Being Vegan in South Africa
And why braai-ing veggies might help!
“..the number of vegans rose by more than 700% in the last three years in the US alone…”
In the US, where veganism is widely regarded as one of the fastest-growing lifestyle trends, the number of vegans rose by more than 600% in the last three years. Here in South Africa, although we don’t have the exact statistics, veganism is clearly a path more and more people are choosing to take. With the number of plant-based restaurants growing, and ‘Vegan’ becoming an option on more and more menus across the country, this is a movement that is quickly gaining momentum.
According to Google Trends, interest in veganism has more than doubled over the last three years. With the World Health Organisation’s 2015 report listing processed meat such as bacon and sausages as dangerous and cancer-causing, and the later Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa, cutting out meat seems a natural progression.
It is believed that this increase is also largely due to an increased awareness and concern as to where food is coming from, and how it is affecting our word in terms of exploitation of animals, pollution and climate change. South Africa’s continued and worsening water shortages can also be a factor attributing to this increased interest in, and growth of, veganism.
Meat production requires a much higher amount of water than vegetable production. The IME (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) state that to produce 1kg of meat requires between 5,000 and 20,000 litres of water whereas to produce 1kg of wheat requires between 500 and 4,000 litres of water. Further more water requirements to meet food demand in 2050 could reach between 10-13.5tn cubic metres per year – about triple the current amount used annually by humans.
“Going vegetarian or vegan could reduce per capita emissions by up to 50%”
A paper released by the World Resources Institute showed that reducing red meat consumption — primarily beef and lamb — would lead to a per capita food and land use-related greenhouse gas emissions reduction of between 15 and 35 percent by 2050. Going vegetarian or vegan could reduce those per capita emissions by up to 50%. A second paper revealed that the biggest contributing factor to food-related deforestation is eating meat.
With information like this becoming ever more available, and easy to uncover and learn from, it’s not that surprising that millennials (born between 1977 and 1994) are concerned about their world and turning to a vegetarian or vegan option. With so many major ecological issues around the amount of meat we consume, although ethical considerations about the lives of animals come into it, the negative effect on the environment seems to be main driver for this change.
Despite our love of braais and biltong, South Africans are becoming far more conscious about this problem, and realising the impact that their diet or lifestyle choices have on the environment.
What are your thoughts on going vegetarian/vegan or simply reducing meat consumption and introducing more meat free meals into your diet?
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