4 Ways Going Vegan is Good for the Planet
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
'Going vegan is the single best thing you can do for the planet.'
This is a phrase that's being shared a lot in recent months, we're sure you've heard it somewhere before, but what does it actually mean? We're so happy to see a rise in the number of people who are looking to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, and although switching out single-use plastics for reusables is a great start, many people don't realise the huge impact that changing their diet could have. Even switching to a 'flexitarian' diet and heavily reducing animal products, rather than cutting them out completely, can make a big change to the impact you have on the planet. Today, we're taking a look at why exactly switching to a vegan diet is good for the planet.
It conserves water
Producing meat as a food is an incredibly inefficient use of water, something that's a finite resource. When you eat plants, they only used the water they needed to grow, whereas meat involves the water that all of their feed needed to grow, plus all the water they drank over their lifetime. As a result, it takes around 100-200 times more water to generate a pound of beef than to generate a pound of plant food. Estimates suggest a vegan diet uses around 5 times less water than a meat-based diet.
Plus, the animal agriculture industry causes a huge amount of water pollution, from both the large amount of pesticides used to grow feed, as well as from the large amount of waste generated from animal farms. This degrades water supplies, making it difficult for marine life like fish, as well as for the local people that rely on that water source for their drinking water.
It can help to prevent desertification
Desertification is a process by which peviously fertile, biodiverse land is rendered a desert, usually due to deforestation and soil degradation. A large cause of these things is animal agriculture, as huge areas of forest and rainforest are cleared to make way for grazing areas. A meat-based diet requires around three times more land than a vegan diet, due to the huge amount of land needed to grow their feed as well as large grazing areas.
Of course, even vegans need to grow food for themselves which requires space. However, growing crops and especially growing crops organically is a much more sustainable practice than raising meat, as the area is still filled with plants that are keeping the soil rich.
It has a lower carbon footprint
Animal agriculture has a large carbon footprint for many reasons - first, the feed has to be grown which is usually done very intensively with high pesticide use and lots of processing. The animals then need to be raised for years, consuming this feed and creating waste. They then need to be processed to be sold as meat and transported to our shops.
It's estimated that lifestock and its by-products make up 51% of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions from this industry is more than the emissions from all cars, trains, ships, and aircrafts combined. However, gram for gram, pulses (like lentils and beans) generate on average around a quarter of a per cent the amount of greenhouse gases that meat generates - a much better option environmentally.
It leads to cleaner air
It is well-known that plants purify the air - it's how they work: they take in carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen. This is why the rainforest is often referred to as the lungs of the planet. As deforestation occurs, we simply have fewer plants available to do this.
In terms of calories, livestock accounts for around 18% of food eaten globally, yet 83% of all farmland is used to generate meat. The meat industry simply needs a huge amount of space, which means forests and plants need to be cleared to make way. If we could replace the cleared area with plants, they would contribute to cleaning the air and producing oxygen.
We know that many people choose to be vegan for ethical reasons, but as many people are starting to care more and more about their environmental impact, a vegan diet could be a great option for those who hadn't considered it before. If you're thinking about going vegan, check out our other blog posts where we share tips on starting a vegan diet and link to some of our favourite vegan recipes!