As a vegan, we need transportation. While walking or riding a bicycle are the most planet-friendly options, they’re too slow for the modern pace of life. While electric vehicles are coming along at a pace, they’re still overly costly for the average person. Also, there still aren’t enough public charging stations to support anything like an overnight switch from fossil fuel-based vehicles to electric-based ones. The result is that this leaves the majority of vegans with two affordable choices: A petrol/gasoline-based vehicle or a diesel one. Biofuel is a possible distant third too. So, let’s explore whether is petrol vegan. And is diesel vegan? We have the answers here.
What Is Petrol Made Of?
Petrol – or gasoline as Americans refer to it – is a refined form of crude oil. Refineries are used globally to convert crude oil supplies into usable gasoline or petrol that’s supplied at gas or petrol stations.
Petrol and gasoline have been created in multiple versions for years. These come from petroleum (also referred to as crude oil).
It is flammable and in liquid form as fuel for our vehicles. Beyond the refining process, it also has various stabilizers, alcohol additions, and ethers included.
The refined petrol includes over one hundred hydrocarbons, such as isopentane and butane, to name just two.
Refined fuel is still incompatible with modern engines. It requires an extra mixture of blended compounds including benzene and is referred to collectively at BTEX. These help in different ways to ensure the fuel source is consistent and compatible with modern vehicles.
Most gasoline or petrol contains a percentage of ethanol too.
This is better for the planet. In the UK, they recently switched petrol supplies to a new version with a 10 percent ethanol component marketed as E10.
Other global supplies at the pump offer something similar.
What Is Diesel Made Of?
Diesel fuel is an alternative to gasoline aka petrol.
It is more energy efficient than gasoline because it produces greater energy per gallon or liter. Therefore, if diesel prices were to match gasoline prices, it would be a less expensive fossil fuel.
Unlike gasoline/petrol, diesel has heteroatoms, such as nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen present in the fuel. These are different from the hydrocarbons found in gasoline.
Due to the refining process, it requires approximately 41-43 gallons of crude to result in over 11 gallons of diesel for a vehicle to use.
Originally, diesel fuel contained high amounts of sulfur that was determined to be bad for the environment. This has since been significantly reduced.
Is Petrol Vegan?
Crude oil – which petrol is a refined, partial derivative of – is believed to have resulted from organic matter including formally living things.
Organisms that lived millions of years ago on Earth like zooplankton and sea algae eventually died off. They sank into the sand, and eventually, due to the passage of time, high temperature, and considerable pressure turned into what is referred to now as fossil fuels.
Depending on the process, the mixture eventually became either crude or natural gas.
Whether petrol/gasoline is vegan depends on your interpretation of veganism.
If it relates to no harm being done to animals to provide products, then technically petrol is vegan.
This is because microscopic organisms died naturally, were absorbed into the ground, and eventually transformed into a fuel source through an advanced molecular process.
However, as a vegan, if you believe that no previously living thing should form any part of a product you purchase or make use of, then it is not vegan.
Bear in mind though, that vegan food products at the supermarket came from trucks that used fuel to get there.
Is Diesel Vegan?
Diesel originates from the same types of sources. It was still formerly crude oil that went through a heavy refining process with different additions to eventually become diesel.
This type of fuel is sometimes in cars, but more often it’s used in commercial trucks, RVs, vans, and other larger vehicles.
Most of the products we buy in the stores were delivered by a diesel-powered commercial truck (or lorry in UK parlance).
It is more energy efficient than petrol, so all other things being equal, it has fewer emissions for the same mileage. However, those emissions aren’t zero carbon ones either.
Should Vegans Be Using Petrol Or Diesel?
Many vegans are concerned not only about animal welfare but also about the planet. They tend to take environmental considerations into account when making vegan-based purchasing decisions.
If you’re a vegan who is okay with using fossil fuels in a vehicle, then it comes down to whether you’re resolved to the minute amount of long-since-departed microscopic matter within fossil fuels.
Both diesel and petrol will contain teeny tiny amounts of this despite the refining process and there’s no getting around that fact.
Should Vegans Be Driving Electric Cars?
Electric vehicles have much to recommend them.
There are vegan considerations and planet-wide ones too.
Electric cars are the purest vegan option.
No previously living matter is included in the energy used to power the vehicle, and hopefully not in the fuel used to power the electric plants either.
From an environmental standpoint, not all the plants which produce electricity are themselves fueled cleanly.
Some do use wind or solar power.
Others use nuclear power and uranium – several meltdowns and near meltdowns have threatened the globe from Chornobyl to Three Mile Island. Others use natural gas and other sources.
Also, the substantial lithium-ion batteries that run the electric vehicles contain mined minerals including nickel, lithium, graphite, cobalt, and manganese.
The production of electricity is itself unclean.
It relies on mining for the uranium, and natural gas supplies too. The total emissions caused by the mining and natural gas industries to obtain supplies to generate electricity and for the EV batteries are likely less damaging than that for fossil fuel vehicles.
Yet it’s not the clean energy that is being touted. It’s cleaner… not clean.
Group transportation such as public transport and ride-sharing, and other alternatives such as bicycles or walking are all better for the environment than electric vehicles.