Veganism is becoming more popular for many reasons, but sustainability isn't one of them.
We all have heard of veganism at this point. How? Vegans love to tell you they are vegan and why you should be too — literally the Jehova's Witnesses of diets. All jokes aside, there are plenty of good reasons to be vegan, but one of them is a pet peeve of mine because it's not a solid reason.
It is getting easier to find and buy plant-based protein, especially in urban and suburban areas. Vegan diets do promote weight loss, which, based on our obesity stats, strikes many Americans. More doctors are, in fact, recommending diets that are more plant-based. Additionally, many people become vegans to try to fight against factory farming. All of these are fine reasons to become a vegan; after all, you are the one who cares about your body the most and has to deal with your conscious. That being said, many vegans argue that veganism is also sustainable, and this is the argument that is my pet peeve.
Vegans may argue that producing a pound of animal protein takes 100 times as much water as it takes to produce a pound of grain protein. And while this may be true, that does not mean a vegan lifestyle is more sustainable than any other diet. In fact, when the whole lifestyle is looked at rather than just the vegan diet, it simply doesn't have sustainability in mind.
"Polyester" is plastic, a pollutant rather than being biodegradable. "Faux fur" is plastic. Even the ones that are labeled as "biodegradable" can sit for a hundred years in a landfill before they start to break down. Even your synthetic or "vegan-friendly" leather is plastic in its own right. Neither leather nor wool is anywhere near as damaging — both are natural substances that will decompose. Plastic is made of fossil fuels, a limited resource; leather and animal fibers are renewable resources that do not harm the planet to acquire.
Beyond what our clothes and shoes are made of, we also have to consider how long each item will last. With proper, moderate care, leather shoes can last a couple of decades. I have never gotten more than two years out of a pair of synthetic shoes, even when I only wore them to church once a week for half a year.
Most commonly, shoes "wear out" because the sole comes loose. This is because the glue is not meant to last terribly long — synthetic shoes are made to be replaced. If you don't wear the sole out of your shoe, you might badly crease it, which can lead to the cracking and peeling of the synthetic leather from the shoe. Leather shoes have soles sewn in, so they can be replaced whenever you do finally wear them down. Leather is animal skin, making it durable and giving it the ability to stretch as needed.
And, that is just comparing shoes! Think about leather jackets versus synthetic ones. The synthetic jacket will probably outlast the synthetic shoes, but it will not outlast its leather counterpart. In fact, most coats and jackets, in general, are made of plastic.
Beyond this, when we look to the future and sustaining our ever-growing population, veganism is not the most sustainable option, to many people's surprise. Basically, it "leaves too many resources unused." That is not to say that our day-to-day American diet is any better for our environment, for we know it is not. That is to say that moderation is key.
Veganism is a personal choice. Some do it because of the factory farming, some because doctors tell them to, and many more reasons. You have the right to choose what you eat and how you live, after all. But, please stop telling me that you are a vegan because it is sustainable, so you're "just going green." It isn't sustainable — the myth needs to end now!