Adopting a plant-based diet is one of the most effective ways we can protect our environment and drastically slow down the alarming rate of environmental degradation currently taking place. This Earth Day, rather than simply sharing some memes or changing your Facebook status, why not take part in something bigger, something that will drastically impact the environment for the better?
Why not try a vegan diet for one week? This is undeniably one of the most eco-friendly choices you can make; as a 2006 United Nations report has revealed, animal agriculture “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”
Here are 5 reasons a vegan diet can save the world.
1. Conserve Water
An alarming 2,400 gallons of water are needed to produce just 1 pound of meat. Alternatively, only 25 gallons are needed to produce 1 pound of wheat. You could actually save more water by choosing not to eat 1 pound of meat than if you were to not shower for 6 months. That really puts things into perspective. Almost half of all water used in the United States goes to the animal agriculture industry.
2. Clean The Air
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), roughly 80% of ammonia emissions in the US come from animal waste. Atmospheric ammonia can disrupt aquatic systems, ruin soil quality, damage crops, and jeopardize human health. Cows and sheep are responsible for 37% of the total methane (23 times as warming as C02) that is generated by human activity. The UN reported that animal agriculture contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined. Considering the sheer volume of automobiles on the roads and airplanes in the sky, that statistic is frighteningly impressive.
3. Save Energy
We all know how essential this one is, particularly if we hope to continue enjoying any of the comforts of modern living. The prices of oil are skyrocketing, forcing us to resort to unethical methods of oil production such as fracking in attempts to meet our growing oil demands. Yet this method actually uses more energy than it yields, and is destroying the environment, even causing earthquakes, in the process of being harvested.
It also takes 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein than it does to make 1 calorie from plant protein. Here is what this process looks like:
- Grow massive amounts of corn, grain, and soybeans (with all required tilling, irrigation, crop dusters etc.)
- Transport the grain and soybeans to feed manufacturers on gas-guzzling 18 wheelers
- Operate the feed mills
- Transport the feed to the factory farms
- Operate the factory farms
- Truck the animals many miles to slaughter
- Operate the slaughterhouse
- Transport the meat to processing plants
- Operate the meat processing plants
- Transport the meat to grocery stores
- Keep meat refrigerated or frozen in stores until sold
Keep in mind, this chain becomes even longer if the meat is being processed further into fast-food or packaged products such as hot dogs and deli meat.
4. Protect The Soil
Researchers have found that raising animals for consumption directly contributes to soil erosion and nutritional depletion. As a result, the US alone has lost around one third of its topsoil due to animal agriculture.
5. Save The Forests
An alarming 260 MILLION acres (and counting) of US forests have been clear-cut to create land for producing feed for livestock. According to the UN, raising animals and producing the feed for them uses 30% of the Earth’s landmass. It’s pretty shocking. Greenpeace Brazil has also released a report revealing that 80 percent of the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is due to raising cattle for human consumption.
Up For The Challenge?
This Earth Day, in light of these staggering figures, would you be willing to give up meat and animal products for one week? It’s not as difficult it seems, and the rewards far outweigh the effort involved to make it happen.
If you have not seen it, I highly recommend watching the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, available on Netflix.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
And for many great recipe ideas, check out the following links:
If going vegan for a few days still seems too extreme for you, you can try drastically reducing your consumption of animal products and choosing more ethically sourced meats, eggs, fish, and dairy.
We can all do our part to help save and protect our great Mother Earth.
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