There are many reasons why someone might choose to go vegan. Some do it for the animals, some do it for their health, and some do it for the environment. The latter is a relatively new phenomenon, but it is one that is gaining traction as the message of climate change becomes more prevalent.
How Does Veganism Help the Environment?
The livestock industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it's responsible for 14.5% of all human-induced emissions, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
When you compare the carbon footprint of various dietary choices, it is clear that a plant-based diet requires far fewer resources than a diet that includes animal products. For example, production of 1 kg of beef results in 100 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents while production of tofu requires only 3 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents. All that means that if everyone went vegan, we could achieve significant emissions reductions needed to avoid catastrophic temperature rise.
But going vegan isn't just about reducing our carbon footprint; it also has a positive impact on water use, land use, and biodiversity. Livestock farming takes up a huge amount of land - according to some estimates, nearly 30 percent of the Planet’s ice-free land is currently used for livestock grazing, while 33 percent of croplands are utilised for livestock feed production.
And it's not just arable land that's affected; grazing animals destroy grasslands and lead to soil erosion, which further reduces the land's ability to support agriculture.
The Amazon rainforest, which is often compared to our Planet’s lungs, is a good example of how destructive livestock farming can be for the environment. It is reported that more than 80% of deforested land in the Amazon is used for grazing livestock. Shockingly, the Amazon rainforest is being cleared at a rate of about one football pitch every minute to make way for cattle ranches and feedlots. This has a devastating impact on the environment and local communities.
Globally, animal agriculture requires enormous amounts of water. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimates that 5,000 to 20,000 litres of water are used to produce 1 kg of meat. In comparison, only 500 to 4,000 litres of water are required to produce 1 kg of wheat. Reducing our consumption of meat and animal products can help conserve water resources and prevent further depletion of our planet's precious water reserves.
Finally, animal agriculture is one of the leading drivers of species extinction and habitat loss. According to the World Wildlife Fund, agricultural expansion is a threat to 85% of all endangered species—and it's only getting worse as demand for meat and dairy products continues to rise. Shifting to a plant-based diet is one way we can help protect wildlife and preserve our planet's biodiversity for future generations.
There's no doubt that veganism has a positive impact on the environment. By reducing our consumption of meat and animal products, we can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water resources, and protect species from extinction. So if you're looking for a way to do your part in reversing climate change, going vegan may be the answer.