We acknowledge and respect that you are likely on this website because you want your positive food choices to reflect your concern for the environment, but that enjoying a plant-based diet may not be the way that you choose to approach responsible consumerism. Please accept this perspective as one way of addressing a broad range of concerns including environmental impact (reducing greenhouse gas emissions), health concerns, ethics, religious beliefs, economics, and taste preferences.
What do vegetarian and vegan mean?
A vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is a person who does not consume or use animal products. Vegetarians avoid flesh foods (including fish and poultry), while vegans also avoid dairy, eggs, and gelatin, as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.
Why be vegetarian/vegan?
Anyone who is concerned about the current direction of human interaction with our environment, should be aware of how the way animals are bred and processed for food takes a devastating toll on the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of resources such as water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. Some of the environmental degradation caused by industrial livestock systems, particularly through feed production and manure, are:
greenhouse gas production (nitrous oxide, methane, carbon dioxide)
pollution of groundwater with nitrogen, phosphorus and pesticide contaminants
aquifer depletion, reduction in the availability of irrigation water
heavy metal contamination of soil
soil erosion, less land available for crop production
decreased biodiversity through habitat loss and ecosystem damage
acid rain from ammonia emissions
Animal agriculture uses 7 times the amount of grain for feed than could be provided by a plant-based diet to achieve the equivalent nutrients. To produce one pound of meat for human consumption you would need to fill a mile-high stack of 16 litre pails with water.
The consumption of animal fats and proteins has been linked to heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions. The American Dietetic Association reports (in their 1996 position paper on vegetarian diets) that vegetarian/vegan diets are associated with reduced risks for all of these conditions, and that a balanced vegan diet is healthy for people of all ages and activity levels. Foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans, are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are rich in fibre and nutrients. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also endorses a vegan diet for preventing cancer, beating heart disease, lowering blood pressure, preventing and reverting diabetes, and reducing chances of kidney and gallstones, osteoporosis, and the severity and frequency of asthma (which is sometimes due to dairy allergies).
Ethics and Animal Suffering
Despite the common belief that drinking milk or eating eggs does not kill animals, commercially raised dairy cows and egg-laying chickens, whether factory-farmed or “free range”, are slaughtered when their production rates decline (for female cows that is five years as opposed to a normal 25 year lifespan, for male cows they are slaughtered before maturation for veal). The same factory farm methods that are used to produce most meats are also used to produce most milk and eggs. These cows and chickens live their abbreviated lives caged, drugged, mutilated, and deprived of their most basic freedoms. For those who choose to eat animal products, buying direct from a small farm is the best way to limit the suffering.
The United Nations has reported that a vegan diet can feed many more people than an animal-based diet. Food security is about building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times. There are enough resources and enough food to end world hunger, an imbalance in how it is distributed is what prevents that human right to good food from being achieved by all. By eating low on the food chain, we can free up more resources to feed the hungry.
What does Fresh Option do to support a Veg-Friendly Lifestyle?
First of all we don’t sell meat. We offer a large catalogue of vegetarian foods that provide healthy alternatives for those seeking a more plant-based diet. Many people are trying for a wide variety of reasons to eat less meat and dairy and are experimenting with vegetarianism, so we make available many meat and dairy alternatives to encourage more meatless meals. We sell a wide variety of beans, lentils, tofu, veggie meat alternatives, vegan dairy substitutes (for cheese, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, etc), tofu, soy and rice milks, vegan sweeteners and chocolate. Our catalogue includes only a few non-vegan items (locally-produced natural honey, rice “cheese” blocks that contain casein) which are identified and are chosen for their individual merits.
Through our fresh box produce scheme we deliver organic produce to homes and businesses on a regular basis, which encourages people to prepare, eat and share healthy veggie meals with their households and beyond.
We try to educate people about whole foods by sharing recipes, storage and preparation tips, local organic food events and global issues. By celebrating diverse animal-free food opportunities, FOOD broadens the horizon for positive alternatives. We try not to criticize lifestyle choices, but to provide enthusiastic veggie alternatives and make them exciting and easily attainable.