Veganism is a hot topic right now. With ‘Veganuary’, and an ever-increasing array of animal-free products becoming available in shops and restaurants across the world; it is fast becoming an accessible, sustainable diet. How truly accessible is it though?
Although veganism is on the rise (with just the UK seeing a 40% increase in vegans in 2021) it remains to be a controversial diet. Largely, people become vegan due to their love for animals and a desire to become more sustainable in their everyday lives. It is, seemingly, the best option to promote environmental sustainability; with meat and dairy production acting as one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. But, how sustainable is it for people?
There is argument to suggest that veganism as a whole promotes ‘elitist’ ideals; that a diet of lentils, grains, and sustainable replacements is unrealistic and unaffordable for those on a lower income. Meat is affordable and readily available in a large majority of countries. Importantly, it also offers up a large source of protein, of which is essential for those on lower incomes to feed into their diets.
Those who choose to become vegan for environmental purposes are starting to be referred to as ‘privileged’ to be able to sustain such a lifestyle swap. This isn’t necessarily incorrect; it is a privilege to be vegan. Does this mean they should be condemned? All too often, vegans are portrayed as some sort of anti-hero when, in reality, they are promoting something that is ultimately good for the planet. Their lifestyle shouldn’t be up for judgement; in the same way that those who are not vegan should also not be up for judgement.
This battle of sorts between those who are vegan and those not is fundamentally flawed when, in reality, there is no right answer. For the whole world to turn vegan would reduce greenhouse gasses considerably; this is factual yet blatantly unrealistic. We cannot expect people to change their entire lifestyles for veganism, particularly when it isn’t always possible to sustain. This being said, we should also not completely dismiss veganism as an option. If we can, we should.
Becoming eco-friendly and sustainable in our everyday lives is something we should all strive to achieve in any manner possible. Making small swaps within our diets all play an important role and should not be dismissed. Even something as small as trying out oat milk in your morning coffee; it all helps.