Can Veganism Save the Planet? (2021)
In 2010 The United Nations came out with a report that said a vegan diet is vital in saving the world from hunger, poverty, and climate change. With that in mind, it sounds like veganism might just be a lifestyle that could change our world for the better.
But can veganism save the planet and provide us with the solutions to climate change? Would it undo some of our wrongs over time? With so many people on the planet, going vegan might just be our saving grace. It helps us reduce waste, use fewer resources and protect the environment.
Let's dive in.
6 Ways Veganism Can Save the Planet
1. Eating Less Meat Protects the Environment
The UN came out with a big claim that a meat and dairy fueled western diet is not sustainable.
The population is growing rapidly over time meaning larger areas of farmland are needed with more and more animals to produce our staple favorites; steaks, cheese boards, and milky iced lattes
But did you know that livestock within the beef and dairy industry alone accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions? What’s important here is that too much livestock is damaging our environment. Dairy cows throw out substantial amounts of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere every day. Not only that, but they need space- and a lot of it. To accommodate this space, natural habitats are often destroyed and sowed with crops to feed the animals that roam it.
Simple changes we can make, like switching from cow’s milk to oat milk, would mean that 40.6% of carbon emissions from milk consumption would be avoided. So getting used to and testing out plant-based milk may mean that an oat milk latte may just become your new favorite Starbucks order!
2. Veganism Halts Deforestation
Not only can veganism help our animals and our people it can also directly protect our environment's natural landscape. Animal agriculture is responsible for a whopping 91% of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. The desire for farming land is so high it is currently the biggest driver of deforestation and land-use, worldwide.
With the population rising, and more mouths to feed, animal farming needs to be kept to a minimum. Research has found as a result of following a vegan diet, land use can be cut by 76%. That’s an incredible amount! Ultimately this means we’d be able to protect not just the Amazon rainforest, but its native tribes and countless tropical species.
3. More Plants = Cleaner Air
We should change the popular saying “Dog is a man’s best friend” to “Plants are a man’s best friend”. It’s so true! Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into our atmosphere, which is vital for us to breathe. If we cut down on excessive resources for farming, we not only save trees that can cleanse our atmosphere, we also increase crop volumes that can keep the air cycle flowing while simultaneously purifying it.
4. A Vegan Diet Uses Less Water
We've grown accustomed to getting water wherever and whenever we want. From our kitchen taps to bottled water in nearly all stores. Despite what many of us may think, water is not a never-ending resource. We see on charity adverts that clean, freshwater is sparse to millions of people, and this is because water is a precious resource. Most of the water on Earth is not drinkable and needs to go through a purification process to be deemed safe to drink. And guess where most of our water goes? Raising livestock.
Yep, just like the other issues surrounding the farming industry, cows, chickens, goats, and other farm animals are all one more mouth to feed and water. Raising a cow for beef uses around 200 times more water than growing the same weight of vegetables.
Following a vegan diet would mean that the farming industry loses its demand and would ultimately conserve huge volumes of water.
5. Plant-based Agriculture Is More Efficient for Us And Will Protect the Environment
Having more plant-based farming areas, landscapes, and agriculture makes it much easier for us to regulate our intake of produce. Animal-based foods drain us of our natural resources and have a greater environmental impact. Plant-based foods by comparison use far fewer resources.
Livestock need crops to feed on in order to produce the animal products we consume. So removing livestock from the equation and dedicating that landmass purely to crops for us, and not animals could mean that we eliminate the need to breed animals for farming, as well as cause less damage to our natural landscapes. It’s a win-win situation!
6. Veganism Can Save World Hunger
Let's go even deeper here. Veganism can help end world hunger. This directly links to the issue of farming livestock for the purpose of consuming animal products. 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to livestock. Even in third world countries animals are being fed crops just to produce meat and dairy for us to consume.
Each year an estimated 41 million tons of plant protein is fed to U.S. livestock to produce around 7 million tons of animal protein for us to browse on supermarket shelves, and grace the kitchens of our local dining spots. Instead, these crops should be used to feed 800 million people and eradicate hunger. We have a choice to start using those crops to feed more people and less farmed animals. It’s a change well worth making to protect the environment.
It’s great that there are so many issues veganism can target. These new insights into how veganism can help save the planet mean that positive change is possible- if we want to make it happen.
The better news is that we have only touched on a few things that veganism can dramatically impact.