Where Are the Vegans?

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I’d like to think that we’re on the right track when it comes to sustainability. San Francisco offers its residents boundless opportunities to think green and act responsibly — I won’t deny that. But lately I’ve noticed a pretty disturbing anti-environment mindset when it comes to one issue in particular. The dismissal of vegan ethics has got me a little irritated, truly bewildered, and totally sad for the future of the Earth. It’s really not possible to talk about sustainability without considering the amount of damage the meat and dairy industries do to our precious planet. When factory farming accounts for 65% of nitrous oxide emissions (which is the greenhouse gas with the most global warming potential by far, according to the Humane Society) among many other environmental atrocities, it just doesn’t make sense to eat a cheeseburger and call yourself eco-friendly.
I’ve heard all the justifications for animal byproducts in the book. People usually tell me they could never give up insert-animal-product-here, that they don’t like vegan food, or that being vegan is just another hipster pretension. But rest assured, there’s a solution for all of these suspicions. Going vegan is not only entirely possible but endlessly beneficial – for the environment and yourself, too!

We all have our vices. Before veganism I was a self-proclaimed Nutella fiend, and I’ve known people to have pretty serious relationships with cheese. But I firmly believe that for every meat-filled or dairy-laden addiction there’s a veganized version to take its place.

I’m not kidding, have you tasted pizza made with Daiya cheese? Or SF-based Wholesome Bakery’s freshly baked cookies? You’d be amazed at how innovative vegan companies are getting – they’re churning out delicious substitutions for non-vegan favorites left and right. So you might as well opt for the less destructive version, right?

There’s a significant amount of eateries in the city that cater to vegan and environmental ethics – try Gracias Madre on Mission and 18th for the best vegan Mexican food ever, Source in SOMA for amazing vegan macaroni and cheese, and head to the Ferry Building for Pepples’ vegan donuts. You’d never be able to tell the difference, and contributing to vegan-owned establishments helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserves water and land in astounding numbers.

Because our society projects meat, egg, and dairy consumption as a norm, it’s rare that we reevaluate our intake at all. But the facts are there (check out www.veganoutreach.com/whyvegan for more information). What we really need is a change in perspective.

It may seem trendy to adopt a vegan diet, but when there’s so much at stake and there’s concrete evidence for the meat and dairy industries’ environmental destruction, it’s far more than a hipster fad or fashionable diet. The vegan ethic promotes compassion over egotism, awareness over blindness. Going vegan is an act of (dare I say?) social justice, environmental consciousness, and protest against destructive and normative ideals.

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