Veggies, Vegans, and Variety

Sunday, October 19, 2008
Making my usual bloggy rounds the other day, I read a recent post by SP of Whoville entitled "Is the 160.93KM Vegan Diet Possible?" The post is in reference to one of the current popular food/eating trends out there, The 100-Mile Diet, based on the book of the same name. She's cleverly converted the distance to metric for those of us in Canuckland.

The general premise of the 100-Mile diet is pretty obvious - you only eat foods or use ingedients grown/produced within a 100 mile (or 160.93km) radius of your location. The purpose is to support local farmers/growers, cut down on the use of fossil fuels involved in the transportation of most foods (processed or not), and to eat local, fresh, and healthy. All in all, a very good idea and, while I haven't read the book or tried it myself, I strongly recommend giving it a go. And yes, it's on my list of things to try...

After reading SP's post though, I started thinking about the idea of eating locally in a whole new light. You see, SP is a vegan. Like many vegans, she eats a huge variety of interesting veggies and grains, as well as tofu and soy products. Living in a place such as Whoville, the chances of finding a local producer of tofu or even someone who grows soybeans if she wanted to try and make her own. This has resulted in quite the dilemma for her. Her love, care and concern for animals and the choice to not eat or use any animal products means that the products she choses to eat instead still have an impact on the environment which may or may not be as detrimental to the environment as if she was an omnivore.

I should point out that I am not, in any way, trying to single out SP - I am simply using her as an example since she's one of the few vegans I know. Additionally I am not judging her - considering that I both eat meat AND use/eat products that have sometimes travelled 1000s of miles, I'm hardly the epitome of responsible consumption. If it's come across that way, my apologies.

So, what is the environmentally conscious vegan (or vegetarian) to do? It's easier, I think, to eat a varied local vegan or vegetarian diet the closer you get to the equator. There's a longer growing season and much more variety in the types of foods you can grow all year round. Canada, as far as I know, is not a hotbed of nut producers (edible nuts...), soybean farmers, or quinoa producers. As SP points out in her post, one of the few local fruits available to many Canadians all year round are apples. And even then, the term "local" is a bit subjective. Root vegetables seem to do quite well up here (at least here in central Alberta) but vegans cannot live on potatoes, carrots, parsnips and beets alone. And considering how long our winters can be ...

My answer to the original question: Is the 160.93KM vegan diet possible? Yes, but it's limited and it would be difficult if not impossible for many in more northern regions to get a balanced, nutritious diet. Think of how hard (and hugely expensive) it would be to be a vegan north of 60? Yikes. Anyone else have any suggestions?


Candy Minx said...

Very interesting post and question.

The diet is totally "possible"...hundreds of years ago...the reason you couldn't do it now would be because it is possibly against the law.

Using only food from your location in Edmonton would offer up a variety of flaqvours and foods...after all...for thousands and thousands of years people ate in your area...without modern farming and food.

You COULD live on berries, and plants and animals in your region. The most nomadic humans are farmers because they run out of food soil...whereas hunter-gatherers there is an urban myth that they are nomadic...but no. Their livelihod depended on knowing their regions and seasons.

I highly recommend you get "The Other Side of Eden: Hunters, Farmers and the Shaping of the World" by Hugh Brody from the library.

There are so many plants and foods fungus (like a mushroom), mountain sheep, herbs, servis berries (Amelanchier alnifolia), camas roots, choke-berry, buffalo, chestnuts, soups/stews. a type of bread, mats root (like a potato/noodle source of starch), pemmican, eggs, ducks, wild turkeys, geese...well I could go on but I am writing too much. But as you can see, it's entirely possible to eat within a radius of the area. I believe i t is illegal to hunt these foods now those so the law is against aboriginals. (now they have diabetes from eating all the noodles and bread farmers eat)


sp said...

You're probably right, the diet is possible for a vegan. I just completed my fresh delivery box order and am happy to say that everything in it is considered local. My grains are not. Throw into the mix someone with a wheat sensitivity and there's another complication.

The good news hazelnuts are abundant and in season here so I've got some fresh hazelnuts coming. I've still got lettuce and arugula in the garden. I do love to eat locally grown. Now where's the ocean I need some salt.

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