So maybe I didn’t think this one through. This kind of transition is not going to be easy. I’ve never even dabbled in a vegetarian lifestyle, always saying that I love bacon too much, which is entirely true. I was raised on meat and potatoes, and have long held breakfast as my favorite meal of the day for the runny eggs, the buttered toast and the crispy strips of heavenly bacon. And so diving head-first into a vegan diet without proper mental preparation or a well-stocked refrigerator was my first bad choice. But I’ve recommitted, and I’m going to stick with my vegan diet for two weeks.
What? I’m not doing this for good? No, I’m not. I can’t say I won’t decide later to commit to the vegan diet, and after my first two weeks I might want to continue this challenge, but to go forth with my honest approach to this project, I will tell you I am likely to resume eating small amounts of (locally raised and organic) animal products within a month. I’m not doing this for moral animal rights reasons, either. I completely support the idea of humans eating animals because we are at the top of the food chain and this is what we’re supposed to do.
So, why am I doing this? Simply put, I want to know that I can, and I want to set an example for others, because right now, a vegan diet is a more environmentally responsible one.
Last week, the UN released a study that said a global diet shift away from animal products is needed to help prevent resource depletion and the impacts of severe climate change.
The report, titled Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production, shows that agriculture accounts for 70 percent of our global freshwater consumption, 38 percent of the total land use, and 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, more than half of the world’s crops are used to feed animals, not people. From the report:
Animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives. In addition, non-seasonal fruits and vegetables cause substantial emissions when grown in greenhouses, preserved in a frozen state, or transported by air. As total food consumption and the share of animal calories increase with wealth, nutrition for rich countries tends to cause higher environmental impacts than for poor countries.
In other words, the massive amounts of animal products we consume every year require us to use equally massive amounts of resources. Did you read those statistics above? The animals we eat consume more of the world’s crops and fresh water than we do. In a world of finite resources, with a population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, now is not the time to be consuming more resources; especially not for the luxury of a burger.
The UN wants the entire world to stop eating animals. Maybe a little unreasonable, yes, but we should probably make at least a conscious effort to reduce our intake, observe our attachments to animal products and the inefficiency of our current system, and find better consumption habits. So, this is my mission in going vegan for at least two weeks, and I’m going to keep you posted on my progress.
Tonight was an epic vegan fail, but I’ve reassessed my mission and my convictions, and I’m ready to commit. Today I bought some soy milk, a lot of fruits and vegetables, and soy yogurt. I’ll continue adding to my grocery list and update you on what I’ve found that tastes good and what I really, really miss. And I’ll share with you some tips on going vegan, as well as globally responsible ways of consuming animal products.
I’m determined to come out of this with the conclusion that consuming fewer animal products is easy if you’re serious about it, but I may not. I’m going to hope that today, I just wasn’t serious enough, and that’s why I ate that polish sausage. But it could be that it just looked too good, and I simply couldn’t resist. Maybe my desire for short-term satisfaction outweighed my convictions, and by dinner time tomorrow, I’ll face the same challenge.
If I can’t do this for two weeks, I’ll be seriously worried.
The Vegan Challenge
Other Articles by Jessica Hullinger:
World Hunger Series
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 1
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 2
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 3
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 4
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 5
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 6
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 7
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 8
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 9
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 10
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 11
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 13
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 14
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 15
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 16
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 17
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 18
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 19
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 20
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 21
Solutions for World Hunger: Part I
Solutions for World Hunger: Part II