Why Going Vegan Can Help Save the Planet
What is Veganism?
Using reusable straws, taking shorter showers, and carpooling are all small ways to help reduce your carbon footprint and save the environment. But according to a study by the University of Oxford, going vegan is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact. An individual can reduce their carbon footprint by up to 73% just by cutting out meat and dairy.
But what is veganism, to be exact? At its core, veganism is a diet that cuts out all forms of meat, dairy products, and any food that is derived from animals. But veganism is not just a diet; it is a lifestyle choice that aims to abstain from any form of animal exploitation or cruelty - from the food you eat, to the clothes you wear, to the beauty products you use.
In the long term, going vegan is the most beneficial action you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Of course, not everyone’s financial or health situations can allow for a vegan lifestyle; but for those who are able, you should strongly consider making the switch.
What are the Benefits of Veganism?
- Less Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Global livestock agriculture produces over 7.1 Gigatonnes of greenhouse gases annually, with beef and cattle livestock responsible for the most emissions. Meat production requires an absorbent amount of energy, making it one of the top contributors to climate change. Going vegan can cut your greenhouse gas emissions in half compared to someone who eats meat.
- Preserve Forest Ecosystems
- The meat industry is the number one contributor to the destruction of the worlds’ forest, as deforestation is required to make room for grazing and factory farms. Among a vast array of detriments to the environment, deforestation weakens biodiversity, increases soil erosion, and accelerates climate change. Furthermore, the chemicals used for livestock feed and the untreated animal waste runs off into nearby water ecosystems, polluting water sources for humans and harming the aquatic wildlife.
- Conserves Water
- Compared to a plant-based diet, eating meat requires a large amount of water to raise the livestock. For instance, the water footprint of a beef burger is 14 times greater than the water footprint of a soy-based burger. With a prominent water scarcity problem across the globe, cutting down the water usage for meat will not only help save the environment, but help direct water sources to humans.
How to Kick Start Your Vegan Diet
Going vegan is by no means easy if you have been regularly consuming dairy and meat products your entire life - but transitioning to a plant-based diet will be incredibly worthwhile for your health and the environment.
Start by incorporating more legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy into your diet. A common misconception many hold about vegan diets is that vegans only eat plants and tofu. But this is false - many vegans recreate their old favorite meals by swapping out meat and dairy with vegan alternatives. Trial and error is the best method to find what plant-based foods work for you. Look up new recipes and have fun experimenting in the kitchen!
Another tip to transitioning to a vegan diet is to take it slow. If you try to cut out all meat and dairy all at once, you might get overwhelming cravings for your old dietary habits and give up. Instead, gradually phase out one food group at a time and give yourself time to get used to eating a plant-based diet. If this is too much for you, you can also selectively cut out certain foods that have more environmental impact than others, such as red meat. Eating plant-based foods only a couple days out of the week is still better than eating meat and dairy every single day.
Lastly, do not think of it as restricting yourself. Going vegan is not a punishment you are enduring for the sake of the planet; instead it is simply a new way of life that will benefit both your health and the earth!