Is A Vegan Diet Really That Environmentally Friendly?

For most people, the decision to become a vegan is generally associated with living a healthier life. There’s also a good number of people who decide to eliminate meat and dairy from their diets because they feel it is better for the environment. However, that sentiment may not be as true as we once thought it was.

In the past 10 years, veganism has grown by 160 percent. Granted, that’s a lot less folks eating meat and dairy. But it’s also a lot of folks eating more fruits than they would if they were not eating vegan. Do they know where all that fruit is coming from?

The increased demand for fruits as a result of the boost in Veganism has resulted in the U.S. importing far greater numbers from other countries. For example, we tend to get most of our blueberries right here in the states, but we get a good bulk of our beans from Brazil. India supplies us with mangos and pomegranates, China offers goji berries and Canada supplies the U.S. with the majority of the lentils we consume.

The demand has grown so high that prices for many fruits in their native countries have risen to the point that locals can no longer afford them. These are locals that have depended on those food products for survival. If you were to ask residents of these areas, they would likely tell you that vegan diets, in fact, are not all that good for the environment, especially theirs.

Some countries—Kenya, for example—have even banned the export of certain foods. Kenya banned the export of avocados in June because the government feels that the volume of exportation was putting the country’s supply at risk.

The key to preventing this from become a major, global issue is to ensure that your vegan diet is being fulfilled with locally-sourced foods. Many restaurants have already jumped on this particular bandwagon, so eating out responsibly as a vegan is becoming easier. The easiest way to ensure locally-grown food sourcing is to actually grow our own food in backyard gardens.

The awareness around this issue is certainly half the battle; now we must work collectively to achieve a good balance of consuming local food and importing enough to maintain the livelihoods of those who live in the regions doing the exporting.