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Go Vegan and Help the Environment!

Updated on April 7, 2015

Environmental Veganism

Vegan issues are strongly connected to environmental issues.

Some even argue that becoming vegan is the single most effective action that a person can take to help the environment and reduce global warming!

Using animals as a source of food is terribly inefficient. The protein yielded from a cow, for example, is approximately one-tenth the amount of protein the cow itself consumes. If people got their protein directly from plant sources (e.g., nuts, beans, high-protein grains), there would be far less energy wasted in the process of food production.

If land currently used to grow food for livestock were instead used to grow crops for human consumption, there would be plenty of food to feed everyone on the planet because the farm-to-food pipeline would be vastly more efficient. (Distributing the food to people around the world is another issue, however.)

Planet Earth
Planet Earth | Source

Wasting Water

Not only is energy wasted in the production of meat, a tremendous amount of water is used by farmed animals. According to the American Dietetic Association, meat-based protein production requires 26 times the amount of water as plant-based protein production. A United Nations report states that an average of 990 liters of water are used to produce just one liter of milk. That's a lot of water!

Cattle in farm water
Cattle in farm water | Source

Polluting Water

Wasting water is a serious concern, but even more significant is the water pollution that results from animal farming. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an individual dairy cow emits 120 pounds of manure per day. It is mind-boggling to imagine how much fecal matter and urine from all farm animals winds up in the water system.

This waste is not treated the way human waste is. Instead, it is allowed to make its way as raw sewage into nearby waterways and into the groundwater. This water can be further contaminated by steroids, antibiotics, and other substances injected into or fed to the animals, as well as by pesticides used on the farms. (Pesticides are also an issue with farms that grow non-organic crops.) If too much contamination ends up in a body of water, the oxygen levels in the water become depleted and animals living in the water die, along with animals that rely on that water for drinking or food sources.

Cattle produce a lot of methane
Cattle produce a lot of methane | Source

Greenhouse Gases

It has been well-documented that cows in particular produce an astonishing amount of methane, one of the greenhouse gases. Farming animals for food releases a tremendous amount of greenhouse gases into the environment. In fact, a University of Chicago study found that, whereas driving a Toyota Prius reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released by one ton per year compared to a "typical" car, a vegan diet results in 1.5 fewer tons of carbon dioxide being released per year as compared to the typical American diet.

Some experts assert that becoming vegan is the single most effective action that a person can take to help the environment and reduce global warming!

Veganism and the Environment

Food, Inc.
Food, Inc.
This DVD illustrates the connections between our diets and the environment, as well as how our food choices impact our health.
Deforestation results from lots of grazing cattle
Deforestation results from lots of grazing cattle | Source


Also contributing to global warming is deforestation. Millions of acres of forests in the United States have been cleared for cattle grazing. Other nations have also seen tremendous deforestation in order to create grazing lands for farmed animals. This, of course, leads to an increase in greenhouse gases, a reduction in oxygenating trees and plants, soil erosion, and the destruction of natural habitats for wildlife.

Overfishing has led to reduced biodiversity and the killing of non-targeted aquatic life, as well as water pollution, often in fragile ecosystems.

Does Being Vegan Make a Difference?

The production of meat, eggs, and dairy products does tremendous damage to the environment. Animal farming practices negatively affect the earth in a number of ways. By not consuming these products, vegans are making a difference.

By simply choosing a plant-based diet, we can improve the health of the planet as well as ourselves!

Make Earth Day Every Day!

When one adopts a vegan lifestyle, Earth Day truly is every day!

But one does not have to become fully vegan in order to help the environment through dietary choices!

Every single time a person chooses a cruelty-free meal -- one that does not include any kind of meat or other animal products -- it makes a difference to the environment, to personal health, and to the lives of animals.

People who practice "Meatless Monday" (veganized, since all animal products carry the same carbon footprint!) can certainly be proud of their efforts.

Another huge way to make an impact on the environment through "plate politics" is to purchase locally-grown foods. An organic apple is fantastic, but if it has travelled thousands of miles to get to your supermarket, it comes with a gigantic carbon footprint.

Please do whatever you can to help the environment through sound dietary choices. The more vegan, local, and organic your diet, the better it is for the earth and your own personal health!


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