Environmental Awareness and Going Vegan- How Realistic is it?

It has recently been touted by the UN that with environmental awareness in mind many of the current planet woes could be solved by going vegan. That seems like a tall order for the millions of Americans who acclaim themselves as carnivores, but the focus wasn’t only on what we put in our mouths but our entire consumerism. This includes not purchasing items that are made of leather or down and opting only for cruelty free documented products. It may sound extreme but let’s first take a look at just how much of a difference it makes to skip eating beef for one day.

With environmental awareness in perspective it may be interesting to note that 51% of all of the greenhouse gasses released across the globe is comprised of the meat, egg, and dairy sector industry. So by passing on just ½ pound of beef you would be reducing the consumption of 2,000 gallons of water each day. The same passing of the burger would displace the same amount of carbon released should you have similarly driven a car 38 miles. It would also equate to preserving 110 square feet of rain forest; so there are plenty of reasons to veg out but is this really practical?

Surprisingly so; more and more vegan friendly options are made available not only across the food spectrum but there are even vegan approved shoes making their way into mainstream stores like Payless Shoes. There are plenty of clothing, cleaning essentials, and other accessories from websites such as The Vegetarian Site, Vegan Essentials, and Pangea. But when one’s environmental awareness and palette are coupled what is one to do? There are more and more alternatives to meat, eggs, and dairy not only in faux swaps but in fruits too; it is interesting that your choices for egg replacements are not only in the kind of Egg Beaters and the like but if you are baking a cake you can use a banana in place of one egg. You can also opt for 2 Tbsp of corn starch or the same amount of potato starch in place of an egg. Stuck on other breakfast options? Well there is a whole list at Vegan.org but a sampling includes granola with soy or rice milk, pancakes, a fruit smoothie, or soy yogurt. There are lots of things vegans can eat but it just comes with a lot of label reading and consciousness as to what passes those lips.

Admittedly looking over the guidelines it is evident that going vegan is tricky and a major commitment to environmental awareness but the information is out there. There are lists of vegan friendly restaurants at VegDining.com but even fast-food giants like Taco Bell and Subway do have you covered. When it does come to meat replacements there is tofu, tempeh, and veggie sandwich slices; the tastes and textures vary between brands and everyone’s taste buds are going to react differently.

The bottom line is there does need to be an adjustment and at least a limiting of meat, egg, and dairy products due to environmental awareness is a start. Perhaps that doesn’t mean every family goes vegan or vegetarian but adopting at least some of the principals. If you can’t put down that burger make it only once a week and then do your clothing shopping a la veg.

Photo credit: Vegan Action