Vegan For Environment

From recycling our household rubbish to cycling to work, we're all aware of ways to live a greener life. One of the most effective things an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint is to avoid all animal products. This goes way beyond the problem of cow flatulence!

Why is meat and dairy so bad for the environment?

The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment - from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. The vast amount of grain feed required for meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction. In Brazil alone, the equivalent of 5.6 million acres of land is used to grow soybeans for animals in Europe. This land contributes to developing world malnutrition by driving impoverished populations to grow cash crops for animal feed, rather than food for themselves. On the other hand, considerably lower quantities of crops and water are required to sustain a vegan diet, making the switch to veganism one of the easiest, most enjoyable and most effective ways to reduce our impact on the environment.

Key Facts:

– Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA. Hence, as the largest source of greenhouse gases, animal agriculture is the leading cause of global warming

– According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the  United Nations, animal agriculture is the leading producer of greenhouse gases in the world, more than all worldwide transportation emissions combined.

– According to the UN, 1/3 of the earth’s land is used to produce livestock feed while another 30% is used for pasture. Overgrazing due to unsustainably large herds has led to desertification of 20% of the world’s pastures. Animal grazing is the leading cause of desertification. ⅓ of the world’s land is desertified.

– Ammonia is the most potent form of nitrogen that triggers algae blooms and causes fish kills in coastal waters. Animal agriculture is the leading producer of ammonia (64%)

– Livestock operations on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones around the world in our oceans due to water contamination. That’s 95,000 square miles of area with no life whatsoever.

– According to the United Nations, the livestock sector is the leading player in loss of biodiversity. This is because it is a major driver of deforestation, land degradation, pollution, overfishing, etc.

– The largest motive for deforestation is to create corn and soy farms to feed the unsustainably large livestock population of the Earth. Since 1970, 20% of the Amazon rainforest has been cleared, and is now mainly used for ranching and growing soybeans. Over 90% of Amazon deforestation is caused by the animal agriculture industry.

Vegan and plant-based diets use less resources

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that one in nine people are chronically undernourished. With the world’s population expected to increase from 7 billion to reach 9-11 billion by 2050, one of the most urgent questions we now face is how we, as a species, will feed ourselves in the 21st century. Even if we tackled the economic forces that ultimately cause the unfair allocation of resources, the Earth has only a limited area of viable agricultural land; how this land is used is central to our ability to feed the world. In comparison to what they produce, livestock simply use too many land, crop, and water resources to be viable as a source of food.

Water wastage

Over a billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually! Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US. While a loaf of bread requires only 50 gallons of water to produce from start to finish, 1 pound of beef requires 2500 gallons of water; that's as much water as taking a 5 minute shower every day for a year! As the Time magazine notes, “Around the world, as more water is diverted to raising pigs and chickens instead of producing crops for direct consumption, millions of wells are going dry.”

Unsustainable use of crop and land

For every 100 calories of grain eaten by animals, only 10 calories of meat is produced. Today, cows consume enough food to feed 8.7 billion people, but produce only enough food for 800 million people. If we didn’t eat meat or dairy, there would be enough food to feed 10 billion people, yet 800 million people go hungry every day. Quite simply, we do not have enough land to feed a growing population an animal-based diet. While 800 million people do not have enough food, we continue to waste valuable agricultural land by obtaining only a small fraction of its potential caloric value. Industrial livestock production is not just unsustainable; it's unjustifiable.

The impact of going vegan

Each day, a vegan will:

–  produce 50% less carbon dioxide than an omnivore; conserve greenhouses gases equivalent to 20 lbs of CO2

– use 1/13th as much water as an omnivore; conserve 1,100 gallons of water

– use 1/18th as much land compared to an omnivore; conserve 30 sq ft of forested land

– conserve 45 pounds of grain

– conserve one animal’s life

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