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Economic Behind Veganism: Is It The Best Alternative To Fight Climate Crisis?

Awareness of the environment is starting to become an issue that is being discussed by many people, one of the things that are highlighted is the carbon footprint of the livestock industry and its effect on the environment. Many environmental activists point to the livestock industry as one that emits the most greenhouse gases and uses clean water excessively. Data taken from the website shows that producing 100 grams of protein in the cattle industry alone produces 49.89 kg of carbon dioxide gas. This does not only occur in the cattle farming industry but there are still many data from other animal husbandry industries which are also quite concerning. In the term of use of clean water, data from the website shows that to produce 1 kg of cheese which is a derivative product of the livestock industry requires about 5000 liters of water. Therefore, to reduce the negative impact of the livestock industry on the environment, there are movements such as veganism and also the movement to track the carbon footprint of the food we consume.

The Veganism movement itself can be defined as a movement that focuses on eliminating animal products from our diet and lifestyle (Munro in Cherry, 2006). This movement led to widespread campaigns among young adults to stop eating animals and their by-products or to buy only products from the sustainable livestock industry. A sustainable livestock industry itself is an industry that considers the environment and tries to minimize environmental pollution in the production process. Of the two options, the author is of the view that encouraging the development of a Sustainable Livestock Industry is a better choice for the environment and economic growth compared to the veganism movement.

The first thing to note is that implementing the veganism movement will worsen the economy of a country that has a livestock industry chain and a sizeable proportion of its economy. There are three major countries that become meat suppliers for the world, on top position is America which supplies almost 20% of the world’s meat needs, followed by Brazil with 15% of world production, and the European Union with 13% of world production. According to data from the US BLS taken from the website, there are approximately 527,000 people in America who work in the livestock sector. If the veganism movement continues to be a trend, this will reduce the demand and consumption of meat which will result in lower incomes in the livestock sector. The decline in income in the livestock sector can cause many jobs to be lost in the sector because many livestock industries will make efficient through layoffs of workers. When people lose their jobs, of course, the state of the economy in the country will be sluggish and experience a setback.

In addition, we as consumers have the power that collectively can encourage the existing livestock industry to become more sustainable and care about the environment. The data shows that the trend to use sustainable products or commonly referred to as “green” is increasing lately, it can be seen from the increasing number of livestock products that write the words ‘green’ or ‘organic’ in their products based on the trend of sustainable products. Livestock industry products that are produced sustainably are relatively more expensive. This is addressed differently for each person. However, data taken from Nielsen shows that a majority of 66% of global respondents said they were willing to pay more for more sustainable products, including livestock products and their derivatives. If more and more people start consuming products from the sustainable livestock industry, this will provide an incentive for the livestock industry to change its production procedures to be more environmentally friendly. This will be directly proportional to the demand of consumers who want their livestock products to be more environmentally friendly.

The veganism movement itself does not encourage the existing livestock industry to be greener, but instead kills the livestock industry and harms the economy. If we turn to the veganism movement simply on the pretext of caring for the environment and sustainability, this will cause the livestock industry to decline and cut off the employment of many people. According to data published by Shahbandeh, M (2019), the meat industry itself has a market value of USD 945.7 billion in 2018 and is projected to increase to USD 1,142.9 billion in 2023. This huge economic potential certainly should not be wasted. -waste. By promoting a sustainable livestock industry, people’s preferences will be able to change the existing production procedures for the livestock industry to become more environmentally friendly. Therefore, the livestock industry is not only sustainable in terms of the environment, but also terms of business continuity.

The veganism movement may create some new economic opportunities, but it will take a very long time to adapt. Jobs such as farmers, vegan food vendors, and restaurants specializing in vegan menus may emerge as a consequence of the growing veganism movement. Although, to completely disappear from the consumption of animal products, especially meat, still takes a very long time. This can be seen from the preferences of most people who still like meat as their main diet. Data compiled by shows that from 1961 to 2017 alone, there was an average increase in meat consumption per capita of around 20 kg, marked by a map that is getting redder every year, indicating that meat consumption is increasing every year. This shows that meat consumption will continue to increase every year in various parts of the world. Through this data, we can find out that people’s preferences, in general, are still favoring meat and its derivative products over vegan food menus. Thus, the economic opportunities offered by the veganism movement still have to wait long enough for the majority of the world’s people’s preferences to change. The vegan food business itself may still be profitable, but only in small portions for years to come.

Figure 1.3 Graph of Meat Supply Per Person Calculated in Kg per the Year 1961

Figure 1.4 Graph of Meat Supply Per Person Calculated in Kg per the Year 2017

In addition, reducing carbon emissions from the livestock industry does not need to be done by following the veganism movement, but can be done by providing reliable information to consumers in choosing environmentally friendly animal products. Many people are willing to pay more to get environmentally friendly products including meat. The main problem faced is usually the unavailability of information about whether this meat is produced sustainably or not. The government can make regulations that require the livestock industry to label their products that are produced sustainably. Thus, it will be easier for consumers to buy processed meat products that are more sustainable and encourage more livestock industries to adopt environmentally friendly production methods. This allows the goal of reducing carbon emissions from the livestock industry to be achieved without sacrificing the economic potential of the industry.

In closing, the trend to follow the veganism movement to preserve the environment is indeed on the rise. On the other hand, the livestock and meat industry also still has a large share in the economy. Therefore, encouraging a sustainable livestock industry offers more opportunities to preserve the environment and also develop the economy as a whole rather than choosing to be a vegan.