Climate change's gastronomical effects
The Brokpa tribals of Ladakh, who claim to have been vegans for some 2,200 years of their existence, are slowly opting an alternative diet that includes dairy products, eggs and meat—thanks to climate change.
The Brokpa live in the villages of Dha, Hanu, Beema, Garkon and Dhardik on the Line of Control with Pakistan. The total population of the villages is about 1,700 residents.
Climate change has made summer and winter warmer. Records show a rise of 1ÊC in the minimum temperature during winter and 0.5 ÊC in peak summer at Brokpa villages between 1973 and 2008.
As a result, pests have increased, leading to a significant drop in the Brokpa's traditional crops, forcing them to change their lifestyle.
The tribe traditionally grew barley, potatoes, apples and apricots, while wheat was introduced later. Due to the rise in temperature, the Brokpa now also cultivate cherries, plums, grapes, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, gourd, capsicum, beans and peas despite the high altitude where they live.
The milder winter has caused pests— including fruit flies, coddling moth, yellow rust, green and black-headed worms—to survive and even thrive.
Thus, while variety in Brokpa agriculture has increased, production has dropped, due to pests. This is one of the reasons, alongside migration, that meat and dairy consumption is becoming common.