In a world where the climate crisis is becoming more and more severe by the day, we find ourselves questioning what we can do about it. Will changing our diets actually make a difference?
It seems that everywhere you look you come across a vegan. Whether an influencer you follow, a celebrity you admire, or your desk buddy at work. And while at times this diet was advertised as the trend of the year you need to follow, some have chosen to stick to it long before those days, preaching the wonders it has done to their health as well as the environment. But before we dive into how veganism helps reduce climate change; we need to first examine what this diet consists of.
What Is Veganism
When many think of veganism, the first thing that comes to mind is green, leafy plants. People assume that becoming a vegan simply means following a strict plant-based diet. This is partially true. Veganism is not about eating plants as much as it is about reducing animal intake. And here comes the difference between vegetarians and vegans; the lack of by-products of animals in the diet of the latter one. This includes dairy, eggs, gelatin, and honey. However, veganism is so much more than just a diet. Many vegans adopt this lifestyle because they believe that all forms of animal exploitation need to be stopped. That includes those in the clothing, science, and entertainment industries.
Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
It’s no surprise that every action we take impacts our environment. If you want to be all fancy and use scientific words, then we could refer to our impact as our carbon footprint, i.e., the net total of greenhouse gas emissions we generate while alive. What makes these greenhouse gases so dangerous is that they work like a greenhouse. They trap heat in our atmosphere, resulting in long-term heating of Earth’s climate system, leading to global warming, and are the most significant factor behind the climate crisis.
So how does veganism help reduce greenhouse gases? Well, one way this lifestyle helps limit climate change is how producing alternatives to animal products releases fewer emissions into the world. Meat requires a lot of processing before it’s suitable for us to eat. The problem here lies in how it gets processed with fossil fuels, the number one contributor to greenhouse gases. And that is beside the fossil fuels burned in activities such as cutting down forests for animal pasture, producing millions of tons of animal feed, running factories, and transporting said animals.
Conserving Natural Recourses
Another way veganism helps our planet is by limiting natural resources getting exploited. For instance, while agriculture consumes the highest amount of water than other major global industries, a massive amount of that goes towards growing livestock feed. Thus, cutting out meat can allow the 41% of total agricultural water devoted to livestock to be used to prevent droughts and increase clean water in the world. Veganism also helps protect oceans. Vegans stand against the multi-billion-dollar fishing industry that pollutes and destroys underwater ecosystems, aiming that their choice of not buying fish products will allow these creatures and our oceans to stabilize and recover.
Furthermore, veganism plays a role in protecting rainforests, habitats, and land. As mentioned above, forests are constantly cut down to make way for animal pasture. This deforestation increases the chances of climate change as greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rise. Moreover, it can also lead to more animal and plant species becoming extinct as their habitats are wiped out.
Veganism Can Help Combat World Hunger
Because veganism aims to stop deforestation, overfishing and reduce the greenhouse gases emitted into our atmosphere, it ultimately works to limit climate change. Accordingly, our planet’s ability to produce food will increase. This is essential as in a world where many already suffer from undernourishment and food insecurity, if the climate crisis worsens, then soil degradation and climate change will only further disrupt global food production. Another way veganism can help end hunger is by freeing up vast amounts of global farmlands to produce a healthy, plant-based protein that’ll be available to more people than the livestock that occupied the same land before.
So, Should You Become a Vegan?
Honestly, that is something only you can answer. However, before you take that life-changing decision, here are some things to consider.
For starters, while I myself am not a vegan nor a vegetarian, I’ve found what’s more important than adopting a strict diet or filling the shopping cart with greens is to be mindful. While animal products do produce a tremendous environmental footprint, not all plants have small ones. Consuming imported fruits or vegetables can definitely increase CO2 emissions in our world. That’s one of the most common greenhouse gases around. Thus, understand what it is you are buying, how it’ll affect your body and health, and its impact on our environment.
Another thing to consider is that veganism will not end the climate crisis on its own. Therefore, do not let social pressure push you around and shame you into changing your eating habits. If you do not feel that this lifestyle and diet are for you, listen to your body. And remember, there are thousands of other ways you can contribute to the battle against climate change.
Now, if you do decide to make a change in what you consume, and become a vegan, then make sure to take baby steps. The important thing here is to make minor, sublet changes over time to reach the life you want. And if on some days you find it harder than others, don’t beat yourself up. An eco-friendly life isn’t about cutting things out and changing all your habits completely and drastically, but rather about growing and realizing the strength found in flexibility.
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