The Unspoken Truth of Veganism
Veganism, the latest tendency of the 21st century has been converting young adults into believing a new ecologically sound philosophy. Despite the amazing benefits to the body and an obvious environmentally friendly impact; There are a few misconceptions of Veganism on how it does not completely amiably assist the environment.
Karishma Porwal, an environmental activist and promoter of sustainability has been raising awareness on distinct viewpoints. One of Porwal’s viral TikTok videos with the title ‘Things I could talk about for hours’ makes many interesting claims, and one involves the vegan diet “How veganism isn’t always the most sustainable diet”.
Porwal did disclose she respects plant-based/vegan people and did not mean to bash anyone with her video. Still, she believes there should be a proper discussion on the many nuances.
Introducing Karishma Porwal & her stance
Being born in India. Regularly traveling, from India to the Middle East, later to the United Kingdom, finally settling in Canada. Porwal didn’t really have steadiness, so she grew appreciation towards nature since it was always there in each of her destinations. Soon she then began ingesting all the media she could, steadily becoming aware of how late-stage capitalism is ruining everything.
Karishma now has 3 to 4 years down, dedicating time and energy to her substantial activism.
“I don’t think everything in the sustainability world is black and white,” said Porwal.
After reading the inspiring book, “The 100-Mile Diet” by Canadian writers Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, Porwal began learning a whole new side of the food industry she was not aware of.
Both Smith and MacKinnon chose on participating in a challenge, which was strictly to only incorporate food grown 100-miles from their home. Through their journey when completing the 100-Mile Diet, they found out staggering information about the travel of mass-produced foods.
When talking about Smith’s and MacKinnon’s book, Porwal said “They were shocked on how some food can be grown in Mexico, but packaged in Thailand, then appears in a grocery shelf in the U.S. It all sounded very broken to them […] All the things they ate [during the 100-mile diet challenge] were of course in season, and a lot of things were sourced from local farmers. Even artisans who made butter, jam, all the essentials. This book opened my eyes.”
Production may vary
A great discernment of Porwal is how cognizant she is about how products aren’t all made the same way.
Here are a few examples she went on to mention:
“Plant-based milk’s, are not created equally, almond milk is the most water-intensive milk. California almond milk plants have caused droughts in that state.”
An article by the University of California San Francisco, Almond Milk is Taking a Toll on the Environment, went on to report: “The main issues associated with almond milk production are water use and pesticide use, which may produce long-lasting effects on the environment in drought-stricken California, where more than 80% of the world’s almonds are grown.”
Even The New York Times said on their Got Almond Milk? Dairy Farms Protest Milk Label on Nondairy article that about 15 gallons of water only produce 16 almonds.
When it comes to cow’s milk, some people may assume that it is fully unethical. Therefore, just as bad, or maybe worse in comparison to milk alternatives. But Porwal made an excellent point, about how everyone villainizes cow milk, “Dairy wasn’t always the cruel industry it is today.”
“There are more humane and more sustainable ways to get milk from a cow. Some indigenous cultures and other cultures from various countries have been doing it for centuries, without requiring millions of square kilometers of cleared land to produce cattle or putting cows on metal milking machines. People have been drinking milk for years without being unsustainable. It’s a reframing exercise. Not everything is made equally,” said Porwal.
Milk is one of the many real-life examples there is that one could elaborate on its different aspects. There is a similar narrative around the meat and honey industry.
Karishma believes that labeling certain food in homogenous ways is wrong since not all things use the same methods.
Becoming a ‘Locavore’
According to Porwal, ‘Locavore’ is a relatively new term that is given to those who stringently eat locally- No matter if it’s meat (not meat), dairy (not dairy). The source must-be be local and syncs with the cycles of nature.
Considering food miles (carbon footprint), changes in food when taken over long distances, becoming a conscious shopper, buying with local small businesses, are ways that significantly aid the environment.
Anyone can carefully curate their diet to fit their day-to-day life. Albeit there are scenarios that could prohibit that possibility. Perhaps, there are no vendors to locate local food, and the only stuff found is all imported. Others may have religious or health issues that exempt them from shopping locally. It’s comprehendible why this way of living may not be for everybody.
Misconceptions of Veganism
Vegans have a goal, which is to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. So, the whole not eating meat or dairy argument, is not what makes up veganism, yes, it’s part of it; However, it doesn’t define the lifestyle ENTIRELY.
Many components make up veganism. Not only is food part of being vegan, but buying ethically made clothing (no wool, shearling, cashmere, angora, or any kind of fur. Plus, no fast fashion), not buying animal testing products (may include shampoo, soap, makeup, lotions, or skincare), being low waste, etc. are all part of the ordeal.
Porwal speculates that people confuse veganism with plant-based eating (yes, they’re different). There is a distinction. Veganism is a literal lifestyle, meanwhile, plant-based refers only to the diet.
Some, long-distance transported plant-based food uses heavy plastic in its packaging. Plant-based meat is also extremely processed with chemicals, so since it’s “vegan” does it make it better (for the earth or for the body)?
Being vegan or plant-based is an amazing step in the right direction but understanding that there are things to fix is crucial for the good of the planet. Identifying and resolving the internal issues of the misconceptions of veganism could lead to a more sustainable future.