First and foremost, I am very respectful of any person’s choice to become vegan or vegetarian. Many folks that I have talked to became veg/an (vegetarian or vegan) by analyzing the food industry and making a personal choice generally based on a moral/ethical standpoint. As an agriculturalist and pedologist I ask these veg/ans to also analyze the veg/an food industry and research it’s profound impact on ecological systems. As a life long farmer, I have witnessed first hand how crops can single handedly cause ecological distress and even destroy the chemical composition, rendering soil “sterile” (in a sense).
Let me be clear, I am in no way, shape or form defending the horrid conditions and environmental repercussions of the corporate dairy/agricultural industry. Further more, I not singling out veg/ans but, hear me out on this one… Veg/ans are also (and most of the time unknowingly) a cog in the depletion of water resources whose consumption also aids in the damage of many ecosystems.
In the past 5 years almond consumption has surpassed peanut consumption (Atlantic, 2015), the effects on the human body are profoundly positive but at what cost? California, currently in it’s 5th year of drought, is the only state that commercially produces almonds. If you know anything about farming, you know that almonds are the thirstiest crop requiring 1.1 gallons of water for a SINGLE almond. My culinary friends can tell you that to produce a half gallon of almond milk, 4 cups of almonds and 8 cups of water is required. But let’s do the math…. there are about 40-50 almonds in one cup , add the 8 cups of water, that is almost 50 gallons of water to produce 1/2 gallon of almond milk.
Currently, California is importing 90% of it’s municipal and agricultural water from neighboring states, those state’s reservoirs are steadily decreasing and the “cancerous” water shortage is spreading further and further East. Quinoa, soy, almond and corporate farming are all equally to blame but there is a silver lining… actually, there are several. Legalization of industrial hemp (hemp milk y’all—KUDOS to KY hemp progression over the last 5 yrs), support for local biodynamic farming, and the recent development in sewage water conversion facilities (KUDOS to Bill Gates) are all giant steps forward in staving the water consumption of the agricultural industry.
Finally, I want to personally commend all veg/an, local-ites, and agricultural justice advocates in empathetic and thoughtful consumption but I beg you to boycott almond/quinoa/soy/corporate dairy milk. It is a serious injustice to all citizens, ecosystems and a threat to the future of human kind. Water is running out, (almond) milk’s hand in this crisis is backed by sound evidence(scientific, agricultural, and ecological) and exhibit a need for local and “smarter” consumption.
I challenge all who read this to find a local farmer that practices biodynamic farming, empathetic/morally sound animal husbandry and ditch the veg/an lifestyle and enjoy the bounty of guilt free dairy products. Not only is every dollar spent lo doubled in that economy, I bet that local farmer will even let you hand feed and socialize with the animals producing your yummy dairy foods.