Should You Live in a Vegan House?

The Financial Times piece, ‘Could You Live in a Vegan House?’ makes the important point that buying products to fit a vegan lifestlye requires careful thought, but becomes confused over the question of environmental issues.

Leather Naturally spokesperson, Michael Redwood counterbalances with the facts.

It is clearly acceptable for an impartial reader of the FT to recognise that a vegan position is linked to a moral position on animals, albeit not one that everyone can agree with. It is not right to assume however that such a vegan position equates in any way to any definition of “sustainability”.

When Nicola Davison quotes Nevi Pana that the “myriad beneficial outcomes” beyond moral values involved in a comprehensive vegan lifestyle (“Could you live in a vegan house, House & Home 11 July, 2019) she enters a highly contested area in which her article only presents one side.

The recent EAT report published in the Lancet made it clear that a vegan diet was the worst for biodiversity, this month’s climate study from Swiss university ETH Zürich demanded the plantation of billions of trees clearly noting that forested land and livestock can be highly compatible and a 2016 University of Edinburgh/SRUC study provided the evidence for Brazil (before the arrival of the new regime and its disastrous attitude to the Amazon forest) to place increased beef production in its green house gas emissions reduction in its climate mitigation proposal to the U.N.

This is because more livestock properly managed on Brazil’s extensive savannah would reverse widespread soil degradation and dramatically improve the national balance of emissions through the sequestration of carbon dioxide.

The attitude of climate change scientists to livestock has been seriously misguided ever since the unfortunate, and very inaccurate FAO report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” was published in 2006 and it is important that we consider the facts with less emotion and more objectivity. In the U.K. we despair at the huge loss of meadows and historic grassland areas and many regions such as the machair of the Hebrides and the Somerset Levels need the land appropriately grazed by livestock to maintain resilience against the increasing floods and droughts and loss of vital biodiversity.

To argue that a vegan positioning involves “less deforestation meaning fewer wildlife habitats”,  “less water consumption” and “fewer greenhouse gas emissions” is widely inaccurate.

Leather is a by-product of the meat and dairy industry and Leather Naturally believes well managed livestock populations are a positive good for the world in many ways, not least in aiding a billion subsistence farmers to survive in an increasingly difficult world. Reducing poverty is a key element of the Brundtland Commission definition of sustainability.

Furthermore we believe that for those who are comfortable using leather, its durability in use and associated longevity, plus the repairability of most items in which it is used, makes it one of the most sustainable materials; undoubtedly so compared to the alternate materials suggested in the article. Longevity and repairability, as highlighted by the founder of the Circular Economy concept, Walter Stahel, are the most effective methods to reduce resource depletion and the huge amounts of material being sent to landfill.