At Holy Cow! I come at the topic of vegan food from an ethical perspective. But there are many more great reasons to eat a plant-based diet and one of those– of course– is the environment.
One of my favorite blogs on the environment, Reduce Footprints, offers many great resources for an eco-friendly lifestyle, including a series of “change the world” challenges that are designed to get a whole lot of people thinking about doing the same green activity during the same time period. “It’s the idea that when a lot of little actions are joined together … the impact can be huge. We hope to take a huge step towards saving the earth,” writes Cyndi, the blogger behind Reduce Footprints.
Today, in this wonderful guest post, she shares her insight into the environmental footprint of veganism and why eating a compassionate diet can make our Earth a better place. Read it and then take one of her challenges to do your bit for all of the world’s living, breathing creatures!
Eat Your Veggies and Save the Earth
People who choose a vegan diet typically to so for one of two reasons … they have a deep compassion for animals and/or they want the best health possible. But did you know that eating meatless meals is also Eco-friendly? In fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to walk gently on the earth. Why? Simply put, it takes fewer natural resources to produce one pound of plant-based food as opposed to the same amount of animal-based food.
Here’s a simple example…
Suppose you have one acre of land. You plant vegetable seeds, water them and end up with food for your table. Minimal natural resources are spent to produce it as it goes directly from your one acre of land to your table.
Let’s say, on the other hand, that you use that one acre of land to produce beef. You buy an animal or two and put them on your acre. In no time at all, they eat everything growing so you either buy another acre to grow feed or you buy it from a farmer who uses his acre to grow it. At minimum, two acres are now being used to produce food. But we’re not done … those animals take quite a while to grow which means that several harvests of feed are required … crops to feed animals, not us. Those crops are being watered and so are the animals … so additional water is also required. Once the animals are “ready”, they must be slaughtered, packaged (typically in packaging which isn’t Eco-friendly) and transported … and each step requires energy and natural resources. By the time that steak ends up on our plate, the environmental cost is considerable.
We’ve heard, for a long time, that many natural resources (like fresh water) are finite … when they are gone, they are gone forever. Many people in the world today consider fresh drinking water a luxury and some live without it. So, it’s in our best interest to conserve precious resources. We can do that by choosing foods wisely. It should be noted that the production of any food, plant or animal based, has a carbon footprint. Since we cannot live without nutrition, our goal then is to make choices based on the foods with the least environmental impact … plant-based foods meet that goal.
Here’s another consideration … recently it was reported that the 7 billionth person was born in Thailand. The world’s population continues to grow requiring people to share limited resources to feed themselves. As those resources diminish, many people will go hungry. If we again think of our example, how many more people can be fed if our one acre of land is used to directly produce food? Simple math tells us that more food will be available if we produce vegetables instead of meat. Vegetarianism could go a long ways towards solving the world’s hunger problems.
There are other considerations … animals produce more CO2 than plants and significantly contribute to air pollution and global warming. Animal waste leaches to nearby lands and waterways, contaminating them with harmful bacteria. And, since animal production has become unsanitary due to the sheer numbers of animals being raised in a small space, antibiotics are appearing in places we’d rather not have them (like our drinking water).
The fact is that eating a plant-based diet is much kinder to the earth. So, as you enjoy your next vegetarian/vegan meal, feel good about your choice. You’re doing something good for your health, for animals and … for the earth.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.