Will the rising uptake of veganism threaten the farming industry, and is this a bad thing?
As of 2019, in Great Britain, 1.16% of the population are said to be vegan; this percentage has quadrupled since 2014 and is set to rise rapidly in the future. Veganism is the avoidance of animal products whether it be in clothes, foods or other products. It is on the rise throughout the country because of concerns of animal welfare, physical health and the prospect of losing weight.
Evidently, the farming industry is under immense pressure due to people avoiding consumption of our utilisation of animals. In excess of 1 billion animals in Britain are killed in slaughterhouses annually for human utilisation. Entering the world of plant-based products not only saves animals lives but contributes to reducing global warming, since less methane is generated. Expanding on this, less energy is ploughed into the systems that monitor and keep the animals, and the smaller quantities of fossil feels are combusted. However, the UK still uses a staggering amount of fossil fuels: 39% of electricity is produced from coal, oil and gas. Despite this, renewables combined generate 40% of our electricity. Averting to the plant life,
However, turning vegan places the livelihood of 138,000 people in jeopardy, as citizens no longer purchase their produce, in spite of the fact the UK boasts some of the highest welfare standards across the globe. Some individuals are practically brainwashed with the facts and figures, with images of outrageous conditions that animals are forced to live in. And now, many insist and believe all animals are destined to be slaughtered since birth and that most live oppressive, confined lives. This is not the case. Yes, in deprived areas of the world, animals are treated like dirt, by people who view as worthless and nothing but money-makers; however, in 21st century Britain, it’s our priority that the animals are treated well and live a good life. Becoming vegan only has bad implications for those whose life is farming, though perhaps if they have been doing this all their life and it runs in the family, it’s merely possible for them to find another occupation. Furthermore, agricultural life can be made sustainable: this is surely a better option than soya and palm oil that is industrially grown. This plant-based diet is thinly blanketed to be the healthier option, when in reality there’s an absence of the essential proteins and amino acids that the body demands for growth and repair. The foods used in the alternative products to meat flow in from all corners of the world, which increases the UK’s carbon footprint, and for what? A so-called flourishing diet, beneficial for all.
Yet many believe that the increasing proportion of vegans in the UK is highly advantageous for the environment, as the growth of plant-based products requires only a 1/3 of that needed for meat and dairy production. In contempt of the fact that animals live happy lives, unfortunately most animals have premature deaths; this alone is disgraceful and brings tears many grown adults. Although they are animals, they do not live the so-called free lives like humans, in which free will plays a large role. They all encounter the same inevitable pain and fear that come along with death. Overall, the ever-growing amount of vegans in the UK has ethical and environment benefits, ignoring the fact that with veganism comes increased food miles. Hopefully, the successfulness of the plant-based farms and businesses can counteract the negative impacts created by veganism and reduce the negative stigma around it, so we can live sustainably.
Winner of the Future Journalist Awards 2020 Nature and Environment category, Kathy Lewis.