Your question supposes that use of animals in any way is detrimental to the environment, and that vegans do not use any products that use any sort of animal in any way. These two suppositions are just not true.
Animals can be used in such a way that it does not harm the enviornment, but still is beneficial for human survival. Being an enviornmentalist does not necessarily mean that you value the environment and animals above all else. You also need to consider humans and how animals can be utilized to make human life easier, and how to ensure that humans survive as well. Look, for instance, at the amish. They do not pollute at all, they do not overfarm, or overfish, or overhunt. They use animals to their benefit because animals do not cause pollution outside of some methane farts.
This graphic below was made as a joke, but its point still stands. Just because a vegan does not consume animal products, it is extremely likely that there are some things that vegans use every single day that come from animals.
If you’re going to say that anyone who is not a vegan is not a true environmentalist, why stop there? Is someone a true environmentalist if any company they support with their money pollutes at all? I’m sure the farms that vegans purchase their food from use at least one gasoline powered car to transport their goods. Probably a few other machines to aid in the harvest. How can you be an enviornmentalist and support these things?
This type of question falls close to the “no true scotsman” fallacy in logic. This fallacy is defined as “reinterpreting evidence in order to prevent the refutation of one’s position. Proposed counter-examples to a theory are dismissed as irrelevant solely because they are counter-examples, but purportedly because they are not what the theory is about.”
For instance your claim would go as follows
1 – No environmentalist is a not a vegan.
2 – Scott is an environmentalist, and he eats meat.
3 – Scott is not a “true” environmentalist.
Scott may have planted 1,000 trees in his life, and only rides a bike and works as a lawyer for an environmental law group, but according to your definition, he is not an enviornmentalist. Most people would look at Scott and say “hey, that guy is really into the enviorment.”
True vegans always checks where their products come from and, in this day and age, it is easy to verify the origin. So there are plentyof vegans. I really admire anyone who helps the environment but in a world where everybody was vegan you cannot deny the benefits would be tremendous for the environment, health and, of course, for the animals.
The graphic was meant as a joke. Of course you can do hardcore research if you really want to. It was just meant to illustrate the idea that there are tons and tons of things in our world today that use animal products, and so it is probably nearly impossible to avoid every single use of any sort of animal or environmentally destructive product on a daily basis.
Also, I’m not saying that anyone who uses any sort of animal product is not really a vegan. I was just criticizing her conflation of veganism with environmentalism.
A world where everyone is vegan WOULD look a lot different, however, we don’t really know exactly what that world would look like. There would still be pollution because of the need to transport goods. Sure, there would be less animals, but there would also be less business, less products, and probably a lot more expensive product. Meat isn’t 100% bad for your health, and veganism isn’t healthy for all people across the board.
I’m not trying to make any sweeping claims, here, I’m just pointing out that one can be an environmentalist and not a vegan.
I think veganism helps the environment, so vegans are true environmentalists. I also think that people making any kind of conscious effort to help the environment are true environmentalists, whether they are vegan or not. In my opinion the environment needs all the protection and conservation and help it can get, so any human agency working on its behalf is okay in my book. Some ways may be more effective than others, but as long as people are doing what they can then I can’t complain.
Cattle produce a lot of methane and their fecal matter robs the soil of nutrition and ability to be reused for a long time. A lot of forests have been demolished to make room for cattle and they also require a lot of water and food.
The meat and dairy industry is a major pollutant to our water, air and soil. We also decrease biodiversity in areas by overfishing or hunting or hungrily seeking a rare or hard to reach fish or animal.
The resources and food required to make 1 pound of beef could provide a lot of energy, food and water. To be exact according to John Robbins, “2500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil and the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline.”
In my opinion, the meat industry is contributing to world hunger as well as global warming and resource crisis.
To be apposed to environmental damage and degradation and still support an ugly and inefficient practice like this would be called hypocritical. Practice what you preach.
P.S. The numbers may be off, sorry.
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