By: Meadow Funkenhauser
When asking someone why they went vegan, the most common responses (mine included) are for both the animals and the planet. In a time where greenhouse gas emissions and animal suffering is at an all time high, we must ask ourselves what we can do to help mitigate these issues and the easiest steps start with our dinner plate. So you may be wondering why is it vegan for the planet as opposed to other trending ‘sustainable’ diets?
As environmentalists, it is important that we are able to differentiate between different diets and their impacts on the environment. Mayo Clinic says that a vegetarian diet can be broken into three different streams: lacto-vegetarians, ovo-vegetarians, and lacto-ovo-vegetarians. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat meat, fish and eggs, but still consume dairy. Ovo-vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or dairy but still consume eggs. And finally, lacto-ovo-vegetarians consume dairy and eggs but exclude meat and seafood from their diet. Now these may all seem beneficial, because of both the reduced methane emissions and reduced cruelty, but these branches of vegetarianism still fail to consider the byproducts of the foods they choose to consume. Those who consume dairy, still support the trade which steals baby cows from their mothers and sells them for veal production as well as inhumane factory farming processes. Vegetarians who choose to consume eggs still support the slaughter of male chicks, because they are a byproduct and are not capable of laying eggs themselves. So while vegetarianism helps to stop the slaughter of animals for most food production, and limits the releases of methane gas into the atmosphere, it still contributes to animal cruelty and environmental degradation.
Pescatarianism is another ‘sustainable’ diet in which seafood is the only meat eaten. Pescatarians often fail to recognize the pain felt by the sentient beings such as fish, and how large-scale fish farming can have detrimental impacts on our oceans and their natural ecosystems. Often the practices of trawl nets and fishing gear can destroy habitats in the marine world and unintentionally catch creatures that may be endangered such as dolphins and different species of sea turtles. These unintentional byproducts of the commercial fish industry make it hard to support the pescatarian diet, regardless of the positive intentions.
Vegan diets on the other hand are capable of preventing the suffering of all animals regardless of species, as well as minimizing the threat of climate change. Veganism is an ultra consuming lifestyle in which you eat no food that comes from or has been tested on animals and you are hyper conscious of not using animal products in your daily life. What veganism represents is a neutral position on animal rights and the planet, because of its ideology to cause no harm.
While all of these diets seemingly have the potential to make a difference and it is important that they are trending and becoming more mainstream, we need to ask ourselves the bigger questions about why we should practice such a diet and what the benefits and detriments are to our bodies, the animals and the planet.