an example of why this kind of thing is not sustainable even for the Kenyans, not even taking account of air miles.
    Flower production is acutely water intensive and is never going to be sustainable in countries where water is in deep demand for survival.
    See my local diary ... http://herbwormwood.blogspot.com/

  32. #32
    Confused human HaplessGirl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    To take this thread in a different direction, do any of you have any information on vegan sustainable farming communities?

    A good friend of mine who is studying agriculture in college is interested in starting a sustainable farming project. We're basically only in the "dreaming about it" stage right now, but we imagine ourselves purchasing land and living off it, building whatever facilities we need on our own, and basically living off the farm. My friend is much more educated on the subject than I am.

    Now, she is convinced that we could not do this without using animals for various reasons. She wants to use cows for dairy, and use their manure as fertilizer and fuel for a methane digester (which would be a source of energy). She wants to use pigs because they can naturally till soil by rooting, and use their manure for fertilizer and the methane digester also. Then, when the animals are no longer of use to us, she wants to slaughter and eat them. For me, of course, this is completely out of the question. But she believes that our only alternative would be using farming equipment and energy sources that rely on expensive, environmentally damaging fossil fuels. She believes that in general, animals play an irreplaceable role in the ecosystem of a sustainable organic farm.

    I know that months (years?) of intensive research, and probably some hands-on experience, would be necessary to become educated enough to embark on such a project. But do any of you have any insights or recommendations on places to look for information? I find this to be quite a conundrum - if veganism isn't viable for a small-scale organic farm, then how can it be viable for the world at large?

  33. #33
    Abe Froman Risker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote HaplessGirl View Post
    animals play an irreplaceable role in the ecosystem of a sustainable organic farm.
    Of course they do, it doesn't mean that they need to be murdered or made to do things they don't want to though.

    Veganism IS viable for an organic farm, I don't see how you've come to the conclusion that it isn't other than the opinion of your omni friend. You don't want to use fuel? Fine, do it by hand - what's the problem with that? Alternatively you could grow crops to be used as fuel.
    "I don't want to live on this planet any more" - Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth

  34. #34
    Confused human HaplessGirl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Risker, I have not made any conclusions. If I made that impression, it was a mistake. I want very much to believe that a vegan sustainable farming community is possible. I just need the information to back it up.

    I guess in posting this, I was hoping for someone to pop up and say, "oh, I have experience with that," or, "some vegan sustainable farms already exist here, here, and here," or even, "here's a really good book you could read."

    It's very odd - as some of you have noted, a lot of people who are into being "green" aren't into being vegan. There are tons of books out there on organic farming and sustainability, and tons of books on veganism, but I have yet to find one on sustainable vegan farming! That's why I'm posting here, in case any of you vegans have some valuable experience or information on the topic.

  35. #35
    Not Giving Up Pisces's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    This website may be helpful, HaplessGirl. www.veganorganic.net

  36. #36
    Abe Froman Risker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote HaplessGirl View Post
    Risker, I have not made any conclusions. If I made that impression, it was a mistake. I want very much to believe that a vegan sustainable farming community is possible. I just need the information to back it up.
    Ah, fair enough, it did read that way. My apologies.
    "I don't want to live on this planet any more" - Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth

  37. #37
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    HG, this is the book to unconvince your friend:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Growing-Gree...8886781&sr=1-1

    It's a big subject - but adopting vegan-organic/stock free methods will make your project a lot more feasible, not least because you won't need land and resources to feed and imprison all those animals.

    Btw, there's nothing sacred about animal manure: nitrogen from the urine and soil conditioner from the straw. It's easily replaced by compost, green manure and homemade comfrey fertiliser.
    We are saved in the end by the things that ignore us. Andrew Harvey

  38. #38
    Confused human HaplessGirl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Pisces, thanks! Some of the information sheets and other resources on that site look like a great place to get started.

    Terrace, that looks like an excellent book. I'm going to ask for it for my birthday.

  39. #39
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    The Dancing Rabbit is a vegan eco-community farm. However, they do let guests consume organic meat while visiting. www.dancingrabbit.org
    I saw a program about the farm on TV and it looks like a well working, organized and clean place. Just how I like it.
    "Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends". ~ George Bernhard Shaw.

  40. #40
    Jjt
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    "we should bear in mind that all humans originate from southern Africa, so it is important to study African vegetation to evaluate the ecological sustainability of veganism"

    So then shouldn't we all move to Africa?

    P.s. - no we didn't

  41. #41
    Klytemnest
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote mrknifey87 View Post
    I think the inability to grow healthy produce in many parts of the world is a good argument for why veganism isn't and shouldn't be a universal philosophy. I'll never put meat or dairy on my plate in America, but if I had to venture to some remote region in Africa I wouldn't have a problem with eating whatever was available. Although I wouldn't ever venture out of the vegan practicality zone without a very good reason for doing so.
    I don't understand why it is so crucial that a vegan diet be sustainable locally. Why does that matter? And how is it that inability to grow bananas in Alaska makes it ethical to kill a defenseless, innocent animal? Bananas can be transported to Alaska, so can just about anything else that is necessary for a vegan diet. And this is why it is unjustifiable to kill animals for food or what-have-you - because it is not necessary for one's survival.

    If I were in a remote part of Africa and I was startving, I'd also eat whatever was available, but that's not to say that I wouldn't have a problem with it. The ethical issue would be altered only slightly. I would have killed or at least exploited an animal, a sentient being, so that I would benefit. And to take the position that my survival is more important than the survival of the animal is nothing but egoism. To take the position that it is OK to exploit animals if it benefits the human species is nothing but speciesism.

    So, yes, I am pretty sure I would eat whatever was available (because I would simply obey my instinct for self-preservation), but I would have a moral problem with it. What is it that *entitles* me to life more so than any other animal? Nothing. Ultimately, it is a matter of might-makes-right.

    Like I said in my introduction to this board, I get very passionate on this subject. Please do not mistake this for rudeness. This is big life change for me and I am having to do a whole lot of thinking. I guess my guilt about not having become a vegan sooner may from time to time come off as "hard-assedness."

  42. #42

    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Considering that even local animals raised for slaughter are fed imported grains and proteins, how is that more sustainable than eating local grains and proteins?

    Eating locally isn't easy, but I imagine that if you did the research, and put in the time, eating local vegan foods would be just as difficult as eating local omnivorous diets. Like everything else, it would take some research, time, and creativity. If you were eating local animals or animal products, you'd need to do even more research. How do you know the chickens arent' fed imported corn?

    Regardless, soy is certainly grown in the UK, just as it is in the northern US and Canada. I live near dozens of HUGE soybean fields, at least one of which is used to produce organic soymilk. At least that's acccountable, unlike the factory farms hidden from view, or the hundreds of pounds of grains and proteins fed to animals from hundreds of difference sources in a lifetime.

    There are just many more factors to consider with animals that make auditing for environmental or local issue sensitivity much more difficult. Unless you raise the animal yourself with grain you grow yourself, it's rather difficult to know what the sources are.

    Making the argument that meat is more "local" than the grain they eat is rather ridiculous.
    context is everything

  43. #43
    steven1222
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Eating local food is not really an option for me. Agriculture is declining in the Northeastern U.S. and has been for more than half a century. The crops that are still grown within 150 miles of me are not processed locally and are available only in season, and only in unprocessed form. I also fear that most of it is genetically engineered. With that having been said, local dairy farms are disappearing even more rapidly, and I do not miss them.

    Quote xrodolfox View Post
    Making the argument that meat is more "local" than the grain they eat is rather ridiculous.
    That is a good point. People who compare the travel mileage of plants and animal "foods" should consider the distance that the animals' feed traveled.

  44. #44
    frank language's Avatar
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    Default Most people believe...

    Most people believe animals are necessary to sustainability, because they produce fertilizer. Is it true that there are no veganic farms--at least on a large scale? (I know of a date farm in California whose entire operation is veganic—they used to use bat guano as fertilizer but now use only plant-based fertilizer—but I don't know of any organic farm that doesn't use manure as fertilizer.) I hadn't thought about it until I was posting in the group "greendaily" on LiveJournal where someone had asked about sustainable Christmas gifts, and someone suggested making a donation in the person's name; Heifer International came up as one of the suggestions.

    I asked why VEGFAM wasn't on the list, and several chimed in that veganism isn't a practical lifestyle choice to people in the third world; in particular, this one person replied:

    'On the contrary. Mixed farming is better for the land. Much land isn't suitable for growing regular crops without constant fertilizer input, and some land isn't suitable for growing regular crops, period. Mixed farming provides fertilizer (manures) that make sustainable vegetable crops possible. And on land that should never be plowed (arid lands in particular) grazing animals within the carrying capacity is the only sustainable way to provide human food from that land.

    'The current crisis in "big-ape" management is that nonsustainable farming for human food is forcing people to deforest slopes (which are even less suitable for the crops they grow, as both soil and nutrients in the soil disappear faster.) (See the review article "Complexity of Couples Human and Natural Systems" in SCIENCE, September 14, 2007, where studies on six ecosystems around the world, on five continents, in developed and undeveloped countries, consider how human behaviors interact with natural ecosystems.) You cannot grow grains year after year on any soil without some kind of fertilizer, some nitrogen source. Crop residues alone will not supply it. Traditional mixed farming (not factory farms) have always used animal (and sometimes human) manures to maintain soil fertility over centuries of use. Animal manures are superior to artificial fertilizers because they add not just nitrogen and other nourishment, but also organic materials that improve soil tilth. Moreover, artificial fertilizers require a lot of energy to produce and transport to the site of use. The family cow, pig, goat, even chickens, produces the fertilizer near the point of use--no fossil fuels involved in production or transportation, and no cash cost to the farmer.

    'The notion that Britain, for instance, could have sustainable agriculture without livestock and without artificial fertilizers being imported is ridiculous. The shift to crop production during WWII was fueled by the centuries of rich organic soil resulting from grazing. And the figures supposedly supporting how much food a given acreage will support completely ignores what every farmer in the world knows: land is not equal. Water availability, water quality, access to suitable soil amendments, access to the right seedstocks and tools, are not equal either.

    'Speaking as a land manager, wildlife manager, and someone with experience in subsistence- and sustainable- gardening and farming. Famine in this century is not the result of someone eating a burger...but of political choices that limit food distribution to those in need, disrupt previously successful farm communities (war always brings famine--you can't raise a crop, let alone harvest and store the harvest, if someone is raiding your village.)

    'I don't personally approve of factory farms or feedlots...but the blame for world hunger belongs on those who refuse to allow food to be shared (there are nations where groups wanting to feed the hungry are not allowed to do so, for political reasons), who disrupt farmers' lives, who destroy farmland in warfare and raiding (as in the Sudan) and also those who just don't get it about the real ecology of farming in varied conditions.'

    So this person is basically saying veganism is nothing but a luxury for Western-hemisphere brats, and the real subsistence comes from mixed farming, in which animals are raised and assist in the raising of crops. Discuss among yourselves.

  45. #45

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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    The ethics concerning veganism are complex and it is therefore inappropriate to reduce them to a polarized debate.

    To just focus on the ecological arguments for veganism, it could be argued that some mixed use agriculture may be appropriate. This would of course require a greatly reduced farm animal population whose only diet would be what they eat on the land they graze on. Of course, this is a far cry from the majority of the carbon intensive animal farming of today in the UK. Therefore it could be argued that veganism remains the best option.

    I do however believe that veganic farming could one day be used on a large scale. For example, with the right technology, humanure could be converted into safe fertilizer (especially if it was vegan humanure). Also, proper methods of crop rotation could be applied, to order to increase the fertility of the soil.

    There are of course currently areas of farmland that are only appropriate for animal farming and these could be converted to forestry ( as they would have been centuries ago).

    We would also have a policy of not building on flood plains as they not only have the potential to flood but also have the most fertile land for growing crops.

    There is a wealth of potential knowledge out there which could be used.
    Don't blame me for avian flu :(

  46. #46

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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    If land is left idle and not grazed it tend to return naturally to forestry on its own without human intervention. The exeptions are in arid zones but even these can be re-forested with the right intervention.
    http://www.treeaid.org.uk/
    for example
    See my local diary ... http://herbwormwood.blogspot.com/

  47. #47

    Default Re: Most people believe...

    Quote frank language View Post
    So this person is basically saying veganism is nothing but a luxury for Western-hemisphere brats, and the real subsistence comes from mixed farming, in which animals are raised and assist in the raising of crops. Discuss among yourselves.
    I hear that argument all the time. If it's not good for the most poor of the poor, then it's not good enough for us...

    The reality is that WE have a choice. I really don't know about the Inuit, or the poorest people in Africa with no access to clean water, but I do know about people in Latin America's southern cone, and people in North America, and people in Europe. WE have a choice. WE have a choice that doesn't exist for others, just like other people's have economic disincentives for having smaller families, or just like other peoples have strict social rules to parcel out scarce resources... unlike the rather liberal rules in N. America, Souther Cone Latin America, and Europe. I don't know about Asia... but I imagine that it's not different there either.

    Braty or not, WE have a choice. We can go vegan and thrive. We can try and have more veganic farming.

    I don't know about Africa. I don't know about rural Asia. But I do know that we can do it, and that's all that matters in terms of ethics. WE have a choice, and since we CHOOSE, that makes our actions subject to ethics. We can choose to lessen suffering of animals or increase it.
    context is everything

  48. #48
    coney
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    Quote carivegan View Post
    anything else i need i can grow myself, even if it is just on my fire escape.

    i strongly believe every vegan should know how to make their own soy milk from soybeans, and to use to left over soybean 'curd' to make awesome soy patties.

    i have incorporated my veganism into my permaculture outlook, and have tried very hard to be self sustaining.
    Wow, I wish I could do that in NYC! We can't have anything on our fire escape, against the law (it's the land of the free, y'know. Free to make laws against everything!). I've tried growing tomatoes in my apartment window, but it didn't work the 2 times I tried. Basil is terrific, though.

    Fresh soy milk would be great, I've not tried it yet. I'm sure it's real easy.

    I'm a member of a Community Supported Agricultre farm, or CSA. We each buy a share of the local organic farm's produce, and it gets delivered every week. I highly recommend doing something like that for people in a very urban area who cannot grow their own food. I guess it's sorta like those little plots of garden in the UK, but instead, the veggies are brought to us.

  49. #49
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    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    As a kid I spent many summers with my grandmother in Northern Europe. She grew much of her own food such as carrots, potatoes, rubarb, lettuce, cauliflower, strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, and much more... Potatoes were kept in a cellar during winter. The berries were made into jams and soups. We picked mushrooms and berries in the fall, which was put in the freezer. In addition, she raised cows for meat and dairy. Everything was organic, of course. What was bought from the store was usually drinks and comfort foods like gourmet cheeses and sausages, chocolate, potato chips, coffee, tea, beer.... and yes, some necessary items such as flour. The main staple was potatoes and bread, which was consumed in unlimited quantities.

    Looking back, it probably would have been possible to be a sustainable vegan on her farm by just omitting the meat and dairy. One would probably only have needed to buy beans and some other sources of protein.
    "Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends". ~ George Bernhard Shaw.

  50. #50
    boatsteem1
    Guest

    Default Re: Is a vegan diet ecologically sustainable?

    I think that since producing food for domestic animals, keeping land for them, giving them water, keeping them warm, transporting them when they're dead and so on, really takes such a large toll on the environment that it's more susainable to buy soya produced in South America and transport it to Europe.

    I've researched the situation for Sweden slightly, and about 50 % of our meat is imported. So there you have it, even meat is transported, not just vegetables. That's double bad for meat.

    What's even worse is that we feed these vegetables to the animals. This is really stupid since we unnecessarily jump one (or two!) food chain levels. It might look like this: vegetable is eaten by caterpillar is eaten by bird. For every level it generally takes much more land, energy and water to sustain an individual. In the example above we'll eat the bird. Ideally we should eat the vegetable.

    Same thing with soya beans: Soya bean is eaten by animal. Why just not eat soya beans?

    And this is just the basics

    Sorry if this has already been posted. The thread is so large I just haven't read it all

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