Plant-Based For The Environment
For years the plant-based diet was a fad, reserved exclusively for life-loving hippies and the uber health-conscious. Over time however, veganism slowly came into the mainstream as people were finally exposed to the cruelty inherent in the animal agriculture industry.
At around the same time, studies came out revealing how a plant-based diet was not only safe but actually beneficial to your health.
Initially, just these two factors - ethics and health - were the prime drivers for people switching over to a vegan diet.
However, in recent years, research has highlighted the alarming consequences of a diet rich in animal products. Today, many individuals are turning to a plant-based diet simply because they’ve been made aware of the global implications of staying on a diet of animal products.
Animals And The Earth
Isn’t it a cause for concern that every year we slaughter nearly 70 billion land animals for food, and yet there are countries where famine is still a common occurrence?
Aside from the fact that animal agriculture cannot adequately meet the needs of the growing populace, the industry is contributing to a host of environmental issues like no other industry in existence.
That’s right, switching to a plant-based diet isn’t just ‘good’ for us; it’s essential for the continued existence of the Earth itself and all those who dwell in it.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider switching to a plant-based diet.
- Optimum Land Use
One of the most obvious reasons why a plant-based diet is better is simply because it’s more efficient in terms of the way land is utilized.
Livestock must be fed on grain which needs to be cultivated in large quantities in order to supply the vast number of animals on an animal farm. To do so vast areas of forest land must be cleared, leading to deforestation on an unimaginable scale.
So first, trees are cleared in order to make space for an animal farm, and, in general, animals take up a lot more space than plants. After this, more trees must be cut down in order to grow plants that will be used to feed these animals.
Instead, by simply growing plants on any available land and consuming them directly, we can cut down on land use to a large extent, which will drastically reduce the number of trees chopped down every year.
In fact, almost 80% of crop land in the US is used to grow crops that are allocated to animal farms to be used as feed.
- Reduced Water Wastage
A single cow drinks roughly 120 - 140 litres of water everyday! Now multiply that into the thousands of cows on a beef farm, who are reared for almost 4 years before being slaughtered. The quantity of meat produced from such a farm can hardly justify the astonishing amount of water wasted in its production.
In fact, to produce a single pound of beef takes nearly 1800 to 4000 gallons of water. And that’s just the beef industry!
Aside from drinking water, animal farms require water to grow animal feed and clean out the pens and stables, which adds to the enormous quantities of water being wasted.
- Eliminate Water Pollution
Managing the waste produced on an animal farm is no easy task. Most farms collect the excrement in a large pit or cesspool in order to dispose of it. Most of this waste is prone to agricultural runoff and spills into streams, lakes, and rivers, poisoning groundwater and eventually polluting the oceans.
This waste not only toxifies water bodies but results in the production of algae, which depletes the water of all oxygen, leading to ocean dead zones where marine life cannot survive.
The best example of this would be where the Mississippi river empties into the Gulf of Mexico. This river carries enormous quantities of animal waste from factory farms in the Midwest and dumps it into the Gulf. Oxygen depletion from this animal waste ended up creating a dead zone of roughly 8,500 sq. ft. killing off all marine life in the area.
- Preservation Of Species
This ties into the earlier points on this list. As more space is cleared out to set up animal farms, large swathes of forest lands are cleared out.
These forests are home to many different species of animals, and at a single stroke they are deprived of their natural habitats. Without the forest and the natural sustenance and comfort it provides them, it’s impossible for most species to survive.
As a result entire species are slowly being wiped out simply because of habitat loss when land is cleared to set up factory farms.
- Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Animal agriculture and livestock farming produce nearly as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the transport in the world.
Livestock (especially cows, who are reared for both meat and milk) produce a gas called methane which warms the Earth nearly 20 times faster than carbon-dioxide.
On top of this, factory farms set up large cesspools to store animal waste and these pits add to the methane in the atmosphere. It’s evident that if we continue factory farming at the rate we’re going at, the Earth will become too hot to live in.
Switch To Plant-Based
It’s quite clear that the animal industry is downright detrimental to the health of our planet.
And by continuing to support them and consuming animal products we are actively engaged in depleting the Earth of her resources.
So now that you have some basic information on the relationship between eating plant-based and a healthier planet, do your own research on the kind of negative effects that a non-vegan diet has on the environment.Armed with the right knowledge, the impact of a non-vegan diet will become clear, and you can better understand the importance of turning to a plant-based diet. And once you’ve grasped this, the decision to switch will be both easy and truly liberating.