The food we eat has a massive impact on our planet. Livestock farming takes over 77 per cent of the agricultural land, causes deforestation, destroys other ecosystems and results in more than 60 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions from our food systems. All this, while contributing only 17 per cent of the global calorific need.
Evidently, humanity needs to transition from meat and dairy to a plant-based foodsystem.
Further, researchers at the University of Oxford suggest that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could lower your carbon footprint. The study says that a vegan diet could be the best way to reduce the environmental impact on the planet. A vegan diet means reduced air pollution, less water consumption, and naturally fewer animals that are killed. It goes beyond doubt that this kind of lifestyle has a host of environmental benefits. Raising animals for food takes up massive amounts of land, water, food, and energy. Needless to mention, animal agriculture by-products pollute the air and water we drink.
With the increasing global population and growing appetite for meat across the world, the environmental reasons to go vegan are becoming more vital. Let’s examine them one by one.
Reduces emission of greenhouse gases
Meat production involves 3 main gases that contribute to global warming – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. While carbon dioxide is known as the main culprit of global warming, methane has a significant warming effect. While the latter may not stay long enough in the atmosphere as CO2, it is more powerful and absorbs more heat.
Nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas released as a result of animal farming is 300 times more powerful at trapping heat than CO2. 65 per cent of the world’s nitrous oxide emissions are attributed to meat, dairy, and egg industries.
A shift to a plant-based diet means you will stop contributing to these major emissions.
Also read:Celebrities support vegan campaign
You save water
Being vegan, you save water that is in short supply in many parts of the globe. While many lack access to safe water, agriculture uses 70 per cent of the global freshwater and livestock utilise more freshwater than anything else.
Besides, livestock is one of the main polluters of freshwater. High doses of fertilisers, chemicals, and antibiotics used to grow animals are released into nearby water and lakes, thereby, threatening the safety of drinking water and the other species living in those areas.
Helping endangered species survive
As increasing amounts of rainforests are cleared to rear and graze animals, their inhabitants have a tough time for survival.
Wild animals are squeezed into smaller habitats where it’s hard for them to survive. Moreover, with their habitat being overtaken by farming, they are forced into contact with humans, thereby increasing the risk of zoonotic diseases and human-wildlife conflict.
Helping ocean ecosystem re-stabilise
While we are aware of the serious threat of plastic pollution, ocean acidification is far more deadly.
Ocean acidification caused by an increased uptake of carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere makes it hard for creatures, such as coral reefs, molluscs, and crustaceans to grow and reproduce.
A switch to a vegan diet can help reduce the amount of agricultural carbon being pumped into the atmosphere and help ocean ecosystems re-stabilise.
In a nutshell, a plant-based diet is the only solution if we want to save our planet. Otherwise, we, as a species, and our planet Earth might be in serious trouble. Instead, if we all learn to eat wisely, we will be a healthier and kinder.