If you recently adopted a vegan meal plan, you’re not only doing amazing things for your mind and body. By choosing to omit meat, dairy, and animal byproducts from your plate you’re also making a huge difference in saving the planet. That’s right. On top of the proven health benefits of lower cholesterol and reduced risk for heart disease, going vegan is one of the most effective ways to help conserve water, decrease air pollution, battle world hunger, and reduce deforestation. Pretty cool, right?
Since I previously touched on the ethical reasons for adopting a vegan meal plan in my article about Farm Sanctuary, I wanted to provide some insight from an environmental perspective. It is with this in mind that I compiled a list of four ways being vegan can help save the planet.
Being vegan helps conserve water
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) predicts that two-thirds of the world’s population will lack clean water to meet even their basic needs by the year 2050. While the statistics are disheartening, you can help conserve water today by adopting a vegan meal plan. After all, the UN has reported that the livestock industry is likely the largest user of fresh water. The 10 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. every year require considerably more H2O than the fruits, vegetables, and grains that make up a plant-based diet (you can see the interesting statistics here).
Did you know? One potato requires 25 liters of water for production, while one hamburger requires 2,400 liters of water for production.
Being vegan helps decrease air pollution
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Now imagine how big of an impact you make by choosing to eliminate meat, dairy, and animal byproducts from your diet all together.
Did you know? Switching to a plant-based diet saves 50% more carbon emissions than driving a Prius.
Being vegan helps battle world hunger
In the United States, 70% of the grain we grow goes into animal agriculture. This is an inefficient use of edible grain crop and a waste of natural resources. If we eliminated farmed animals all together, imagine how many people we could feed with that food! The logistics involved in getting the crops to those in need are obviously more complicated than that, but knowing that the food is available and could help eradicate world hunger is still pretty mind-blowing.
Did you know? More than 700 million tons of human-grade food is fed to livestock each year.
Being vegan helps reduce deforestation
According to the executive summary of Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, “70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the remainder.” Overall, raising animals for food occupies nearly 30 percent of the Earth's land mass. Not only does the act of clearing forests destroy the natural habitat for many species of wildlife, it also eliminates trees that would otherwise absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and regulate the climate.
While this article only grazes the surface of the ways being vegan can help save the planet, I hope it has given you a little bit of insight as to how adopting a plant-based diet does more than improve your overall health and well-being.