How Does Veganism Really Help the Environment?

Some people claim that going vegan will save the planet but to what extent is this true? There is a rise in the number of people going vegan nowadays and for numerous reasons. Vegan people supposedly have lower health risks for conditions such as heart diseases or cholesterol, although the science behind this is still very skewed.

Meat and dairy (farmed cattle) now account for 14.5 percent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations. That’s nearly the same amount of pollution as every vehicle, rail, ship, and airline on the globe! If the world decided to go vegan, this will drop by 70 %. The relationship between carbon emission and farming is undeniable.

There are many other impacts of meat consumption. Meat production is linked to the destruction of forests in South America, both directly and indirectly. Large swaths of the Amazon are being deforested to make way for cattle ranching and soybean cultivation for animal feed. Meat-eating contributes to greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, Carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Climate change, such as global warming, is exacerbated by these gases. Also, meat production requires a large amount of water.

Should You Stop Eating Meat?

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How Does Veganism Really Help the Environment?

The meat industry has been getting a lot of bad press in recent years, as fad vegan diets and the associated industries put more pressure on governing bodies to alienate meat-eaters. However, it is true that with a growing global population, the amount of meat that would need to be produced to satisfy everyone is staggering, which does lead to valid environmental concerns.

No one can dictate what others should eat (although vegans are trying their best to). Everyone is free to make their decisions, however, a lot of experts do recommend the reduction of meat consumption and even suggest government make policies about meat consumption.

Having a vegan diet does not mean being unhealthy. People nowadays often associate being vegan with being unhealthy, as there is less protein in plants than what is found in meat, but there are a lot of substitutes to meat to replace the protein requirement.

Alternatives such as…

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Many individuals regard cow’s milk as essential to their diets. It may be drunk, poured over cereal, or mixed into smoothies, tea, or coffee. While many individuals can or choose not to consume milk owing to personal choices, dietary constraints, allergies, or intolerance, it is not for everyone. Alternatives are soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, and so on… There now are a lot of more expensive alternatives to cow milk.

This can also be seen in the rising demand for meat substitutes. Plant-based burgers, sausages, and other meat alternatives are now available in all well-known supermarkets, made from legumes, vegetables, grains, and other components. When compared to meat, meat alternatives have a number of advantages. Vegan burgers, for example, are supposedly cholesterol-free and typically have fewer calories.

Some alternatives are tofu, soy protein, oat flakes, chickpeas, or pea protein. Once considered as bland food, there are now so many recipes linked to these alternatives, that happen to be very tasty.

Health Benefit

People who don’t eat meat — vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less and have a lower risk of heart disease than non-vegetarians do. People who eat red meat are at an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.

There is a new term “flexitarian”, to describe someone who eats mostly plant-based food, but at time consume meat and I think everyone should be ‘flexitarian’. We should have a quota of meat consumption and not go beyond it, for Earth to be a better place. Everyone should work on a flexible diet to protect the planet. Let us know in the comments if you are thinking of giving a vegan diet a try…

Is Veganism Truly Sustainable?

Go vegan, they said. Save the world, they said. But is the plant-based diet as good for the environment as we’ve been told? A group of researchers has recently published a study in which they describe various biophysical simulation models that compare 10 eating patterns: the vegan diet, two vegetarian diets (one that includes dairy, the other dairy and eggs), four omnivorous diets (with varying degrees of vegetarian influence), one low in fats and sugars, and one similar to modern American dietary patterns.

What they found was that the carrying capacity—the size of the population that can be supported indefinitely by the resources of an ecosystem—of the vegan diet is actually less substantial than two of the vegetarian diets and two out of the four omnivorous diets they studied.

The Price of Veganism

The number of vegans has increased 160 per cent over the past 10 years, but people need to be asking “where has this food come from” as they fill their shopping baskets with the fruits of the world: pomegranates and mangos from India, lentils from Canada, beans from Brazil, blueberries from the US and goji berries from China. Eating lamb chops that come from a farm a few miles down the road is much better for the environment than eating an avocado that has travelled from the other side of the world.

As we greedily plunder the world’s bread basket, it’s the consumer who benefits, while those at the source can be left high and dry. Take avocados and quinoa, whose prices have been pushed up so much by Western demand that they’ve become unaffordable to those who depend on them in their country of origin.

Rather than being seduced by exhortations to eat more products made from industrially grown soya, maize and grains, we should be encouraging sustainable forms of meat and dairy production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing. We should, at the very least, question the ethics of driving up demand for crops that require high inputs of fertilizer, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides, while demonizing sustainable forms of livestock farming that can restore soils and biodiversity, and sequester carbon.

Not only does this system of natural grazing aid the environment in terms of soil restoration, biodiversity, pollinating insects, water quality and flood mitigation – but it also guarantees healthy lives for the animals, and they in turn produce meat that is healthy for us. In direct contrast to grain-fed and grain-finished meat from intensive systems, wholly pasture-fed meat is high in beta carotene, calcium, selenium, magnesium and potassium and vitamins E and B, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – a powerful anti-carcinogen. It is also high in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is vital for human brain development but extremely difficult for vegans to obtain.

Much has been made of the methane emissions of livestock, but these are lower in biodiverse pasture systems that include wild plants such as angelica, common fumitory, shepherd’s purse and bird’s-foot trefoil because they contain fumaric acid – a compound that reduces emissions of methane by 70%, according to reliable studies.

In the vegan equation, by contrast, the carbon cost of ploughing is rarely considered. Since the industrial revolution, up to 70% of the carbon in our cultivated soils has been lost to the atmosphere. So there’s a huge responsibility here: unless you’re sourcing your vegan products specifically from organic, “no-dig” systems, you are actively participating in the destruction of soil biota, promoting a system that deprives other species, including small mammals, birds and reptiles, of the conditions for life, and significantly contributing to climate change.

There’s no question we should all be eating far less meat, and calls for an end to high-carbon, polluting, unethical, intensive forms of grain-fed meat production are commendable. But if your concerns as a vegan are the environment, animal welfare and your own health, then it’s no longer possible to pretend that these are all met simply by giving up meat and dairy. Counterintuitive as it may seem, adding the occasional organic, pasture-fed steak to your diet could be the right way to square the circle.