5 Ways That Choosing Vegan = Good News for The Environment
Our health. Animals. Our planet.
Building blocks of a picture that looks better through a vegan filter. Some of the many newly plant-powered humans made the switch because of just one of these blocks; some, the combination of all three. For many, environmental impact was the kicker.
Since the release of some high-profile documentaries about the fallout from animal farming, the knowledge that plant-based eating is more planet-friendly is catching on. Yet many people still simply don’t realise what their burger habit is costing the environment.
Let’s take a whistle-stop tour of some headline impacts and learn why making vegan choices makes you a planet saving hero.
- GREENHOUSE GASES
These atmospheric gases absorb and emit heat, creating a “greenhouse effect”. In recent history, human activity has caused an explosion in concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Earth’s atmosphere. More GHGs = surface temperature increases, with potentially catastrophic effects for ecosystems.
People are often surprised to learn that livestock and their by-products are responsible for more GHG emissions than the combined exhaust emissions from every vehicle in the world: monumental quantities of carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia (which is also one of the main causes of acid rain).
Methane is up to 100x more destructive than CO2. Humans are so keen on cows that we’ve engineered a cow population boom, sufficient to pour roughly 150 billion gallons of methane into the atmosphere a day. From their butts.
So how do we reduce GHG emissions? Reversing the growth of animal agriculture is a good place to start. Choose plant products; reduce demand for animal ones.
Not just the livestock’s drink. Fresh water needed to produce feed equates to a larger water footprint per ton of product than for plant counterparts. Twenty times as great for beef than for cereals, for example.
Animal Agriculture is responsible for up to 33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today. Since only 1% of the water on earth is available fresh water, we should all be conserving this precious resource.
As well as turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, choosing plant products is a great way to do your bit.
All those animals produce a lot of waste. A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. Holy poo, batman. Yes, it looks bad and smells worse, but it’s also a risk to human and animal health, thanks to the myriad of pathogens it carries. If not properly managed, these can make their way into waterways and spread infection like wildfire.
Part and parcel with the waste is the nitrogen and phosphorus content in the animal feed, up to 90% of which is excreted. These cause eutrophication: an ecological imbalance that supports abnormal algae growth, severely reducing the oxygen available for other aquatic life and wreaking havoc on aquatic biodiversity.
Animal waste also emits more of that methane we mentioned earlier.
Plants don’t poo, people. Need we say more?
The myth pervades that seafood doesn’t count in conversations about animal products, but the seas beg to differ. Intensive fishing, which sees up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species caught and discarded for every 1 pound intended catch, means we could be looking at fishless oceans by 2048.
Choosing vegan food is simply choosing not to be a part of this.
You’ve probably heard that rainforests are the lungs of the planet, so called because they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. They also help stabilise climate, maintain the water cycle, provide a habitat for countless plant and animal species and are basically crucial to earth’s health.
So it’s not good news that 1-2 acres are cleared every second. What’s the culprit? Animal agriculture, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction. Some of that used to farm livestock; some to feed it.
It’s more efficient to cut out the middle animal and just eat the plants. John Robbins calculates it takes 18x more land to feed a meat-eater than a vegan.
Eat vegan, save land, save the rainforests.
You’ve probably guessed that there are more than these 5 ways that eating green is good for the environment. We’ve barely scraped the surface here, but hope we’ve shown enough for you to feel great about every plant-based choice you make. Take a peek at our range if you’re feeling inspired to cook up a vegan storm.