Our planet is in crisis, and it’s no secret that industrial meat, fish, and dairy production are leading contributors. Switching from meat-based to plant-based diets could have innumerable benefits for our environment. Keep reading to discover 11 ways a vegan diet can benefit the environment just in time for Earth Day on April 22nd.
11. REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS/AIR POLLUTION
Greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere contribute significantly to climate change and global warming. Animal agriculture generates over 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That is more than all the transportation emissions combined. Studies suggest that vegan diets could cut agricultural greenhouse gasses by half.
Carbon dioxide is one of the most harmful gasses in the environment. Industrial animal agriculture is responsible for “at least 32,000 million tons” of carbon dioxide emissions yearly. The Veganism Impact Report suggests that CO2 emissions will decrease by about 70% if all current meat-eaters go vegan.
Animal waste releases nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more harmful to the environment than CO2. Farm animals produce an estimated 6 million tons of nitrous oxide per year. That accounts for 65% of the world’s total nitrous oxide emissions. Also, approximately 44% of the greenhouse gas emissions created by animal agriculture come from methane, which cows and other animals produce. Veganism eliminates the demand for raising farm animals, reducing overall nitrous oxide and methane emissions.
10. REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Feed production, breeding, fertilizer production, electricity, and operating costs require significant fossil-fuel energy. Animal-based protein production requires eight times more energy than plant-based protein production.
9. CONSERVE WATER
Plant-based foods require way less water to produce than animal products. Meat and dairy production uses one-quarter of the world’s freshwater supply. Research suggests that just one vegan can save over 200,000 gallons of water in a year.
8. STABILIZE AND REPLENISH THE OCEAN
Over-fishing creates devastating imbalances in the ocean’s biodiversity. The fish population has been cut by half in the past 50 years. Some species, such as tuna and mackerel, are nearing extinction. Many fishing methods, such as trawling, are also detrimental to the environment. Vegan diets would eliminate the demand for fish and seafood and allow the ocean to stabilize its ecosystem.
7. PROTECT THE RAINFOREST AND LANDS
Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of the Amazon rainforest’s destruction. It is also the most significant cause of land use and deforestation globally. Switching to a vegan diet could reduce land use by 76%.
6. PRESERVE HABITATS/PREVENT EXTINCTION
It takes more land to grow feed for farm animals than it would take to grow vegetables for humans. Animal agriculture has a massive impact on biodiversity when crops are grown on wildlands. When farmers destroy habitats for feed crops, it threatens numerous species of animals. Many have joined the ever-growing list of endangered or extinct species. Veganism eliminates the need for feed crops and provides a more sustainable agricultural model.
5. PRESERVE WILDLIFE SPECIES
The USDA’s Wildlife Services kill over 3 million wild animals each year to protect farm animals from natural predators. Many threatened animals are endangered species, such as bobcats, wolves, and mountain lions. Many other innocent, non-target species get caught in the crossfire.
4. CLEAN SOIL
Animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation and soil depletion. Growing a wide variety of plants and trees, on the other hand, nourishes and cleans the soil and leads to much more sustainable agriculture.
3. CLEAN WATERWAYS
Animal agriculture is not the only source of water pollution, but it is one of the most significant contributors. Chemicals, animal waste, hormones, and antibiotics all originate from the animal industry, and they all make their way into the water supply. Vegan diets will not eliminate the problem, but they could drastically reduce water pollution.
2. USE FEWER RESOURCES
Producing plant-based foods requires five times less water than animal-based foods. A worldwide change to a vegan diet would also reduce land use by 75%.
1. FIGHT WORLD HUNGER
Growing food for direct human consumption is way more practical than growing food for farm animals. A vegan diet effectively cuts out the “middleman” (or animal) by growing crops specifically for humans rather than producing a crop intended for the animals consumed by humans. One food crop can feed more people than one animal. Research shows that “growing food exclusively for direct human consumption would increase available food calories up to 70%, feeding an additional 4 billion people worldwide.”
CELEBRATE EARTH DAY ON APRIL 22
Plant-based food is the future. The switch is imperative if we are to save our planet. Research has repeatedly proven that animal agriculture takes a significant toll around the globe. Removing animals from our food systems is an essential first step toward the health of our world.
If you want to help us spread this important message and turn Earth Day into Vegan Earth Day. We have easily shareable memes, infographics and other resources. Please take a stand with Earth this Vegan Earth Day.