Updated: Jan 25
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To answer the question: yes! That's because being vegan is so much more than just a diet, it's a way of life.
Vegans not only choose to NOT eat foods that contain animal products or by-products, but they also choose to live in a way that lessens their harmful impact upon the world.
"A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use..." Joseph Poore
Keep reading to find out some of the biggest ways in which vegans or people who eat more plant-based foods are changing the world:
1. Fights against world hunger
About 70% of the plants that are grown in the world, not just the U.S., is for livestock . And about 83% of farmland globally is dedicated to raising animals . This means that instead of using available land and the food grown to feed the hungry, industries are using those resources to fatten up animals for slaughter.
There's nothing wrong with feeding animals, of course, but when this many people are going hungry on a global scale and we have the solution . . . that's a problem.
Choosing to become vegan or more plant-based means that you're helping to conserve our resources. The more people that become vegan or plant-based, the less land will be used to raise animals and more food will be used to feed humans. It's as simple as supply and demand.
2. Conserves Water & Protects Water Sources
There are SO many countries, villages, towns, and cities around the world that don't have access to clean drinking water. Many more don't have the privilege of indoor plumbing with water filters. Water is something that everyone needs to survive and the fact that so many people struggle with this issue is saddening.
Choosing to switch from eating meat to being vegan or plant-based dramatically reduce our water usage. Check out the pictures down below for specifics:
Not only do cows, sheep, and other livestock guzzle down tons of water, but the feces excreted by these animals, and the infected body parts left to rot pollute the nearby water and cause people to get sick and make finding drinkable water even harder.
3. Reduces Land Use, Pollution & Helps Maintain Soil Integrity
It seems as though everywhere we look we see pollution and its negative effects. From trash being thrown into the street to tall piles of landfill waste, pollution is all around us. It affects the air we breathe, the water we drink, and even the weather. Animal agriculture significantly adds to the growing problem of pollution in our world.
Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of deforestation". Deforestation is caused when acres of the forest are cleared for animal or plant agriculture, construction, or to make paper products. This not only ruins the natural beauty in our world, but creates pollution, takes homes away from animals, causes erosion, and damages soil integrity.
Due to the fact that manually cutting down trees is time consuming, some companies/industries opt to get rid of the forest using a controlled burn instead. These practices can damage the land for centuries and reduce the amount of land that can be used for plant agriculture.
Animal agriculture uses more land than plant agriculture because animals consume so much food. The more land that is used, the more pollution is created. As mentioned before, the feces & urine created by animals seeps into the water & the surrounding land.
Swine farms store hog waste in large pink lagoons (named that because of its color) where it's broken down by bacteria, and then sprayed over the surrounding land for fertilizer. If you know anything about pigs, then you know they are filthy animals. They spend most of their day eating & wallowing in slop. They will eat just about anything, even the bodies of other animals.
This waste is extremely toxic to the land because animals that are raised in these accelerated conditions are pumped full of antibiotics & drugs to minimize their risk of disease or to treat diseases that they develop. That waste is then be used to fertilize crops and pollute not only the land, but the crops as well.
You're probably getting tired reading about all the harm that animal agriculture causes to the land so we're gonna move on to the 4th reason why being vegan/plant-based can change the world.
4. Reduces Air Pollution
Climate change has been a hot topic for as long as I can remember and scientists are crying for change. If we don't make a change in the way we live soon, the planet that our kids grow up in will be worse than it is now. Imagine that.
The biggest proponent of climate change is pollution, not only land and water pollution but air pollution as well. Since we can't always see air pollution, we might not think about it and its effects on us and our environment, but air pollution is one of our biggest problems. The greenhouse gases that are produced from major industries are causing the drastic changes in weather we now see. Out of those industries, animal agriculture is "second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions".
A 2013 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization states that approximately 14.5% of GHG (greenhouse gases) are from animal agriculture . That's about the same amount of emission from all the transportation vehicles in the world combined ! Most of this comes from cow burps (yes, you heard that right) a.k.a. Enteric fermentation, manure management, the "fossil fuels burned to produce mineral fertilizers for feed production", carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide pollution .
Phew! That's a lot of pollution!
All of this can and has caused untold health problems and unexplained illnesses in people worldwide. Some say that the solution is just to limit our consumption of meat and adopt more sustainable practices. While that is a step in the right direction, nothing will lessen our impact upon the planet like removing all types of meat and animal products from our diet. For some this might be a daunting task, but with the vegan movement on the rise and knowledge available at our fingertips, changing your lifestyle for the betterment of humanity has become easier than ever.
So, what are you waiting for? Make the switch!
Documentary to watch: