This January more people will be dabbling with the Vegan diet and lifestyle.
Quite rightly they are concerned with their health, the environment and animal welfare.
However, it is often said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Health; By their own admission the Vegan Society would say that a vegan diet lacks certain nutrients which means that you should not offer it to young children and in any case you should look to supplements to make sure you don’t miss out on some vitamins (B12)
Health may have other more subtle issues with the Vegan diet. On the one hand health professionals tell us to avoid ultra-processed foods yet this is a major element of Vegan or plant-based diet.
Increasingly health and diet professionals are concerned with the balance and diversity of our diet. Issues such as our gut bacteria (microbiome) rely on a mix of foods that offer gut bacteria a mix of dietary fibre to promote healthy bacteria. Couple fibre with the aim to reduce the carbohydrates or at least make sure they are complex and take longer to digest. Then the need for a wider range of protein sources to ensure we get the right mix of amino-acids and you tend to wonder if an Vegan style diet is actually a good thing?
But the Climate Crisis means we must reduce the amount of animal protein in our diet surly?
Depends; if the source of animal protein is not actually better for you, the environment and better than the alternative plant-based alternative. How can an animal sourced protein be better for the environment than a plant-based alternative? That is ridicules! Er no, it is not.
The plant-based alternatives to dairy are a case in point.
Depending on which plant-base you source versus which animal milk you choose you can easily see why an ethical dairy product is streets better than a plant base.
Soya, almonds, rice etc are not grown here to make your dairy alternative. They are shipped in from California (almonds) or the south-Americas (soya) etc. Rice is a disaster for Co2 equivalents,
But Oat milk is good for you and we can grow those here? Yes, we can; but it’s shipped about to Italy usually to be processed and shipped back to be packed. So, it isn’t in the same league as almonds/rice etc.
In either case the amount of CO2 generated is likely to be more than say Organic milk.
Which brings us to why cows are cited as the problem. Firstly; because milk is good for you; better than probably any alternative so unless you are within the tiny (1%) of actual lactose intolerant people then the basic nutrition that comes with cows milk be it vitamins, minerals healthy fats or iodine then as a protein source milk has it all.
Milk production is a problem where its environmental impact is caused by the excessive use of artificial fertilizer such as nitrogen to grow crops to feed cows. Organic and other low intensity systems where supplements to reduce the belching of methane and the reliance on mixed long-term grassland supplemented with crops such as peas and barley make milk far more sustainable. Long-term grassland has been shown to absorb CO2 too.
So, before you go Vegan this January perhaps investigate a little further as to the what the alternatives are, where they came from and whether they contribute to your long-term well being or store up potential chronic illness due to their lack of nutrition.