Anyone who has researched healthy diets has come across a variety of research showing how eating a plant-based diet can improve our health and overall longevity, but did you know that it also improves the health of our planet? Living a vegan lifestyle helps take some of the strain off mother earth as she tries to handle the ever-growing population and technological booms that are happening all around the globe. Below we explore seven ways that going vegan can help save our planet and ensure that future generations have a healthy place to call home.
7 Ways Going Vegan Can Save Our Planet
1. Plant-Based Diets Reduce Water Consumption
Plant-based diets are superior for our valuable water supplies in various ways, from needing less water to produce large amounts of food, improving irrigation efficiency, and creating less pollution for water sources. Raising animals as food, especially larger animals, requires vast amounts of water for a drinking source, cleaning, processing, and throughout the environments in which they are raised. Plant-based agriculture is a more compassionate farming method with a much smaller water footprint. New technology has also shown us better ways of conserving water in crop production, such as aquaponic and hydroponic gardening. Animal agriculture also pollutes natural water sources like groundwater, lakes, and rivers through manure, blood, and nutrient runoff, making it a horrible choice for protecting the future of our water supply.
2. Going Vegan Reduces the Risk of New Zoonotic Diseases & Antibiotic Resistance
Zoonotic diseases and antibiotic resistance are a genuine concern for human populations all around the globe. If 2020 taught us one thing, it’s how quickly zoonoses can spread and change society as we know it. Some experts warn that Covid-19 is mild compared to some of the potential zoonotic diseases lingering in cramped animal confines around the globe, like factory farms, fur farms, and fish farms. Going vegan reduces the demand for animal products, eventually reducing production and keeping animals from living in these horrific conditions.
3. Eating Plant-Based Reduces Energy Usage
One of the biggest hurdles for humanity to overcome is finding sustainable and eco-friendly ways to produce energy. Currently, a large percentage of our energy production comes from old, inefficient methods such as coal or fire, which are responsible for 87% of global greenhouse emissions. A plant-based diet reduces energy usage in several ways, such as food production requirements, transportation emissions, and less intensive food processing.
4. Vegan Lifestyles Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Air Pollution
By evolving to a vegan lifestyle, people start significantly reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution associated with how their food is grown, produced, and transported. Animal agriculture pollutes the air in many ways, such as ammonia production, hydrogen sulfide, oxide emissions from manure or fertilizers, and particulate matter. The pollutants cause all types of issues like human respiratory health, smog, and acid rain. Carbon dioxide emissions increase yearly through deforestation brought on by raising animals as food.
5. Eating Plant-Based Can Save Our Oceans
Without our oceans, humanity would not survive long. Both the fishing and animal agriculture industries are detrimental to the health of one of Earth’s most valuable and needed resources. Ocean dead zones, overfishing, plastic pollution, bycatch, and coral reef breakdown are killing our oceans and all the inhabitants that live in them. By eating a plant-based diet, we can decrease the ocean dead zones brought on by nutrient pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus manure and fertilizers, protect vital coral reef life, save ocean inhabitants, stop rising ocean temperatures, and reduce the amount of plastic in the water through lost fishing gear and equipment.
6. Plant-Based Farming Conserves Land and Reduces Deforestation
Rainforests and trees are carbon dioxide filters that keep our air breathable and healthy. One of the most significant contributions to rainforest destruction is animal agriculture. Vast plots of irreplaceable rainforests are cleared daily to make room for ecological dead zones packed to the brim, with cows, pigs, and other animals being exploited for human consumption and use. Large portions are also used to grow crops to feed factory-farmed animals, such as soybeans. Shifting to a plant-based diet helps maintain biodiversity, soil health, reduced erosion, and habitat protection.
7. Vegans Save Animal Lives
If you asked anyone on the street if they support animal abuse, most would vehemently say they would never support such a horrific practice. Yet, the same people will likely say they eat animal products. There is a massive disconnect between how many people feel about animals and how they live their lives. This process has been dubbed “The Meat Paradox” and shows a means of being in direct conflict with a person’s self-perceived morals. One of the best reasons to go vegan is to align that inner voice that tells you that mistreating or killing is wrong with how we live our lives.
In previous years information from the USDA and the Humane Society of the United States found that the average meat eater in America consumes around 30 land animals per year, with about 25 of those being chickens. When they added fish and other animals humans eat from the sea, that number increased to around 225-300 per year. According to those numbers going vegan could save up to 345 animals per person per year. Those numbers don’t even count the indirect impact of reduced demand for all animal products like dairy, leather, and eggs, leading to fewer animals being raised and killed overall. Choosing a vegan lifestyle is choosing to save hundreds of lives per year.
Celebrating Vegan Earth Day
Since 1990, April 22nd of each year has become an annual international celebration holiday Earth Day. “Earth day is a “celebration honoring the achievements of the environmental movement and raising awareness of the importance of long-term ecological sustainability.“
While the first organized celebration of Earth Day happened in 1970 as an “environmental teach-in,” this event was only recognized across the United States by about 20 million people. The 1970s Earth Day event was instrumental in passing two important pieces of environmental legislation that decade, the Clean Air Act (1970) and the Endangered Species Act (1973).
It wasn’t until 1990 that Earth Day became a global event observed by around 200 million people from over 140 countries. Since then, it has grown exponentially and has been used to raise awareness about many environmental concerns like global warming, the need for renewable energy, and the international Paris Climate Agreement.
Even though it is well known that living a vegan lifestyle is helpful for our planet in many ways, the benefits of eating plant-based are often overlooked or kept out of the spotlight when discussing Earth Day and sustainability goals. With April fast approaching, everyone should be motivated to ditch animal products and explore new food options through vegan recipes and challenges. The best time to start eating a plant-based diet was yesterday, but today is the second-best time to start, so don’t let your today become another yesterday of lost possibility. Celebrate Vegan Earth Day through demonstrations, attending the International Day of Action, and eating a plant-based diet.
Leaving A Healthy Planet for Future Generations
“Humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “Our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.”
Climate scientists and experts are clear. If humanity doesn’t change how we treat our planet, our world and future will soon suffer irreparable damage. A recent climate report from the UN has offered a clear, stark warning that our world is “on thin ice” and that ice is melting away too quickly.
“The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts for thousands of years,” the report said, calling climate change “a threat to human well-being and planetary health.”
Guterres has called for wealthy countries to increase zero emissions goals to the year 2040 or 2050 by halting the use of coal and creating carbon-free electricity generation if we want to avoid the direct aspects of climate change’s harm in the future.
“How many reports that chill us to the bone do we need to read before we make the changes required?” asked Tina Stege, climate envoy for Marshall Islands, which are vulnerable to rising seas. “These changes will require some sacrifice — but aren’t they worth it when a liveable future on this planet is what is at stake?”
While there are many practices that humanity needs to alter to save our planet, one way that we can all contribute is to transition to a plant-based diet. As our list above shows, going vegan and eating plant-based is the least we can do to support our beautiful home and the fantastic sentient beings that we share it with. With Earth Day quickly approaching, there is no reason not to try plant-based eating for the future, your health, and the well-being of planet Earth.