Being a vegan goes beyond changing to a strict plant based diet. It means cutting all animal based products out of your lifestyle. Some vegans won’t even think about owning a pet or visiting a zoo as they feel keeping animals in captivity is not compassionate. I’m currently undecided about the pets and zoos, both sides have good arguments. Domesticated animals may not be able to survive on their own and zoos, aquariums, and wild life parks raise awareness about an animals habitat. But that’s a post for another day.
So far I’ve switched to a complete plant based diet and I’m now working on eliminating animal products from my wardrobe. I’ve never checked the labels on my clothes, being a guy, I’ve always gone for comfort. Now I check the labels for a few things, the material, the location, and the brand. I prefer to buy clothes made from as few materials as possible (preferably one). Most of my shirts are 100% cotton, as are my boxers, socks, etc. My pants are either Dickies or Levi’s 501, and for the past year I’ve been wearing Converse canvas sneakers.
I’ve switched to these clothes because of veganism but some of my decisions have also been a result of my environmentalism. I’ve been a consultant for the past 4 years and most business owners wear jeans and polo shirts or slacks with a button down. My dress clothes mostly sat in the closet unless I was meeting with a new client. So I got rid of it, no more environmentally unfriendly dry cleaning with it’s chemicals and disposable hangers (I always got a strange look when I brought them back anyways).
One of my friends commented on my twitter account about synthetic materials not being environmentally friendly. I did a bit of research and I found mixed reviews. Synthetics are said to last longer, and therefore better for the environment. On the other hand the manufacturing process involves a lot of chemicals that are definitely not good for the environment. One option is to forego synthetic material for animal based products in order to promote better air quality at the expense of animals suffering. Another option is to use plant based materials that may not be as comfortable.
Since I care about animals AND the environment, for me the only option is to use synthetic materials as little as possible and to transition away from them like I did with animals and animal products in my diet.
This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered a dilemma like this. Take palm oil for example, even though it is a plant based product, it is produced in an unsustainable manner resulting in the veganism vs environmentalism dilemma, is butter better with the impact factory farming has on the environment? What about local farms?
I’m not going to stop being vegan but these are serious issues that need consideration. The whole world isn’t going to go vegan over night and if we mess up the planet so bad that edible plants can no longer grow, nothing is going to survive, so both vegans and non-vegans will face the same outcome, no food.
The environment definitely needs more work than I previously thought. Even if the whole world goes vegan, we still need to figure out how to feed 6.9 billion people, provide enough renewable energy for the entire globe, and cultivate our food supply in a sustainable manner. We can fix this problem but we need to focus on fixing the environment, feeding everyone, and harnessing renewable energy.