Eating healthy has a price. An economic cost, but also an ecological cost. Because before ending up in the window in our supermarkets, at the market, or at the corner, our food requires crops on an industrial scale, often intense in water. But not only that. The pesticides and fertilizers used to grow them are responsible for significant pollution and affect or even destroy ecosystems.
It should be remembered that agriculture, or rather agro-industry alone, accounts for nearly 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, if meat is undoubtedly the food that weighs the most on our planet because of deforestation (which is also the first cause), the foods prized by vegetarians, vegans, or other vegans are not without impact on the Earth. Quite the contrary. Here are 5 that are proving devastating for the planet.
- 1. Avocado
© Provided by Gentside Illustration of a lawyer Getty Images
In salads, spread or even without adding anything, what do we like … avocado. And yet, it doesn’t just do us good. Produced mainly in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Peru, or Israel, it is very popular with Europeans. Renowned for its nutritional benefits, it has become one of the greatest paradoxes of ecological consciousness.
First for its pharaonic consumption of water. Growing 1 avocado alone requires 60,227 liters of water. For 1 kilo, it is 1000 liters that must be spilled. Not to mention the environmental cost generated by the many exports due to the worldwide commercial success of the fruit. A success that pushes, for example, companies and producers to illegal deforestation in Mexico.
- 2. Almonds
Essential for vegan cuisine, fines are presented as an alternative to meat in many aspects according to specialist Doctissimo. Oilseeds,” they contain good fats, are rich in fiber, magnesium and calcium”, details the site. Problem: demand is so strong (and growing) that producing regions, such as southern Spain or California, which were already facing periods of drought, now have to resort to irrigation.
In other words, the intensive cultivation of fines further accelerates the dryness of the land and the lack of water. As with most nuts, it takes more than 4,000 liters of freshwater for a single kilo. In response, the use of pesticides and fertilizers has become systematic. And one of the most widely used pesticides is glyphosate (Roundup),” Slate revealed in 2020. A pesticide classified as“probable human carcinogen” by the WHO.
- 3. Cocoa
© Provided by Gentside Cocoa Getty Images
So this one, we can not say that it is more popular with the “veggie” than with the rest of the population. Cocoa is a love story… and violence. Developed during the colonial period, its industrial production (to meet the new needs of Europeans) is at the origin of a loss of two to three million hectares of tropical forest between 1988 and 2008, explained the World Bank in a study published in 2017.
“Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana together produce two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply. These two countries lost 25% and 8% of their primary forest respectively between 2002 and 2019, with most of the deforestation due to cocoa cultivation,” says the World Cocoa Foundation.
- 4. Mushrooms
The conditions necessary to grow mushrooms make them large emitters of CO2. What for? Their production is particularly energy-intensive because the growing parts must be very heated. The necessary temperatures sometimes go up to 62 °C.
- 5. Tofu
© Provided by Gentside Tofu Getty Images
Consisting of soybeans, water, and coagulant, tofu participates in the development of soybean production worldwide. However, soybean crops used to feed the cattle that end up on our plates, represent one of the main causes of deforestation in the world. In South America, intensive soybean cultivation is responsible for massive deforestation operations.
Thus, as with the other foods presented, it is not the nature of the plant or fruit that is dangerous for the environment but the way in which it is grown, massively. In his report “Meat Bite. Europe is fuelling the climate crisis through its addiction to soya”, Greenpeace warns of the environmental dangers of intensive soya production.
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