Can veganism help the environment?

vegan for environment
Going vegan or not is not a new question to be addressed. Here the matter is not about going vegan but improving your eating habits that can help the environment.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Going vegan or not is not a new question to be addressed. Here the matter is not about going vegan but improving your eating habits that can help the environment.

Yes, you heard it right. Your eating preferences have a point of origin and how is it produced and brought to your plate adds up to the greenhouse emissions.

The Lancet published a report in 2019, highlighting how your diet, health and environment are co-related. The research concluded that adopting a plant-based diet can prove to be better for your health and this planet.

vegan and carbon footprint

Impacts of animal agricultural industry on environment

Before arguing if we should follow a vegan diet, let’s elaborate on how and why the animal agriculture industry is believed to be harmful to the environment.

1. Increasing demand for land

land usage by animal industry
Credits: PETA

Most of the land resources are used directly or indirectly by the animal industry only. Statistics shared by Ourworldindata showed that 80% of global agricultural land is taken up by livestock and still can meet only 20% of the world’s calorie requirement.

To quote more, an acre of land each second is being destroyed to meet the needs of this industry. To date, 70% of the Amazon basin is deforested because of cattle ranching. This is greatly impacting the wildlife surrounding these areas.

Instead of all these, the available land could have been used for crop production to feed humans, to provide habitat for wildlife, or to give space for forests to survive.

2. High dependency on freshwater resources

Livestock watering, dairy operations, crop production for feed, animal waste disposal systems are various reasons where water is being consumed by livestock.
Nearly one-third of the earth’s water is used by the animal industry. Not only this, animal waste is used as manure on farm fields. But increasing animal farming is increasing animal waste; hence more waste is sprayed as manure or sometimes is even left on bare land. The required nitrogen and phosphorous are absorbed by soil but excess leaches into water bodies from run-offs because of rains. This contaminates the water, causes algal bloom, impacts fishes and makes water unfit for drinking.

3. Greenhouse gas emissions

Several factors and industries are to be accounted for greenhouse gas emissions. But do you know 15% of total global warming problems are arising because of livestock.

Animal agriculture is highly responsible for emissions of methane and nitrous oxide- which is 28times more destructive than CO2 and later being 265 times more destructive. Feed production, transportation and processing also contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases.

Can global shift on a plant-based diet help the environment?

First, convincing the entire world to follow veganism is unrealistic. Second, over-dependency on one type of resource for food generation will be more impactful than thought to be good.

It is believed that the global shift to fruits, veggies, beans for food will reduce greenhouse emissions by 70%. But the other side of the story is, dependency on a variety of plant-based products to meet a required balanced diet will increase intake of these products. And such high demand will increase dependency on land resources along with over usage of transportation systems.

The only solution is to create a balance between the two and go for both rather than over-consumption of one. Plan a day or two in a week to limit your diet to veggies, legumes, and fruits.

How to optimize food choices for the environment?

For a healthy and sustainable diet, our preferences need to be altered.

  1. Go for seasonal produce- Eat what’s readily available in that season. And not depending upon stored non-seasonal products.
  2. No to packed items- Packed products not only increase plastic waste but with storage start lacking nutritional values. Ditch the market-bought juice and prepare it fresh at home whenever needed.
  3. Water consumption- To produce 1Kg of beef more water will be required as required for chicken, fish or veggie. Give preference to the food choice that has a minimum dependency on resources.
  4. Say no to food wastage- Not to be counted here? But plays a major role in understanding that food waste also contributes to greenhouse gases.

Your choice is not just about your health but about the planet too. Meet all the food requirements of your body but be aware that it should leave minimal impact on the planet too.

FAQ

Is veganism good for global warming?

The greatest potential for lowering greenhouse gas emissions is provided by vegan diets. By adopting vegan diets in place of half of all animal-based meals, greenhouse emissions may be reduced by 35%. The climate goals would be significantly impacted even if you decide to change only one animal product.

What are the negative effects of veganism on the environment?

A shift on plant-based diet may result in the loss of crucial plant and animal genetic resources, put more strain on available water and land resources, and make agricultural crop residue issues worse. For a sustainable lifestyle, balanced diet is what we all need to implement.

Who developed the idea of veganism?

In 1944, Donald Watson, co-founder of ‘The Vegan Society’, coined the term “vegan”, to describe non-diary vegetarians. Later the definition was updated as “excluding all forms of animal exploitation”.

What percentage of the world is vegan?

Veganism is rising around the globe. Around 79 million vegans are there around the world.

Which country has the most vegans?

As per the data shared by worldpopulationreview, UK has the most vegans in the world, followed by Australia. And few vegan-friendly countries are: India, UK, Taiwan, Poland, USA, Germany, Australia & Canada.

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