There are various reasons why you or I choose to go vegan. In many cases, it’s a move towards supporting animal rights. Others may go down this path for health issues.
One reason many meat-eaters may not consider is the impact on climate change. Is there a clear link between veganism and climate change?
The numbers don’t lie. Each day, a vegan diet saves:
- 1 animal’s life
- 1,100 gallons of water
- 45 pounds of grain
- 20 pounds CO2 equivalent
- 30 square feet of forested land
More people are now discovering how the meat industry is having severe negative impacts on the environment. Now, they’re keen to make a change.
It’s possible you’ve never thought about the link between veganism and environmentalism or heard about it. Yet, it’s a topic that is becoming more publicized and widespread as the years go by.
Author Marco Springmann on the Future of Food at the University of Oxford had his say on the matter. He suggested that the world is suffering severe environmental pressures due to the meat-based diet. It could come to a head by as soon as 2050.
He told CNN: “It could lead to dangerous levels of climate change with higher occurrences of extreme weather events.
(It could) affect the regulatory function of forest ecosystems and biodiversity. (It is likely) to pollute water bodies such that it would lead to more oxygen-depleted dead zones in oceans”
While plant-based food expert Sharon Palmer also told CNN, “If the whole world, which continues to grow, eats more like us, the impacts are staggering. The planet simply can’t withstand it”.
It seems as though there is a frightening future ahead if we don’t make a change right now.
How Eating Meat Affects the Climate
There are a number of ways the meat industry affects the environment. Let’s take a look at if veganism and climate change really go hand-in-hand.
Meat production is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions. Due to this type of chain production, consequences occur. Ammonia, dust and Co2 are released into the atmosphere.
These types of emissions can cause human health conditions such as asthma, COPD and a higher chance of pneumonia from bacterial infections. Those who are prolonged these chemicals and particles may be at risk of long-term breathing issues.
2. Animal waste
In countries around the world, water pollution is a common occurrence. Animal waste is typically the main factor, which can go on to affect human health again if it is consumed.
According to PETA, a standard pig factory produces the same around of raw waste than a town of 12,000 people. As a result, it has become the number one issue associated with water pollution.
However, if manure is used correctly, it can positively impact the environment. Soil fertility and an alternative renewable energy source are two of the best benefits.
3. Land consumption
In comparison to grazing, intensive livestock production can have severe impacts on land. To keep animals fed, substantial amounts of harvested feed is needed. This agricultural impact on the environment is grave.
PETA declared that 80% of the corn we grow and 95% of oats are fed to livestock. Did you know that the number of cattle around the world consume the same amount of food calories as 8.7 billion people? That’s a larger figure than the number of people that actually exist on our planet.
If the demand for less meat was required, this wouldn’t be the case. This is the sole reason why being vegan and climate change is becoming a more popular subject.
According to FAO, deforestation in the tropical rainforests is one of the main concerns we are facing in order to keep livestock fed.
Overgrazing can also lead to removing essential nutrients out of the soil. If animals are constantly grazing, these nutrients will never be replaced. In hotter and dryer regions around the world, soil erosion is even a common occurrence.
The loss of wild land across the world also means that there is now huge concern over the extinction for some species of animals.
4. Greenhouse gas emissions
Cows, goats and sheep release methane as they consume plants. This is otherwise known as ‘enteric fermentation’ which occurs when they burp or produce waste. Chemical fertilizers are used to boost plant growth to feed to cattle.
According to the FAO, there is now a rising fear that the demand for beef is in greater demand than ever before.
They estimated that the industry would grow by 88% between 2010 and 2050. As you can expect, this will put even more pressure on forests and the climate if action isn’t taken.
What are the effects of veganism on the climate?
According to scientists, turning vegan could be the single biggest way to reduce your carbon footprint. Research was carried out by a team of specialists and a huge discovery was made.
If meat and dairy consumption was cut out of the human diet completely, 75% of the world’s land could be saved.
Image Source: Happy Cow
The chair of the UN panel on climate change (IPCC), Rajendra Pachauri, says that the best thing people can do to fight against climate change is to eat less meat.
Scientists also claim that by turning vegan, you will dramatically reduce your carbon footprint.
What is a carbon footprint?
You may have heard of the term carbon footprint, but never understood the true meaning. In simple terms, it’s the amount of greenhouse gases that are produced as a result of your everyday activities.
If you’re unsure whether you’re living a sustainable lifestyle, you can check online by using the carbon footprint calculator. This will help you get an idea of how you can improve on sustainable living.
How are veganism and climate change connected?
Reduction of greenhouse gases
According to a study carried out by Rob Jackson, the agriculture sector emits 37% of anthropogenic methane. This contributes to 23 times of the carbon dioxide that’s set to cause global warming.
If the world were to cut down on eating meat altogether, the breeding of livestock would be significantly reduced. Less methane would be emitted, meaning we would be living in a much healthier world.
Image Source: BBC
Meat production also requires a great deal of energy. Not only are a substantial number of crops required to grow, but fossil fuels are burnt during the process of slaughter and transportation.
Livestock accounts for 51% of the world’s greenhouse gases. So, if you choose to go on a meat-free diet, you’ll reduce your greenhouse gases emittance by almost half.
Preserve habitats and species
Eating animals has a huge impact on the extinction of species and destroying habits. Did you know that each second that goes by, an area of land equivalent to a football field is chopped down to locate livestock for slaughter? It’s a scary concept when you truly think about it.
Overall, it has been discovered that eating meat requires three times more land than the vegan diet. So, this may put into perspective how veganism and climate change are combined.
Conservation of water
While you may think that water is in abundance, this certainly isn’t the case. It’s actually a very scarce source. In fact, only 2.5% of water on the planet is actually fresh and 30% of that figure is frozen ice that we don’t even have access to.
With livestock breeding at a rapid rate, most of the fresh water we do have is given to them. Animal use fresh water to drink, wash and cool themselves when temperatures soar. But what about humans in third-world countries who don’t have access to fresh water at all?
The huge question on everyone’s lips is – why are people still choosing to consume meat when humans elsewhere in the world are suffering? We can still get all the nutrients we need from plant-based diets and make better usage of fresh water. With this in mind, huge changes need to be made in terms of veganism and climate change.
How can you adopt a vegan diet?
If you’re keen to become a vegan but are unsure how to get started, our blogs provide tips for beginners, as well as useful recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Make a difference to the environment by drawing your own link between dieting and climate change.
Are you looking to turn vegan and reduce your carbon footprint?
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