There are a couple of reasons that people go vegan. Three of the most common are for animal welfare, diet or health purposes and environmental. As we wrap up ‘Veganuary’, we wanted to discuss our thoughts on the vegan movement.
As a coffee company, it has never been in question that our products would be vegan from an animal cruelty and animal biproduct perspective. Standard coffee bean production does not require the use of or harm animals. We firmly believe in the correct policy and protection for animals used in farming and production of goods for human consumption.
In terms of diet, it is hard to know if veganism is the future. There are many pros for adopting a plant-based diet, especially if you suffer from high cholesterol or heart issues. However, it is also easy to become nutrient deficient when partaking in a diet based solely on tofu, meat alternatives and carbohydrates. Vegans, like everyone else, need to ensure they are subscribing to a varied and nutrient-rich lifestyle. It is important to make sure you are also consuming enough plant-based sources of protein, such as chickpeas, nuts, quinoa and avocado. Meat is very high in protein, and it is easy to meet your daily intake, while a lot of plant-based sources aren’t as protein-dense. It is wise to check with a dietician to help you optimise your vegan diet if you can afford to do so.
The third reason people choose to go vegan is for environmental purposes. As we are all aware, climate change is occurring at an alarming rate and going vegan has been identified as one of the ways we can lead more sustainable lifestyles. The meat industry accounts for a significant amount of CO2 emissions and water usage. In previous blog posts we have examined why plant milks are better alternatives than dairy milk (with oat milk coming out on top of all the milks). The production of plant milks produces less CO2 and uses less land and water. The Guardian states that halving our meat intake would lead to 20-30% less emissions per individual, massively reducing our personal Carbon Footprints.
However, there is lots of varied information out there. Other studies have estimated that greenhouse gas emissions per person would only be reduced by 3% through a plant-based diet. Having said this, in 2018 one of the biggest studies ever to be conducted on the subject was published. It stated that cutting out meat and dairy products was the single biggest way to reduce your impact on the environment and live more sustainably. This accounted for all factors of sustainability, not just carbon emissions.
There is something to highlight about the above study, however. Although it would be amazing if every person had the ability, desire and means to go completely vegan, ‘cutting out’ does not have to refer to every aspect of your life. It would make a big difference if you could simply cut down on meat and dairy products as much as possible. One popular method is the practice of ‘Meatless Mondays’. This is when you cut out meat for only one day a week rather than going whole hog (excuse the pun). There are also several other methods you could try that don’t have to extend to cutting out every meat and dairy product:
- Only eat meat for dinner, not during other meals
- Try only eating meat one day a week (MeatFULL Mondays anyone?)
- Switch out dairy milk for a plant-based milk of your choice - Only eat meat when eating out at restaurants
- Swap all ‘sweet treats’ for vegan alternatives
- Cut out all dairy except cheese
- Cut out beef and pork, but continue eating chicken and seafood
- Cut out one meat or dairy type at a time (avoid beef for a couple of months, then swap to pork, then chicken, and so on)
These are just a few ways one can cut down on their meat and dairy consumption without going fully vegan. Some people might call this a ‘flexitarian’ diet, but we don’t think it needs a label. You might even find that after adopting the above practices you feel prepared to go fully vegan or vegetarian.
There are also many other ways to have a more positive impact on the environment. The Guardian identifies that the travel industry has one of the biggest impacts on the environment. Try to introduce more sustainable travel choices: if you can, try to avoid unnecessary car journeys if public transport, cycling or walking are an option. Other ways of having a more positive impact on the environment are often repeated, but to remind you of a few: recycle as much as you can, use your food waste bin, avoid long-haul flights wherever possible, shop locally, don’t litter, avoid aerosol cans and (possibly most importantly) teach your children about the importance of looking after our environment.
While all the above is important, at New Kings Coffee we believe the biggest strain of preventing climate change should not be on the individual. Centuries of careless decisions by governments and large corporations have put us in the situation we are in now, and their current actions will determine our future. Serious government policy needs to be introduced to prevent further climate change. Companies and businesses need to change the way they operate to avoid further serious damage to the climate. The phrase ‘carbon footprint’ was actually invented by a PR company hired by BP to shift the blame for the climate crisis away from megacorporations and fossil fuel companies and onto the individual. This gaslighting of the public continues today and prevents the true culprits being held responsible.
While it is important that we all make mindful and serious changes to protect the planet, we cannot forget that the best thing we can do for the climate is challenge governments and companies to do better. Going vegan and individual responsibility is important, but structural change is more important. While we all must do our part, the future of the human race does not hang on a single person converting to a completely vegan lifestyle. Is vegan the future? It may be part of it, but it’s going to take a lot more.