Vegano non significa sempre etico

We assume that they are the largest supporter of a plant-based diet from all its points of view, for all the reasons for which you choose to adopt it, whether they are animal welfare, environmental protection, health reasons or any other reason.

This article it is not meant to be a criticism in the least to the diet, in my opinion, best of all (as well as mine), that is the plant-based one.

Indeed, this article is for anyone looking to live a more ethical life (vegan and otherwise) and to limit its environmental impact.

This is the title of this article because in the common imagination we vegans are the only people in the world who consume "problem foods" . It is not uncommon, in fact, that when you say you are vegan, one of the first attacks may be: "Do you have any idea how polluting your avocados ?!".

We could pause to talk about how much an avocado can pollute when compared to a steak, but let's avoid. The point of this article is precisely to understand that, indeed, there are some foods that are more problematic than others . And that there is this idea that these foods must necessarily be consumed only by vegans.

Are we vegans a problem? No. Everyone eats avocado. But it is also true that sometimes in trying to vary our diet as much as possible (and this is good, mind you!) We tend to consume foods that people who eat grilled chicken breast and salad every day may not consume often.

Now that I have clarified that this article is not aimed only at us vegans but at anyone who wants to follow a more conscious diet also from an ethical point of view, I wanted to focus on problems that some foods can actually create.

Avocado

The problem with avocado is that it has become an extremely popular fruit. The demand for avocados has increased dramatically in recent years. And, as every time the demand increases, problems have arisen in the production.

Avocado plantations are related to deforestation . In Mexico, some farmers are illegally razing entire forests to plant avocado trees. It also takes a lot to grow them water , which is often recovered from diverted natural water sources. Also from human side avocado plantations are not particularly ethical environments. In addition to the cultivation problem itself, avocados generally come transported for thousands of kilometers before arriving at your destination. Their carbon footprint is in fact very high.

So what? Should we stop eating avocados? No. Fortunately, there are realities such as Sicily Avocado who produce avocados in our country, in an ethical and mainly organic plantation. Choosing something produced in Italy in the best possible way can be a perfect solution to continue to consume a very special fruit which, however, in some situations may not be the ethically best choice!

Chocolate

Here is a dear friend of ours who is certainly not consumed only by vegans. The chocolate production sector has several problems, including child labor , human trafficking is deforestation .

On the cocoa plantations in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, some 2.1 million children are exposed to terrifying working conditions every day. On average, cocoa farmers earn less than $ 2 a day and often resort to child labor. In West Africa children often live in poverty, so out of necessity they start working on plantations, trying to support their families. The average age of children working on the plantations is 12-16, but children as young as 5 have also been found. Usually, they also work 80 to 100 hours a week. Furthermore, another problem with chocolate is that African rainforests are often destroyed to produce it.

In summary, if the chocolate is dark and therefore does not include dairy products, it does not mean that no one has been used to produce it.

So, no more chocolate? No! Also in this case there are excellent ethical and sustainable alternatives. The thing to pay more attention to is the production chain: the ideal would be that it was as short as possible. Another important thing to check is that chocolate is free of palm oil, which, in turn, is a very problematic food (but which I will not cover in this article because it deserves a separate one that I will write sooner or later!) .

Quinoa

In recent years, poor quinoa has been singled out in every way as one of the least sustainable foods in history.

In recent years, a huge amount of articles have been published claiming that the increase in the global demand for quinoa has harmed the people in Bolivia and Peru. As the price of quinoa tripled from 2006 to 2011, these articles argued that poorer people were no longer able to buy quinoa in their own countries, so they were forced to opt for less nutritious options.

The situation turned out to be quite complex. In 2016, research was published which explained that quinoa was not a staple of Bolivian or Peruvian culinary traditions. It seems that it was a marginal option.

On the contrary, it appears that with the increase in demand for quinoa, malnutrition has decreased and that the increase in trade has improved the living conditions of the poorest people in the affected areas.

That said, there are gods environmental factors to take into consideration. Besides the fact that quinoa needs to be transported for thousands of kilometers , it must be said that the increase in its demand has led to a soil weakening where it is produced. The land was previously left to rest, but now it is used immediately and farmers have drastically reduced the number of llamas they own, so they have less manure available to fertilize the soil.

And what can we do? Try to moderate your quinoa consumption and choose it fairtrade When possible!

Almonds

Almond trees, just like avocado trees, need a lot of water to grow. 80% of the world's almonds are grown in California which, as we know, is a country that does not have abundant water supplies. Additionally, almond trees rely on bees for pollination. The California almond industry requires approximately 1.4 million bee colonies. These colonies are imported to California specifically for pollination, and many bees die from exposure to pesticides.

Again there are alternatives. In Sicily we have excellent almonds! If we really can't find them Italian, we can look for them Spanish. The best option would be to choose organic, in order to avoid the use of pesticides (and try to save the poor bees). That said, almond milk is still the least sustainable plant milk… choosing oat milk is the most eco-friendly solution!

These are just some of the problem foods that we can find ourselves consuming without even thinking about it too much. That said, I think it's important to remember that no diet is perfect in all respects. All we can do is try to do our best for what is in our power, without going insane! We can try to eat as ethically as possible, but we must be aware that sometimes it is not possible to respect all our values ... and we must not blame ourselves for this!

If you have any doubts or curiosities, you can contact me on Instagram . I will be happy to answer you!

Vittoria Tomassini